I write this on the ferry from Brindisi to Patrasso. On the ferry is exactly the right expression. The assumption that we are actually moving would be a wrong one. We were asked to line up at 6pm with a sailing time of 8pm. It’s now 9pm and we’re still in the dock. It’s a thirteen hour crossing (via Igoumenitsa) so I’m sure we’ll catch the additional time up with the accompanying stiff northerly breeze.
We didn’t do a great deal yesterday. We thought we would park up in Brindisi and do some admin (post blog, buy some postcards etc), but in the end we drove straight to the port and, second guessing every turn and complicated signage, parked outside the Grimaldi shipping terminal. The clue that we might be somewhere we should be was the large neon displaying: Grecia – Albania. We only wanted to go to one of those. The man behind the desk was lovely. We had two choices of destination: Igoumenitsa which was just south of Albania (hopefully not in it as our insurance doesn’t cover us there); or Patrasso, which was half way down the Greek mainland. ‘How much for the first one?’ €145. ‘And the second?’ €145. ‘The same price?’ Yup. Ferry leaves at 8pm (more realistically 9pm, come on). Whatever, €145 seemed reasonable for either port.
The cabin was a whopping €100 surcharge, so, as we had no plan we decided to go and have a coffee in the terminal and pour over a map to help us make a decision. You would have thought we might have had some idea as to where we were going and how we should get there. But, alas, no. At least we had arrived at a port that would take us to a country we thought we might like to visit.
I really haven’t got the energy to describe the encounter I had with the girl behind the coffee shop counter. She got the coffee order wrong on two occasions and, in v good English, blamed me both times – with complete disdain. At one point I though I might have been in a cafe in Paris, such was the abuse. Oh well. I guess she has the right to be miz if her boyfriend had walked out on her the night before for her younger and better looking sister. Or some other equivalent seismic misadventure.
Back to the maps. We are due to meet Jen (younger daughter) in Athens on 1 March. That’s about four weeks away. If we landed in the North we would probably have to rush to get down and round the Peloponnese (spidery thing hanging down from the rest of Greece like an udder) in time for then. If we landed at Patrasso (the gateway to the Peloponnese) we could spend a leisurely four weeks pottering around the place and then pick up the North later on.
‘No cabin, though?’ Agreed and sealed in blood. We would probably regret it.We booked in and then drove back into Brindisi to post the blog and such. It was a short trip, in and out, and then back to the port. C spent most of the rest of the afternoon preparing supper to take on board (a brill salad thing with bacon and nuts – it must have a name) and I faffed about under Doris’ bonnet, but without any real ambition. To while away a bit of time I skipped for twenty minutes (at one point I counted 175 and was completely knackered) and we both had a shower. We packed up as much comfy stuff as we could so that we could try and sleep on the boat and then, having fed another couple of cats (they’re being notified in advance by some form of cat morse code), made our way to the queue.
The ferry is a container ship with a relatively small area for passengers, a small shop and cabins. Doris is the only motorhome; I think there must be about ten cars and vans and the rest of the space is juggernauts. Most seem to be from Bulgaria, although there are a number of Italian trucks and at least one German. The boat is a Grimaldi Lines boat, a company which seems to operate throughout the Med and Adriatic. I believe it’s Italian, operating out of Naples. It is a big ferry with trucks on three floors and poor little Doris squeezed in between them on the top deck, exposed to the elements. I’m sure she’ll be fine.
C and I are the odd couple. There are probably no more than seven women passengers and everyone else appears to be a truck driver. Built in the truck driver mould. Legs just long enough to reach the pedals, arms and shoulders circular in nature to grip the steering wheel, and a big tummy to rest your beer on. But, unlike the UK, we didn’t feel as though we were in a transport cafe. Everyone was quietly going about eating goat loads of pasta with chips and I didn’t see a lot of alcohol being consumed.
Posting this now at Iguomenitsa at four in the morning as the port has free wifi. We have both slept (a bit), but I hear a coffee calling. We’re in Greece. Yippee!