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Friday, 19 July 2013

After a great trip through Albania we decided to drop down into Greece and chill out for a few days before getting a ferry from Patras to Bari in Italy. That's exactly what we did - beautiful beaches and good campsites, loads of beer and wine.
The ferry from Patras was a bit of an experiment. There was an alternative ticket to sitting in an upright seat or a cabin called 'camping on board'. This rather intrigued us so we booked it to find out. Rather naively I was expecting the captain to visit us round the old campfire???
It started of pleasantly enough. As the photo shows we had our own private balcony and virtually an empty deck. We had something to eat and a bottle of wine and after sunset, went to bed in our land rover quite contented with a gentle breeze blowing through the pop tent.

Camping on board with the truckers!

 The view from our private balcony

Then it went wrong!
At about 2am all hell broke loose. We had stopped at another port and there was the sound of chains and shackles being thrown about the deck and the noise of many V8 diesel engines as the deck filled with trucks for the journey to Bari. Our huge camping space was turned into a truck stop! You couldn't move on deck for trucks. In fact they packed them in so tightly we barely had space to get out of our vehicle! On top of that, at about 4am when we were underway again the wind increased from a gentle breeze to a howling gale, so much so that we were concerned it might damage the pop tent so we pulled it down and went to find a seat upstairs. We watched the greek translation of 'Captain America' on the telly and spent an uncomfortable few hours trying to sleep. This left Mr H a bit grumpy the next day, especially when the Sat Nav thought it amusing to send us on a tour of the docks in Bari instead of navigating us out. I don't think we'll try 'camping on board' again!
Once out of the docks we headed for Sassi di Matera and were in for a bit of a treat. This town has a history going back 9,000 years! The old town is built into a ravine and basically are caves with a posh exterior. We took the plunge one evening to go into one of the restaurants and once inside it was basically a cave. A wonderful respite from the searing heat outside.

Sassi de Matera