Friday, 15 January 2016
MORE FERRYING IN '15 Part 1
My original invitation to go ferrying with friends in '15 was actually in two parts: June and also September. We enjoyed a good time in June (see Ferrying in '15 blog articles and photographs), and now it was time to set off on the September itinerary.
Monday 14th September 2015
I had a whirlwind weekend as it happens, because I flew home from Hamburg and MEIN SCHIFF 4 on the Saturday, spent Sunday with my family, and then on Monday got up incredibly early to catch the 5.35 a.m. easyJet flight from London Gatwick airport to Athens. We were airborne just before 6.00 a.m. in dreadful weather conditions which led to us flying south-east and out over Amsterdam, instead of over the Sussex coast and English Channel.
Once above the clouds at 36,000 feet and flying south it was blue sky and sunny weather, and a friendly flight attendant called Miles answered my query about our route by asking the Captain. Coo, that's the way to get information! Miles said he was sorry I couldn't get to the flight deck of course, but he was due for a coffee break soon and would be happy to take my camera with him into the cockpit and take some photos looking out if the Captain gave permission. That sounded fun, and was what happened.
I took my own photos from the cabin windows as we flew over mountains down to Greece, and the 3 hours 10 minutes until we landed soon passed. At the airport I changed happily into hot weather clothing, caught the bus for Piraeus port and an hour and a half later I was being greeted by my ferry friends.
A lovely chatty lunch followed, with a fascinating (for me) question and answer session between the two of them about each other's favourite ships during the previous week. With a list of five each, starting at 5th place, they each had to guess the name and placing of their favourites. Since they had been on eleven ships during the week, it was great fun to listen to. My notes tell me that they each chose the same ship as their favourite, in 1st place: the NISSOS RODOS.
One friend had to return to the UK and his family so there were fond farewells in Piraeus before I boarded my first ship of the trip. The TEOPTIOS II took us out to Salamina island at 4 p.m., and the sea and sunny waters were delightful as we sailed out of Piraeus Harbour. There were many ships to be seen; for the first time in 7 years the JET FERRY 1 of GA Ferries was NOT in port, having been towed away late last week.
Ships seen at lunchtime in Piraeus:
Prevelis, Blue Star Naxos, V. Kornaros, Panagia Tinou (the ex-Agios Georgios, built in 1972 as the celebrated Hengist), Festos Palace, Ariadne, Nissos Mykonos, El Venizelos, Superfast XII, Europa 2, Celebrity Constellation, Hellas Liberty, Phivos, Agios Nektarios Aeginas, Ionis, Andreas Kalvos, Blue Horizon, Blue Galaxy, Flyingcat 3, Blue Star Patmos, Costa neoClassica, Flying Dolphin Athina, Macedonia, Panagia Agiasou
Forty-five minutes later we arrived in Salamina's little port and disembarked to head into a cafe for a drink and to watch the world go by. The usual dog was not on the quayside, but presumably after he had had his afternoon rest he suddenly appeared from a side street and strolled among the quayside pavement litter bins hoping for something interesting to eat.
We wanted to take a ferry back to Piraeus but there wasn't one available so we chose to go on something with no name to nearby Perama and head back to the port from there. It was an interesting small vessel, with a lady accordionist playing for perhaps six of us passengers, and holding out a hand for a Euro when she finished. We admired the way she did the ropes on the little ship before opening a black box containing her instrument and playing for us, and then quickly putting it away as we approached the Perama quayside and she had to do the ropes again.
Ships seen getting from Salamina to Perama at Drapetsona and at Keratsina:
Aqua Maria, Theofilos, European Express, Pelagitis, Apollon Hellas, Ama Maru, Samos Spirit, Aqua Jewel, Rasa Sayang (the wreck of the Bergensfjord, see Ferrying in '15 June blog), Ionian Sky, Vastervik, Aelos Kenteris, Elli T, Menhir, the ex-Portoferraio, Lato, Golden Ferry, Ierapetera L, the new Norwegian ferry just towed into Salamina with MC on the hull, Flying Dolphin 23, 10, 29, Venus and 17 all out of the water, Alkyon, Kalli P the ex-Panagia Thalassini
Once at Perama we had to take a taxi back to Piraeus harbour and the BLUE HORIZON. She was built in 1987 and is now sailing for Blue Star Ferries, at 27,230 gross tons. We are to travel overnight on this comfortable vessel, and are due to arrive tomorrow morning at a very civilised hour in Heraklion on the island of Crete. There was time to look at other ships now in the harbour, before sailing at 9 p.m. and then having a very welcome dinner in the Restaurant.
This is the first big ship of the trip, which will include leisurely routes back to Piraeus from Heraklion, to Mykonos, to Andros, to Mykonos again, Piraeus again, Patras, and then to Venice, on some very interesting ships.
Ships seen in Piraeus in the evening:
Minerva, Blue Star Paros, Champion Jet 2, Blue Galaxy, Blue Horizon
To be continued...