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A Round Trip to Greece (Don Madge) PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

A ROUND TRIP TO GREECE

Don Madge

2006

Thanks to veteran motorhomer and MMM Travel Consultant, Don Madge, who wrote the following4_Waiting_to_board_in_Brindisi.JPG useful notes for other motorhomers thinking about maki102_Rosie_and_the_Madges.JPGng a round trip to Greece.

The image on the left shows Don and Maureen's Timberland next to our Four Winds motorhome waiting in Brindisi to board the ferry for Greece. On the right, we are in  Igoumenitsa, having just landed in Greece at the beginning of 2006. The Madges were again heading for Turkey.

Don writes:

Were you thinking of visiting Greece? Why not make a round trip, out through the Balkans and back on the Greece - Italy ferry route using the camper deck option. Sailing into Venice on a spring morning is a wonderful sight. With careful planning it can be a very rewarding and memorable journey.

Travel through the Balkans has been made easier in the last few years, with Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria joining the EU.

A straightforward overland route to Greece through the Balkans is via: Luxembourg, Heidelberg, Regensburg, Vienna, Budapest, Szeged, Arad, Timisoara, Craiova and Sofia, entering into northern Greece from Bulgaria at the crossing at Promahonas, which is about 145 km north-east of Thessaloniki, where the whole of Greece then awaits you. It's about 1,710 miles from Calais to Thessaloniki using this route.

If you use this or a similar route, please bear in mind you will need the following vignettes. This is a very rough guide only.

Austria

For vehicles up to 3500 kg a vignette can be bought for Euros 7.80 for ten consecutive days. For vehicles over 3500 kg you will need to buy a "Go Box" that fits on the windscreen for a one-off handling fee of Euros 5. Then for a two-axle vehicle it will cost about 13 Euro cents + VAT per km. If you are close to the 3500kg mark it's advisable to carry a certificate issued by a weighbridge showing your weight. For full details see www.go-maut.at

Hungary

You will need a vignette for the motorways. For vehicles up to 3500 kg a four-day vignette will cost about £3; for vehicles over 3500 kg it's about £4 for four days.

Bulgaria

The Bulgarian motorway vignette costs between 5 and 69 Euros per vehicle, according to the validity period.

You will need a Green Card from your insurers to enter Romania and Bulgaria. Third party (it's not cheap) insurance is available at most border crossings.

Try to plan your route so you use the smaller out-of-the-way border crossings. If you do have to use the main border crossing points, try to avoid weekends especially in the high season.

Ferries

On the return leg, the two Greek ferry ports are Patras in the Peloponnese and Igoumenitsa in the north-west. Patras is the larger port and is very congested most of the time. Patras has now got a bypass but the town is still difficult to navigate due to the one- way system. You will be hard pushed to find somewhere to stay overnight in the port area. It is also very difficult to find somewhere to park to purchase ferry tickets, due to the complexity of the port layout. Many of the ferries sailing to Italy call at Igoumenitsa.

Igoumenitsa is a much smaller port with plenty of overnight parking just outside the new international terminal building. The international terminal has a full range of facilities and ferry tickets can be purchased there. All the ferry companies have an office in the terminal and they usually open about three hours before a sailing departs.

Over the years we have used the four Italian ferry ports from Greece: Venice, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi. Venice and Brindisi have the easiest access, while Ancona is very congested at all times and Bari can be difficult at times.

Between 1st April and 31st October it is possible to have the use of your van on the camper deck on some of the Greece - Italy crossings. This year (2008) the choice is limited to:-

Superfast Ferries: Patras - Igoumenitsa - Ancona. http://www.superfast.com

Minoan Lines: Patras - Igoumenitsa - Venice and Patras - Igoumenitsa - Ancona. www.minoan.gr

Ventouris Lines: Igoumenitsa –Bari (Camping on board all year) www.ventouris.gr

ANEK Lines: Patras - Igoumenitsa -Ancona and Patras - Igoumenitsa - Venice. (Camping on board all year) www.anek.gr

MY WAY Ferries: Patras - Igoumenitsa - Brindisi. (Camping on board all year) http://www.ferries.gr/myway/default.htm

Agoudimos Lines: Igoumenitsa - Corfu - Brindisi. (Camping on board all year) www.agoudimos-lines.com

For a list of other sailings available see http://www.ferries.gr. Ferries can also be booked on this site. If you intend to use the camper deck option in the high season it would be worth booking in advance, especially on the Patras - Venice sailing. The camper deck also gets very busy the weekends either side of Easter, as many German/Dutch motorhomers head for the Peloponnese.

Peloponnese

On 11th Jan 2006 we used the Agoudimos Lines day crossing from Brindisi to Igoumenitsa. We had full use of the van and were hooked up to the mains for the crossing. Friends claim My Way ferries also let them have use of the camper during their crossing to Igoumenitsa and Patras. If you prefer a short sea crossing, the Igoumenitsa - Brindisi crossing is the best. We paid Euro 136 for a camper up to 7 metres and two persons on a single crossing.

There is a discount if you book the return crossing at the same time as the outbound one.

Be warned that the Camper Deck option can have its drawbacks. It's the cheapest crossing from Greece to Italy but you could find yourself parked between or very close to some refrigerated trucks which also use this deck. We have been very lucky and have never had this problem yet but I know some who have.  

Other friends have spent a crossing parked next to a truck full of sheep.

Greece is a marvellous country for touring with a motorhome - there is so much on offer from ancient ruins to the mountains and beaches. One of our favourite areas is the Peloponnese especially in the spring time.  

Safe travelling

Don