|My multi-mode, mini epic from Limassol to Napoli got off to a flying start, a puncture to the taxi on the first roundabout out of Limassol. After repeated blowings up and goings down we pulled up at a service station on the edge of town to change the tyre. The driver had some trouble with his car jack and I think if I hadn't stepped in to work it out I may still have been there. It was a good thing I set out early, a pleasant 3:30 in the morning as we lost the best part of an hour. As it happened the flight was virtually empty so I could have turned up just before the departure time and still got my window seat.
Safely touched-down in Athens (on the same runway and back on my overland route) I took the metro into the centre and to Larissa station to catch a train to Patras. This part of the plan was semi-critical to the whole journey, if I couldn't get to Patras in time for the ferry it would take another whole day to reach Italy. No problem, I booked the 11am train to Kiato where I had to change to the narrow guage train to Patra, arriving at 3:30. After answering train related questions to half of the station - have I got a sign above my head saying "ask here"? - I got on the train to Kiato. I had to smile when it headed off towards the airport, I realised that I could have easily and probably more cheaply taken a train directly from there. However, 2 stops before the airport it was suddenly on the platform "towards Athens", the driver made an anouncement which I didn't understand but including the word Kiato and the train left the way it had arrived. I had a mild panic attack and concidered getting off assuming that the trains plans had changed. We went back through the previous few stops so I dicided that I would have to get off back at Larissa and start again, putting my ferry catching chances in jeopardy. Fortunately before we reached Larissa the train changed tracks and headed away from the city and I managed to catch a glimpse of a platform info board stating that we were indeed still headed for Kiato.
Arriving in Kiato late, the narrow gauge train was waiting to depart, all passengers off one train and on to the other. I was looking forward to this ride, I have vivid memories of a section of this line hanging from a cliff face along the Corinthian canal supported by butresses and little else. Well, either they have rerouted the line, changed the tracks or my old memories exceded tjhe realities as this section never appeared. It was still a beautiful trainride through the Greek countryside and along the coast/canal.
I arrived in Patras in plenty of time to catch a ferry to Italy. Patras, in keeping with port and border towns was awful, the place was full of Albanian men and boys in large groups wandering up and down the front of town between the train station and the ferry terminal. I guess they are trying to make their way to Italy, I felt sorry for them, I don't think the reality has lived up to the dream they have been sold. Four police cars roamed up and down this strip too, wailing their sirens when they spotted a large group, the group ran away and hid until the car passed, all very pointless and hopeless.
I bought my ticket declining the single cabin at 276 euro (I could have flown business class for that), she came down to 110 euro for a 4 berth cabin (paying a quarter) but I plumped for the airline style seat which still set me back 77 euro. The ferry was naturally, virtually empty, being midweek in December. I had a good explore, could have swung a tiger in the huge poolbar area where I sat to watch the approaching storm and wait for cast-off. The pre-departure safety anouncements were made, including the strangest one I've ever heard - shaving was prohibited for the duration of the crossing, now that's safety for you. Actually when they made the anouncements in English I missed that bit so I listened to the next one in French and thought that they said that "rassage" was forbidden, I worked it out later that entry to the "garage" was forbidden.
The storm came with a vengence, the winds howled, the rain lashed, lightning flashed and thunder crashed. I managed to capture my first photograph of forks of lightning. A new anouncement was made that we would be delayed until the storm abated enough to leave the harbour. [yes Andrew, I believe in Thor, he's my patron god]. About an hour after the shceduled time we gingerly made our way out of port and headed off towards Italy. I had a very nice meal for less euro's than the cross channel ferries charge in pounds nad got myself a small bottle of Ouzo from the shop then made my way up to my seat. It turned out to be a good choice of ticket as I was the only one to have bought one so I had the whole seating cabin to myself, I didn't use the seat, I slept soundly on the plush carpet, maybe that was the ouzo.