Thursday 23rd April. Kalpaki 39.88362 20.63271.
Our ferry was due to leave Ancona at 2pm yesterday. It left at 4.30pm. Not a big problem and it was entertaining to watch the "crew" loading the lorries, cars and motorhomes onto the ship. They sent a guy who didn't seem to know what he was doing off for food and he returned with the orders all mixed up. People were looking at their sandwiches and slapping him round the head. Then they sent him for Peroni. In England they would all be sacked. Meanwhile the boss man was trying to load the ferry and whistling and shouting at them. One minute nothing was moving and the next all the lines were moving; Italian chaos. Finally we were all on board and the guys on the actual ship do a great job, they direct you with shouts and hand signals until you are all parked up like sardines with no wasted space.
We booked the ferry months ago but they get booked up pretty quick and we only had an inside cabin. It was a long, long way from the garage access and although the engine noise wasn't too bad the AC unit was very loud indeed so not much sleep last night. Never mind, this morning we sailed into Igoumenitsa in bright sunshine and we were lucky; we were amongst the first vehicles off the ship. A quick diesel fill-up and we set off for Vrosina, a small village in the mountains between Ioannina and the coast. It's springtime now and the many shades of green on the trees on the mountain roads were amazing. A break for a sandwich and coffee in a car park above the village with a 360deg view and we set off for Kalpaki. Just outside the town is a museum dedicated to the battles between Greece and Italy in 1940/41. A woman in the cafe in the town said we should visit and that a soldier would show us around. Sure enough a young soldier stood to attention as we arrived and showed us around and with the aid of a large map demonstrated the Greek strategy and victory. His English was not too good, although better than our Greek, obviously, but we were pleased to meet each other and he was enthusiastic in his role as guide.
The other reason we came here was because our friend Bernd said that the butchers shop and taverna next to the museum sold some wonderful sausage, Loukaniko, and that if we stopped for a meal we would have no problem parking for the night. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and bought a beer, asked if we could park "Yes, of course, why not?" and said we would come back later for something to eat. The taverna has a lovely garden at the front and and an enclosure with chickens, three Bambis and a small dog all happily co-existing. The disadvantage to this, of course, is the dog and cockerel will wake us up tomorrow at some ungodly hour but hey, an early start is good. At 7pm we returned licking our lips, we ordered some salads and, of course, Loukaniko. The proprietor came back two minutes later "Sorry, no sausage. None left. Sausage kaput!" But this was a blessing in disguise as we ordered lamb's liver which was delicious. Of course no one orders a pudding in Greece because you know a complimentary something will always be forthcoming and this evening it was home made orange, lemon and honey cake. Now we know we are in Greece.