13th July, 2014
A lovely, gentle and slow day in this peaceful hotel. We went for a late breakfast at 9.00 am and then read the Sunday papers and drank coffee. An hour in the gym followed using the jogging machine and the exercise bike. We went straight from there to spend an hour swimming in the pool.
This evening we have eaten grilled salmon steak with grilled vegetables prior to watching the World Cup Final. Who to root for?
We leave Patras on Tuesday afternoon at 14.30 and arrive in Ancona by 10.30 on Wednesday morning. A quick trip to a local market and then on to Parma for the night. Thursday morning sees us drive to Mulhouse in Alsace where we stay for one night and then on to Reims on the Friday morning for a two night stop. On Sunday morning, we drive to Calais where we will spend the night and go shopping in the hyper-stores on Monday morning before making our crossing through the Chunnel and on our way back up to Surrey. We should be home by about 13.30 depending on the M25 traffic. The whole trip is great fun and something to savour.
14th July, 2014
What a wonderful day! We’ve woken up with not a care in the world, done an hour’s swimming in the deserted pool, eaten breakfast and read the newspapers. Not bad after a late night last night watching the Germans inevitably win. Actually, I was quite pleased for them and the strength of teamwork. It was nice to see Angela Merkel supporting her team just like she’s supported the Greek economy.
Usually, we don’t get back from Greece until the beginning of October. This year, for the first time in almost fifteen years, we are planning a number of trips. This is the short list we are considering:
- Drive to the Dordogne and stay for a few weeks. The Bergerac wine region appeals. My friend, Brian, had a house there and loved it.
- Drive or fly to Bologna for a couple of weeks.
- Revisit Venice. I have long looked forward to that.
- Fly to Rome, Verona, Florence to sit and stare for a few days.
- Spend some time in Madrid & Barcelona. We have never been to Spain and think it is about time we did.
- Visit the Amalfi coast.
- Go to Sicily.
We probably won’t manage half of those but we’ll make a start. Longer haul for next year could include visiting my childhood friend, Jonathan Kelly, who has just retired from US State R&D in Boston Massachusetts. I haven’t seen him since 1969. We have long talked about Australia & New Zealand and must visit them soon. After all, the world is our lobster! Talking of lobster, that’s what we’re having for Dinner.
15th July, 2014
The middle of July! Where does it all go? I suppose, we have been busy but still the time has flashed by. Now we are up, showered and dressed. We’ve had a cup of tea, watched the BBC News, downloaded the newspaper and we are off to breakfast before packing, checking out and driving down to the port.
We have our new tickets but still have to ‘check-in’ at least two hours before departure. The ship sails at 14.30 but we will be on by 1.00 pm and off to our cabin. It has a fridge well stocked with complimentary goodies, a television that shows Greek and Italian stations plus BBC News & CNN. It is furnished with a big and very comfortable double bed, a dining table and chairs and a sofa and easy chairs. The bathroom is well appointed with powerful shower and a hairdryer for Pauline. Meals are complimentary for Luxury travellers.
We will hole up there and won’t really see other passengers until we disembark tomorrow morning by which time the ship’s number will have been swelled by passengers from Igoumenitsa.
16th July, 2014
Great crossing and, after a wonderful sleep, a lovely, waiter-served breakfast and gallons of fresh coffee, we arrived at the port of Ancona at about 11.00 am. We drove straight off and took the road to Bologna and Parma where we stayed in a lovely hotel for the night.
We were there by 3.00 pm and had intended to go for a walk but the temperature had hit 34C/93F and the sun was intense. We settled for reading the newspapers in our air-conditioned room.
Italian hotels cannot serve poor food, it is against their religion and the restaurant in our hotel is no exception. We ate a Starter of Caprese Salata – buffalo mozzarella, beefsteak tomato, basil and olive oil,
oven roast, wild salmon with grilled vegetables and a bottle of local wine. It was to die for! Coffee in our room and an early night.
17th July, 2014
Up at 6.00 am and, after a light breakfast, we made an early start for our five hour drive to Alsace. It was warm and sunny as we left, got hotter as we navigated the Milano ring road during morning rush hour and, as we drove past the Lakes and into Switzerland, still featuring snowy peaks, the temperature rose to 27C/81F then 30C/86F.
The drive so far has been delightful and we arrived at Mulhouse in France by 1.00 pm. Our room was ready and there was a complimentary bottle of champagne in the fridge. We went straight off to the basement pool for a long swim and Jacuzzi to get the drive out of us.
Now, at 4.30 pm, we can open the champagne and relax. We have a four hour drive to Reims tomorrow.
18th July, 2014
No breakfast today just a cup of tea. On the road by 8.30 am. Temperature at 8.30 am 24C/75F but as we ambled along an empty motorway past Colmar and on towards Reims, the temperature hit 34C/93F.
With so little traffic on our five hour journey, I just set cruise control and sat back. Having only to hold the steering wheel, I was in danger of falling asleep. Fortunately, the car radio soon picked up BBC Radio 4 and Test Match Special so I could be entertained throughout the drive.
While we were driving, Elerania phoned from her Sifnos office to ask how we were and where we were up to on the journey. She told us our buyers were absolutely over the moon with the house which was wonderful. She is a lovely girl and a wonderful Notary. We were incredibly lucky to switch our case to her. She really understood and fully sympathised with our situation. We stopped just once for coffee en route and arrived at our hotel in Reims – Best Western Hotel de la Paix – by 1.30 pm.
We had booked a spot in the underground car park and were soon stretching our limbs in the pool. The TV carries British channels which is rather nice.
We are going to have a day off from driving and spend it walking around Reims tomorrow.
19th July, 2014
Lovely, relaxing day. Up at 7.00 am and into the pool for 30 mins swim. Back to our room for orange juice, tea and coffee. Listened to BBC Radio 4 and downloaded The Times which was full of high temperatures and Lightning strikes across UK. We reached 33C/92F today and it was a little muggy.
Went out shopping in the centre of Reims but, although the area is fascinating and interesting, there was little that caught our eye.
Our meal today was rabbit terrrine, chicken & tarragon terrine, mixed olives and a wonderful melting white cheese that I can’t remember the name of. We drank a wonderful red – St Chinian Sacre Coeur – something I’ve never found before.
I shall certainly look for it again. Last leg of the European journey tomorrow when we do three hours to Coquelles, Calais. We will stay the night and then do our week’s shopping before diving under the sea a driving back up to Surrey. It really is so lovely to see well-stocked supermarkets again!