Some of our members may remember last year I posted about me and Mr PE having to cancel our holiday after having spent the last 25 years in Corfu each time. This was due to the fact that Mr PE was diagnosed with a terminal cancer, which has progressed in as much as he only has a few months left of his life. Sorry to post such a depressing subject but I am now determined that he shall have another week in Corfu if at all possible. The problem is that he will need oxygen every now and then and I have no idea how this can be arranged over there. He has a supply to use on the flight out and back but I wondered if any of you lovely members on the island have information regarding the arrangements I can make for the days we are there. I know this is a long shot, but it would make me happy to have him enjoy just one more break in the place that we both love so much.
[QUOTE=JacquieF]Have a look at your bank account - I am with Barclays and get (I think) a great deal with my bank account - travel insurance for whole family, mobile phone insurance and breakdown for about £13 a month. Anyone can use it individually too. (travel) [/QUOTE]
Don't assume the cover you get with your bank account will cover pre-existing, or indeed new medical conditions. I had free medical insurance with my account which covered myself and my husband. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. The insurance still covered me, but 2/3 years later I had a letter saying this would no longer apply. I would be covered for anything else, but not the Crohn's. I phoned them to see if I could pay an excess, which would not be a problem, but was told no. Since then I have had to shop around every year, until I found Staysure about 4 years ago. The point of the story is, even with the free insurance that comes with the bank account, ALWAYS notify them if you have, or are diagnosed with a medical condition. It will almost certainly be in the small print somewhere, that if you don't, your insurance will be null and void. It may be that your problem will still be covered, but better safe than sorry. P.S. I still have the "free" travel insurance with my bank account, it just doesn't cover me for the things I might have to claim for! Pointless really.
We've gone with Virgin Money- although I'm only 30 and my OH is 37, I've been diagnosed with a large hiatus hernia. Lots of insurance companies are charging a fortune for this, despite it being stable, and only requiring tablets to treat it (I did see a surgeon, who agreed conservative management was my best bet!) but Virgin charged less than a large Mythos for this! Phew!
[QUOTE=flynnmo]We get annual travel insurance from Staysure. We both have medical conditions and they cover us. The price did go up after I had a heart attack a few years ago, but has come down each year since. They are very helpful and efficient on the phone. Fortunately we have never had to make a claim. Certainly worth giving them a call. Good luck. Moyra[/QUOTE]
WE have also used Staysure for the last 2 years. You can work through the already covered 'existing conditions' on the web-site. This can get a bit complex unless you are completely clear of any such conditions. You have to read each section and question very carefully as it is easy to make a mistake so you finish up not being fully covered or paying too much. One problem with this company's online quoting system is that you can't recall a quote so have to laboriously work through the pages of questions again, several times in my case as was trying to find what was raising the costs. So if you are looking around the market or not sure of your travel dates you have to go through the process again .. and if your quote is now different you go through again! I also found that when I telephoned for a quote it was considerably higher than the ones I had obtained online. The reason was that for years I have had obvious arthritic problems in both knees but not been to the doctors until it gets worse, so not officially diagnosed, which I told the telephone representative. Strangely when I tried stating on the online quote that I definitely HAD arthritis the quote came down about £30!! They clearly don't like uncertainty! So that is what I did. The next time I saw my GP I mentioned the arthritis so I am covered for it. I found it was advantageous to make copies of some pages after I had completed them.
I have seen occasional pheasants near to Agnos, but this was neither a hen nor a cock pheasant and not a juvenile either. Its plumage was very dark all over. There are grouse in Greece, and I have often seen heathers here, but not at sea level I think. It emerged from the area by the round house where an archeological team were digging a few years ago. There's a lot of rough ground around there. The mystery remains ...
Hi Maggy, yes that's it, never been there but it looks OK. Just repeating what Greek friends who live in Karousades have told us, that Astrakeri is where they go with all their friends and kids for picnics and Clean Monday celebrations, hence the lost kites tangled in the electricity wires come spring. We have never stopped in Agnos, just driven down a couple of times in the winter when having a drive round. Bob.
Sadly, I'm Back!
[QUOTE=Bob and Wendy]Astrakeri is a nice large sandy beach, with shallow sea, and a small harbour, one taverna (Three Brothers) as the road comes down to the beach, (there is another at the other end of the beach, but you turn left before reaching the beach, can't remember the name), no sun beds or umberelas to hire. This is the beach the people of Karousades consider their own. Bob.[/QUOTE]
The Taverna at the other end of the beach is called Gregory's, if that's the one you mean Bob & Wendy, blue and white? The locals from Karousades tend to use Agnos beach--well we do,
Hi Razaker, we have used World First Travel Insurance for the last two years as they would cover my High Blood Pressure/High Cholestrol and Mic's Motor Neurone Disease and issue an annual policy - which most firms would not with Mic's diagnosis. Then again as we have not had to claim you don't know how good these firms are until you need them View Topic:
Pre Existing Medical Condition Holiday Insurance
Thank goodness there's a name for this disorder. Somehow I feel better, even though I have it!!
Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. -
Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.
This is how it manifests itself:
I decide to water my garden.
As I turn on the hose in the driveway,I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.
As I head towards the garage,I notice post on the porch table thatI picked up from the postman earlier.
I decide to go through it before I wash the car.
I put my car keys on the table,put the junk mail in the recycling box under the table,and notice that the recycling box is full.
So, I decide to put the bills backon the table and take out the recycling first. But then I think,since I'm going to be near the postboxwhen I take out the recycling paper anyway,I may as well pay the bills first.
I take my cheque book off the tableand notice that there is only one cheque left.
My extra cheques are in the desk in my study, so I go into the house to my desk where I find the cup of coffee I'd been drinking.
I'm going to look for my chequesbut first I need to push the coffee asideso that I don't accidentally knock it over.
The coffee is getting cold,and I decide to make another cup..
As I head toward the kitchen with the cold coffee,a vase of flowers on the worktop catches my eye - the flowers need water.
I put the coffee on the worktop anddiscover my reading glasses thatI've been searching for all morning.
I decide I better put them back on my desk,but first I'm going to water the flowers..
I put the glasses back down on the worktop,fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote control. Someone left it on the kitchen table.
I realise that tonight when we go to watch TV,I'll be looking for the remote,but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back where it belongs,but first I'll water the flowers.
I pour some water in the flowers,but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.
So, I put the remote back on the table,get some towels and wipe up the spill.
Then, I head down the hall trying toremember what I was planning to do.
At the end of the day:
The car isn't washed
The bills aren't paid
There is a cold cup of coffee sitting on the kitchen work-surface
The flowers don't have enough water,
There is still only 1 cheque in my cheque book,
I can't find the remote,
I can't find my glasses,
And I don't remember what I did with the car keys.
Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today,I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day and I'm really tired.
I realise this is a serious problem,and I'll try to get some help for it,but first I'll check my e-mail.....
Do me a favour please. Forward this message to everyone you know,Because I can't remember who the hell I've sent it to.
Don't laugh - if this isn't you yet, your day is coming!!
TODAY after 10 days in Corfu, but unfortunately we had to cancel our holiday which was booked in September last year.
This is due to the fact that Mr PE has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
He has spent two periods in hospital from the beginning of April to the present time and has now been home for four days. He has to see the consultant on Thursday next to get the results of the biopsy and to discuss types of treatment available.
I don't mean this to be a morbid post, as I know there are many of my fellow members on this great site that have been through this awful thing as well. This is the first time we have missed a holiday in Corfu since we began in 1988, but, hopefully there WILL be more for us in the future.
Just an update on my travel insurance problem of being unable to get quotes when waiting for results of tests. As stated earlier Staysure did quote online but it was very expensive (in my case £150 for 9 days) compared to when nothing was awaited. Anyway the MRA scan results for what was causing my double sciatica finally came through last week about 7 weeks after the scan and nearly 3 months from being referred. During all that time waiting I had started physio at the hospital and doing a lot of walking and was feeling much better. I obtained a quote online but as I had a query I telephoned Staysure. The girl went through the questions and finally gave me a figure of £88 for 9 days ... double what the online quote was!! I said I would think about it and then checked through everything again online. I had told her I had arthritis but had not been to the doctor about it. She asked how I knew and I replied "if you have it, you know". (I will shortly be ready for knee replacements). Anyway when completing the online Form I declared the arthritis as if it was diagnosed. Lo and behold the quote was now about £42!!! The moral of this is that you pay a lot for uncertainty, in my case it would have been double!! The Staysure online quote does cover a lot of existing conditions -- over 200 in a huge list which takes time to check properly and if your conditions are not listed you introduce them as you proceed through the many following questions which are not entirely clear. Unfortunately there is no way to 'save' a quote so you have to do it all again if you are not ready to confirm, which I found really irksome doing mine and my wifes cover. I hope next time I can remember everything!!
If anyone has a spare tenner, can they think of this very worthy cause please? My wonderful daughter decided to run a marathon (not previously being a runner) because my mum (her nanna) had been diagnosed with lung cancer. She has been in training only for about 5 months for the 26.2 mile event.
The marathon is to be run this Sunday (14th October), and very sadly, my mum lost her fight for life on Tuesday this week, surrounded by all of her family.
So my daughter has to run this gruelling event after the most traumatic week of her life. If anyone can consider donating, it will make it all the more worthwhile.
Couldn't resist! By way of contrast, here is a copy of the post I made in 2005, following my own bike trip. Some of you will have read it before (for which, apologies) but for those who haven't.....
