Head clearing trip to Greece 2019

Head clearing trip to Greece 2019

Fri Sept 20th

I start the day by taking the car for its overdue service in Dereham. I had been told it could take 4 hours. Then drive back home and jump on my pretty new motorbike and head for Dover and a late booked ferry. The schedule was tight. Hotel was booked in Calais to expect me about 9.30pm. I desperately needed a break. Anything but plums or Holkham, barns or stuff. I have worked since Clive died on running the orchard, the CL site and the holiday let and my home and me!! 9 months with the culmination being 10 weeks of 7 days a week as I made my income for the entire year….for the last time. Cannot do this again. The tenancy of the orchard has gone to my first cousins once removed…in other words family…and that is great. They haven’t a clue but they have new ideas and more energy …perhaps!!! I did have one other little break this year..the bike trip to Scotland. Since then have changed bike as the nice Honda which I liked was wrong for me on my own…too heavy. Now I have a Suzuki 650 v strom which is lighter but too high. Height will be remedied in October so have to be a little careful on this trip as I tiptoe around. Bike is hardly run in…700 miles..but soon will be.

The service did not take 4 hours. Thanks Paul..I got back home earlier than I had dreaded. Bike was packed…last Wednesday night…few things to do…a and then off, hoping to catch an earlier ferry . Failed by about 10 mins.! My ferry, late on a Friday night was packed full of screaming french/dutch/German children. Great! I ate a meal, Indian, on the ferry, and got to my hotel. Pretty grotty but did the job .

Sat Sept 21st

Waited slightly,..I had woken early as usual, for light and set off at 7.45am. It was 8c but clear sky with the sun coming up. Weather today will be fine but not sure what will be next so in the back of my mind I feel I must make the most of today. I have 1000 miles at least to do in 3 days to reach Ancona and my night ferry to Greece. I could not face the thought of a flight to Athens and then bus/train/taxi to reach the boat that I am trying to meet . The plan to have 5 days on this boat which belongs to a couple of my friends. They are floating around somewhere off the Pelopenese. Instead it seems I can face miles and miles on my motorbike.

It is hardly run in. I have not done 80mph on it yet…could not till it has done 600 miles. It has now done 700. So must gradually build up the revs and speed. Do not want to pay for boring French motorway. Google maps actually suggests a route through Belgum and Germany dropping down through Austria as being just as short on miles as through France and Switzerland . More scenic and free. In my silly head I had thought I could manage without motorway but no way. This mileage needs motorway. Perhaps if I do lots today I can go on scenic roads tomorrow.

I think of nothing. No music….failed to get that sorted. My brain has been in overdrive to the point I just want nothing to think about. Simple thoughts. Soon I am worrying about petrol. Bike is running out and no petrol to be seen. Can google it, but phone will not do 4g until I realise it is not roaming. Sort that and suddenly we get a petrol station.

Beautiful day which warmed up to 25c from the 8c of the morning. Not a cloud… I kept going and by lunch had done about 300 miles. Found a great picnic spot on some logs in the sun. Booked an hotel with booking .com as I sat there and so that was that…had to make the hotel. 450 miles in all.

Hotel is good but in a strange modern mini town on the edge of Stuttgart. Full of industry and houses mixed up. Have italian meal up the road. Discover forecast is not that great. …

Sun Sept 22nd

Early up, weather looks okay but same cold as yesterday. It gradually warmed up , the sun did disappear, but the rain did not happen. Opted for route through Austria via Bremer pass. Can’t tell you how much traffic there was. Both ways jammed. Never do it in a car on a Sunday in September. I was fine, rather enjoyed the traffic. Passed several german cars towing trailers with their big motorbikes on board. I did not understand how they could sit in a jam with a motorbike they could have been riding. They are the type who like to keep bike clean and mileage low…I guess.

Scenic and not a bad day. Sat and had a picnic on a side road by my bike. Two men thought they should stop and see if I was alright. I thought it was very obvious I was eating with picnic food beside me. Interesting! Yesterday, when I was having trouble with undoing the wheel bolt to tighten the chain in a car park, not a single man volunteered to help then.

Stopped for the night in Affi which is near Lake Garda and just as you leave the Alps. Nice hotel booked again at lunchtime as I picnicked. That is when I can work out how far I can go. Affi seemed a strange place. Lots of modern shopping “plaza”type places with modern restaurants like Macdonald’s….ugh. It seemed that the planning was very haphazard. Had a pretty bad meal in “Roadhouse “. Do not recommend. So with 185 miles to do tomorrow I have done okay.

