Around one in the afternoon we were sailing close to a couple of small uninhabited islands off the shores of Igoumenitsa. The weather was excellent, clear skies, bright sun. Igoumenitsa was sparkling white in the near distance. As we came nearer it struck me how small the port and the town was. I had expected something bigger. Getting off the boat and on the road took only a couple of minutes. There was no “crossing the frontier”, no customs officials waiting to search the car, nothing of all that which I had expected. The first thing I did was filling up the tank at the nearest petrol station just outside the harbour. Only 87 cents a liter!
It was 2:15 in the afternoon and I was feeling exhilarated for finally being on Greek territory. My spirits were high, I would be in Iraklio the next morning, one day ahead of schedule. I resisted the temptation to stop at oh so many oh so welcoming Greek tavernas along the road. The journey went well, in Préveza I was worried for a moment because I couldn’t find the tunnel under the gulf of Amvrakikós. Greek road signs are not always very clear. They did point to the tunnel 10 km ago, but now that I was in the village, there were no signs anymore. After a few detours and inquiries I stumbled upon a large road which led straight into the tunnel. That large road was clearly coming from the north, but why it wasn’t connected with the main road I had been driving on is a mystery. Anyway, I got in Andirio after about 3 hours over serpentine roads, but I hadn’t been in mountainous area, just the plains along the coast, which is pretty relaxed driving. I was in great shape and still on schedule, or so I thought…
It was then that I saw the signpost for the ferry boats going from Andirio to Rio. I hesitated for a moment, parked the car at the side of the road, pulled the brake, rolled a sigarette (“Drum, als je je draai gevonden hebt”) and considered the possible options. I had no idea at what time the ferry boats were going, I had no idea how long they would take to cross the Gulf of Patras. I could easily lose an hour. On the other hand I had no idea how the road conditions would be if I continued north of the Gulf. I figured from the map that it would be mountainous area, so it could take longer than it seemed on paper. In the end I decided to go with the advice from George.
I’ll spare you the details of the agony I went through as I saw time slip by without getting a proportional part of the itinerary done. The road led through the centers of a gazillion small villages. I had 3 gigantic trucks in front of me during the first 25 kilometers, with no room to pass them. And yes indeed we were soon in mountainous area, so things slowed down to an even more painful pace. I was fretting behind the wheel until a passage from the book I read on the boat suddenly came to me like a stroke of lightning. It summary, it was about going with the flow of things and how in the end that would turn out to bring you exactly what you needed. Ah, what the heck, I thought, what’s the hurry? I could be enjoying myself and instead I was sitting there cramped at the wheel, stressed to the maximum, dangerously manoeuvring the car in blind spots, trying to shave off of few minutes here and a few seconds there, and for what purpose?