"I have been promising to write an article about my experiences on my motorcycle trip to Corfu back in June, but I'm afraid that life generally got in the way. That said, I've been working on it steadily, so at long last, here it is (well, at least, the part as far as Corfu!).
In The Begining
The seeds for this trip were sown many years ago, when Lynn's sister was offered a summer job at the Paxos Beach Hotel This was in about 1979 and in those days Lynn and I spent our holidays touring Europe by bike, using a combination of hotels or campsites, depending upon location, length of stay and costs. By way of a change, a trip down to Brindisi, ferry to Corfu and then a local ferry (I think that the Kamelia was still being used in those days) to Paxos in order to visit said sister appeared ideal!
Sadly, the sister (Julie) was talked out of taking the job, so the bike trip never happened. Regulars to the site, however, will know that we have made numerous road journeys over the years and are complete fans of Greece and Corfu.
Now, fast forward to 2004/5 and I am now on the road to recovery following a serious motorcycle accident the year before. I'm lacking in confidence generally (and on a bike in particular) and need to lay a few ghosts. For Christmas (2004) I'm given - by Lynn - both the book and DVD set of "The Long Way Round" - the bike trip around the world undertaken by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. Now, this seriously got the juices flowing and my feet became incredibly itchy! What could I do? I've got a bike (BMW K1200 LT). Clearly, I'm not going around the world, but Greece sounds like an excellent option!
Then Lynn managed to wangle a week in Corfu on her own in early May. That did it! If she could go on her own, the so could I, so the ferries were booked (Speed Ferries from Dover to Boulogne and Anek from Ancona to Igoumenitsa) and the route planned. Departure was scheduled for Thursday 9th June and I intended to be back home on Sunday19th. Then, eldest son, James asks if we can do the classic car rally organised by our local pub on that Sunday and can I navigate for him. Well, yes, OK – but! The holiday needs to be rescheduled and what was originally intended as gentle-ish tour turns in to an endurance marathon as I now have to be back on Friday 17th so we can spend Saturday getting the car ready. So after much time spent on the phone and computer, the schedule looks like this:
8th June – 14.45 Ferry, Dover to Boulogne 10th June – 16.00 Anek Ferry, Ancona to Igoumenitsa 15th June – 22.30 Anek Ferry, Igoumenitsa to Ancona 17th June – 21.00 Ferry, Boulogne to Dover.
This gives me just 4 nights on Corfu, although almost 5 days.
I normally use Minoan ferries, but on this occasion there was no return sailing from Igoumenitsa, so it had to be Anek.
Many people have suggested using Minoan from Venice, rather than Ancona, but with such a short time available for both the driving and time on Corfu, the Anek route provides the best (for me) compromise as you get to Corfu by about 10.30am, meaning that I am in San Stephanos in good time for lunch!
Anyway, 8th June dawns bright and sunny (a good sign) so after a 06.30 business breakfast meeting, the bike is finally loaded and I'm off – and only half an hour behind schedule. At the last minute, Lynn looks at me and says “I wish I was coming too” harking back to those distant days when we toured together by bike – Ah, one day!
The traffic en-route to Dover is very light and I arrive early for the ferry, despite taking it very gently along the A2, and then find that there is a delay. Still, after grabbing a coffee, I while away the time talking to other bikers about their experiences and plans. As you might expect, they are a very mixed bunch, with plans ranging from a quick weekend away to a couple on a world tour over the next year.
Eventually the time comes to load and the bikes are on first, shepherded into a corner and wedged and tied down to the deck by very efficient crew members, who take care not to scratch the paint and ensure that there is no way the bike will fall over.
France (day one)
This being Speedferries (who use a high speed catermaran) an hour and a quarter later I'm riding down the ramp onto French soil. I always get a buzz at this point – the ferry doors opening onto the whole of continental Europe ahead and miles and miles of open road! But first, I have to get out of town and as it's now 5pm local time, it's the rush hour. Not too bad, only takes half an hour to get onto the Autoroute and start heading South.
My route to Ancona for this trip takes me south along the coast towards Amiens; this section of motorway is quite spectacular as the great modern viaducts span the rural valleys that have remained unchanged for years, then; east through St Quentin, Reims on towards Dijon, Besancon, into Swtizerland, Lausanne, Villars (where I intend so visit friends – hence this less than direct route) through the St Bernard Tunnel and into Italy, Aosta, Milan, Modena and finally into Ancona.
