Driving to Crete (Cruising from Italy to Greece)
If you missed first part Driving to Crete Click here (UK to Italy)
While driving to Crete I had to take the ferry from Ancona in Italy. Now on The ferry to Greece arriving at Patras on the north coast of the Greek Peloponnese.
I searched and found a bar having a couple of beers and then walked around the ship, it was big and looked like reasonable prices, there was a cheap restaurant and 3 bars also a deck bar as well, with food for sale hot dogs etc.
Some people were swimming in the very basic pool, mostly kids. I noticed most people seemed to be Italian with only a few Greeks but no English people that I came across.
The ferry boat shifted away from shore soon after I started wandering around and there we were, at sea!
I took my ticket to reception and was shown the cabin and that was a shock there were 2 other men already in the cabin. Typical bunk beds and very cramped I thought, saying hi to one of the men he responded and we introduced ourselves.
The first was Italian the other polish and he was stripping off for bed.
Having decided it would be too difficult to chat to these people, their English seemed very limited, I set off in search of my car.
Guess what, you are not allowed in car deck after ship has moved off, so stuck with just my holdall and that’s all. I could not get back to car so I just hoped it does not get too cold.
Well it did’nt, it stayed so hot all night. I was sweating a lot, so I sat in the middle class bar and had a couple more beers
Imagine how I felt all on my own, I sat and walked and smiled etc.. that very alone feeling,
I started to have doubts again but what could I do now on a ship going to Patras in Greece.
Feeling really exhausted, so eventually about midnight I went to the cabin.
Sharing a cabin
Only one man was asleep and a couple of grunts later I switched on the toilet light to be able to see around the cabin, then I got undressed, pulled down my bunk yes top bunk. Hoping I could haul my body up into it and yes I did. Luckily the man below me was away and I could stand on his bunk to haul myself up.
I lay there with my holdall (money) in my hands and nodded off for a bit. Then another bloke returned, stripped and climbed in the bottom bunk. I was now stuck having to wake him if I needed to get down to floor level.
He went off to sleep with gentle snoring and I finally nodded off again.
Then man no four arrived so now it was four of us in this little cabin, he had come from wherever and I noticed it was 2 a.m in the morning (late). He then stripped and got in the other top bunk, I nodded off again and then was awoken by the snoring of two of the men.
This went on for hours and I could not sleep again with the awful sounds of the snoring.
Never again I said to myself better to sit in the bar and sleep than listen to this noise.
I must have nodded off a little because suddenly a man was opening the door and saying something in Italian which woke me.
The man in top bunk got up and showered and left so then I nipped into loo as I was desperate by then and so I showered in this tiny cubicle but it was refreshing to get the sweat off even though the towel was too small.
Arriving in Patras (Greece)
I got dressed and left assuming we were coming into Patras
Wrong, it was another place that the ship had stopped at, so I went to reception and asked when we would get to Patras. She replied at 14:00(2 p.m) but added that was Greek time so anyone’s guess.
I then went back to the bar and had a couple of coffees, I was now up and about so it was not worth going back to the cabin.
I wandered the ferry boat for couple of hours and eventually noticed that breakfast was served in the self-service place. But I decided not to risk it.
With a long drive ahead I did not want stomach problems. Lunch was served at 12:00 so I went and had a plate of rice with tomato sauce it was cheap and risk free.
After sitting around bar for another hour I saw the coast of Greece go by as we moved down towards Patras. Lovely scenery with the heat haze and lots of desolate places that we passed, before spying Patras ahead.
We arrived at Patras at 14:30, which was 21 hours on the ferry boat, I had not realised it would be that long, I had thought it said 16 hours on the net.
Oh well I am here now and after various announcements I decided to find the car which was quite an effort as I started at wrong end of ship but eventually found it ok.
Here I was in Greece at last, driving to Crete with the help of the greek ferries. I had my directions worked out and I have to drive down from north to south being about 3 hours to get to a port where I can get a ferry boat to Crete.
I drove off the ship and followed other cars and was into Patras town centre without realizing it.
Driving up one way streets and around some other streets a few times I decided that I must keep the water on my right, so then I must be heading in the right direction, yes and after an hour mess up, I finally found the motorway going to Pygros or some such name but it was right so that must be good.
I drove a few miles till sign said 100 kms to Pygros whic I followed other traffic for most of the 100 kms, no problems except the heat.
