Thursday, 6 May 2010

28 hours later...

Written 6th may

... we landed in greece and despite getting up this morning at the same unmentionable time as I went to bed the previous morning, we're not so much like the walking dead as I expected!  But maybe we're just confused.  Can you give yourself jetlag even if you only actually move one timezone??

In a recent facebook poll seeking an opinion of whether we should pick riots in Greece or bandits and mafia in Sicily, 66% of people who responded, reckoned riots in Greece - something about immersing ourselves fully in local cultures was mentioned, i'm not sure what this says about us or our friends!! - so here we are.

I had really wanted not to be one of the majority of tourists described slightly disparagingly by one of our Italy guidebooks as 'never going any further south than Naples', and had quite wanted to explore Italy's toe, instep and stiletto heel, but it is not to be.  Well not on this trip anyway.

We got much further south on our first visit to Italy than we expected and having sent our italy books home, the two lp's we have left only have 4 places south of Naples in them, other than Sicily, two of which are Bari which we sailed into ('Puglia's capital is no longer the grim, crime ridden port of yesteryear') and Brindisi, which we sailed out of ('Despite its shady reputation, Brindisi is more boring than dangerous').  Not very inspiring...  And neither place looked but more appealing on arrival.

There were some cave dwellings in Matera (apparently the location used for Mel Gibson's filmThe Passion of the Christ') which sounded good but not enough for the detour, and we have decided that given the distance, we could fly to Sicily from the UK for less than the petrol we will use in driving there and back from Bari.  So one for another time.

Our arrival in Bari was early - but as well as being the last ones on the boat, we ended up being the last ones off as we were busy chatting to some more travelling Minnesotans, Eli, Carol and Derek, who were on their way back to Italy following a visit to family in BiH and Croatia.  Poor little lonely abandoned van... :(

The ferry from Brindisi to Igoumenitsa was in a whole different league from the one from Dubrovnik - plush lounges, fancy soft lighting and even an escalator! instead of bare metal steps, threadbare carpet and visible welds, honestly who needs to go on a fancy cruise when the ferries are this posh! - but even better, we got to 'camp on board', something I had heard we could do from Venice but didn't realise you can do on seemingly  all Italy-Greece crossings.  

For the same fare as the normal vehicle plus two deck passengers, we got to sleep in our van and free electric hookup - how exciting!  

Ok, so the surroundings, closest facilities and general ambiance were clearly steerage - definitely down with Leo rather than up with Kate, but everyone knows they had more fun down there! -

but our cabin was first class, we had a bigger picture window than anywhere on the ship except the bridge, and the wine was a fraction of the upstairs bar price - there was even a shower! Such untold luxury... ;)

And a sunset view - such as it was - the sea is a lot greyer on this side!

After the limited sleep of the night before, (well I slept, I usually can, anywhere, Will didn't, he just doesn't)we slept really well and our 2am wake up call for a 3am arrival at Igoumenitsa was not the shock to the system I had been expecting - up and about, fresh as a daisy!

We got off the boat, found a village, stopped and even got some more sleep - not bad at all.

And so we have landed in Greece - the funny alphabet and temperature confirms it!  It was even warm enough at 3am to be out on deck in a t-shirt.

No riots (yet) but prices are a bit of a shock to the system after Croatia - €1.50/l for petrol and €2 for espresso - ouch!  But quite exciting nonetheless.  And back in a land where everything closes for the afternoon.  So, an easy day in Ioannina to get over the usual new country, how-do-they-drive, what's-the-word-for-'thank you'-again, culture shock.   I have a bucket of feta cheese to eat,  I find I quite like greek coffee (half the price of espresso which is clearly a tourist drink here, not the stuff which makes the world go round like everywhere else!), the sun is shining - so far so good!

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