At this stage, I have no plans as to where I'm going to stop for the night, but given that many of the major hotel chains in France serve food until 10pm, it seems sensible to stop at around 8.30. Hopefully, I'll make it as far as Troyes as I know that it is possible to get from there to Milan via our friends in one hard slog, if necessary. Best laid plans! After my first fuel stop, it's clear all is not well. Firstly, an indicator bulb blows as I rejoin the Autoroute, then I'm aware that the bike is running roughly, vibrating more than it should and not pulling too well. Not wanting to stop on the hard shoulder, I push on to the next rest area and check things over (and replace that bulb). As I can't find anything obvious, I conclude that the fuel must be of poor quality and decide to continue with the trip, but refuel again when the tank gets down to half full. This ruse seems to partially cure the problem – it's not right, but it is better. However, having lost an hour or so, there is no way I can make Troyes, so at about 8pm I roll off the motorway at Reims, find a Novotel immediately which has a room available and decide to call it a day. Having checked in (do take your passport with you when you do this, as it saves lots of messing about – I left mine on the bike at the other end of the car park!) I call Lynn to bring her up to date with my progress and to pick up business messages, and go in search of dinner.
France (day two)
The delays on the previous day had put me somewhat behind schedule, so with great difficulty, I drag myself out of bed at 5.30 on Thursday morning, check out of the hotel and hit the road by 6.30, having given the bike a once over. Having had temperatures in the mid 20's on Wednesday, this morning it's cold, only 8 degrees, but with so far to go, I have to press on – I really want to be on the other side of Milan before I stop tonight.
Despite the cold, the rolling hills of the Champagne region give me a positive lift as they stream by, with great fountains of water irrigating this years grape crop on it's annual journey from field to my fridge (not all of it you understand) and it has to get into the bottle first! One of the great pleasures about motoring through France is that the changing seasons are so obvious as rural life follows its never ending pattern. Somehow, in the South of England anyway, this is not quite so evident as much arable farm land close to the main roads seems to have fallen to be used as golf courses.
I'm really settling into the rhythm now, the countryside rolling by, the occasional stops for tolls and fuel (for me and the bike) the wide open spaces and almost empty roads. It's even beginning to warm up a bit. The downside is that the bike still doesn't seem to 100% happy, so I'm reluctant to push it beyond a steady 75 MPH, which is going to make the trip take longer. Never mind, I'm enjoying the freedom, although it must be said that the aches and pains from the wrecked shoulder and arm are beginning to work their worst. Thank goodness for cruise control, which takes the strain out of keeping the throttle open for hours and also allows me to flex my muscles and joints. I wonder though, if it's like this now, how will I feel at the end of the day?
By 10.30 am or so, the time has come to leave the motorway and head into Besancon and on into Switzerland.
Besancon itself is surrounded by the river Doubs and in turn, is dominated by a 15th century fortress which stands 350ft above its centre. Many of the buildings date from the 17th century and during the 19th century, it was the centre of the clock and watch making industry in France. Besancon was also the birthplace of Victor Hugo. The whole city is fascinating and I would love to linger, but lunch in Switzerland and that appointment with a ferry in Ancona beckon, so it's onwards and upwards, climbing the steep, winding hill on the N57 toward Pontarlier. There are a few glimpses of the city through the trees as I climb, but no opportunities to stop and take any photos.
As I climb, the scenery and pasture really starts to become more alpine, with small villages dotted along the road and a very rural feel. Free of the city, I make good progress. This is excellent motorcycling country; mountain scenery, pretty villages with church spires, gentle hills, long sweeping bends and very little traffic! Just outside Pontarlier I stop to take some photographs of castles/fortresses nestling on the sides of the mountains on either side of the valley – I can just imagine warring factions taking shots at each other centuries ago (or perhaps they levied taxes or tolls on travelers in much the same way as used to happen on the Rhine? One day I'll go back and find out.). I also turn on my mobile to check for messages – big mistake! There are business messages from Lynn as well as from clients – an hour later I'm on my way again, but now I really must push harder, no more dawdling and admiring the views for a while as some serious-ish speed is now required. The Alps are now drawing near and visions of Steve McQeen in the Great Escape come to mind – Switzerland!
Switzerland (day two)
Very soon, the Franco-Swiss boarder hauls into view, but the crossing is something of a disappointment. As I have my Vignette (Swiss motorway pass) I'm waived straight through – no need to dig for the passport at all. Very quickly after the border, the single track road becomes a motorway and it's now dual carrigeway all the way to to Aigle, my turning for Villars and (a now late) lunch. Although largely following the valley floor, the scenery is now very much Alpine, with mountains (some still snow capped) rising steeply on either side of the road. It's difficult to concentrate with all this breathtaking scenery around.
Despite major roadworks around Lausanne and a much reduced speed limit, I reach Aigle a little over an hour after entering the country. I take a little time to find the correct road through the town, but after consulting the map, I get it right and start to climb up into the Alps. The road is little more than a country lane, but steep, with a (seemingly) never ending string of hairpin bends. For the first time on the trip, the vast bulk and weight of the bike (378 kgs, plus luggage and me!) begins to make its presence known. It's takes physical effort to haul the bike from lock to lock and this is playing havoc with my arm and shoulders. To make matters worse, due to the rough running,the power delivery is “awkward” - a bit like a high revving 2 stroke – nothing at first as the engine hesitates, then it all comes in with a bang. Great, what with these tight bends, steep drops and gravel strewn liberally around! Concentration levels are extremely high – scenery, what scenery?
Eventually, I enter the village, lush green alpine pasture flanking the road, with endless stands of pine trees beyond. Talk about Heidi and chocolate boxes – this is the real thing. After a quick 'phone call to determine the location of the new house (our friends have moved since our last family visit) I finally find Sabrina standing by the side of the road to guide me in – time for a break. (It's now about 2.30pm – I've been on the road for 8 hours!) The silence that descends when I turn the engine off is almost deafening.
The “new” house is really old constructed from timber that is black – it's that old, but apparently, this isn't it's original location – it was moved here piece by piece many years ago. The views are fantastic, being totally uninterrupted by other buildings and stretching right across the valley to the snowfields on the mountains in the distance. Villars is, of course, a ski resort and the last time we were here (April) the ski runs had finally been closed for the summer the day before we arrived, but there were piles of snow up to 4 feet deep at the roadside. All this has gone now of course and it has left behind that “freshly painted” feel that seems to be typically Swiss.
Sabrina and I are bringing each up to date on family developments when the telephone repair man arrives to fix the computer line into the house. Then the fun starts! This being French speaking Switzerland, he refuses to conduct the ensuing conversation in anything but French, which is a bit of a problem as Sabrina is fluent in German, Italian (Switzerland's other two languages) as well as English, but has only just started to learn French! So between us we struggle onwards, me with my half remembered schoolboy stuff and Sabrina with her new found, but limited knowledge. It the end, we give up and call Mauro, her husband at work in Milan (don't ask, it's all too complicated) who explains the problem, it gets fixed and it transpires that the repair man does speak German!
All too soon (5.30), it's time to leave, so I fire up the bike and head off back down the mountain. Mauro reckons it takes about two hours to get from here to Milan – but he's Italian and his car has 4 wheel drive so I 'm working on two and a half to three.
Once through Aigle, I ease back onto the motorway and head for Martigny (very close to where I first skied as a 13 year old schoolboy and where I first tried out my French on someone who used it as their first language – oh, the irony of it!) Interestingly, the bike seems to be running much better now, so obviously, whatever the fault is, it's intermittent. I'm beginning to hate fuel injection systems!
Once through Martigny, I start to climb again, up towards the St Bernard Tunnel. This time, though, the road is much wider and the bends more open so the weight isn't a problem and the huge power of the bike really comes into its own, easily overtaking the cars and trucks that are grinding slowly uphill. The lush pastureland has now given way to rugged rocky terrain with sparse grasses at the roadside and the ever present pines. Waterfalls cascade down the rocks at the roadside, but these are small when compared with the monsters that I glimpse higher up. Almost without noticing, I climb above the tree line; it certainly feels very lonely and remote – almost desolate - up here; there isn't even any traffic. Apart from the road, the only sign of civilization are the posts which actually mark the edge of the road – these are quite tall, so that the snowplough drivers can find the road in winter!
Although it's now quite cold, around 10 degrees, I'm really enjoying this bit, the combination of the road and the mountains have something of the atmosphere of the Isle of Man. It's one of those very few moments (at least since the accident) that man and machine are in perfect harmony and everything is absolutely right; the gear changes are spot on, the lines through the bends perfect and the speed is just right. But we all know that good things must come to an end and the spell is broken by arriving at the tunnel entrance. Having paid the toll (one way) I move on into Italy.
Italy (day two)
Fortunately, this particular tunnel is fairly short and soon the road emerges into a long section covered by galleries (which are open on one side)so at least there are some glimpses of the mountains.
I know I'm in Italy now has the cars are coming up behind me extremely quickly and disappearing ahead at rapid rate of knots.
I emerge from the covered sections of the road into brilliant sunshine, surrounded by pine trees and the spreading vista of the Aosta Valley. (It never ceases to amaze me how the architecture changes so abruptly – on minute it's very definitely Swiss and the next, Italian. There is no gradual change – it's immediate). I continue to descend, through pretty mountain villages with buildings either built from stone or shingles. I then discover that the tunnel system that avoids the town centre is closed, so all of the traffic is queuing up to get into Aosta itself.. Thank goodness I'm on a bike (albeit a large one that is very wide – at least I can filter past the traffic to the head of the queue!)
