Another instalment from our slow trip to Greece.....
We left Venice for Trieste, to catch the ferry to Greece.
Trieste is almost in Slovenia, it only became part of Italy in 1918. The elegant neo-classical buildings along the front hark back to the days when it was a great Austro-Hungarian port.
We parked the van in the ferry port and walked along the bustling water front, past gin palaces and sleek yachts to the Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia, a grand square, like a mini St. Mark’s in Venice, with mosaic decorated buildings, a fancy fountain and ornate chiming clock. Making the most of our last day in Italy, we took thick creamy ice creams to the fountain seat and settled in to watch the evening crowd at their ‘passegata.’ Swallows swooped and Grandparents scuttled after kids on pink trikes, young couples cuddled and elderly folk greeted each other with cheek kisses. The golden mosaics gleamed in the amber evening sun. A grandmother sat down next to us, parking the buggy containing her two grandchildren facing us. In silence, with huge brown, unblinking eyes, they proceeded to watch our every lick and slurp. That was one gelato I didn’t really enjoy.
At midnight, we were allowed to check-in then, we sort-of-slept in the van until 3am. Boarding a Greek ferry is an experience in itself. It bears no resemblance to getting the ferry at Dover, there are no lane numbers, hardly even any lanes. Vehicles will be getting on and off at Ancona, Igoumenitsa and Patras so must somehow be parked in the appropriate place on board. There’s a lot of whistle blowing, a bloke tearing around in the dark on his motorcycle, waving drivers this way and that, and vehicles generally bunched wherever they see a space.
By 5am people are tired and fraught waiting to board. Then the ferry men shout at you and wave their arms and insist you park in tiny spaces or right tight against a pillar or other vehicle and well, lets just say, we were glad to get on and went straight to our stuffy, window-less cabin to sleep.
We went on board armed with travel kettle, teabags, egg butties and lots of snacks. Food on board isn’t great and is quite expensive. When we finally emerged from our cabin, squinting like moles in the bright light, we sat and soaked up the sun on deck, reading and listening to the different languages all around us.
And then we heard, ‘Hello, fancy meeting you here.’ It was friends from Porto Heli where we lived on a boat for a few years. And before we could say ‘Efcharisto,’ we had been invited to Biff and Amy’s Beer Festival at Poseidon Studios.