Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Bye bye Greece, Hello Italy.

Monday 29th June. The Adriatic 41.28696 18.03629 !!!

We are currently sailing up the Adriatic Sea with Brindisi to our left and Dubrovnik to our right. We can't see them, of course, all we can see is sea.

We were told we should enter the port via gate 4 at 5am so we set the alarm for 4.30 but woke up just after 4am, funny thing body clocks. So, a cup of tea and a quick scrub up and we passed through uneventfully, nobody checked the van to see if we had any stowaways, and joined what was, to start with, an orderly queue on the dockside. After an hour or so this had deteriorated into a kind of anarchic phalanx and by the time somebody resembling an official arrived it was too late for him to arrange order from the chaos. But we were near the front, almost at the point of the arrowhead. Now, we've only done this crossing once before camping on board but it's a great arrangement. Basically you don't have to pay for a cabin and you don't have to find a quiet corner to doss down in. You have access to your van throughout the journey and access to all the ships facilities including a shower. But we've learnt that you have to be a bit smart and a bit cheeky to get the best location. Ideally you want to be parked on the side and not in the middle. We thought all the good spots would have gone as the ship started its voyage in Patras so we didn't hold out too much hope of getting where we wanted to be but we were the second vehicle on and there was a whole side empty. The van in front was directed to the side and then the guy directing traffic waved us to the side of him. No, I pointed that I wanted to be behind the first guy. No, the director of traffic waved me to the left. So I pulled up behind the first guy, shrugged my shoulders and smiled at the traffic director. He scowled at me but, so far so good. Now, the next thing you want is an electric hook up. They're available but there aren't enough to go round so as soon as you see the guy with the long pole pulling the cables down from the ceiling you grab one. None of this British "After you mate, no, after you". None of that, you grab one and hook up. Then you get your comfy chairs out of the boot, set them up in your little alcove and that's it. Then you think, well, I deserve a beer after all that and realise it's only 7am. So we had a cup of tea.

Initially it was a bit windy and chilly on our side of the boat, the left side (west) but now the sun has passed over the meridian we have glorious sunshine and we'll see a beautiful sunset over the sea tonight I'm sure. All we need now to make it a perfect voyage is a few Dolphins (gay whales?) following the ship so we can "ooh" and "ahh".

Our own sun lounge

Tuesday 30th June. Stezzano 45.65608 9.65285.

We are parked up tonight in a small car park in the small town of Stezzano, half way between Brescia and Milan. The ferry docked this morning at 7am and we were on the motorway by eight o'clock. Originally our plan was to take our time through Italy revisiting Verona and Vicenza and also stopping at a few places that we haven't been to before but we also want to visit our daughter and her family in Saint Etienne and this coming weekend is the only one when she will be at home for a few weeks. So we are pushing on in an effort to arrive there on Friday evening. If all goes to plan our next stops will be at Susa, just this side of the French border and then Tournon-sur-Rhone from where it is a scenic drive along the banks of the Rhone until we turn off toward Saint Etienne.

It was a bit of a shock when we hit the roads in Italy. We've been used to dawdling along in Greece hardly seeing another vehicle as we've generally avoided the main roads and motorways. Even when we have used those roads in Greece there has been nothing like the traffic we've seen today. The exception to this is the ring road around Thessalonika. We've used that road five times now and when we get off it and stop I just about have to prise my fingers from the steering wheel. I can't think of many more scarier roads. The alternative is to drive through Thessalonika itself which is basically five miles of stop start traffic jams which take forever to get through. So we take the ring road for the adrenalin rush.

I read today that there is a heatwave in Spain, Portugal and France heading toward the UK. It didn't mention Italy but it has been unbearably hot here today. There's not a breath of wind so even with all the windows and the door wide open it's like an oven in the van, I think I'll be on the lookout for a 12v fan over the next day or so.



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