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Island time(table), Santorini edition

Santorini is not a very big island, and by all accounts, have a good network of public buses that run regularly and budget-friendly in term of ticket prices. To us, this negates the need to rent a car and drive on unfamiliar, narrow and windy roads. The network radiates from Fira, however, thus we would need to travel from Oia to Fira each time for onward bus connection.

Bus timetable

I’ve been advised by friends to make sure we have a copy of the latest bus timetable. We were also, understandably, to know that any time indicated would be approximative. Afterall, there’s no predicting the traffic, right? Like a good trooper, I duly downloaded and printed a copy of the timetable from the bus company’s website.

Online timetable notwithstanding, the first time we found ourselves at the bus terminal in Fira, I also grabbed a copy of the latest timetable that the company had printed. It was date marked June 2013, and I noticed some discrepancies between this shiny copy to the one I’ve got. Afterall, it is not unusual for online information to not be completely up-to-date, especially if the changes had just been made recently and so not yet reflected on the website.

Bus timetable

The afternoon we went to the Red Beach near Akrotiri was when we discovered just how different the timetables could be. Located at the southern tip of Santorini, the Red Beach is about half an hour away from Fira through windy roads that pass through sweeping low-lying vineyards that separate villages from one another. Online timetable indicated evening service time of 17:20, 17:50, 18:20, 18:50, 19:50, 21:10, 23:30 whereas shiny brochure read 17:20, 18:20, 19:20, 20:20, 21:20.

Given how isolated the area seemed to be, and the economic climate in Greece, we figured the number of buses running could have well been reduced to more-or-less hourly service as indicated in the shiny brochure. Afterall, it was dated June 2013, and I had no idea when was the website last updated. We concluded that we should try to grab the bus at 19:20 to return to Fira and subsequently Oia.

Bus timetable

We got to the bus stop for Red Beach that’s adjacent to a small port at about 7pm, a little earlier than the scheduled time. Since we had some time to kill anyway, we decided to walk to the bus stop for Akrotiri which was not very far to go. Here, we met another couple of who were sort of panicking. They’ve just consulted the timetable at the bus stop and it read 18:50, 21:10. Whaaaaaaat?

Our hearts sank. But… but… right there, our timetable, shiny printed timetable, it said 19:20! Looking around, there were no one else either, so had we got it wrong somehow? It didn’t help either that I suddenly recalled the boat operator yelling earlier at the Red Beach for passengers who wanted to take the boat to the port “to catch the last bus” while we were still basking in the water and not even getting ready to walk back the few hundred meters between the beach and the port. Oh dear…

Bus timetable

The couple decided they would try to walk towards Fira, perhaps stopping at the next village en route to see if there’s any taxi or someone willing to give them a lift. We walked back to the bus stop of the port and stared at the timetable that was indentical to the one of Akrotiri. On the bottom right corner of this yellow sheet of paper was a date marked 14-06-2013 but we had no idea what the text above it meant. It was the only text untranslated on this timetable!

We asked a guy working at the cafe next to the bus stop if this yellow timetable was accurate, and he told us, “no worry, bus come, this one old”. Ah… so maybe the yellow timetable was only valid up until 14 June and they forgot to put on the new one! But the clock ticked away – 19:20, 19:25, 19:30, 19:35 – still no sign of any bus, nor of any other people either. Should we get order a taxi to pick us up? Should we eat dinner at the cafe even if nothing looked appetising? Should we eat at a restaurant a bit further away and risk missing the last bus of 21:20 which may or may not come at that time?

Bus timetable

Imagine our relief when right at that moment a bus actually came into sight and pulled up at the bus stop. Just as well we were undecided on what to do and haven’t walked away yet. At 7.40pm, we were on our way back to Fira. “So the bus was 20 minutes late, and the guy was right that the yellow timetable was old”, I muttered to myself needlessly. We kept an eye out for the couple too, and saw them running to a bus stop ahead of them to flag the bus down. Good, no one was left behind then.

The remainder of the bus ride was uneventful, and we got glimpses of the beautiful caldera from time to time. At the main bus terminal, I couldn’t help but walked towards the main timetable board. I wanted to know what was the right scheduled time for the bus. And guess what I saw? Let me magnify the photo above for your benefit too. The photo below is blurry but here’s the details: 18:50, 19:50, 21:10.

Bus timetable

One word – wow! This was the fourth timetable we’ve consulted, and it was also the fourth version that we’ve seen. None of the four timetables were actually identical. At this point, I could only laugh out loud at the comedic nature of the island time where it could just be any time according to whims. How did the bus of 19:40 fit into the grand scheme of scheduled 19:20 and 19:50 services, depending on the timetable used?

Curious too about the mysterious text above the date of 14 June of the yellow timetable, I tried to get them translated. Guess what they mean? LOL! Such is the joy of travel ;)


All posts in this series:
Greece: Postcards: Sunset in Oia
Greece: Chóra, Hora or Náxos Town? | Flickr Photoset
Greece: The Venetian Museum of Náxos | Flickr Photoset
Greece: An afternoon walk from Firá to Oia | Flickr Photoset
Greece: Caldera, volcano and hot spring | Flickr Photoset
Greece: Island time(table), Santorini edition
Greece: Postcards: Blue in Oia
Greece: Postcards: The idyllic village of Oia | Flickr Photoset
Greece: Just keep swimmin’, just keep swimmin’
Greece: Touring southern Santorini | Flickr Photoset
Greece: Postcards: Athens and the Acropolis | Flickr Photoset

Category: Europe, Greece, Travel

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8 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    kekeke…this is island time ;) latest update hehehe

  2. sila says:

    definitely island time. in cases like that, you just thank your lucky stars that you didn’t have to sleep on the beach that night. hehehe.

    • Lil says:

      lol… well we were supposed to have at least one bus at around 21:10 or 21:20 (odds 3 vs 1, so 21:20 seems unlikely to be right) as final chance before having to sleep on the beach!

  3. Lindsey says:

    Greek Attention to detail: optional!

    • Lil says:

      Completely! Our ferry from Santorini to Athens in the middle of the night arrived over 3 hours late and there was no information at all about it. I was beginning to think we would be seeing sunrise in Santorini when it finally came to port…

  4. Jo says:

    Hence my advice about the car… ;)

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