Monday, 19 September 2016

Driving to Greece.

This is a letter we did for some friends joining us in Greece.
 It might help you if you're thinking about going- it's worth it!

Corfu from the ferry.

Maggie and Pete’s detailed instructions and route to Greece.

We drive down for an early boat in Dover and stay overnight on Marine Parade, near the fish restaurant , right hand end as you look at the sea. It’s free and we go either into the restaurant for great fish and chips or walk up, under the underpass, into the town centre to Wetherspoons or the chip shop.

Follow signs for DFDS ferry at Dover. Follow the car lane through passport control etc. Have your documents ready.They ask you daft questions like ‘do you have any knives, guns or weapons? Turn your gas off before going on board.

Dunkirk to Stenay        
 232 miles 4 hrs 23 – Aire at  Port de Plaisance
Leave Dunkirk, following signs for Lille A25/ E42. We go off  at junction 16 going up slip road and turning left, carrying on to Le Clerc  for fuel and the first French bread and cheese- there is a height barrier so go into the shop via the McDonald’s entrance

Head to Armentieres/ Lille. We usually do E17 Douai/ E643 Cambrai – a tree lined lovely road.
On that road towards Hirson there’s a Lidl at Caudry and an E.Leclerc.
We stop for a drink and something to eat between Le Nouvion and La Capelle at a signposted pull in , in the woods. If you’re lucky, there’s a friterie ( chippy) open on the other side of the road where you can point to different size boxes for which size portion you require- the lady doesn’t speak English but the chips speak for themselves!
Carrying on towards Charlesvilles Mezieres you turn right to Sedan N43 towards Liege and Metz.
When you get to Douzy, there’s a right turn signposted Stenay. You will be following the Meuse through rolling countryside. When you get to Stenay follow motorhome signs and Port du Plaisance. Pull in at the Capitainerie onto the emptying grids. The office for the aire is in that little building at the opposite end. You go in and get a ticket for parking over the canal in the aire or there are a few spots on the same side. Last year it was 7 euros. The lady gives you the key code for the gate and shower and maybe one free ticket for the Beer museum. You can empty here and fill up. The toilet empty is under a cover. There is also a filling and emptying point on the other side of the canal.  Drive off to your left then turn right over the canal . Pull in first right. Enter key code and park where you like. The electric points are on the left and bottom side of the aire. The showers are next to the canal, bottom right of aire. It’s a nice little place to walk round along by the river. There is also a Lidl at the top of the town roundabout turn left ( we walked up) .  We didn’t get fuel in Stenay last year preferring to wait till Luxemburg. Have a good sleep and enjoy the achievement of getting there.

Stenay to  Kaysersburg Aire

 Maybe loo empty before leaving to go across towards Montmedy and turn right to  Longuyon. Diesel and fresh bread  at the supermarket just on the left, after your right turn to Longuyon over the flowery bridge. Look up left to the castle/towers on the hill at Montmedy. There’s a proper campsite up there and an old walled village to look round perhaps on your return?
Pete says you’re not doing Luxemburg so I’m not sure which way you’d choose to go but you’re heading for Metz. . Set sat nav to avoid toll roads. Bear in mind you’ll need some change for the machine in Kaysersberg. 7 euros overnight last year. We stop halfway around Nancy  just after Nancy Centre towards Nancy south  A33 for lunch at the parking area at Jete de Saint Pierre. After Nancy bear right to St Die. At St Die bear right to Colmar PAR COL – this avoids a toll tunnel and is lovely. 415 goes through Fraize up the mountain and down the other side. Keep following Kaysersburg but DO  NOT go straight on to  town centre- keep going along main road. Turn left into town roundabout signpost Vieux Ville and motorhome sign. Turn first left and go along past a building and left into the motorhome parking. Park anywhere but at the bottom on the right there is   a little grassy bit where we sit out for a cuppa. People will park closely as it’s popular. Put money in meter. Loos and service point are at the entrance but there’s no electric or showers. Beautiful town to walk around- watch for storks. There’s a supermarket- closed lunchtimes and diesel Intermarche down the first right off the road you came in on. ( main road , turn left over the flowery bridge and first right- it’s signposted. There’s a tourist office and  free wifi on the aire. ( wee fee in the French accent)
The castle is worth the climb up for the views. There’s an Albert Schweizer museum ( never been in) and lovely shops- fab ice cream  and tons of Alsace tourist tat.
If you want a proper camp site- there’s one on the Freiburg/Breisach  road  A415 on the right  ( Camping D’Isle)  through Colmar.

