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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Venice - Patras, the final instalment

My route shown in red up to Milan, then light blue to Venice & by ferry Source:

So there I was, happily mooching around Venice: eating pasta, taking photos of gondolas (not riding in one for 80 Euros a pop, you understand) and thinking romantic thoughts on the bridges. But I had to leave at some stage. And so it was that I made my way across to the port to board my ship (sorry dad, vessel) to Patras in Greece.

A cheaper option - camp out on board
Eventually the vessel pulled off (it was a huge monolith of a thing, that Minoan 'Europa Palace') and initially 'yippee!' I had a cabin all to myself. I had paid 178Euros for a 2 bed cabin to share with another lady, but was holding my breath as so far; no-one had been put to share with me (it can often happen this way when travelling on a Greek ferry). But my luck ran out. After spending a good half hour on board waving goodbye (and taking some fantastic pictures) to Venice, upon entering the cabin I heard a woman singing in the shower. She poked her head out, wrapped in a towel:

"Maria from Prague" she shook my hand. And so began a 2 day ferry friendship. 
We lazily sauntered on deck again where I marvelled at the pilot disembarking our huge ship back onto his speedboat. This entails a rather Bondlike manoeuvre whereby the smartly uniformed pilot climbs down a rope ladder at the side of our ship whilst the speedboat driver is maintaining the same speed alongside. Then the pilot reaches over and jumps onto the speedboat, we all cheer at him as he gives us a little salute/wave and says into the radio to the Captain "Thank you for visiting Italian waters" (actually, I don't think he really does that, but they do in Air Traffic Control towers, I've heard them: "Thank you for visiting Dutch (etc) airspace.") We are all cheering the fact he hasn't
Can you spy him creeping down the side of the ship?

1) fallen in at high speed

2) been squashed against the side of the ship.

And so, with the old Milk Tray advert playing in my head (my British compatriots will remember this); my cabin mate and I head off for dinner.

Can you just about see him on the speedboat?
Bye bye pilot

Albania to the Port
We left Venice at 5pm on Monday 22nd August. By Tues 23rd August we were mid-Adriatic and Maria had dragged me out of bed (I seemed to want to sleep a lot) to inform me that the swimming pool was now open and I should come swimming with her. I say swimming pool, it was more a 'swimming hole' but none the less, enjoyable. It was more the novelty factor that I was swimming in a little pool in the middle of the sea. By 5pm that night we spied land! Albania to our port (left) side and Italy to our Starboard (right). After lots more photos, Maria and I went to eat again.
Italy to the Starboard side

The journey until 5am the next morning (Wed 24th) continued much the same: taking photos, doing Sudoku and swapping life stories as well as slipping in and out of weird lucid sleep with odd dreams involving pilots of aeroplanes trying to steer our monolithic ship and failing, thus crashing into the Rialto Bridge (told you I have an overactive imagination).

Our first stop in Greece was the evening of 23rd August, in Igoumenitsa, North-West Greece. Then a stop in Corfu before our final destination of Patras. I kissed Maria goodbye (her husband had kindly travelled overnight by bus to meet her off the ferry and drive the car for her) whilst I boarded a special Minoan Lines organised bus to Athens, which met us at the port (19 Euros).


And so here I am, back 'home.' This journey has been an incredible one: full of adventure, meeting characters of all sorts (remember the Italian guard on the Paris - Venice train) and falling in love with a city (but not in love with the smell emitted by Parisians).

Enjoy the pictures interspersed here, this blog will close now and I hope you continue to follow my ongoing blog about life in Greece/Athens:

Sunset leaving Igoumenitsa


  1. Oh, Dear me. I so wanted to say something positive, as Greece was one of my favorite places, but Patras . . .

    Maybe I was just there at an impropitious time or had eaten a bad olive. I do remember I was ill and staying in a "C"-class hotel that had brown water coming out of the tap. And the anarchists were occupying some buildings.

    Oh, well. That was some years ago and I am sure it is much nicer now.

    Eventually, I will write about the time I spent in Greece, but anyone who has been there will probably find it completely unrecognizable.

  2. Bex, how fascinating...and adventureous. I'd love to have that type of spirit but I'm really not spontaneous, however, my husband is the world traveler. He's a former military brat from his dad who was career air force so he has lived all over the world and loves it...thanks for stopping by!


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