We took back to back ferries from Patras, Greece to Bari, Italy, then onto Dubrovnic, Croatia from Bari, after waiting there almost twelve hours. There is no easy way to get from Greece to Croatia with a vehicle and we thought this was the best bet for us. To add to our challenge this was high season when everyone in Europe takes their vacation, so the ferries, especially to Dubrovnic from Italy, book up quickly. There are no direct ferries from Greece to Croatia, but do not ask me why, as it would seem a good idea for summer travelers.
The first ferry took seventeen hours and we headed to Patras to catch it after our stay in Olympia. It was beginning to feel a little familiar now as we had been thru this port several times, including our first landing in Greece from Venice months ago. We also passed Patras going from Delphi to Nafplio and then again from Nafplio area to Olympos as the Patras to Athens road is a main highway.
Main highways in Greece are different than those at home and instead of two lanes each for traffic going in opposite directions, they just have one and a half lane each. One adjusts to it as the slower traffic (which includes us in our cumbersome vehicle) needs to scoot over to the half lane to let faster traffic (including huge trucks in a hurry) pass in the only real lane.
With many wild drivers, high speeds, wind (especially as big trucks go by and move our vehicle by the air action that happens) and moments when the half lane disappears or is on a cliff, not to mention drivers passing from the opposite direction crossing into our one good lane, makes for some interesting driving. It is not the worse road we have been on by any means, but we were glad to be done with the one and half lane scenario for now. The good news about this road is there are some spectacular views as much of it is facing the sea.
It was fairly effortless to fine the port this time in Patras and our Greek ferry was part of the Super Fast ferry line, so was modern and fully equipped with pool, wifi and a really nice cabin. Again, we did not find out until we were onboard that they had camping on board, which is the best deal. It is very cheap to travel ferries without a cabin, but cabins are expensive (but oh so much more comfortable for an all night ride).
Many people, of all ages, just sleep all over the place from stairwell landings to couches and seats with sleeping bags (or not), but it is rougher than we care to go. The camping onboard route sounds like an ideal cheap way to go, but as yet we do not have experience, so I can not compare except price. On selected ferries (mainly from Italy to Greece) they have camp on board facilities for motorhomes where people can plug in their vehicles to the electricity and there are bathrooms and showers nearby. The price was only 98 euros for one way on this for the whole family, which was a lot cheaper than what we paid and we only got a two bed cabin to try to save on costs which was still about 300 euros. Still, I think the outside cabin (with a window view which is most helpful if someone is claustrophobia or prone to seasickness) is the most comfortable option.
It is funny how we have become so accustomed to ferries now and the odd ritual of getting on and off them. My least favorite part is getting in or out of the vehicle as it is often filled with diesel fuel smells, very loud and echo-y, hot and a maze of huge trucks and vehicles, so close together that it is quite difficult to move through them. The cabins and going to the fresh air to watch departures and arrivals are my favorite parts. Oh, watching a dvd in the cabin on our laptop is probably one of Mozart’s favorite things and it did make the evening past by quickly.
It was a very long day in Bari as there is not much to do there, altho we were not alone in our waiting. I ran into a British man later who did not book his ferry ahead and had to wait three days at the port, so I am very grateful that our wait was not that long. It was also handy to have our RV compared to those who just had to wait at the port with just their luggage.
Since we arrived so early, we lucked out with a good spot right next to the water, which gave us a little cooler breeze (as there was no electricity for our fan) and some boats and fisherman to watch. Mozart, as usual was not bothered by the wait or confinement, it is all good when you are six. We had some food, we found a place to buy pizza and she had fun with some toys that she had not seen in a while like fractiles and a magnet building set, besides reading. Her parents went a little more stir crazy, but we survived.
I was looking forward to checking out our next ferry which was the Croatian line Jadrolinija, which I had heard good things about. Well, the Marco Polo ferry that we took (Marco Polo was born in Croatia) was almost as old and as bad as the Greek G.A. ferries, so that was a disappointment. Our cabin was the smallest one we have had so far. This ferry was only a ten hour one where we mostly would just sleep and the only game in town, so we made the most of it. Our first look at Dubrovnic, Croatia the next morning was out our little ferry window, but it looked promising, so went outside to see more!