Yesterday was a SHIT day. I was in such a state. Basically, I walked 4km into town in the hopes of renting a scooter and driving up to the Shipwreck lookout point. What actually happened, is that I walked all the way to Laganas just to be rejected by at least 8 shops because I have a Canadian license. Top of the list of tasks to accomplish when I get back to Canada: Get an international license.
I refuse to walk another 4km in the mid-day sun, so I start tossin’ up the ol’ thumb. There’s a real strange, deep, dark feeling of embarrassment that comes along with hitch hiking. At least for me. After having done it a fair amount, you’d think it would wear off and I’d be used to it – but I’m not. Maybe I’m alone in this? I don’t mind being passed by a few cars… but when a row of 10, 15, 20 cars go by, empty seats, adverting eye contact (or worse, waving)… it gets to you. I start talking to myself. “please, please, please! nope. okay. you suck. you suck. oh you? nope, just making a right turn. eff youuu, OH! wait…did you just give me a thumbs up back? rude. mmkay. I’ll just keep walking and roasting in the sun.”
Slowly losing it over here. Finally a woman pulls over with her 2 kids in the car and drives me the rest of the way. I was starting to question my existence. I go home and Skype my Ma because I’m in such a slump about my lack of mobility.
Here’s where it gets interesting, friends.
I’ve used Tinder for ages, it’s entertaining af. You’ve seen the screenshots from your friends or @tinderconvos on Instagram.
If you have Tinder I’m sure you’ve had a funny conversation or meeting of your own. It’s a laugh. I’ve used it to get recommendations for bars and restaurants. I’ve used it to practice my Spanish. I’ve used it to meet generally chill people for drinks and (sometimes) interesting conversation. It’s a good way to “meet” (or at least speak to) locals. So I’ve turned to it here in Zakynthos.
I have to swipe left through a lot of shirtless English party lads, but I match with a couple people who seem alright. I get chatting to one guy who turns out to be another tourist, but we have alllllll the travel plans in common. He wants to rent a bike, I want to rent a bike! He wants to rent a boat, of course I want to rent a boat!
So here I am. At 8:30am the next day. Hitch hiking to meet an internet stranger on the beach. Sorry Mom.
Don’t worry though! Abi knows where I’m going, the hotel where he’s staying, has a photo of his tinder profile, his WhatsApp number, and what time I plan to be home. If I get murdered, she’ll figure out a way to avenge me.
I try to brush off that uncomfortable feeling of embarrassment while I walk down the road trying to flag a ride. I walk a kilometre or more before a nice Greek family picks me up and drops me half way to where I need to go. Then quickly flag another Greek man and his son, who are stoked on where I’m going because it’s where they work! What are their jobs? Boat rentals. Yah. I just found us a boat.
I meet Adam, my Adventure Day Tinder date, and he doesn’t seem murder-y at all. Bonus! We rent the boat for 4 hours for 80€. Horrifyingly expensive, but I hide the pain behind my smile and convince myself it’ll be worth it for the freedom of exploration I didn’t have on the larger boat tours. Adam insists I just pay 20€ instead of half. I like him already. We can’t take the boat all the way up to the shipwreck, but are free to explore the caves and waters around this part of the island. We see a sea turtle, a family of goats climbing down the cliffs to the sea, and a ton of caves. I loooooove cave exploring but we’ve been given strict boat-parking instructions… which basically prevent us from parking anywhere near the good caves. Ah well. We find a nice spot to drop the anchor and swim around in the clear water, hit a small (and very rocky) beach, and find a “cave” which isn’t really a cave but more of a slit between two rocks that we kinda push ourselves through momentarily but it’s not that exciting. We just float around chatting for the majority of the time.
He’s an ex-U.S. Marine (not my first marine travel buddy) who now works for the government intelligence and security services and gets to travel all over the world working on various projects. I try not to give up any important Canadian secrets. He’s currently living in Germany, but has lived basically everywhere, so we swap a lot of travel stories. Do I have anything else to talk about? Rarely.
