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Friday, 3 August 2012

"Where shall we go now? What? Some people are going to Italy on the ferry? Sounds good to me".


We have a small issue with a little thing that is called a Shengen Visa. It's a long story but what it means is we can only spend 90 days out of 180 days in certain European countries. It's a real pain because we need a number if days for our cruise in September so we need to head back to the UK for a few weeks. We'll arrange our visas for Ukraine, catch up with some friends, and visit Wales as well while we are there. 

We hadn't planned a return route and were thinking of continuing down through Greece, into Turkey, then back up north and across to the UK. We have very kindly been offered a vacant house on a Greek Island to stay in for a while, and also had offers of accommodation in Athens, so we didn't want to rush through Greece. When we heard a few people say they were catching a ferry to Italy then riding back to the UK it sounded pretty good. After our cruise we'll head back down Italy, catch a ferry to Greece and continue our travels. It could  be a very nice place to spend winter. I was keen on experiencing a white Christmas, but I don't think it's practical travelling by bike.

So here we go.

It took ages to say goodbye to everyone at the Horizons Unlimited camp. A lot of people were staying on for a few more days and it was very tempting to join them. It was another dose of sad goodbyes for us. This really is the worst part of travelling like this. 

We took the same route into Ioannina that we took a few days before. On the way in it took us nearly three hours. On the way out it was an hour, and it was fun. I have decided that when I am tired now, I will stop. The deadlines can wait.

After a quick drink break we hit the main road into Igoumenitsa and the ferry terminal. We were hoping to catch up with Deb on her CB600F and travel across together. We couldn't find Deb, but found Roger and Jen who were catching a ferry as well. Just as we were buying our tickets Deb rocked up. She'd been down on the beach perving at all the young, buff, Greek guys. She's a real worry. 

On the ferry you have a choice of a cabin, an aircraft type seat, or deck space. The other guys were all taking a deck space ticket. I'll point out now that the night ferry takes about twelve hours to make the trip. "It's simple Simon. Take your sleeping bag, find a quiet spot on the deck, and go to sleep" said Roger. Hmm, I'm not so sure about this, but it could be a fun night. So we bought deck space tickets.

Our ferry arrived right on sun set.

We rode on board, secured the bikes, and sailed at about 10.30pm. On deck we scored a great spot and "found" six plastic chairs. Luxury. Then we had our own little party which was helped along by the girls having a bottle of wine each and Suzanne trying to reduce the world's surplus of gin and tonic. Roger and I were very responsible and only had one beer. Honestly.

Party central. You can tell can't you?

One thing let to another and it was decided that Deb should write a note, put it in the empty wine bottle, and fling it overboard. We should have made a copy of the note as none of us remember exactly what it said, but it was personal, and Deb might get a few "contacts" out of it it if comes good. I said I can't wait to show the photos at the wedding.

Deb's note goes into the bottle.

The final touch.



Gone! Good luck Deb. We hope you get a good response.

Enough fun and frivolity. At one am we decided it was time for bed. The Poms set up on deck while the Aussies headed below to look for a more comfortable padded seat or similar. Suzanne and I didn't bring our sleeping bags or mats, we planned to sleep in our riding gear. This worked incredibly well, here's the process: 
  • Find a soft piece of carpet.
  • Lie down.
  • Put your jacket under your head as a pillow.
  • Put a sleeve over your eyes as they don't turn off the lights.
  • If you're clever you do as Suzanne did and use your buff to cover your eyes and ears.
  • Go to sleep.
  • Wake up cold.
  • Put on your jacket. 
  • Use your boot as a pillow.
  • Stick your head under a chair to block that damn bright light.
I thought I slept well, but a few hours later I realised that I hadn't.

Where's Rex's Buff?

Jen is a real sweetie. She fits in and gets on with the job at hand. She was also a partner in crime for the ferry party. Love ya Jen.

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