Mon 23rd Sept

Started almost as early as in the back of my mind is the rain in the forecast. Heavy thunderstorms in the early afternoon. The day is very murky, foggy but warmer..15c. Take the small roads, no motorway unless I need to. It is slow going but nice. Weather brightens slightly..it is dry. Head for coast at Rimini. We had a seaside holiday there when I was young. It must have changed. My father would not choose this place as a destination now. South of Rimini is just as bad looking. Then slightly improves. The road is slow. Not so much the traffic as the 30mph speed limit on good roads. Top speed limit is about 45mph. I drive as the traffic dictates ie if behind a local and they are speeding along , then you do too. The thinking being they know where the cameras are. If they are obeying 30mph then you do too. If scooters are overtaking on single solid line then I do too. Dark cloud behind me, large raindrops fall now and then. I arrive at the ferry terminal at 3pm or so. Far too early especially as the sailing has now been delayed by 2.5 hours. This is very annoying for tomorrow. Be nice if they tried to make up time.

However my early arrival has saved me from the rain which arrives just after I have checked in and got my ticket. Step outside to go to cafe to claim my free snack ( because of delay) and settle down on a seat under an awning as the heavens opened. Felt rather satisfied even if I was going to get bored with the wait. It rained for about 2 hours. As it eased, several very wet looking bikers arrived. My cafe was a bit full of smokers so took refuge in the check in building where there was no food or drinks to be had. Bit like the UK!!

Tedious loading , Italian style but eventually get on board. Beautiful perfect rainbow over old buildings of Ancona. I had opted for a shared female cabin in the hope that not many females would be travelling alone. Much cheaper than going for my own cabin. I got away with it. Large 3 berth cabin to myself!

Tues 24th Sept

Wifi not working on board…fault. Ferry will be docking late. Not made up any time. But bonus to lie in bed for as long as I like….first for months. Breakfast in the restaurant cheaper than self service so breakfast in style. Up on top deck to enjoy the sunshine .

It finally docked at about 2.30pm and I got away at 2.50pm. I sped off and after about 11 toll stops asking for about 2 euros at each stop I reached Korfos at about 7.30pm which was barely before dusk but was ..just. I heard a shout and there was Rachel. Their boat was neatly backed into a restaurant which was just there beside the quay. Brilliant. Parked bike next to restaurant where it will live for next few days. Nice meal and hop on board.

Wed 25th Sept

Nice weather and off we go. Rachel and Toby have worked out a route. Bit of sailing but much motoring as lack of wind. This really does not matter. Stop and swim and try paddle boarding. Bit wobbly.. Toby loses sun glasses in one off. We search the lovely clear waters but fail to spot glasses. Then have to find a board paddle which seems to have floated off. This we do find.

The route takes us past Poros and on to Hydra port. This was pretty busy and it was a matter of squeezing in somewhere. Very nasty catamaran would not let us tie up to them. Another large vessel was not nice to another boat which got its anchor muddled up with its chain. But then nice yachties across the way let us squeeze in amongst them. We head ashore…small distance in mini rubber boat. Shop, wander, and eat. I have had a lovely first day of experiencing yachting. Amazed at the length of chain that goes out on the anchor at the front. Amazing hot shower in the tiny loo. Neat kitchen and easy sailing with furled sails etc. Autopilot meant we could all 3 be doing something rather than steering the boat. Greece is great…

Thurs 26th Sept

We zoom off in the little rubber tender to get breakfast and more food for our evening meal. Quickly back to move off and out so other boats could get out. Hydra is a traffic free island. Everything is moved around with mules and donkeys and ponies. A largish cargo boat had arrived last night and was being unloaded this morning. All sorts of stuff was on the harbour side and being slowly carted away by mule. Unloaded with pallet movers. Reminded me of Brazil….

We turn left and head onwards slightly south and also westward. At first super calm, see a few dolphin who very briefly came under the boat, we have a swim in very deep water close to shore and head onwards. The wind gets up and we hoist sails and trip along very nicely towards…Kyparissi. This is a lovely bay and we anchor up to the side of the little town in our own bay. Swim and paddle board and then walk into town for a drink. This is very nice. Back to boat where we have supper. Rachel is a star.

