24 Hour Countdown :: 24 ώρες μέχρι την αναχώρησή

Less than 24 hours to go before departure. The last week has rather dragged, as it always does before I go on holiday. I fear once I leave the time will fly by.

It was probably around 18 months ago when I first got the idea of driving to Greece, but only within the last 6 months that I seriously started looking at doing such a long journey.

So after many months of planning, and boring everyone (particularly work colleagues – sorry – I do have a captive audience in the office) about everything related to my drive to Greece, we are now less than 24 hours before I set off for Dover.

I have spent getting on for £600 on preparing the car, it has had 4 new tyres, and new brake discs at the front, which is more work than I’ve had done for any other of my Euro-trips.

Driving to Greece will take me through lots of different countries, lots of different types of scenary, and (most importantly) gives me the opportunity to travel at my own pace.

There will be times when I can travel fast On the German Autobahn I usually travel somewhere between 130-160km/h (roughly 80-100mph). As I travel from Innsbruck in the Austrian Alps, through the Brenner Pass and in to the Italian region of South Tyrol, I’ll stay off the motorway and take the scenic route. In Greece? Plenty of mountain roads, places to stop and take a photo from up high.

My holiday won’t be without city driving too – from cities in Germany (Munich and Stuttgart) which are usually fairly civilised to drive in to, thanks to the Germans who are very disciplined; to a busy bit of Belgium (Antwerp and its infamous Antwerp Ring motorway), to the rather chaotic Greek cities: I’d be lying if I were to say I’m not ever so slightly nervous about the prospect of driving through the middle of Athens and Piraeus, or using the Thessaloniki Inner Ring-Road, which is one of the busiest stretches of motorway in Greece – all in an English car with the steering wheel on the “wrong” side of the car for the Greek roads.

I’ve started packing – and while there are no luggage restrictions for travelling by car, my suit case isn’t quite big enough for 3 weeks’ worth of supplies. I still need to go to Tesco to get my 3-week supply of Marmite. Sun creme and insect repellant might not be a bad idea too (but the Marmite is the important one).

I might top up with electrical adapters on the Dover-Calais ferry; My TV, laptop and radio all have European plugs anyway, but a spare UK – EU adapter might mean I can charge my phone at night and not have to rely on a Spaghetti-Junction of cables plugged in to the car cigarette lighter!

I’ve also got plenty of in-car audio entertainment ready for the journey: Most likely I’ll have the radio on most of the way through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria; with the exception of France I can understand or if not take an educated guess as what they’re saying. Once I get in to Italy I might stick Spotify on, or maybe my audio CD box sex of Dad’s Army and Yes, Prime Minister. I don’t speak a word of Italian so the local travel news is pretty much useless!

Plenty of packing still to do, so I’m going to get on with that; The next blog post from me will be posted once I reach the Continent.


Green Card

In the event that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal, I now have a Green Card.

This could possibly be the most important piece of documentation for the whole trip – Or it could be completely useless.


47 Days To Go…

In slightly more than a month, I set off on my 3 week holiday which will take me further than I’ve ever driven before. After work on May 17th I leave for Greece!

I won’t arrive in Greece though until a week later – Thursday 23rd May. I’ll spend a week driving down through Belgium, spending a few nights Germany (Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber and Sindelsdorf, both in Bavaria), breifly calling in to Innsbruck in Austria and then crossing in to Italy to stay in South Tyrol and finally Venice.

I’ll then take the Minoan Lines ferry from Venice to Ηγουμενίτσα (Igoumenitsa), the port in North Western Greece which lies on the mainland, opposite Corfu.

In Greece itself I will enjoy slightly under 2 weeks and will have plenty of time for driving to some of my favourite islands: Θάσος (Thassos), Τήνος (Tinos) and Σύρος (Syros) – 3 nights on each. In between those I’ll spend 1 night each in Πόρτο Ράφτη (Porto Rafti), Αθήνα (Athens) and Λευκάδα (Lefkada).

Then I will return to Igoumenitsa to get the ferry back to Venice, and spend the next 4 days on the road driving back North, to Cirencester – travelling via Switzerland and Liechtenstein, spending a night in the Austrian city of Bregenz, then finally back in to Germany to spend a night in the Rheinland before I set the sat nav for Calais and come back home.

My route to and from Venice

Driving everywhere isn’t the cheapest way to travel – Petrol will cost a considerable amount, as will hotel costs for 3 weeks away, but it will certainly be an enjoyable way to see the continent.

My only slight worry is what a No Deal Brexit may do at the Channel ports (Dover-Calais), but I’ll tackle that if and when the need arrives.

For now my main concern is making sure everything is set – paperwork all in order – hotels booked – Euros (and Swiss Francs) sorted – car in full working order – arrangements made at work for my responsibilities to be covered. 47 days is not really a lot of time!

Watch this space for more updates as my departure date gets closer…