Driving to Skiathos; an epic journey, in record time!…..

Finally, a moment to come up for air! I can’t believe it’s over a month since my last post……so sorry!I know I promised a full account of my travels to St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai here but I’ve added it to my art blog instead – so, if you like, you can read all about it there.

With so much heavy luggage (furnishings for the new studios, art supplies, frames etc)  and a sudden yearning for the open road, I decided to forgo a direct flight to Skiathos for a change  and with the words of ‘Hit the Road, Jack’ ringing in my ears, drive overland to the island this time, instead.
With 200okm to cover, I was dreading the thought of such a long drive but what a fabulous (and easy!) journey it proved to be!
Completed in just 2 & 1/2 days,  we had a clear run all the way without even once exceeding the speed restrictions in any of the countries we passed through Amazing scenery! Superb roads! But a word of warning, don’t be tempted to put your foot down even if there’s no other car or camera in sight; hidden computers/cameras automatically clock your time between toll gates and a posse of police will be waiting for you and will impose hefty on-the-spot fines if you speed (especially in Italy) .  We arrived in record time, no worse for wear  and only slightly weary  – but, thankfully,  safe and sound.

Day 1:

After crossing The Channel on the early morning Dover/Calais ferry (arriving at 5.30 am) we drove straight down through France and, by-passing Switzerland, slipped into Italy’s spectacular Val D’Aosta, via the Mont Blanc (Frejus) Tunnel, well before nightfall.

Day 2:

Well-rested from a good night’s sleep (at the Holiday Inn), were up at the crack of dawn once again, with just 6 hours to make our way across Italy to the port of Ancona, on the Adriatic coast, where another ferry would take us on the over-night trip to Igonoumitsa, Greece. Distracted as we were by the eerie beauty of the Northern Italian landscape at dawn; the rising sun reflected in the extensive rice fields of Vercelli, barely visible through the low-lying but quickly clearing fog…….
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…..we never thought we’d make it in time – but we did – just – with hardly a moment to spare!!

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A leisurely sail down the Adriatic on board the comfortable (we booked a cabin) and aptly named ‘SuperFast’ Ferry, gave us excellent food,  a spectacular sunset and another sound night’s sleep:

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Day 3:

Arriving at Igonoumitsa, on Greece’s west coast, once again in the early hours, left us barely 5 hours to cross the Greek mainland to reach the port of Volos in time to catch the mid-day ferry (the only one of the day bound for Skiathos). Thankfully, with the new motorway (that cuts through the mountains in a succession of tunnels providing a welcome alternative to the terrifying hair-pin bends and steep, slow climb of the old road!) now completed almost as far as Metsovo, it was not such an impossible challenge – although I would have liked more time to spend in the spectacular regions we sped through:

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especially Meteora (sorry, no photos; there was no time to stop!).
Despite losing our way (twice!) thanks to the very misleading road signs around Larissa, once again we arrived on the dock in the nick of time; literally seconds before departure!

By 2.30pm, (2 & 1/2 hours later) we were sailing calmly into Skiathos’ welcoming port.

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Then, within 15 minutes, we were sitting on the terrace of Villa Nicara, with a well deserved G&T in hand, counting our blessings and looking out to sea on a beautiful sunny Skiathos afternoon…….We’d made it!

Since arriving, I’ve been caught up in the frenzy of the start of the new season here on the island. With just a week to prepare for an art exhibition, I’ve thrown myself into last-minute painting and framing,  adding final touches to the villa:

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getting the seriously over-grown garden into shape:

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cutting the 10’high grass in the olive grove, making ready the pool:

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and completing almost the last of the building project; A brand new pergola to support the grape vine:

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that shades the terrace outside the two new guest bedrooms, both now fully refurbished and furnished:

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All  this in time for the arrival of my first guest of the season; artist/tutor Mary Dillon from Ireland, who along with teaching her watercolours courses will be exhibiting with me, a collection of latest work at the Archipelagos Gallery, Skiathos Town,  until mid June.

We now have a sink and running water down at the studio but I decided to put plans for its extension on hold till the autumn. I’m anxious to lay down the tools, turn off the cement mixer and just enjoy the peace and quiet (and the huge amount of work we’ve achieved so far!).

It’s time to enjoy the summer – welcome new and old friends and paint pictures  – not door frames! The days are hot and sunny (30 degrees today!) and the evenings pleasantly cool ………..Ah, its SO good to be back!

4 thoughts on “Driving to Skiathos; an epic journey, in record time!…..

  1. Hi Yvonne,

    We took our car over to Skiathos 10 years ago, an old MGB and a you say the trip was fantastic!!!! Now 10 years later I will be doing it again. However, I am having trouble getting ferry prices this early in the year, and as you know planning is all important. If you could give me a rough guide to the cost from – Itally to Greece and then Volos to Skiathos for 2 people with 1 small car I would be so pleased. Obviously I have tried online, but it’s too early to get a price. We will be traveling late March early May. Grateful for any advice

    Yours

    Mike H x

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    • Hi Mike! Nice to hear from you. Sorry for this late reply, I haven’t been ignoring you, I’ve just been having the same problem I’m afraid: no prices available yet. With Easter looming and (hopefully) the winter weather firmly behind us the new timetables should be out in a week or so. I’ll be in touch as soon as I can find any info for you. Best wishes, Yvonne

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  2. Hello Yvonne, We are setting off this week, taking the same road journey as you, to Skiathos, for our son’s wedding. Could you tell us if you pre-booked the ferries or can we obtain tickets at the ports? We don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves with deadline times and plan to stop on route to take in some scenery. Thanks and regards Gail and Greg

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    • Hello Greg & Gail

      Firstly, Many Congratulations on your son’s wedding – I hope you all have a wonderful time!

      Ooh I’m so envious! I’d love to do that trip all over again – only take more time and see more on the way……

      Re the ferry tickets. We didn’t pre book them and had no problem at all getting on, but then it was early May. I’m not sure when you’re travelling but if it’s well into the holiday season, I would imagine it would be wiser to book ahead, just in case – you don’t want to risk missing the big day!

      Wishing you a wonderful and safe journey – I would love to meet up and hear all about it!

      Kalo Taxidi!

      Yvonne

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