Saturday, May 16, 2009

Crete to Ancona

Fisherman -Venetian Harbour Iraklion Crete

Private battlefield relic collection Askafou crete

Police drag illegal immigrant stowawy from the back of chev on Patra ferry.

Vehicles lined up at ferry Piraeus Athens

Lang and Bev compulsory tourist photo Athens

Bev counts out EU10,000 at ferry Pireaus.

Bertie's Mediterranean cruise.

Bertie toughs it out at breakfast Sfakia Crete.

While we were at Sfakia nine of us hired a water taxi which dropped us off down the coast 35 minutes away at the Samaria Gorge. The mountains come right down to the sea and there is no continuous south coast road. As we had limited time and the gorge is usually walked the entire 18 kms we only were only able to cover the first part of this spectacular chasm in the National Park but managed to get to a very narrow area and experience some magnificent scenery.

When we left Sfakia we travelled east along the winding south coast road and then took a different route north back to Iraklion. Crete is quite a rugged mountainous windswept island but that gives it its own charm. The weather was beautiful and we travelled in shirtsleves in bright sunshine while looking at the snow-clad peaks above. There are herds of goats and mountain sheep often on the roadway or a small herd being looked after by a shepherd.

While in Iraklion most of us went to the ruins at Knosos which date back to 1600BC. Not a great deal is understood of this ancient progressive civilisation. Although considerable restorations were done in the 1800's that have received a lot of critisism it is all still very impressive.

Late in the afternoon on Wednesday 13 May we again boarded the ferry for the overnight trip back to Athens. Lang and I treated ourselves to a cabin but half of our group opted to sleep in airline seats or on the floor.

When we arrived back in Athens we had two vehicles with mechanical troubles. The Mottram's Chev 3 tonner with a broken spring, but still mobile and the Hedge's Ford ute with an undiagnosed electrical problem. Fortunately no one seemed to mind that a few of us just stayed on the wharf to try and sort out these problems.

After many hours work replacing the distributor and spark plugs all seemed to be well and we took off to our next destination at Patra. The Ford did not make it off the wharf and sucumbed to more electrical problems. The ferry's captain came to their rescue (in his 1942 Willys Jeep!) and was able to ring an auto electrician who spent many more hours getting the vehicle on the road again. The Chev was not able to source a new spring but is still managing to keep up with everyone.

We have been lucky with our camp sites as we are at the beginning of the season and nothing is crowded at present and also, European campsites seem all to have very good facilities, with mini markets and good restaurants.

On Friday afternoon we were all assembled once again on the wharf, this time in Patra for our trip over to Ancona, Italy. There was a bit of excitement when the Mottram's on their way to the port had some illegal immigrants try to jump into the back of his truck as they had slowed down. One got on board at some traffic lights and hid in the back of their truck but they were alerted by other motorists tooting horns.

Then as Lang was boarding the ferry and customs were doing a search, Lang was confidently telling them we had nothing in the back of our vehicle when an ankle was spotted poking out of our bedding and a young fellow was hauled out. Everyone was more than a little surprised as the vehicles had been under watch by our group the whole time we were waiting on the dock. During that time police had flushed out half a dozen stowaways up under the trays of semi-trailers also waiting to board with us. I missed out on all the excitement but Leisa Ward was close by and got some great pictures.

We are now on board the ferry and leaving Greece behind and we will land in Ancona Italy at 1pm Saturday. We are looking forward to meeting the Italian Military Vehicle people and the German/American addition to our convoy of our old friend Herman Pfauter in his 1942 Chevrolet.