2nd October, 2011
Lovely sunny day which we spent cleaning the car and packing ready for leaving tomorrow night. Because of the strike situation, we had to go down to the ferry ticket agency – Aegean Thesaurus – to confirm that our ferry would still be running. They confirmed.
Watched some pretty awful football on the part of Bolton and QPR an d was delighted to see Spurs beat Arsenal.
3rd October, 2011
Our last day in our Greek house for this year has arrived. We got up early and gave the cats their last breakfast. They will get an evening meal and we will leave food out for Tuesday breakfast but they will almost certainly eat it during the night. I have just phoned Nova TV to cancel my satellite subscription until next April. After coffee, we will start to pack the car for the journey.
Next, we will drive up to Apollonia and fill up with petrol, cancel our internet service and do some shopping for the journey. That is why this Blog is predictive rather than reported today. By 10.00 am, I will have no internet connection until I reach the hotel in Italy on Wednesday. There is satellite internet on the ferry up the Adriatic but it is painfully slow and unreliable. Hopefully, I will write again from Lake Como.
I’ve been up and cancelled my internet provision but, because I pay in advance, I learn that I will be able to use it at least up to tomorrow and, maybe, even on the boat. Having packed the car, we will go out go out to eat early and then get our boat at 23.59 pm. We will aim to sleep for most of the six hours of the trip and drive off in to the Athens traffic at 6.00 am tomorrow. It will take about three and a half hours driving to get over the Korinthos Canal and half way round the Peloponnese to Patras but we will be there by around 10.00 am on Tuesday. We can then get some breakfast, ‘Check-in’ and get our tickets and drive down to the dock where we will board at about 3.00 pm. We sail at 5.00 pm Tuesday and dock in Ancona about 12.30 pm Wednesday having called in at Igoumenitsa on the way – an approximately 19 hour voyage.
4th October, 2011
The ferry arrived thirty minutes late last night but docked fairly much on time in Piraeus this morning. By 6.30 am we were spilling out in to the busy, Athens rush-hour traffic. By 10.00 am, we had arrived in Patras – the main Pelopponese port. This is the Patras Bridge of which they are so proud.
I bought my first newspaper for six months and, after checking in and getting our tickets, we parked up and snoozed in between reading the latest news. We boarded Anek at 3.00 pm.
5th October, 2011
Pauline is 60 today. Neither of us can believe it. We have different views on ageing. Pauline sees it as a guilty secret to be denied even to one’s self on the basis that if you deny you are sixty, you aren’t 60 and you don’t feel 60. I always believed that I would die, like Dad, at 49 or earlier. I have always felt older than my age and, when asked how old I am, I always anticipate my next birthday by saying, I will be 61 in April, or whatever. I see it as a real achievement to get to the next birthday. Yesterday, when we got on the ferry and went up to the Purser’s desk to get our cabin key, I told him she would be 60 when she sat down to breakfast on Wednesday. It is late season and this ship is almost empty. When we got down to breakfast at 8.30 am, we were the only people in the restaurant. Normally, it is usual to queue for a table. The waiter had already been told to treat us royally. Our breakfast was free and we could have as much of anything we requested brought to our table. Fresh orange juice and fresh coffee were poured and constantly replenished until we asked the waiter to stop. We had bacon and scrambled eggs followed by croissants with butter and jam until we could barely move. We were just summoning up the ability to get out of our chairs when the waiter appeared with a glass dish full of thick and snowy Greek yoghurt, which he insisted we finish our meal properly with, topped with Greek honey from Crete (the home of the ferry). You must have a sweet, he said. (For breakfast?) We couldn’t upset him.
We staggered out on to the deck and into the sunshine. It was 9.30 am and warm. There was no sight of land and we dock at 12.30 pm. After a few minutes fresh air and sunshine, we stagger back to our cabin. I have my lap top and the ship has a satellite internet connection. It also has Greek TV through satellite. We watch the news coverage of the General Strike across Greece today. I check my emails and the newspapers on the web while Pauline reads her book on her Kindle. Suddenly, the cabin phone rings and the Purser speaks to Pauline. He wishes her Happy Birthday and says she must be pleased to be 16. He says, You are only as old as you feel and today he feels 100. Pauline tells him she will check with him when we return in April. The Purser says that then she will be 15. Pauline is happy.
Before I went to bed, I tried to access my Blog to write it up. I got an error message which I’ve never seen before. I will have to do it tomorrow.
6th October, 2011
Up early. A cup of tea but no breakfast. I have to drive from Grandate, Como via Colmar in Alsace to Metz in France today. It is a 370 mile journey which is estimated to take 6.00 hours. The weather was lovely, the roads were deserted and the journey was wonderful. The Hotel Metz Technopole is a pleasant stopping off point with a wonderful restaurant. We stayed there last year and decided to repeat the experience.
7th October, 2011
Just a 4 hour journey to finish our trip. Our Tunnel crossing is booked for 6.00 pm but we will certainly go earlier. In Italy, we stocked up with wine and cheese. Now we drive straight to our favourite wine store – The Calais Wine Superstore.
By 4.00 pm UK time, we are back in England and on the motorway to Surrey and West Byfleet. After six months, it feels very strange. This evening, I try to update my Blog but I still can’t access it. I email 1&1, my hosting company for an explanation.
8th October, 2011
We spent the day going through a backlog of mail and feeling very tired. In the evening, we went over to Mandy & Kieron’s to celebrate Pauline’s birthday with steak and potato rosti.