Kayserberg to somewhere in Italy around Parma
There’s a choice here- whether to go down the right or left bank of the Rhine to Basel.
If you want to do a big shop, it’s worth going to the huge E Leclerc in Colmar. You need the Neuf Breisach road to Freiburg  A415 signposted Breisach.  E Leclerc is on the left . There is fuel here and a temptation to spend a lot of time and money! If you’re going down the German side,turn left out of the shop and head for Breisach, over the Rhine  and then turn right onto A35 towards Basel.  ( There's also a nice aire on the riverside in Breisach which is a lovely town to walk round) We usually stop at Bad Bellingen services to buy a vignette but if  you don’t need one, there’s a nicer place to stop for coffee or whatever past the services, by a river further  on  the A35. Then you come to the Border stop where you’ll probably be waved through.

Follow motorway signs  in GREEN E25/ A35 for Gotthard and Luzern. We stopped for lunch at the second aire after you go through the long tunnel. E35 Milano Chiasso
Entry into Italy. Border Police don’t usually ask for passports. A little further on is an ALT station where you pay a toll of 2 euros 10 cents to get into Italy. Don’t use telepass lane.
Turn off right to A1 BOLOGNA. You will come to another ALT station . take a cash lane and Pay 2 euros 80 ( last years prices) It gives change. Follow signs for Bologna. 
Keeping in left lanes or best is middle lane following BOLOGNA  join A1 . There’s a stazione at MILANO SUD. Take BIGLIETTO lane . Press big red button to get a ticket and keep it safe to pay when you get off A1.
Where you go is your choice.  There is a campsite called Camping Arizona at Salsomaggiori Terme. It’s quite expensive for a night but it has swimming pools that close around 7pm. ( 2015 we carried on to Camping Club Mutina in Modena- lovely little place with electric, showers and wifi  - Str. Collegarola, 76, 41100 Modena MO, Italy)  or go off the Autostrada at Fidenza and follow signs for Soragna.   
Via G. Matteotti
Soragna (Parma)
N 44.94633, E 10.12561 (MAPPA)
  ( you can see this on )  You can stay in the town centre square for free, emptying and water available and little cafes and shops are near plus a Conad supermarket.
For the camp site you get off at FIDENZA .Pay toll at the stazione.
There is a garage  Esso  in Fidenza

 To Fano
Get back onto the A1 autostrada. Take a biglietta entrance on right and follow signs for BOLOGNA. Just before BOLOGNA go off right E45/ A14  ANCONA .( this starts to  look confusing as the ring road runs alongside the autostrada and you can see the signs over the barrier but stay on the autostrada)
Keep in the middle lane.
We stopped last year for coffee at Santerno services but there isn’t a lot of parking space there.
Follow autostrada to FANO signs. 
Get off autostrada at Fano and go to manned toll booth ( 17.20 euros last year. ) Take left fork to Fano- keep going round tight bends over bridge into Fano. At the island take 2nd exit CENTRO. Go right at lights – STAZIONE, PESARO MARE. Go straight on at mini roundabout. Go right at next mini roundabout , straight along past big white building turn left up and over a  flyover  /bridge over the railway line signposted SPIAGGIA ( beach) it’s a very small sign. Turn right off the bridge signposted SASSONIA  and Parking CAMPER – motorhome sign. Go alongside the railway slowly as it’s a little lane to the sea. The road bears left at the sea. Turn left into parking 200 yards approx. on left.  Depending on the time of day you arrive, either the guy comes out of the little hut or you just go and find somewhere to park if there’s no-one about mid afternoon.  We usually park at the far left end at the end of a row near the bamboo if possible. You pay 7 euros on departure. We put the awning out though it says you can’t- you will see everyone else does.  We go for a swim on the beach. It’s a walk along the front then turn up left into the town.

