And its all Greek to me ...

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Anessis Hotel Thessaloniki

Flag of Greece  , Macedonia Region,
Thursday, March 17, 2011

Got up at 8.30 Greek time, which is 7.30 Italian time or 6.30 UK time.

Went to enquire what time we would be docking as last night's time was only an estimate. Now we are expecting to land at Igomenitsu at "after 1.00" Turns out that the ferry we were booked on was sent to Libya to rescue the people stranded there by Gadaffi, so we are on a different boat. Whether this affects the speed, or the route (we are going via Corfu) or whether the weather last night was so bad that it really did knock 5 hours onto a 11 hour journey, I guess we will never know. However this really does set our schedule back a serious blow at quite an early stage. Especially as it will probably take a couple of hours to offload all the vehicles, and we were amongst the first on, so we'll be at the back of the queue to get off. But, not a lot we can do about it.

Eventually we docked at 2.30, 7 hours late on an 11 hour journey. Drove into Greece knowiung we were way behind on schedule. We stopped off to get petrol, and were greeted by the owner who enthused over the car. Nothing new there, then. However, he spoke good English and invited us in to have coffee with him and his wife, mother-in-law and a frend. Gave us a bottle of water each, asked if we wanted more. More hospitable than anyone else on the whole journey , really kind to us.
After we set off, we tried to take the road to the motorway instead of going back to it the way we had approached the garage. However we drove for miles, with many turnings going onto dirt tracks or worse. Asked for directions from one guy, who ddint speak to us, just gestured to each road in tutrn and indicated that was the one. Hiow difficult is it to direct someone to Thessalonika? Went further on and found a guy driving a digger. He couldnt speak English but make a quickl phone call, and told us to wait. Thereupon arrives his son/grandson, aged about 14, on a scooter. He speaks good English and directed us back to the petrol station! Embarrasment!

Anyway, in the 200 odd miles of motorway there must have been about 6 junctions, of which only half allowed you back onto the motorway, about 3 petrol stations, one toilet which was abysmal. All the English tax money building their motorways and we dont provide proper facilities!
Drove into town, found a hotel, had dinner and did admin. So to bed.

Miles 216 Av speed 40.2 Max speed 59.7

Martin writes:
Well its St.Patrick's day 2011 and I'm on the wrong boat heading for Greece. For some strange reason I have always felt very comfortable in Italy and have often thought that it has a lot of similarities with Ireland. The culture and attitude of the people is very close. But we leave it behind and find ourselves surrounded by No smoking signs where the kitchen staff have a fag going and posters extolling the availability of internet and mobile phone connection when there is none.
So Roger has told you about George. We isolated problem as being motor with bit of wire and my special high tech. circuit tester - a 12V bulb and two further wires. George cottoned on that it was a greasy commutator causing the problem. We cleaned it with solvent and hopefully all will be well. Tempted to pull out the speedo cable and send it to UK - got 7 weeks to fix it - but how to get it back. Perhaps wait for Mongolia and use yak gut.
Used our Fuji/Polaroid and took piccy of George which we proudly presented to him. He did not seem impressed. But I was.
Was going to send series of emails today using boat's system but...So thank you

Louise,Granny P,Graham,Liz and Charles,Brian and Jenni for your cards of good luck. Seem to have worked so far.
Feeling nervy about what comes next. I suspect Turkey border will insist on insurance cover which my reading around indicates is available locally. One account states that traveller had to be taken in to local town, leaving vehicle in order to return with proper docs. Will this be case if we arrive in Muslim country on Friday or Saturday - latter now more likely. Also suspect we are going to be more alert to fuel needs. No speedo and I think upper tank gauge failed again. We will see.

But to return to our ditty:

If you wanted a man to encourage the van
Or to harass the foe from the rear 

We do not know when these notes will be transmitted to the blog or indeed when we will next be in touch.But we are not going outside and we certainly do not expect to be gone for some time.

P.S.The archetypal(is that right?should it be a "ple") Italian with the overcoat over his shoulders clipping his heels wherever he goes has disappeared.He has been replaced by badly shaven characters who only wear scarves indoors. Lorry drivers look like their lorries and if their cabs were smaller, I suspect so would they.
I suspect the next note from me will reflect on some inter-personal experiences. Time to get my papers in order.......

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Peter (Ca) on

Hi guys,
I don't want to even try to teach you travel info, but if you have not tried you might find some others have been to the obscure places you intend to see.
Hamba gashle

Emily on

Enjoyed reading about the last few days very much. George sounds great, am disappointed he didn't seem impressed with the poloroid photo though! Great photos, well done Roger! Sounds like you are enjoying yourselves and having some 'interesting' experiences.
Keep up the good work.
People wearing scarves indoors is standard behaviour nowadays I'm afraid Dad. But I reckon the Italians probably excel in that respect!
More cultural observations greatly received.
Glad people are taking an interest.

Look forward to the next installment.

Fiona on

Miss you Dad! Gadaffi has to be the best excuse for being late I've ever heard! :)

alison on

it was a tossup between comic relief or sending you a note .A very difficult choice! You might find the tv is no more when you get home martin, I think I could make better use of the space.Your progress is very impressive and the pics are certainly an added bonus well done roger`! Make the most of any abysmal toilets, they maybe the last you see.It`s jolly cold here tonight so I`m off to my bed and await the dawn chorus.

Jemma on

Sadly scarves and sunnies seem to be the norm over here, they are a very confused nation. Never seen such a swanky petrol station as the one in the photo above. I would sleep in there.
Good like with the next stage. Am keeping my eye on the news.

Josh and Mary on

We spotted the swanky petrol station too, Jemma! What luxury. The picture of the car coming off the ferry is one for the archives. We both have only excellent interpersonal experiences with the Turks so sure you will be fine! Glad to see you're wearing your sunhat, Martin. Don't forget the Fez. Have the luminous waistcoats come out yet? Surely that would have put George at ease?! More details about your meals please. Avoid the Turkish coffee though - if you thought espresso was strong...

As Jemma would say in true Aussie style, take care now!

david on

Its sounds like its all good stuff going on with you guys. meeting the locals, fixing the car, eating good food & drinking good wine. I am sure you are enjoying it all. ....Good to hear you have got off the main drag a few times...mind you, the one without the tarmac! check that garmin!!!
Car seems to be holding up well. If its only going to be a mere wiper and a coil causing you problems then young stanley is ageing well!!
All the best with the first non euro border. Martin...did you wire in a few 007 switches on the dash (nice on alan) just in case of any chases! :-) just kidding. keep well, both of you. look forward to the posting.

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