17/18.06.2013 - A Greek Tragedy
The drive down to Patras was beautiful - probably better than the Adriatic highway in Croatia as it was not dangerous as well. The campsite at Delphi has to be probably the best site we've ever stayed on, certainly in the top 3, as it has good clean facilities, a very good restaurant, a stunning view available to nearly all pitches and a swimming pool perched on a cliff. Family run by 2 cousins, the father of one having built it in 1965. After our meal on Sunday, we were taught Greek dancing by one of the boys and their whole extended family joined in for a great evening. The tragedy is, that despite all this going for them, bookings this year are 60% down on last year and they don't know what to do. Word of mouth is OK but Delphi is a long way to go for a good campsite so I don't know how they're going to survive which they deserve to as they couldn't try any harder to please.
So we drove down to Patra, wonderful sea bridge in the Millau style over the straights and a crowd of us parked beneath and had lunch at a waterside taverna before heading to the hellhole of the docks. First mistake was letting Malc lead who took us to the north port instead of the south port, 2 miles away, where Minoan lines operate from. When I eventually overtook him in the docks and stopped the now developing convoy from going further north, we turned round and headed south. Finding the port was easy, getting in was difficult, and finding the right parking area, having cleared security, for our yet-to-arrive ship was a lottery. Information zero. No signs, no gates, no personnel, no nothing. 2 other shipping lines had ships unloading and loading with not one person directing anything at any time. Every lorry driver did what he wanted. Our boat arrived at 15.30 and it was chaotic. When the very long line of motorhomes/caravans finally boarded, some were parked facing the front, some the rear and hunt the electric supply began.
Sailed at 18.45, 45 mins late. The situation was made worse when the boat called into Igoumenitas at midnight and a lot more vehicles were loaded in front of us.
The crossing to Italy was as calm as millpond, and arrived Ancona 17.45 Tues, 45 mins late. Weather exceedingly hot.
We had said goodbye to Alan & Pat, tour leaders, at Patra as having given us the tickets and seen us through the dock gates their job was done and they are off to Athens for a holiday. There had been a vote of thanks and speeches at the Delphi dinner as they had done a cracking good job. We got quite friendly with them as we often pitched next to them and shared the odd bottle and we thought they were superb. Very calm and unflappable, good people in a crisis, a great team and a fund of stories from leading over 40 tours around Europe , New Zealand and South Africa.
So when the other 9 units finally disembarked in further chaotic scenes at Ancona, 7 headed for San Marino, where we started and had a final final meal, and 2, including ONBF ( who left very pointedly without saying goodbye to us, and very pointedly invited everybody except us to visit them in their Spanish holiday home) who shot off to Rimini. So 14 of us had a very pleasant meal at the campsite and said our farewells with mass swapping of email addresses etc.
Richard & Monica may well join the trip to Morocco and we all intend meeting in Cambridge for a week in Oct to finalise plans. A good finish.
Notes will be made.