The road from Athens to Pompeii via the ferry!
10:00 am, Tuesday morning we were at the repair shop to have our brakes checked over. I had read that in Greece you just have to relax because things will happen when they happen. Turns out the brake expert was no where to be found and they needed to track him down. About 2 hours later they told us he should be here in about 1/2 hour. The joy of traveling with a camper is you can always just open it up and settle in – which we did. I made the kids lunch and we all did some reading. About 2 hours later the brake expert showed up and listened to our story of how the brakes caught on fire and the guys in Albania fixed them. He says they must have cut the brakes and we probably don’t have brakes on that tire but he can’t work on them now. We arrange for him to work on them first thing tomorrow morning (we hope) and asked the owner if we could just stay overnight in his parking lot. That was fine with him and he even let us plug into electricity. After a very fitful night (turns out his parking lot is used as an alley way for local folks and there were lots of dogs barking as well) we were ready to try this again. Kay and I decided if he did not show up by 10 am we would just move on. So 10 am comes round and we walk to the office to tell them thanks but we’re leaving but we walked right into the brake guy! He was waiting for his helper and then they would get started. After only about 1/2 hour they came to work on the camper. We had to move it into their work yard and they jacked it up and went to work. They showed us everything they did, decided what needed to be replaced and explained what they were doing. The bearings needed to be replaced which they could do. He thinks the drum may need replacing but they could not do that. He taught Kay what to check and what to look for if the bearings need to be replaced again and we bought an extra set from him so we can do it. (Yikes!) After about 3 hours they were done and we were on our way. We’re still concerned about the brakes but feel okay about proceeding.
We had only about a two hour drive for the day as we were heading towards Patras. Patras is the main ferry port between Greece and Italy. We headed towards the campground we had picked out only to discover it was not actually open (kinda a theme for Greece). As we were trying to figure out what to do we saw a man camping there. He was riding his bike through Europe and had come off the ferry from Italy earlier that morning. He was going to camp there for the night but he had just a tent and bike – nothing like us. He did tell us he passed an open campground just outside of Patras on the old national highway (not to be confused with the “new” national highway). We decided to take our chances and go there – which turned out to be a good decision – yeah again for the kindness of strangers! We found it, set up quickly and started working on ferry arrangements. After about 8 emails and/or phone calls we were told there was plenty of room and to just show up at the port 3 hours ahead of the sailing at 17:00.
Thursday afternoon we headed to Patras. It was only about 1 hour away but we didn’t know what we would find at the port so we gave ourselves extra time. We had to go to the New South Port (not to be confused with the old south port – do you see a pattern here?) The new port was built to easily accommodate BIG RIGS! Lots of semi trucks everywhere and plenty of maneuvering room – made us very happy. We bought tickets and had time to kill so we opened up the camper, ate some lunch and watched a movie. The only security we had to go through was one checkpoint where they did open up all of our compartments to do a quick look. I’m pretty sure they were looking for illegal people. After the security checkpoint we cued up to go on board.
The boat had 5 levels of garages. It appeared to us the ferry company moves many semi trailers minus the driver so they were moving the trailers into the boat non-stop. When it was our turn we just drove on board up to level 4. They wanted us to turn around because you exit the same way you come in. This was not a problem as the garage was HUGE. After we parked we found our way to our cabin to settle in for the night. It was a 16 hour crossing so we did buy a 4 berth cabin for the night. I’ve never been on a big cruise ship before but I’m pretty sure this was not like that. I think this was like taking Greyhound cross country. But hey – it was one night. When we finally left the harbor it was dark so we couldn’t see any of the shore line. We had dinner on board about 8:30 and then went to bed. I think our cabin was situated just above the engine room so it was another bad night of sleep. We did arrive almost on time – about 8:22 and disembarking began right away. We were off the boat and through the custom checkpoint by 9:00 am. They didn’t give us any directions on getting off the boat so we just followed the lead of all the semi-truck drivers and cued up for our turn.
Now we were on our way to Pompeii. It looked to be about a six hour drive with decent roads. Shouldn’t be bad and it wasn’t except for the last 2 hours. The drivers in Italy all appear to believe they are race car drivers. The last bit of our drive took us partway on the Almalfi coastline – not something you want to do pulling our camper – but it was the national road. We made it safely to Camping Zeus – about 200 meters from the entrance to Pompeii! This was Noah’s big pick for the trip and he couldn’t wait. But, we were all so exhausted from our week that we set up camp, ate a bit and collapsed into bed – where we stayed the next day as well.
Posted on December 20, 2013, in adventure, Albania, cargo ship, European travel, family travel, ferry crossing, Greece, Italy, Kindness of Strangers, RV Break Down, RV travel and tagged family travel, Ferry Crossing, Greece to Italy, Kindness of Strangers, RV Repair. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.