Our 30 hour passage from Italy to Greece turned out to be one of luxury!
The “camper all inclusive” ticket bought us a cabin with comfortable beds, a bathroom with a loo and power shower “it’s hot water!” and dinner in the restaurant (with sea view) all for just £218.
The hours spent researching online back in a dark and dismal January clearly paid off!
A peaceful night was punctuated by random blasts on the ship’s claxon followed by the Captain telling us something in Greek.
We both thought we heard references to a compass and amused ourselves conjecturing “has anyone seen my compass?” but slept well anyway.
We arrived under bright blue skies and a surprisingly hot sun into Igoumenitsa at 9am on a quiet Sunday morning. Deck was packed with gangs of smoking Poles who had come aboard in coaches at the ferry’s first stop, Ancona. Dogs newly released from ‘dog deck’ were causing chaos running and weeing about the place so it was with some relief that the claxon sounded and the captain presumably told us all to go to our vehicles, which we did anyway.
We drove Bertha south on the coast road toward Parga and alongside a new highway being constructed.
We passed only a handful of cars and saw no other campers once we continued south from the Parga turn. The road was in good condition and we had our first views of the sparkling blue Mediterranean lapping the white pebbled shores of pine-covered coves.
Inland and the watery plains of the Acheron delta presented acres of lillypad strewn-marshes and we spotted many herons and storks, whilst hearing the chittering of gangs of swallows overhead and the calls of roadside frogs and giant cicadas.
Our chosen stop at Ammoudia was a pure delight. We camped up on the fishing village’s pier between the Acheron and the white sandy beach, alongside three other vans. A stroll along the riverside caused us to meet Demetrious, a fisherman, hauling in his nets after making the last catch of the season’s sea urchins.
Happy to just stand about and chat he told us his about his family, his trade, and the Classical history of the area.
His boat ‘Hercules’ is named for his father, as is his son, a riot policeman being kept busy in Athens, and his daughter ‘Elepherea’ meaning ‘freedom’ is named for his mother who is 82 and living with the family still.
Demetrious has lived in the village his whole life as a fisherman and taverner owner in the tourist season. His dream is to win the lottery to buy himself a bigger fishing boat and better nets.
It seems the local population of frolicking dolphins cause havoc with the fishermen’s nets using them as a ready supply of take-away dinner and breaking the many fragile knots with their snouts to free and feed on the fish.
Our Brit neighbours Alec, Carole and Mary turned out to be from Looe so we swapped tales of Cornish life and enjoyed some happy memories, as well as catching up on news of shared people and places. Carole gave us an old map which proved to be invaluable in getting us about on our bikes over the coming days…