After our boat adventure, we get some lunch and go to rent a motorbike. My Tinder date has an international license, but the Greek laws are so intense that no one will rent him any kind of bike either! A car yes, scooter no. A 200cc quad yes, a 100cc scooter, no. There is no logic, but alright. He’s confident he can drive the quad, and I’ve seen tons of kids ripping around on them in Laganas, so I’m sure he can too. We split the 40€ cost of this equally and get on our way to the North of the island. The drive is only about 45 minutes and through the quiet rural areas of the island; we’re coasting on roads lined with grape fields and ocean views. I’m not driving but I can feel that the steering is strange; not like a car, but a bit like we’re playing Mario Kart. Hopefully we don’t hit any bananas. Amirite? #BadJokes. But seriously, have you driven a quad? They’re weird.
We arrive up at the viewpoint around 4 in the afternoon. Protip: This is an AWESOME time to go. There are only a handful of people in comparison to what I would have expected, and the sun is still shining across the beach. There is an official lookout point where can take a good picture and then jump out of the way for the next eager tourist, OR, if you walk a little bit down to the right, along a rocky path, you can find even better views with even fewer people! Head towards the Greek flag at the end of the peak to find your ideal spot. There are no barriers out this way… but just use your common sense.
After we’ve had our fill of the unbelievable view, we take the quad to the west side of the island, where there’s a little swimming cove called Porto Limnionas. This has been recommended to me by my WorkAway host, Abi.
This place somehow reminds me of home. I’m from a small town in Canada called Elora, which is famous for it’s beautiful quarry; a little swimming hole surrounded by limestone cliffs and a small beach.
This is like… a much much much nicer version of that, because of the crystal clear salt water. I think it’s just the vibe that gives me that home-y Elora Quarry feel. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but in any case, it’s a rad spot. We spend more of our day floating around, trying to explore caves that are too shaded and cold to really tolerate, and chatting. I love picking American’s brains about their politics. He’s a good sport and humours me, and I actually learn some interesting stuff.
When we’re pruney and cold, and the sun starts to soften, we get back on the bike and head towards home. We stop for one drink to cap our adventurous day and drive to Zakynthos town, where Adam hasn’t been yet. The town is quite charming and has some bars and restaurants along the main strip with a nice view of the port. We’re on the wrong side of the island for an epic sunset, but I think that’d have been a little too intense for our full-day Tinder date anyway. Not the vibe here. I wouldn’t even realllllly call this a date. Meeting Adam online was just like what meeting other travellers at a hostel or tourist spot would be. The amount of times I’ve met people and immediately proceeded to spend the next day, week, or even month straight with them is high. I still prefer to meet people organically when I travel but hell, nothing wrong with using a little Tinder when abroad, my friends! Give it a try.
I spent more money than my goal budget, yes. About 50€ between private boat rental, quad rental, food, and drinks all day. Is that twice what I’d normally spend? Yes. Is that absurd? I don’t know.
If I had done the exact same activities alone, I’d have spent upwards of 130€. Would I have taken a private boat out on my own? Well, no, but that was cool nonetheless. Would I have paid 25€ for a slow coach bus tour to take me up to the viewpoint at peak tourist hours? Yes, and that wouldn’t have been cool. I’ve had days this week where my expenses were literally 0€ (Yesterday I spent just 3€), so I count this mini splurge day as a total win. Thanks for the company, Adam!
Shoutout to Tinder for existing.
Boat Rental 20€ (80€ If you’re looking to rent your own. Pretty reasonable, really!)
Quad Rental 20€ (40€ If you get your own, and you get to keep it for 24hrs! Gas is extra)
Miscellaneous Bottles of Water Throughout the Day 3€
Accommodation: Free – WorkAway
Other Meals: Free – WorkAway
Port-Side Drink: Free – Tinder Date picked up the tab