We're home again. The air conditioning seems to be dripping fluid so I'm typing in 32C heat with a noisy fan in the background, hoping the computer doesn't overheat.
The mini-cruise was wonderful in many respects. The food was superb - vast choice, enormous quantities, excellent service. No need to dress up at all, although some people did for the last night. We were at a table with a very nice couple each evening, an Australian Cypriot man and a Chinese lady. The excursion in Patmos was very interesting, albeit a bit rushed as we saw a cave, a museum, a monastery and a nunnery within a short space of time. The islands of Tinos and Santorini were also beautiful, although we didn't spend very long at either. Our cabin was comfortable and reasonably roomy. The staff were friendly and helpful. The sea was calm, the weather warm but with a pleasant breeze, and not humid. Accommodation was more like that of a hotel than a ferry, with towels provided and thorough cleaning done every morning.
Unfortunately, every silver lining has a cloud! It seemed as if something went wrong every day of our trip, although most of these were not related to the cruise itself.
On Sunday, the car overheated on the way to Limassol. This was the first long trip Richard had done since it was repaired a few weeks earlier after the same thing happened on the way to Nicosia. It wasn't a disaster: turning off the air-conditioning and switching on the heater meant that the temperature stabilised, although it's not much fun driving along the motorway in summer with the heating on! We got to the port in plenty of time and found we could park the car there, albeit at great cost. But no more so than the cost of getting a service taxi there and back would have been. We also learned that although meals were all included in the price, we would have to pay for all drinks at lunch and dinner - even water. Coffee and juice were included with the breakfasts, though, so that was good.
Shortly after we left, Richard had an urgent message from his colleague back in Larnaka, with a computer server problem. Thankfully after several texts to and fro, it was resolved.
On Monday, after the excursion to Patmos, the ship managed to bump into the side of the dock. I overheard someone say that one of the ropes had not been untied properly. Whatever the reason, the dockmaster insisted that we wait just outside Patmos until an inspector arrived from Athens to check whether it was safe to proceed. So we waited 16 hours. Far better in a ship than in an aeroplane, of course, but rather frustrating. Still, we were at least offered free drinks with our meals for Tuesday.
On Tuesday there was another, more serious server crash at Richard's office - this time with one of the London servers. It ended up being down for nearly 24 hours, potentially a big problem for several different people. As well as rapid text messages to and from Richard's Egyptian colleague, he heard from other people who were not receiving email, or hearing the radio station. Richard had hoped not to have to think about work while away, but ended up spending much of Tuesday evening (and Wednesday morning) troubleshooting via text messages (and a few voice calls) on his mobile phone.
On Wednesday it was Tim's turn to have a big problem, and it took him an hour to contact us as Richard had left the phone in our cabin while we sat outside reading. Four months ago, I wrote this post - about an electrical pole in our street being damaged by a drunk driver. The pole was fixed, but the crash seemed to have jerked a couple of power cables slightly out of their fittings in our home. All electrical cables here are overhead rather than underground. Richard mentioned it to the workmen at the time, and phoned the electricity board several times over the next few days, but although they kept saying they would come and fix it, they didn't. And somehow, we forgot about it.
Unfortunately, on Wednesday there must have been a stronger wind than usual. Tim arrived home from a music practice to find there was no power in the house. Suspecting a power cut, he looked outside, and saw one of the cables right out - loose, lying on a tree. Thank goodness for the tree, since otherwise it could have landed on the (metal) fence at the front of the house, making it live.
When Tim finally got through to Richard, we told him to go and speak to our neighbour over the road who could explain in Greek what had happened to the electricity board. Besides that, he's a safety officer! When Richard phoned back five minutes later, he learned that repairmen had arrived already - clearly this was an emergency! So power was resumed to the house.
Thursday's disaster was my fault. I managed to lose our digital camera. We were in Santorini, and had stopped for ice creams. I put down various things I was carrying as we sat on a wall to enjoy them. When we got up again, I was carrying a carton of juice and although I picked up everything else, I somehow must have forgotten the camera. When we discovered this, about ten minutes later, we hurried back to the spot but it was gone. We asked around, but nobody had seen it. It was two years old, we didn't even pay for it (we bought it with Nectar points accumulated over the years from our credit card) and it wasn't a great camera - but by that stage I'd taken 20 pictures intended for this blog. Richard took some with his 35mm camera too, but I'd hoped to use my digital ones today. I can't believe how sad I was about my poor little camera, which won't even be any use to anyone else since we have the cable here and I don't suppose the software's available any more as the camera's obsolete.
On Friday we arrived back in Limassol at 3pm - later than the original 11am, due to the delay after Patmos. The trip to Kos had been missed out, sadly. We found the car and it did start, but by the time we had reached the end of Limassol it was overheating dangerously. So we stopped and called the Cyprus AA, only to find that our subscription had expired. Apparently we had never received the renewal form. They did send out a recovery vehicle but we had to re-join the AA for this year, and also pay for the truck. Not a huge amount, but it was very annoying.
Still, we got home safely. We went to the youth group variety night which was very enjoyable. All four cats are fit and well. Tim coped fine without us. This morning I received two email messages from Daniel, so anyone following his Doulos blog can read those. We feel as if we've been away at least a fortnight, not just five days, and are much more relaxed despite everything! Richard took his photos to the local place to be printed, and they've come out reasonably although the colours are nothing like as good as we expect from UK printers. So we do at least have some pictorial record of our holiday.
Tonight we're going to an inter-church beach barbecue so I won't be posting any more today. Perhaps tomorrow I'll scan in some of Richard's photos and write about what we actually did!