Fri 27th Sept

Beautiful morning, all calm in the bay and as soon as boat is in the sunshine we all have a swim and paddle board. Lovely clear water. Set off motoring towards Napthion. The wind finally begins to fill in behind us and we sail downwind. Rachel and I spot some flying fish…several…and then a little later a young swordfish leapt out of the water in front of us…3 times!

The wind was great and then got stronger till it reached about 15 knots. For the first time I feel a little unsettled but Toby was taking it in his stride. All calm. ..nice wind…boat felt fine as it twisted/surfed down the waves. We arrived at Napthion and found a good place to dock alongside a few others. Brought back memories this town as Clive and I came here 5 years ago. I pictured the place we stayed in. Toby and Rachel and I walked around , and found the main square had a music event on with singers from many countries. Had a drink and then finally decided to eat out instead of on the boat. Had a jolly meal with plenty of wine. Back to boat for a peaceful nights sleep.

Sat 28th Sept

We have hired a car to get me back to my bike and see Mycenee on the way. It’s the kind of place that needed imagination as you looked at the piles of stone and the foundations of things. The most interesting were the tombs: in particular the one belonging to Agememnon’s wife…Clytemnestra……Getting hot and lots of coaches arriving so time to leave. Took a back road to Korfos where my bike has been sitting and where I began 3 or 4 days ago. Toby and Rachel entranced by back road….

After a meal at the restaurant, Papa George, I said my goodbyes and changed into bike gear. Just before we had watched a man fish a big fish from off a line. Very impressive and I think it was a ????. Its lovely and hot and off I go feeling pretty warm.

My ferry is doing what it did on the way out…it’s delayed. So far by 2 hours. Very boring but so far manageable. I get to the ferry port…bad signage…and check in to be told it delayed by even more. This is not funny. Finally I bike to the queue , ( been sitting in the check in place.) and there get told by a fellow traveller that she has the boat on some app and knows it will not dock till at least 9pm. Bikers gather and chat…mostly germans..and motorhome owners behind us do too. Its warm, but no facilities, no food, no drink as we all wait for a ship to appear. A kind lady offers us a box of wine and dispenses some into cups for us. The boat does come and for the first time Minoan lines pull their finger out. Off load takes place quickly and we bikers are soon beckoned forward. I go to my cabin, shared, but on my own again…great…and believe we left before 11pm. Maybe 4.5 hours late. I had booked an hotel , which will now not be possible to reach. I hope I can get my money back for I have now booked another in Ancona. Will only be arriving at 7.30pm….

Sun 29th Sept

Well a day of rest but wake fairly early! Take life easy and sit around on top deck for a while in the sunshine. Read, try organising photos but camera will not say hello to tablet. Early afternoon it is announced that we will get in at 9pm local time!!! Had to go to reception as could not get into my cabin. Asked why they could not catch up time or even get back on time. She claimed it was because they are not allowed to go fast when near yachts or ports in the summer. But there is a lot of open sea….and it’s been summer for a while. Have they been late all summer??? I must go on their website. Naturally the wifi on board is not working…. They hope to cancel a boat then they can catch up on their schedule.. some parts of all this is rather unbeliveable.

Feel I should be doing more with this time. Also feel I am in a slightly better place…part of reason for being here. The brain is beginning to tackle other ideas. Lots of chatting with Rachel and Toby has been nice.

Mon 30th Sept

We finally got in very late. The hotel I had booked was 24 hour so had not worried. By the time I left the port I had another biker with me for he was in a muddle re somewhere to stay. So led him in the dark through the streets of Ancona to this 24hr hotel. They had a room for him too. Short nights sleep as up early to try and catch up. Think I left about 5.30am. I am trying to make my original channel ferry booking but am now about 7 hrs behind time. I motorbike all day without much respite. I do about 650 miles. Back the way I came, some roads and some motorway. Weather fine but rain forecast for tomorrow. By keeping going to late and starting early I have made up most of the time.

Tues 1st Oct

The weather does deteriorate but I push on . The bike is faultless, the journey pretty boring today but made the ferry. It is now back to finally get out of the farm buildings, remove anything else and hand over the plum orchard to Max Maufe by Oct 1oth. I needed this , in spite of the distance travelled, to cope with the final push, the end of my farming career.