Well this should be a quick entry.
The new hitch assembly fitted and the breaks replaced and working, so we booked the ferry through Viamare Travel
and were booked in on the 8pm sailing from Patra to Ancona, a 23 hour cruise in the Adriatic and Ionian sea.
We paid up and left so that we arrived an hour before check in. The entrance was a little confusing so we parked up behind a lorry and watched a police car trying to herd a group of refugees away from the ferry terminal, without any success. I walked down to the check in to let them know we were here and to see if we could check in early. I was told that the ferry would be two hours late due to a strike on Friday. so that's 22:00 and check in will now be at 10:00hrs.
So here we are, sat in Patra port as the sun sets with the usual deep reds and oranges. Accompanying this display is another, far more sinister display of police bikes chasing groups of young people with sirens whaling, who are trying to climb into lorries or anything that will get them to Italy.
There are about 200 children some of them only in their early teens laughing and running around buildings, as they are herded to the perimeter fence by the two police bikes. Two of them splinter off and run between the car and the caravan while we wait for the arrival of the Grimaldi Lines ship the Cruise Europa.
Later we decided to find a coffee and snack bar as I returned to the car three young men approached and implored us to take just one of them through to Italy. You feel so sorry for these kids, they have walked so far from their friends and families searching for a better life. If you get caught with one on board, you are immediately arrested and put in prison for thirty days. We said sorry, but no.
18:45hrs and the police are winning their game of &amp;quot;round 'em up&amp;quot; and have reduced their numbers to just one police car going round and round with lights and sirens going. At 20:00hrs, when the ship should have been sailing, we headed towards the embarkation gate, only to be met with the usual Greek disorganisation. Three lanes, two of which were for embarkation and one for leaving the port. Three rows of lorries filled the two lanes. We drove down the exit road towards the front of the queue and pulled in to a gap, behind a van with just enough room for cars to pass behind the caravan. After five minutes a camper van and a lorry arrived. One of the crowd control policemen indicated that we should move out of line, which we did and so we reached the front just after the gates opened, behind two lorries and a French van.
We were checked and let in to the secure area. Chaos reigned, firstly the there was no system of control, no signs to say where to go. I stopped and asked where we should go. The answer was ambiguous to say the least, but basically meant, I don't gat paid enough to know that sort of thing!
The ship before ours was just starting to load and a sea of refugees flooded over the razor wire fence, running in and out of the vehicles. Three of them ducked under a lorry and only reappeared when a broom handle wielding driver dislodged them and sent them packing.
Finally the ship appeared, It was huge, as the ship unloaded her cargo of lorries, trailers and cars, you could see the refugees planning their next assault. A member of the harbour authority also noticed and drove over to the fence blaring it's horn. It was soon joined by a police bike, but the assault was too intense and around thirty refugees circumnavigated the pathetic blockade and started towards us as we were called to board the ship.
The last refugee was still being chased around the harbour by a solitary police bike, after another failed attempt at escaping their temporary accommodation on the Greek mainland.