(Continued from “Ferrying Home.”)
Morning found us back at the pier, where we learned that no ferries were scheduled to depart to Athens that day, for reasons we did not fully understand. The ferry passengers once again dispersed, and my father and I decided that as long as we were in Istanbul, we might as well explore it, since who knew when the opportunity would arise again? (Four months later, as it turned out, when we boarded yet another ferry to Athens which sailed to Istanbul instead, only this time we learned that for a “consideration,” the captain would allow us to stay on board when the ferry went to Athens.)
We duly wandered around Hagia Sophia, acquired a variety of colorful objects in the bazaar, and drank gallons of thick Turkish coffee while eating Turkish pastries which tasted and looked suspiciously like the Greek pastries we ate at home, only they were called something else. I found an entirely new group of crotchety old men to play backgammon with, and at one point ended up in a remote corner of the city by myself when I confidently boarded a train ahead of my father and it abruptly pulled away from the platform; oddly enough, I ran into the Orthodox Priest from the ferry, looking rather shifty, and together we made our way back to the hotel where my father and I were staying.
Somehow, our day in Istanbul stretched into several. Our room was richly aromatic with the smell of lemons at this point, and one of the tins of olive oil had begun to leak quietly onto the carpet, while the packages from the butcher were tactfully disposed of by the hotel staff. We must have attempted to get into contact with my father’s German friend at some point, since I can’t imagine that we would have left him hanging for days, but perhaps we didn’t. It was rather challenging to coordinate any sort of meaningful communication between Athens and Istanbul.
Eventually, we set sail for Athens, where we found my father’s friend happily disporting himself in the house of some other friends, and we delivered our assorted products and messages, minus one tin of olive oil and several parcels of meat. We also picked up the various and sundry objects which weren’t available in Molybos, or anywhere else on Lesbos, for that matter, eventually acquiring an assortment of luggage which was almost unwieldy as the collection we had arrived with. Fortunately, my father’s German friend was a fairly muscular sort who had no objections to lugging things around the city, and he viewed the rusty, creaking ferry we eventually boarded early one crisp morning as simply another adventure, rather than the floating death trap it undoubtedly was.
The ferry lumbered casually through the Islands, picking up passengers and cargo here and dropping it off there. The weather was temperate, and we sat on the deck most of the time and watched the Aegean slide by, admiring that strange shade of blue it achieves which makes it seem almost entirely unlike water. We made it back to Molybos in the end, and the German stayed with us for several weeks, much to the delight of Anna’s family, who were quite pleased to have someone other than my father to converse in German with, since my father speaks an admirably salty variety of gutter German.
Inflamed by our account of our adventures in Istanbul, the German decided to head there once his time on Lesbos was over, taking a slip of paper with the name of our hotel in hand and promising to look up the friends we had made in the coffeehouse. I remember that it was a bright, clear day when he sailed, and we waved him off and watched the ferry as it started to lumber towards Turkey, before making an abrupt veer to the west, and Athens.