I haven't been here since 1979 when touring Europe in an MGB – not much has changed, it's still as chaotic as I remember it as I follow the signs for the Autostrada and Turin. Fortunately, despite the chaos, the traffic is well disciplined and I have no problems getting through the town and very soon I'm buzzing along the motorway which follows the valley floor and the fast flowing river. Again, mountains tower on either side of the road, with occasional castles perched on rock pinnacles. As I progress, I move out of the mountains and the temperature begins to rise again (low 30s) although I can see some heavy, dark clouds ahead – I hope it's not going to rain. And indeed it does, the first since leaving home, but in the end , it only amounts to a very brief shower.
Soon the motorway splits towards Milan and I conclude that it's time for fuel, a double shot of espresso and a planning meeting with the map as I now really do need to make some sort of decision as to how far I'm going to go tonight. Basically, I'm about 100 miles from Milan, 390 miles from Ancona, so broadly, if I call it a day in Milan, I'll still have 290 miles (say, 6 hours) to do tomorrow and as it will be Friday, the weekend traffic heading for Rimini will be very heavy, with the usual congestion around Modena and Bologna. All of this means a very early start in order to ensure that I'm checked in for the ferry by 2pm. In the end, I conclude that, provided I can get round Milan without too much of a delay, I'll try to make it as far as Bologna, which is about 250 miles away. As it's now about 6.45pm, I should be there by about 11pm.
Suitably refreshed and with a full tank, I hit the road again, but this time with a little more purpose as I now have a destination in mind. This stretch of Autostrada used to be flat and totally featureless,but now it represents a linear building site – it's a continual sting of roadworks with new bridges, junctions and flyovers all the way along. Anyway, it takes my mind off the threat of mosquitoes – this is the part of Italy where lots of rice is grown, with the attendant supplies of still water and I expect to get well and truly splattered. Fortunately, however, it's not quite mossie season here and I escape relatively unscathed.
And so to Milan, or rather the Tangenziale Ovest (ring road) which is a bit like the M25, with 5 or 6 lanes of traffic in each direction and is usually absolute bedlam. I stick to the inside (right hand) lane at a steady 40 mph and try and keep out of trouble. As I do so I envy the Italians, young and old, male and female on their scooters wearing only the minimal of clothing. The temperature is around 38 degrees, despite the fact that it is now early evening and the sunlight has taken on that lovely gold Italian glow which makes everything look warm, and I'm wearing full leathers! At this speed, there's no cooling breeze, either.
In the end, there are no hold ups and I reach the junction of the A1 – the main Autostrada to Bologna and places beyond. Decision time (there's a Novotel near Linate airport which is now very close) but as I feel reasonably fresh, I carry on and join the headlong rush towards the coast. There's a lot of traffic on the road now and my steady 70 – 75 mph gait is just plain wrong here. I keep catching up with very slow moving vehicles, but can't find a space to move out into the 90 – 100 mph main stream easily. If you can't beat them, join them, so I join what I reckon to be the worlds fastest traffic jam – bumper to bumper at 90 mph, although I do work to keep a “safety zone” around me, much to the annoyance of some drivers!
Just before Modena, a service station looms into view, time for a meal as its now nearly 9pm and getting dark. Another new experience – the Autostrada in the dark. This is not for the faint hearted ,I decide! What with all of these tail lights merging into one another, it's like the river of fire, except that this one works..
Over diner, I call Lynn and let her know about my progress and suggest that I shall be stopping at Bologna a little later on and so, after a break of an hour, it's back out into the maelstrom, except that now it's not quite so bad as there is less traffic and the evening has cooled down quite considerably which makes it easier to concentrate as well. I turn off the motorway and head for a Novotel where we have stayed on a previous trip, but they have no rooms! Not wanting to spend ages going round and round looking for an hotel, I make a snap decision and decide to make for Forli, which has an airport and so, I reason, there will be a good chance of finding a bed for the night (or what's left of it). So back on the motorway, which is now even quieter, with the consequence that I make excellent progress, reaching the exit slip road a little after midnight.
Joy of Joys – after paying the toll, I emerge onto the main road and off to my right is an illuminated sign on a large hotel. Brilliant, this couldn't be easier! It isn't – although the sign is all lit up, the hotel is closed for refurbishment. Damn!
Somewhat disillusioned, I head off towards the airport and the town centre. Fortunately, there are lots of signs pointing the way to various hotels, but, this being Italy, they are not necessarily, consistent. After a few false starts, I happen across the Air Hotel and although the doors are chained shut, the chap behind reception opens up, despite the time now being 12.45am – yes they have just one room left! Nirvana! After the briefest of 2;ormalities, I'm handed a key, shown where to park the bike around the back of the building and after a quick goodnight, he turns the lights off and I stumble off to my room.
It's been a very long day, I've covered the best part of 700 miles and it's just over 18 hours since I left Reims, although I reckon I've “only” been on the road for about 13 of those hours, including the short fuel stops etc.
