Sunday 24th April
We are parked up this evening on a campsite near Glifa in the northern Pelleponese (37.83729 21.12860).
We sailed from Ancona on Friday and, unusually for Greek ferries, it wasn't one of our better journeys. When we checked in we asked if we could upgrade our cabin to an outside berth and if we could make our return ticket an open return. The guy said to arrange the cabin when we got on board but if we wanted to change our return ticket we would lose the early booking discount for both journeys, out and return! He then told us to ask for electric hook up for the van when we boarded and to use our Greekferries loyalty card to get discount on food and beverages. We then sat on the quayside while every other vehicle was loaded, lorries, cars, vans, trailers and then finally the half dozen motorhomes were called forward. We parked, as instructed on the lower deck and I asked for electric hook up. Nobody was interested and then finally I was told there was no electric where we were parked, cue half a dozen motorhomers screaming blue murder. Reluctantly the guy showed us a socket about 100 metres away from the nearest van!
We went upstairs to reception where nobody was interested in our problem. I went back downstairs to see the main man responsible for the loading, as advised(or I would have done had I not got lost!) Meanwhile Phil tried to upgrade our cabin. She was told somewhat abruptly to come back in two hours. I returned from my trip round the bowels of the ship and went searching for someone (anyone) with pips on their shoulders to vent my anger. Man with pips studiously avoided me for five minutes and finally asked if I had a problem. Problems explained and he said he couldn't do anything about the lack of electricity but we could upgrade our cabin for €40. I explained that I was probably going to throw away defrosted food from our fridge when we landed worth far more than €40 and under the circumstances did he not think it appropriate to offer us a free upgrade. We settled on €20.
Down to the cabin, a few deep breaths, time for a beer. Up to the bar "sorry we don't give discount on drinks with that card". ok, I thought, that's not unreasonable although €4.50 for a beer was a bit steep. By now we're hungry so it's down to the restaurant. Shuffle along the queue plonking food on trays, arrive at cash desk and proffer card. "Sorry, we don't accept that card on this ship". Phil took a step back and a deep breath. I explained, as politely as I could, the problems we'd had over the last few hours to the cashier, whilst acknowledging that none of them were of his making or his responsibility. He gives us a large discount on our meal.
Saturday afternoon and we sailed into Patras. Quick stop on the quayside to set the SatNavs and we were off. They've built a smart new flyover as you exit the docks to take you onto the motorway heading toward Pyrgos but between the flyover and the motorway there's a stretch of single carriageway road with a couple of sets of traffic lights. The second set weren't working. That was fun. Eventually we reached the campsite here, pulled up to the reception area and saw the elderly lady owner waving at us from the restaurant 50m away. We drove up and remembered why we come to Greece. "Welcome" she said, with a lovely smile. "Find somewhere you like to park, we are not busy so take a nice spot and then come back and see me". This we did and when we returned she asked if we had just come off the ferry and when we affirmed that she asked which one. We told her and she shook her head solemnly "Ah, Minoan lines. They've been bought by Grimaldi, not so good now I think". How true. We ate in the restaurant and had delicious Moussaka and were asked if we would be staying until the 1st May so we could share in the "Greek Easter" celebrations. We ate there again tonight, had a delicious rabbit stew and when we left she gave us a jar of homemade lemon preserve "delicious with cheese".
Greece is much maligned as a nation who don't pay their taxes, have too generous pension schemes and only have themselves to blame for the economic situation they are in. There's some truth in that but they are also the nation that pull folk from the sea who are escaping from war zones, persecution and poverty and then care for them and share what little they have with them. We've never met such welcoming, hospitable and generous people. Whether we stop at campsites or tavernas or just on a beach or small harbour I've lost count of the number of times someone comes along and offers us a gift of food. We come to Greece because of the Greek people.
This beach is 50m from the van:
After decorating our pitch, Phil thought she'd sit down with a coffee:
Tomorrow we head a little further south toward Methoni. Not entirely sure where we'll spend the night but I'm sure we'll find somewhere and when we ask if it's OK to park up I've no doubt we'll get the usual response, "Of course, park where you like, this is Greece - sleep well