Friday, 3 August 2018
Ferrying in July 2018 Part 3
Monday 16th July 2018 (the morning)
We woke early today, ready for EL VENIZELOS to arrive back in Piraeus at 7 a.m. There was time to remember that far more information about the ship's history, and many photographs of the ship in 2008, can be found at: http://www.hhvferry.com/elven.html I'm told that the El Ven has had a few more adventures since 2008, including her charter to GoInSardinia when ANEK cancelled the charter and sneaked her back to Piraeus. This was when we sailed on her to Chania four days after having had a cancelled booking on her in Sardinia.
The hot sun shone down on us as the ship berthed and we could see much activity in the busy harbour.
As soon as we disembarked we hurried round to another part of the harbour. We have time at the moment for a quick trip across to Aegena (Egina) providing we can leave quickly.
It was decided to take the hydrofoil, for its speed, and so we had time to buy a cheese pie, coffee and orange juice to go, as we watched FLYING DOLPHIN ATHINA coming alongside. I know this craft was built in 1977 in Georgia, USSR, and can go at 28.8 knots once out of the harbour, but I and many others do find it really horrible to queue nearby because of the smell and sight of the engines, fuel, and exhausts. It's nearly as bad inside the hydrofoil, I think, but my coffee helped clear the throat. The saving grace was that all the arriving passengers soon got off and then we got on quickly, the doors were shut and we were away, soon racing fast across the calm water to the island of Aegena.
My friends and others went to stand outside the stern doors, with permission. My attention must have been on my cheese pie or coffee, but I was told that we passed very close indeed to CELESTYAL CRYSTAL (ex-SILJA OPERA) which was just entering port. The MYKONOS PALACE had just returned, rather late, from her maiden round trip on Minoan Lines' new Piraeus-Chania route in competition with the EL VENIZELOS and was being prepared for some open day/press event with balloons etc.
Less than half an hour later we arrived at Aegina and quickly disembarked. At the end of the quay we could see our next ship: the lovely red-hulled PHIVOS of Nova Ferries. She sails frequently between Piraeus and Aegina, with an approximate journey time of an hour.
PHIVOS is a lovely little ship, one of four Spanish sisters who have been scattered to the four winds, one (her) in Greece, one in Cyprus, one in Benin and one sadly scrapped. She was built as PUNTA EUROPA in 1980 at 3,437 gross tons but since 2004 this fine looking little ship has been named PHIVOS and we always enjoy travelling on her. She seems to load vehicles and passengers quickly at both ports and as soon as we bought our tickets at the ticket booth at the end of her quay we made our way along to embark for our return journey to Piraeus. She seems to keep to her schedule.
As soon as we disembarked from her we could get on the free port bus to go round the harbour to where we had parked the hire car.
With bags in the boot it was time to head to the airport: El Venizelos by name!
A slight detour near the harbour gave us a view of ANEMOS, the ex-MOBY BABY, as we joined all the traffic also heading out on the motorway towards the airport. We had to buy fuel on the way but we were soon parked and returned the hire car; we had checked in en route and simply had to head for the Volotea airline bag drop. They saw the rucksacks and suggested we take them round to the Oversize luggage desk. We did that, they were happy, and we could then head for the boarding gate. By now we were in air-conditioned public spaces and this was wonderful - this morning in Piraeus it had been 38 C.
Eventually we were able to board the inevitable small bus to take us to the aircraft. Our plans are to fly from Athens to Bari in Italy, then get a train down to Brindisi, ready to embark on the good ship ST. DAMIAN this evening. We embarked on the Boeing 717-200 of Volotea Airline, and then had to sit and wait for clearance to leave.
We left about an hour late, not all of it waiting on the plane, and finally flew off to Bari.
Ships seen: El Venizelos, Celestyal Crystal, Horizon, Blue Star Paros, Blue Star Naxos, Blue Star Delos, Blue Star 2, Nissos Samos, Ionis, Highspeed 4, Adamantios Korais, Phivos, Nissos Mykonos, Flying Dolphin Athina, Apollon Hellas, Achaoes, Flying Dolphin XVIII, Flying Cat 1, Mykonos Palace dressed overall, with balloons, Kriti II, Anemos (ex Moby Baby), Aqua Solution, Zakinthos 1, Hellenic Highspeed
To be continued...