SUMMER 2016 - July ferrying, Part 6
Wednesday 20th July 2016
The air-conditioning in my room at Queens Leriotis Hotel in Piraki near Piraeus proved too cold for me during the night, so I switched it off, opened the balcony door, pulled the dark curtains across the windows again, put on a fleecy jacket and returned to my bed. The temperature controls were way above my head on the ceiling, so adjusting them wasn't an option. I was back to sleep within moments, and only woke again with the alarm calling me in time for breakfast at 8.45 a.m.
The views of the ships had been enjoyed earlier, but then it was time to leave and drive round to see PANAGIA TINOU in the harbour, for the last time before setting off for the Piraeus airport. We filled the hire car up with fuel before handing it back at the Hertz desk at El Venizelos airport, and heading into the one and only terminal building.
My amazing trip is going to continue with a flight from Athens here in Greece, over to the Italian coastal city of Bari. Ferries timings were not suitable for our scheduled itinerary and instead we checked in with Aegean Airways for a 1 hour 40 minutes flight on an Olympic Airways DHC-8400 propeller aircraft over the Ionian Sea/Straits of Taranto/Adriatic Sea to our destination.
As we left the airport we did a gradual curved route back around the Great Harbour of Piraeus and the eagle-eyed were able to spot the abandoned EUROPEAN EXPRESS, THEOFILOS, ALKYON, and PELAGATIS a long way below.
We were offered light refreshments on the flight, which were an unexpected and enjoyable surprise. I enjoyed the views of Corfu and other tiny islands from my port-side window on this little aircraft as we flew high above the sea at 24,000 feet, towards the Italian mainland. I can't remember the last time I flew on an aircraft with propellers, but it was many years ago.
We flew parallel with the Italian coast and I noticed two different fires inland with their smoke billowing really high up into the atmosphere and over the land for many miles. Soon we landed at Bari airport and left our little aircraft, to head into the terminal and get a taxi to take us to the port. We remembered to change our watches back one hour to Italian time.
Our ferry tonight is to be BARI, sailing 11 hours overnight from here in Bari to Igoumenitsa and Corfu. She was built in 1980 for the famous Sealink Dover-Calais crossing, as ST. ANSELM. She is now with Ventouris Ferries doing this Bari-Corfu-Igoumenitsa route, plus doing Cefalonia-Zante once a week as well.
BARI's engines are slow, which emitted black smoke when we sailed. From our berth we could look across the quayside to the fire-damaged NORMAN ATLANTIC, where we could still see the smoke-blackened window frames and even the escape chutes hanging down the outside of the hull. Fire had broken out during the early hours of 28th December 2014 on the ANEK-chartered ship during a voyage from Patra to Ancona. It is said that the fire started on the car deck and that fire-fighting equipment and the skills to use it were completely inadequate, and eleven people died as a result with eighteen missing. It is horrifying to see the ship now and even more so to know that very little compensation and explanations have been forthcoming since the terrible incident. I read that the Italian investigation authorities have still not searched the whole ship to find the missing passengers.
There were other ships around and they were a momentary distraction from the NORMAN ATLANTIC.
We are due to sail at 6 p.m. from here in Bari and it was delightful to leave the port and see the other ships in the evening sunshine. We had a good meal in the self-serve restaurant and then headed onto deck to see the day end in a glorious sunset.
Soon the moon rose and made a lovely light on the calm water as we sailed along. Tomorrow we will disembark in Igoumenitsa, north-west Greece, on BARI and enjoy a little time there, before going on to Corfu.
Ships seen in Piraeus: Blue Galaxy, Panagia Tinou, Knossos Palace, Blue Star Delos, MSC Magnifica, Superfast XII, Kriti I, Kriti II, Pelagitis, Norwegian Jade, Adamantios Korais, Phivos, Ionis, Ariadne
Ships seen from the plane: Superferry 2, Theologos (Rafina), European Express + Theofilos + Alkyon + Pelagitis
Ships seen in Bari: Bari, Superfast II, Rhapsody, Sveti Stefan II, Rigel II, and the fire-damaged Norman Atlantic
To be continued...