Sunday, 23 September 2012
Greece 2012 Part 4
Click on pictures to enlarge
Piraeus and Ships
Friday 31st August 2012
We arrived in Patras, in Greece at last, at 5.30 a.m. even before the sun was over the horizon.
Hundreds of us foot passengers disembarked and crowded near the port bus but it was quicker to walk along the quayside to the gates and out towards the bus terminal for the fast bus to Athens.
I slept most of the way but woke as we crossed the road bridge over the Corinth Canal; almost immediately we could see two small cruise ships bow to stern, and very close together so it was impossible to identify them. This will need the help of others on our return. A few miles later we could see several laid up ships in the waters off Elefsis, including two Speedrunners.
Athens was terrifically hot, but the air-conditioned bus terminal provided reviving coffee before we took a local bus to Piraeus near the Great Harbour. I love coming here to this port and think it must be one of the best in the world, for ships, views and general activity. There may be fewer cruise ships or ferries each summer, but it is still very exciting to watch them all or be part of it, especially during the early morning entry and exodus.
A visit to one of the many ferry agents just outside the port gates provided tickets for several of our upcoming sailings, plus the offer to mind our rucksacks during tomorrow’s day trip. That was much appreciated as we would then be able to collect them and board our ferry for the overnight trip. Finally it was time to get to the ideal Ideal Hotel for an overnight stay, leave the luggage and return to the harbour. En route we located the new premises of the Telstar-named bookshop and exchanged greetings with Mr Costas Papaconstantinou (he recognised me from other visits) and admired his lovely new shop. We could see many maritime books that we recognised, by authors that we knew. He also provides Lloyd’s List, newspapers and maritime publications in several languages.
By this time we needed a sea trip so we boarded a Salamis (or Salamina) Island ferry for the lovely cooling 30 minutes trip to the nearby island. At first the camera worked overtime, with so many ships to look at and photograph as we sailed from Piraeus Great Harbour. We saw lots of ferries and other vessels en route: many were laid up, some had sunk, and others were being worked on, but mostly they were sailing. What a contrast it all was with yesterday at sea!
It was so hot when we arrived at Salamis that even the usual stray dog was nowhere in sight, so we found a welcoming air-conditioned café nearby and stayed for coffee. The return journey to Piraeus was on another Greek-named ferry.
After a break back at the Ideal Hotel, we walked to the other nearby harbour over the hill in search of a local restaurant for dinner. After strolling for some time we headed back towards the Harbour again, through busy shopping streets full of other strollers. We saw lots of places serving coffee and drinks, but not one restaurant for food. I fear this shows the true state of the Greek economy, with some people able to go out for drinks of some kind, but no-one with money enough for a meal. It was only when we were back on the far side of the harbour, by this time after dark, that we could smell meat cooking in the open air. We followed the fragrance, and discovered fresh meat being barbecued outside a little side-street café, right next to the meat market, although that was now closed. There was just a choice of chicken or lamb – both of which were wonderful – plus a small carafe of local wine, bread and water, all of which cost just a few Euros.
What an amazing day.
Ships seen: At Patras: Kriti II, Aegean Tiffany
Soon after Corinth Canal Bridge: the two small cruise ships seen tied up close together. We would welcome identification of these please.
At Elefsis: Speedrunners 2 and 3,
At Pireaus: Elli T, Prevelis, Elyros, Olympic Champion, Vitsentzos Kornaros, Nissos Chios, Croisi Mer’s La Belle d’Adriatique, a cruise ship whose name I couldn’t see, a 3 masted yacht whose name I couldn’t read, Agios Nektarios Aeginas (the Aegina island ferry), Alexandros, Flying Dolphin 29, Flying Dolphin 17, Adamantios Korais, Poseidon Hellas, European Express, Ierapetra L, Hellas Liberty, Blue Star 2, Ocean Majesty?, Panagia Agiasou, Jet Ferry 1, Diagoras, Blue Star Paros, High Speed 5,
At Keratsini/Drapetsona Bay/Perama/Salamis island: Sea Breeze III (ex Scorpio), Pelagitis, La Galera (ex Nefeli), Mykonos (the ex Heysham-Belfast ferry), 3 x 74 m Incats, Golden Blaze, Cosmos Jet, Cyclades Express, Anna Maru, Aeolos Kenteris I, Penelope, Ocean Life (ex Easy Cruise Life), Kefalonia, numerous landing craft, Flying Cat III, Samos Spirit, The Martha (a laid up car ferry), Ruzgar, Mam I, Festos Palace, Alkyon, Phivos
To be continued….