GREECE RE-VISITED 2006 - Week 1
WEEK 1 NEWS - across Europe to Venice, and the Adriatic ferry to Greece:
1000 miles from Calais to Venice to catch the ferry to Greece. 3 days of
travel south-eastwards produced surrealistic climatic extremes: we left
UK in chillingly bleak and cheerless grey murk, camped in freezing snow
drifts in Southern Germany, were sunburnt in bright Spring sunshine in
Venice, before finally boarding the ferry from Venice to Greece in
The 380 miles stage 2 of the journey brought us past Munich to the Tyrol village of Bad Feilnbach and another of our regular stopping points at Camp Tenda, almost snow-bound at this time of year with sub-zero overnight temperatures. The deep snow-drifts around our camp (Photo 1) provided a convenient means of chilling our evening wine. The 300 mile final stage to Venice took us over the Brenner Pass, engineered over spectacular snow-covered Alpine mountains, and down into the sunny vine-clad valleys of Northern Italy past Bolzano and Verona.
Our reward for 3 days' sustained driving was a rest day in Venice, before catching the ferry for Greece. Our preferred, and much recommended Venice campsite Miramare (www.camping-miramare.it) does not open until April, so misguidedly we chose to stay at Camping Fusina near to the grubby sprawl of Mestre on the mainland. Despite Fusina's setting in a wasteland of industrial dereliction, and the overwhelming presence of the neighbouring oil refinery, the campsite did overlook the Lagoon with the lights of Venice twinkling along the misty horizon. The ultimate negative however was the price: Italian campsites are notoriously expensive but €29.50 per night was just silly. Having said that, there was a convenient vaporetto across the Lagoon to Venice. And the Gods smiled on us with a wonderfully warm and bright sunny Spring day, perfect light for Venice's photographic potential. It was one of those magically memorable days in Venice: we sat drinking crisp dry white Veneto wine by Vivaldi's church at the Riva degli Schiavoni, waded through pigeons and Japanese tourists in Piazza san Marco, wandered aimlessly through back alleyways photographing gondolas on the narrow side-canals, and marvelled at the Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal sparkling in the afternoon Spring sunshine (Photo 2). And as the sun set, we shivered our way back across the Lagoon by vaporetto to Fusina.
we chose to cross the Adriatic to Greece from Venice by Minoan Lines.
The Camping-on-deck option
your own vehicle is not available until April, so with a cabin it's far
from being a cheap crossing - ferry options, timetables and bookings
recommended through MTC and Viamare (see Links Page). The weather did an
about-face for our day of departure, with lowering grey skies and
pouring rain. Despite this disappointment, the driving rain and mist
made the views from the deck as we departed Venice even more mystical (Photo
3). So began the 30 hour tedium of the Adriatic ferry crossing,
relieved only by a bottle of Ouzo from the ferry shop. The following day,
the ferry called in at Corfu and at the Northern Greek port of Igoumenitsa, where more lorries than you'd think could be shoe-horned
into a ship's hold emerged to continue their journeys to Eastern Europe.
The ferry continued down the wine-dark Ionian Sea, past Leucas,
Odysseus' island of Ithaca and Kephalonia (of Captain Corelli fame),
swinging finally into the port of Patras on the NW Peloponnesian coast.
During the afternoon, the sun was just about warm enough to be out on
deck, watching the coastline of Greece passing by (Photo 4). We were ashore by 8-00 pm, battling through the anarchic Patras evening
traffic, to find our first campsite in Greece just along the Gulf of
Corinth at Rion. We were warmly welcomed to this delightful family-run
small campsite for our first night in Greece.
Sheila and Paul Published: Saturday 25 March