My friend and I decided to have a three weeks holiday in Corfu/Greece. Easily we booked an apartment in a place she already knew and was very happy to go again. And she booked the ferry from Italy to Greece as we started our holidays from Ischia in Southern Italy.
So on the day we had to go we prepared our luggage, put all in the car and headed towards Bari where we had the ferry around 7 pm.
We arrived with some stop-overs at 5 pm, perfectly in time. A sunny hot day, real summer and we were in the best mood for our holidays.
The counter was open, we got our tickets, they told us were to wait and were the ferry-boat was. So we headed to the parking place, waiting there with other cars, knowing it could be only minutes to the embarkment. After an hour we started to be nervous: maybe the wrong place? Some misunderstanding at the counter? Other people talked at a nearby bar and they had the same doubts. After two hours – our departure time – we talked to other people if they knew something. Nothing. Some cars started to leave for asking. We too. We asked one guy of the harbor-stuff “No, turn back, we will let you know, don’t worry!”. OK, back again, starting to eat something, sitting more comfortable, waiting. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting… At 11 pm nearly all the cars started to built a row outside the parking place. And finally the answer: the ferry would never leave because being under arrest for payment delays. GREAT! And now?
We had two options: to take a hotel and leave in another 24 hours with the same company or… to go to Albania and drive down to Greece. That would be a two hours drive they told us.
We decided this option and left after 8 hours waiting at 1 am.
We arrived at 6 o’clock in the morning. A friendly person in the port of Vlorë on the Albanian coast asked us to wait in a parking place with the other cars. We started to think about: no EU country, no language we know, we have no money here, no idea how to go to Greece. An adventure for sure.
A friendly person took us to a nearby cafeteria to have a coffee and my friend something to eat and again back to the port for waiting. We should go in single file behind a guide to the border of Greece. Around 10 am and waiting 4 hours we left. And started a real adventure.
The streets were narrow, not the best and full of potholes. And it exists only ONE road along the coast to the boarder. That was an advantage after all because we had no signs to read and we just had to follow the road.
We were a lot of cars and a bus with passengers without a vehicle in one row. But in a certain moment we started to overtake and go our own velocity for not loosing too much time.
At a certain place we arrived at the end of our journey: the road finished in a lake. The other side maybe half a kilometer away. BUT there was a ferry. Well, something called ferry maybe 300 years ago. A wooden platform just the size of a modern car, swimming on barrels. My friend was afraid to go over on it. But we did it. My friend saw herself sitting in the car on the ground of a 3 m deep river bed. Everything was perfect, we arrived save and fast on the other side and continued on a dirt track. Only later we learnt that the place was an ancient Roman place with ruins. A pity!
We arrived right in the same moment with most other cars at the border, had no problem at all as they were informed about cars and passengers diverted. We arrived after 6 hours at 4 pm in Igouminitsa and took 5 minutes later a ferry to Corfu where we arrived after a one hour passage.
We are still laughing about this adventurous day and the long waiting hours everywhere. But what is holiday? Adventure, unexpected moments, places where we have never been before. And at least we can say we’ve been to Albania and it has a beautiful coast with nice little villages, beautiful landscape and beaches like in the Caribbean. I am looking forward to our next holiday this year: we plan Crete.
Our diversion route: