Yep… This is it, I seriously had not considered how spoilt I have been over the years. I have been on travelling around for over 2500 days, and this last week, has without doubt been the most challenging move I have ever endured. Generally I am so organised with my country hopping moves they are a breeze, maybe with one or max 2 problems along the way, nothing too major… And whilst it has been a little complex it has also been one of the most special. I’ll walk you through the really ‘EEK’ moments, then move onto the special one.
Day 1. Italy To Greece.
We packed up the car last Thursday and left Italy early Friday morning to get on a boat from Ancona port to Patras port in Greece. That part was fine, we found the port in Italy, the kids were fine, we got the tickets and boarded the ferry, so far so good, apart from in the evening we had a bit of a shock after we ordered 2 drinks at the Ferry Bar and they amounted to 27 EURO!
We also met a lovely English man on the boat, a truck driver on his way to Athens who lived with his wife and 4 kids in Belfast, we chatted about Greece and the Greeks of course, he was explaining to us about the Greeks on the roads, and how they drive on the hard shoulder, since I was the driver this made me a little nervous, funny to say that when we arrived it was true, most roads are single lane so the people seemed to make it into 2 lanes by halfway driving on the hard shoulder – that was pretty hairy as you essentially had to drive into incoming traffic to get past the hard shoulder drivers and hope the incoming traffic also moved over to let you through, anyway… Next step…
Day 2. Greece To Crete.
We arrived in Patras, drove off the boat and pulled over so I could set the Europe “Sat Nav” to take us to Piraeus where we had to catch the next ferry. We were really tight on time, we had 5 hours to do a 3 hours drive, but the boat was an hour late so that gave us 4 hours, which was still fine. When you have small children you never know when you may have to stop, so we figured it would allow us time even with a margin for error if we got lost or with stops.
As I was attempting to set the “Sat Nav,” I had a sinking feeling like no other… Greece was not on there, it only seemed to do all of central and western Europe, stupid I know, but it’s something that never occurred to me to check before we left. Without a ”Sat Nav” or a map, we were completely lost, especially when we couldn’t even read the signs. There is some English listed, but even then the names are so foreign they’re difficult to reference quickly, to say the least. So we headed out of the port to try and find a garage… After no sleep and the worry of missing the next boat, I went into a stunned silence.
Patras was in my opinion pretty awful, crowded roads, run down buildings, graffiti everywhere, I was really hoping Crete was different, I had never been. So we found a garage, the guy spoke very little English, but was able to point us in a direction where there might be some shops that sold a Tom Tom or some other direction giving device. He also did mention that at 4pm all the shops would be closed until Monday, this was Saturday, and it was 3.35pm, we had around 25 minutes to find a shop that sold a ”Sat Nav,” or it’s likely we would not be going anywhere and miss the boat… Stress!
So we drove, and came to a large supermarket but with no electrical department, my husband jumped back in the car and we carried on driving, we came to a mall, there was no electrical shops but my husband spoke to a man in a kiosk who had some English, he said there was a shop that sold electrics a few minutes down the road and he gave us the name, so we started driving. We drove right past the shop, it was a busy main road, no parking, I eventually managed to cut across a lane of traffic, into a solitary parking spot, it was 3.58pm, and my husband had to run back to the electrical shop in the hope they hadn’t closed. 15 minutes later he came back - ”Sat Nav” in hand.
It took us a little while to set it up, get it operating in English, and programme in the destination. The instructions were all in Greek, with no obvious language selection. Anyway, we did it, and by this time, we were running 20 minutes late according to the ”Sat Nav” estimated time of arrival. There was no way I was missing that boat, so I drove like a maniac, and just made up the 20 minutes we had lost, plus adding on a bit of a time driving around trying to find the right terminal to get the boat, but it happened.
When we went to get the tickets for the boat, apparently they only had myself, my husband and my son in the system, so there was no ticket booked for my daughter…. Sigh…. Fortunately I had the confirmation with her name on it and they let us all on without extra charge. By this time it was late, we were all stressed, including the kids, so we ate something, showered and went to bed. The kids didn’t really allow us much sleep, understandable, and we had to be up at 4am for when the boat arrived a little later.
Day 3. Crete To Home.
We then, in the early hours of the morning, did the hour drive from Chania to Rethymnon, this was after also discovering that we could not find the papers I printed on how to access the house – fortunately I had them on the Macbook Air on PDF so we fired that up and managed to get to where we needed to be from that. So we arrived Sunday morning, as many of you know I always make sure I have an Internet connection before I arrive anywhere for my virtual assistant business, and the same goes for this time, the house came with Internet installed and working…. But then… We arrived looking everywhere for the box – no box. The landlord came and explained he changed over to a faster connection (6Mbps) knowing how important it was to us, and it should have been connected on Friday, he would sort it out Monday – Okay.
Day 4. Monday. He arrives at the house with the box – Joy! Apparently the Internet was connected on Saturday and ready to go. So we plug it in, the lights are on but nobody’s home. We call the Internet company and go through a series of steps… Still nothing happening.
Day 5. Tuesday. We try again, still nothing. They then explain they will send out a man to come and fix everything.
Day 6. Wednesday. The man comes and checks everything, only to find that there is a fault on the line, and in fact the telephone connection altogether has vanished. They need to report it to the company. Seriously I have never been out of action for this long since my business opened…
Day 7. Thursday. Waiting…. By this time I was climbing the walls. We purchased (2) 3G Internet sticks from Vodafone and low and behold, one of them was faulty – Ahhhhhhhhggggghhhhh!!!!
Day 8. Friday. We have the Internet back! And that’s today, here I am posting this blog from my new home in Crete.
Seriously I hated not being able to connect, I was like an alcoholic going cold turkey, I even developed a slight twitch in my right eye. Thanks so much to my amazing team who so beautifully held the fort for me while I was away. I have a huge amount of catching up to do, but a beautiful place to do it in.
So moving on – the very, very special part about our move to Crete, is that for the first time in years, despite all the hiccups along the way, I am in a place which ‘feels’ like home. And so our year in Crete begins…