Day 222 and 223 – Salicetti to Vartholomio via Brindisi and Igoumenitsa

Our longest leg yet of some 850 Km started leisurely enough after lunch at 2pm. We had a three hour drive to Brindisi to collect a refill campingaz bottle from a chandler opening after siesta at 16:30. Finding gas refills has been a constant problem on our trip around Europe. We ran out of gas in Poland, and could not refill until Germany. Having learned that Campingaz refills are scarce in the Balkans we were keen to get as much gas as we can carry before leaving Italy. We were therefore delighted to be able to exchange our empty 907 bottle for a massive 909 bottle for 30 Euros. We now have about 12 Kg of gas to see us through the Balkans. If that is not sufficient, we have a 1000 watt electric hob.

Gas fully stocked we went to the Brindisi ferry terminal. Our crossing was delayed from 19:20 to 21:00, probably because of storms in the Adriatic. The wind seemed calm to me. So after collecting our tickets we went away again and saw a bit of Brindisi. It’s a very nice town with piazzas and fountains everywhere we went, modern and prosperous.

We returned to the ferry terminal at 7pm and waited. We were then moved onto the dockside and watched the large lorries being loaded, reversed onto the lower deck and driving forward up the ramp to the upper deck and reversing back. Cars were last to be loaded, and we were all put in a front corner of the upper deck.

After some fumbling to lock our van with the alarm disabled we headed straight for our cabin. Making up a third of the total passage cost of €330, taking a cabin was a very wise choice. It was warm, quiet, clean and comfortable, and after Jack dropped his pants and pooed on the floor, we were very grateful of the ensuite shower.

The ship left dock at 10.30pm and I had a quick look around the decks and just happened to spot the pilot return to his launch.

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IMG_1076View of the car deck

We all went to bed and slept soundly until awoken by tannoy telling us to get up and clear out of our rooms. It was 5.30 Italian time (6.30 Greek time). We still had 90 minutes until disembark and found a play area.

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On advice, we had left Meg in the van, and she was fine. Cars were the first to disembark.

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We found our way out of Igoumenitsa, and straight onto the motorway.

After some distance, sat nav said go straight on, signs indicated turn right. We found ourselves on a brand new motorway (A5) not on the sat nav map. How Greece has been able to afford such pristine new motorway in these times I have no idea, but there it was, opened in August 2017.

“Ping” went out low fuel indicator. The first service station was not yet built. 30Km on and the second service station was not yet built, a sign indicated 55km to the third service station. The onboard computer told me we had a range of 85 km, no sweat. But that too was not yet open with 15 Km to the fourth but crossed in red indicating that also was under construction. Using the sat nav linked to MiFi (mobile wifi) we found an open filling station off the motorway. The problem was there was no exit from the motorway. We sailed past the filling station on the old road at a fuel-saving 70kph unable to know if we could reach it as the motorway was unmapped. Then, some 5km after the town there was an exit. Now range was reading 0km. We drove the 5km on empty and made it. The empty 80 litre tank took 80.29 litres of diesel.

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The previous tank had lasted us for 1067Km.

From then on we had a more relaxed drive to our campsite, and we arrived soon after 3pm, just over 24 hours after leaving the previous campsite.

I received an email from the head of school admissions at Greenwich Council. After weeks of us telling them that we are entitled to apply for a school place for Ben, and them telling us we are not because we are overseas, I insisted they refer the matter to the borough’s lawyers as we felt they were acting unlawfully.

The answer came back at about 4pm (2pm Greenwich Mean Time). We were right. In the circumstances we have described, we would be entitled to apply for a school place for Benjamin, however, on the balance of probabilities the head of school admissions in Greenwich does not believe we intend to move back into our home when the current tenancy is over.

We really could not make this up!

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