Ferry Day
Pay your parking fee- leave it in the box if there’s no-one about. Go back the way you came turning right at the end of the bridge. If you need bread or shopping, get it before you get to the autostrada as the shop on board doesn’t sell food. (There’s a little supermarket on the right if you turn left off the bridge.) Follow signs to autostrada and Ancona. It’s a round about route back  and seems to take ages to the autostrada. Green A14 signs. Take a ticket  and join the autostrada. Turn off at ANCONA NORD  with a ship sign follow road round. Pay at toll 2.70 euros last year.
Follow ship sign SS16 ANCONA PESARO. Join SS16 Ancona.  Go off at ANCONA PORTO 3 . Road forks right PORTO down hill ( always queues) past hospital. Straight on, second exit at roundabout. Keep in right lane. Straight on at lights down to sea Turn right. Bumpy road by the sea. Off right to PORT. Keep right. Bumpy road over railway, carry on along to PORTO left lane. Take second exit at roundabout Check In. Turn in right to CHECK IN . Park up and go into the building with tickets.  They will give you loads of tickets and a camping on board sign for your windscreen.
After check in leave check in area and go to third exit on roundabout IMBARCO TRAGHETTI. Road bends left. There are amber flashing lights over railway. First exit at roundabout – follow IMBARCHI car ferry. Someone will stop you at 2A controls and tell you where to go and scan your tickets. The port people wear orange tee shirts- just go slowly. It will be hot here. Just try to get comfy- there’s usually a breeze. You can get out of the port area with your ticket and passport- Pete usually goes for a walk but I don’t.
When the ferry comes in, don’t get too excited as it takes ages to clear and embark- two hours sometimes. Just follow directions – they wave you on up a ramp ( huge lorries go up it- don’t worry) and position you. Someone may come with a long pole with a hook to plug you in or watch what other people do  as it varies from  ship to ship. There are showers and loos and though they don’t always look great, the showers are powerful and good and I usually have one pretty quickly! You usually get  a pass at some point given so you can have access in and out of the main part of the ship.  We usually get a gyros plate to share and take it back to the van-we take some foil up to put over the plate and a plastic bag to carry it in. 8.5 euros.  Remember you can’t use your gas for cooking but electricity is ok. There’s a self service restaurant and a restaurant on board.  We play back gammon and read. Your kindle 3g will work till you are well out at sea. You  can get a phone signal near to Croatian coast. It might be a bit noisy in the  night and sometimes it gets windy and can things can rattle a bit. The electricity supply is good so you can boil kettles and run air con!  You can also buy wifi.

 Greece! And Aginara Camping
There is an early morning call for those getting off at Igoumenitsa. I usually get up to watch then go back to bed.  We sometimes go on deck and watch the islands floating past- you can see Corfu, Ithaca , Kefalonia- and sometimes dolphins but not as close as Rosemarkie.
When you get to Patras, the crew tell you when to get off. Just follow the traffic out and turn right at the main road. You will see a Lidl which is worth stocking up at.  Be aware that this is a port area and keep everything well locked. When you come out of Lidl, turn left and follow  signs to New National  Road which will take you up left. You need to go right on to the New National Road south to Pyrgos. There are lots of garages to fill up just along this road. It seems to get cheaper as you go further out.  Have you got directions to Aginara? The camp site is a right turn at the bottom of the hill in Glyfa then a left turn down to the site- it’s signposted from a distance away. Stop at reception and Angeliki might ask for your passport. Pete says ‘Say hello from us’  You might like to park just up by the little roundabout and have a walk down to the front to see where you would like to park. We drive down the track furthest left and turn right and wait there till we’ve had a look around on foot.  Just watch as some pitches have low branches and are unsuitable and avoid the dreaded sap drip from pine trees as this is very sticky stuff! I usually do washing in the sinks down by reception. The toilets and showers are unisex and are ‘wet rooms’ .  You’ll need to take loo paper with you.
The electric here is good and the bar at the front is a nice place to watch the sunset and the Zakynthos ferries. We leave our stuff on the beach, it’s safe to. Round about the middle of the beach is good as there are rocks underwater to the left and right- this is the clearest place to get in and enjoy the swims I dream about.
 The restaurant is lovely but they will speak German at you till you say you are English. It’s maybe worth  taking your little Greek phrase book but the food is plain greek cooking and you can’t go wrong with ‘brizola hirini’ pork chops. There are no menus   but they have all the staples- salad, tzatziki, but never hummus. The grilled fish is good .There is a little shop there and the bread is fine.
You can cycle out of the site and turn left. About two miles away is Arkoudi where we park the bikes in the square or by some railings and have coffee in the little place opposite the newsagent/kiosk. There is a bakery and a good shop.

Pete says remember to drive on the right- not joking! Hope this helps .


  1. That is one brilliant instruction. Just add a map and you could sell it. We too have just arrived in Greece, hopefully we will bump in to you x

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