22nd September, 2013
Packed our bags, fed the cat and drove down to the port. Went to Meropi Restaurant for lunch. Chick pea soup and fried squid. Drove on to the F/b Aqua Jewel bound for Syros. We went via Serifos and Paros which I haven’t seen for years. It could be 25 years since we were there. Have been on Syros before although only for a few hours on a day trip. This time we are staying until Tuesday.
Journey was quite interesting although these trips always seem too long for me. I like to be in control and under my own steam. We drove off reasonably on time at 9.00 pm and to our 4*, neo-classical hotel which turned out to be just disappointingly dated. Well we are on a mission and only here for two nights. It will do.
23rd September, 2013
Nice day. We spent the first half of it in the Town Hall. It houses the Law Court and Land Registry. The Urban Planner met us there. He was very helpful and it was really worth the trouble.
Unfortunately, while we were in the meeting, we learnt that a general strike is planned for Tuesday – Wednesday. No one knew if it involves transport and ferries. We may have over reacted but, after spending hours on the phone to our amanuensis, we decided to radically change our plans. There is a Blue Star ferry leaving at 4.00 pm from Syros bound for Piraeus. We have decided to take it. Our friend will sort the house out. We will drive on through Patras to Kaminia.
24th September, 2013
We were meant to dock in Piraeus at 8.00 pm. For some reason, it was nearer 9.00pm. We had phoned Poseidon Palace Hotel to check they had a spare room. Fortunately, it was sparsely populated and we got our favourite room. The late docking means it was 11.30 pm before we checked in – too late for a meal. We had pistachio nuts and a bottle of champagne, a shower and bed.
We woke early to a glorious morning with sun shining through the Rio Bridge and across fields and fields of citrus trees. Immediately after Breakfast at 6.00 am, we have driven down to the new port checking offices and, although they are not open yet, we have already been told that an Anek will leave at 5.00 pm tonight for Ancona. We hope to get a cabin.
It is 10.00 am and not only do we have a cabin but we have a Luxury one. We are going on Helenic Spirit.
We sail at 5.00 pm and dock in Ancona at 4.00 pm on Wednesday. We have come back to our hotel for a swim and coffee. We check out at lunchtime but won’t go down to the port until 3.00 pm. Our amanuensis has already phoned to say that everything has been sorted out at the Sifnos end so we can relax
I have to book a night in Parma for Wednesday. Next Blog will be from there I suspect.
25th September, 2013
A delightful crossing although we arrived an hour late. Drove to the local supermarket to buy 60 bottles of wine and then drove like a bat out of hell down the autostrada to reach Parma in two and a half hours. We arrived in time for Dinner – Fish & Salad.
Fell into bed. Early start tomorrow because we’ve got six hours to Strasbourg.
26th September, 2013
Early Breakfast and off by 7.30 am. Just as well because the 6 hours soon became 7 when we had an hour’s hold-up as a huge lorry took the motorway exit bend too fast and shed its entire load of shampoo across the carriageway causing local chaos and kilometres of queues.
We still arrived about 2.30 pm. The hotel, which looked so good on the web with a pool and fine dining, was rather disappointing. We ate early, slept early and planned to leave early.
27th September, 2013
Actually, the bed turned out to be delightful and we woke rather late. We had a cup opf tea and left at 8.00 pm. Our last leg of the Continental journey was a 6 hour drive to Coquelles where we had booked an old, favourite hotel.
We ate an early Dinner and luxuriated in English television channels for our last evening in France. Tomorrow we will do our weekly supermarket shop before taking the tunnel train to UK.
28th September, 2013
By 11.00 am we were loaded with vegetables, salad things, meat – duck, rabbit, pork and chicken – and fish – salmon, cod and hake – plus half the European wine lake. We staggered off to the Tunnel. Our tickets were for 2.00 pm but we arrived at 11.30 am and were put on the next train at 12.20 pm.
Rolling off the train in UK 30 minutes later at 11.50 am (It’s always nice to arrive before you leave.), we set off up the motorway ….. and that’s where our trouble started. Our sat. nav. told us that ahead on the M25 we would run in to 6 miles of queuing traffic with very long delays. It offered us a detour and we pressed ‘yes’ to take it. We were re-routed …. right through central London. The las 34 miles took us two and a half hours as we toured the delights of Peckham and Balham High Street.
No matter. We were back in sunny Surrey having completed our 28th journey across Europe by car and all without any real mishap. My digital odometer in the car told me that I had only driven 3700 miles from our garage in Surrey and back. That includes the two drives and all island driving. The car will be 12 months old on November 1st and will only have done 6000 miles – less than half our normal total for the working year.
Of course, Sifnos is so small. Nowhere is far away. It is only when you have gone – given oneself the chance to stand back and look in – that you realise the actors are minnows in a goldfish bowl believing they are sharks.