For those who might be interested, the address of the Air Hotel is:
Via Mordani 7 47100 Forli Italia
Phone (0) 543 781470 Fax (0) 543 781711
Italy (day 3)
Next morning (Friday) the alarm goes off at 7.30am, something of a lay in compared to yesterday, as I want to on the road by 10.30, despite having only 100 miles to go to get to Ancona. So, after breakfast I check out of the hotel (48 Euro for the night, incl. Breakfast) and check the bike over after yesterday's mini marathon. Although a drop of oil is needed, my main concern is the fact that the tailpipe on the exhaust is covered with black soot – a sure sign that it's running rich (too much fuel or not enough air, or a combination of the two).
Still, there's nothing for it but to hit the road and get myself to Ancona. By the time I've negotiated the now busy streets of Forli and found my way out onto the Autostrada , it's 10.30 , but the traffic is reasonably light, if fast moving. This stretch of motorway is wonderfull as it twists, turns and undulates through the hill past San Morino, occasionally diving into tunnels. One truck driver didn't make one of the tunnels – there is a truck buried in the wall on the entrance – very messy.
Then, just as I come out of a tunnel, over to my left and over the top of the concrete central reservation is the turquoise water of the Adriatic glinting in the sun beyond the buildings – wow, I feel as if I've made it now, Sea to shining sea!
My joy is short lived! I glance down at the instrument panel as something has caught my eye – the low fuel warning light is on; the fuel gauge confirms things, the needle is down at the top of the red section; I flick the trip computer to “range” mode; it shows me a possible distance of 20 miles! (equally, the fuel consumption has increased dramatically - hence the crisis!) I search frantically for one of the little signs on the central reservation that indicate the distance to the next service station – there it is – 30 kilometers. This is developing into one of those aircraft disaster movie scenarios, where alarms are going off all over the place. I instinctively cut my speed back to about 50 mph and hope. At this speed the 20 miles on the trip computer remains constant as the miles tick by – it's getting better. My “target” is the service area at Ancona Nord, the last one before leaving the motorway, so I'm very nearly at the end of the outward trip, but... I come up to roadworks forcing me to slow to walking pace and I have great difficulty keeping the engine running. Still, once I'm into the contraflow, it gets a little easier. The roadworks finish just before the service station and I limp onto the slip road. As I do so, the range reading on the computer flashes to three dashes – meaning that there is less than 9 miles left in the tank!
As I pull into a parking bay, the engine cuts out, but at this stage I make no attempt to restart it. I need to have a drink and a think. I have something of a dilemma – on the one hand, should I try and locate a BMW dealer and get the fault fixed (which will mean missing my ferry – there is no way this is going to be fixed quickly) or should I get the thing going and get onto the ferry for Corfu, where I can at least abandon the bike securely and work out how to get it home later. The difficulty is that the I will need a BMW dealer with the correct diagnosis computer to identify the fault and at this stage, I have no idea where to find one. I may even have to go back to Bologna. Moreover, the breakdown insurance states that before the bike will be recovered it must be totally immobilized and so far as I can tell, it's not - yet.
Over a cold coke, I think things through. Somewhere as the back of my mind is the idea that, by disconnecting the battery, the ECU (the brain of the injection system) will lose it's settings and will then re-set when the ignition is turned on after re-connection. Anything is worth a try, so I give it a go, remembering to open and close the throttle first to re-set a couple of sensors. I nervously thumb the starter button - it fails to start, so I wait a couple of seconds and try again. This time it starts and is running very roughly, but after a few seconds settles down to a nice even idle. Decision made! I refuel (the tank takes 23.7 litres where the maximum capacity is 24!) and head out onto the Autostrada again for the last few miles into Ancona. Disconnecting the battery has also reset the trip computer and the MPG is now reading 65, rather that the disturbing 35 MPG when I stopped.
Hopefully, at least a temporary solution to the problem, as I'm sure that it a permanent fix can't be that simple.
Once off the motorway, I follow the winding road down towards Ancona, finally entering the busy traffic, all of which appears to be heading towards the port. The main road here runs along the seafront, but is separated from the sea by a railway line. Eventually, I come to the slip road leading off to the right towards the port. This narrow road takes me through the back of an industrial estate before spitting me out on to the quayside, after crossing the railway line.
Welcome to the chaos that is Ancona! The port isn't a separately fenced off area, but is just a series of moorings alongside the road, so all of the traffic gets mixed together! It's exciting though, with a Superfast Ferry loading to my left and the high ochre-yellow brick and stone buildings ahead, topped with a domed church, all set against a brilliant blue sky with squadrons of martins screaming and wheeling overhead – yes! I've made it!
As neither the Anek nor the Minoan ferries have arrived yet, I have no idea which pier I need, so I make my way to the terminal building, check in and collect my Anek Lines/Igoumenitsa windscreen sticker. I find the right queue and being on a bike, am directed right to the front as the bikes are loaded first. It's 1pm so I have some time to wait. It being very hot I really do need to get out of my leathers and find a cold drink!