When I reached Pygros I saw a sign to Kalamata and knowing that was the name I found on the internet I headed off that way. But it ended up in a town centre and I got lost for 20 minutes, but by following same roads and taking different direction each time I got out of the town.
Then another sign 100 kms to Kalamata and so followed that road it was nice and pretty most of the way and no traffic really.
I realised maybe because it was Saturday it was a day off hence no traffic. Also maybe the bank holiday was here as well not just in UK.
So there was not a problem I just followed the roads till Kalamata. 3 hours later I arrived and followed the signs to the port, no parking there and nothing really looked open. Then I headed for the beach and looked for hotels.
Plenty of them but no parking available. It was like a weekend on the coast in Eastbourne, all the locals in the sea and sitting on the beach.
So no car spaces anywhere.
Headed back around the town and to the port again, then I spotted a few people sitting around on bikes outside a shop, which had a travel agent look. I needed to find Crete ferries.
So I parked further on from the shop and walked back after realising yes it was a travel agent, I waited in and joined a line of people and finally got to talk to a guy who spoke English a bit.
Can I get ferry to Crete says I, yes on Sundays it goes in one hour or so Greek time.
Greece (Ferry) to Crete
After checking a brochure he gave me, I realised the ferry to Crete only went once a week from here to Crete and yes today was it Sunday! I had hit lucky again. If I had been 2 hours later I would have missed it and then had to drive to Spain which is what I had decided on the way down if all went wrong.
Well that was the rough plan anyway.
But my luck was in again and so I bought a ticket on credit card again, this was 100 euros.
Driving the car where I was told I joined a queue of cars parked on the port side, all Greeks going to Crete to see relatives I assume, all very homely and lots of kids with them.
The ferry soon arrived and after 1 hour unloading cars we got on board. Ferry boat was just like an old British ferry that we used to go to France, when I was a lot younger, very basic!
It was an hour late so that meant nine hours to Crete we should arrive at six in the morning.
I was so so tired but could not sleep in the seat like some people were doing, so I just dozed a bit, I was so achy and must be smelly and very very tired, but nearly there.
Worrying that I needed a hotel so much that I might get charged 2 days by arriving early in the morning.
What a worrier I am! I walked the decks and sat in different seats in various places on the ferry.
There was a seat allocated but it was like a plane seat very upright and rigid not made for someone my size.
The driving to Crete trip had moved on, now here on Crete it would be approx 100 kilometres from Kissamos where ferry boat landed to Rethymnon the city that I wanted to get to.
So leaving the ferry boat I drove past a few small hotels but the looked all-asleep, so I kept going stopped at one but could not find anyone to ask about a room.
I remember it was now 08:00 and I was so tired.
I reached a place with same name Platanius as where I had stayed last time I was here in Crete, but this place was the other side of Chania so I kept going. It was much too commercialized and lots of kids on bikes at 08:00 in morning not a place for me.
Finally I remembered a hotel I had seen previously just outside Georgeopolis, inland from the coastal resort which is the other side of Chania. So I determined to carry on to there. Which I did and the hotel was where I had remembered. All on its own in the hills to the Lake resort.
Hotel for the night
I found an old lady and she spoke German no English but I made myself understood and needed a sleep bad. Room was 35 euros a bit too much but I was desperate for some sleep.
The room was clean and nice with a balcony and air conditioning, which was great. I easily went to sleep and got up around lunchtime.
No one was about so went out for a meal at a taverna about 2 miles away, it was ok but I was very stressed and needed to relax a bit.
So I headed back to the hotel and guess what, I put key in the door on inside so I did not lose it, but when you shut door from outside it locks with key inside.
My God I had locked myself out. I got some tools from the car and started messing with locks etc… no good. then a man on a motorbike with his girlfriend came up. The couple were based in the room above me and he spoke English a bit.
They were Greek on holiday from Athens, he knew the owners and said he could get a spare key from the owner at the nearby lake resort, so off he went on his motorbike and 10 minutes later the owner came and opened my door.
What a prat I was!!!!!!! and VERY STRESSED. So much for my driving to Crete.
How many people would do that for a stranger ?
What a start, I decided to have a swim and cool off a lot, there was no one at the pool and so I swam and cooled down in the water then I read some more of my book. Fell asleep for a few minutes maybe half hour and then the heat got to me, so I went back to the room and the air conditioning.
I stayed in my room that night and drank last of my beers and wine which I still had some left. Slept well and awoke up around 09:00 ready for my new life on Crete????? WITH A CAR!!!!