The 2020 Story ....The Great Escape
We got our new van from Peter Roberts and took it to our storage place. Because of lock down, we used our daily exercise a few times to walk to it, sit in it, rearrange cupboards several times and have a cuppa. We carried on planning our trip to Greece changing plans as other countries locked down and the Government advice. Our dream. of staying a long time in Greece and flying back for Pete;s treatment and to see my mam gradually faded. Pete 's treatment changed to tablets as he couldnt go to hospital. and oor mam was left alone in Newcastle. A kind young neighbour offered tohelp and she was amazing.
We managed to see friends at a distance and walked miles. The situation eased a bit though Government advice was to avoid travel abroad. We learnt we would be permotted to enter Greece on July 1st so we counted down the days.....Things got ridiculous in England with 30,000 on a beach at Brighton . Government allowed you to drive to the coast so we did...and hopped on a ferry to France.
We'd made a risk assessment about travelling in the van. It felt safe as the only inter actions we would likely to have were the same as at home, fuel and shopping. So in a well stocked van we crossed the Channel. The ferry was really quiet and we stayed away from people.
We spent the first night at a new stop, Bergues in a busy aire but just 30 minutes from Dunkirk., ,
Next day's drive saw us stopping at the riverside in Remich, Luxemburg .There is a new very smart aire open across the road too.
In pouring rain, we went into the supermarket in Remich which was also quiet . We always get fuel there as it is so cheap.
We went our usual route to Kaysersburg via the Col de Bonhomme and arrive to find the ticket machines at the aire were taped up and the toilets locked. We emptied the loo and filled the water and carried on to another new place, St.Louis la Chaussee near Mulhouse airport. It isn't an aire , just a quiet place to overnight. There was a place to get fuel and a Lidl so I went in for a quick shop.
We had a straight journey through Switzerland, stopping at the border for a vignette. We learnt from a friend that we needed to complete a passenger locate form to enter Greece .
We spent the night in Salsomaggiore Terme, a free aire next to the station but we didn't go for our usual walk around. It felt best to stay by the van. Pete emailed Anek/Superfast to see if we could get an earlier ferry.
The next day was slow due to heavy traffic around Bologna . We had a change of plan because we didnt feel it was sensible to stop in San Marino as we couldnt really go anywhere when we got there without using the cable car so we carried on down to Fano. We got a front row seaside pitch and a welcome from the lady who remembered us. Pete had his first swim in two years and we walked along to watch the sunset. We heard from Anek that there was nothing available for an earlier ferry but it felt good to be near the sea and closer to Greece.
We had an interesting time filling in forms with the help of Mel in England because we had no printer or place to get forms printed. we heard that Leicester was locked down again. We went swimming and stayed three nights having a rest and sunshine. We still hadnt got a QR code but people online were reassuring us that it would come. I was nervous. We had a virtual walk around our garden at home courtesy of friends Richard and Jayne.
Next day we left early because we'd heard that the ticket office was very busy and people had to wait a long time. We stopped at a state of the art emptying place in a service station. The office opened at 7.30am and everything was really efficient and a five minute process. I filled in the forms there on paper and the lady told us to go stright down to the port as there were special arrangements for campers. Unfortunately, we were the first van on which meant we missed a spot withe a great view but had a bit of a view. We had bread cheese and first coffee machine coffee in a week which felt like a big treat. We felt happy and safe. I had to take the paperwork to the reception on the boat but there was no one about except cleaners. We didn't venture on to the deck but stayed on the camping deck. I took antiseptic spray with me and had the longest shower ever!
When we arrived in Patras, our QR code was checked and we were sent for covid tests. The nurses were super and we had a chat. They were surprised about how happy we were but we were in Greece!!!! We couldn't believe it and we smiled and smiled. We got fuel and gas but it was Sunday so no shopping.
As we left Patras there was a huge thunderstorm. The roads were very quiet.
We had such an emotional arrival at the campsite! A fully masked Theo greeted us and though hugs werent possible, we were so so happy. We went onto a corner pitch on row 4 and set up . A beer arrived......Pete wanted to me take a picture straight away. It didnt take long to set up and we greeted people from a distance. We stayed very close to the van and had a food delivery from the kitchen. We waited for a test result but we werent sure whether they would send a text with a negative result....it wasnt clear from the conversation at the port. we spent the next few days keeping close to the van and having swims . It was very relaxing just pottering about and slowly getting things out. I eventually did some washing .
We set up two brollies on the beach away from the main part . Mary and Nondas arrived with the volleyball team and set up their camp. We were all emotional again.... We reread the Greek website and realised that we would only be contacted if we had a positive test result. Greek and campsite friends were really good at keeping a safe distance and we spent so much time outdoors. The area had no Covid cases at all but everyone was very careful and wore masks in shops.
We did so much ....we had the most amazing summer despite everything. We met our fantastic friends. Of course we missed family and in July, the birth of our grandaughter Polly. Mam managed to use messenger so we could see her and we spoke every day. Friends from England flew out in September and it was good to see them. We didnt go into the village very much during the busier tourist time just to be safe.
We followed the newly set up Finikounda football team and met some new friends. We travelled back up to Patras to see friends there and stayed in a little flat. We also met people on the campsite who visit every year but not at the same time as us. We met Sue and John who live not far away from us in West Yorkshire . They arrived after their family had been for a holiday too.