Gradually, the quayside fills up with cars (even a couple from the UK) trucks and a few more bikes, mainly Italian scooters, but a few German superbikes as well. At 2pm, the Anek ferry arrives, turns round and reverses up to the quay. After a short delay, it disgorges it's passengers and vehicles; as usual, all appears to be total chaos with people, trucks, trailers cars and bikes all mixing it together, but in very short order, it's our turn to board.
I ride up the ramp into the main car deck and am directed towards a large hole in the ground – the ramp down into the bowels of the ship. As I descend, I am forced onto the centre of the ramp where there are no friction grooves to provide grip – this is all very well until a crewman wants me to stop. Fine, but this is downhill on wet slippery metal. Brakes are applied and I stop without drama – so the ABS does work after all! I get directed to a spot to park the bike, but unlike Speedferries, I'm left to my own devices. In a machinery space I find various blocks of wood and lengths of rope and secure the bike. This done, I make my way to the lounge area for the aircraft seating, find a space, dump my gear and go in search of a well deserved (well, in my opinion anyway) cold beer.
With beer in hand I wander to the stern rail and with large number of other passengers watch the continued frenzy that constitutes the loading process. Cars continue to arrive right up to 15.55 and are loaded, but, eventually, the last ramp is raised – another car arrives, but is turned away, and we depart, just a few minutes after 4.00pm. I wander back to the bar, order giros and another beer and watch Ancona slowly fall away astern.
There are few material differences between this and the Minoan ferry; sure the layout is different, but in all material areas I don't think that there is much between them. The pool area on the Minoan ferry is more pleasant, but then some of the public areas on the Anek ferry surpass those on Minoan.
One thing that does come up later is that as the aircraft seat lounge is further aft on the Anek ferry, there does seem to be more vibration, but then the seats are more comfortable.
I spend the afternoon sitting in the sun and reading, enjoying the mini – cruise and eventually turn in about midnight. Unfortunately, my sleep in disturbed by a very large drunk who thinks it's a great laugh to wake people up. Despite being told to shut up and to go away in a variety of languages, he persists. Eventually, I get fed up with this and threaten to toss him over the side if he doesn't behave. I'm not sure who's the most scared – him or me! Maybe it's the leather jacket that does it but he slinks away, never to be seen again during the night.
Greece/Corfu (day four)
I awake at about 5.30 and wander onto the deck (stepping over our sleeping/comatose drunk) to watch Corfu rise out of the sea, bathed in the pink early morning sunlight. As I watch, identifiable landmarks appear: the Canal D'Amour headland at Sidari, Acharavi, BBE, Kassiopi, Kaparelli Island, the naval lookout station, San Stephanos, Koulora, Agni (morning Nathan) as we turn and head down to Igoumenitsa. Time to go and pack up my bits and pieces and get ready to re-join the bike.
Shortly after 8am, the ferry is gliding up the buoyed channel into the port of Igoumenitsa and drivers are asked to go to the vehicles. Eventually, I get down to the bike and I am relieved to find it still upright. There is a short delay, accompanied by much banging, crashing and shouting , before the hatch above opens and we are spilled out into the sunshine again. It's a short ride across the quayside, through the new International Terminal and a short sprint along the seafront to the domestic ferry port. I pull up outside the portacabin and buy a ticket for the next ferry for Corfu, which leaves in ten minutes, so there's just time to get on board and get the bike lashed down (again) before we sail. I pop up to the saloon, grab some breakfast , and watch Corfu approaching through the windows.
Quite soon (well about an hour and a quarter later) the various recognisable features of Corfu are close at hand: Benitses, the airport and then the Old Fort as we slide into the harbour. We are unloaded very quickly – so quickly in fact, that I don't have time to get my gear on and load the bike, so I spend a few minutes on the quayside sorting things out and swapping my full face helmet for the open face one and then it's off along the coast road, heading for San Stephanos. Just for a laugh, I turn on the CD player and select “Who Pays The Ferryman” so that I can listen to Greek music as I ride along.
Once past Ipsos I once again find the weight and bulk of the bike a bit of a disadvantage , but I'm more used to it now. What does surprise me is the condition of the road surface. Having driven on Corfu for many years, I'm well aware of the problems, but these are magnified when on a bike – it's not so much the gravel as the ridges and faults in the tarmac surface that can easily throw the bike off line. As I pass the viewpoint above Koulora, I spot the Minoan ferry from Venice making it's way down the channel, so I'm probably about 4 hours ahead of any passengers heading for Corfu as it usually goes to Igoumenitsa first.
I'm now into the last few hairpin bends before the short sprint up into Sinies and the right turn down towards Stephanos – almost at jouney's end (well the outward leg anyway) and I'm a little sad in a way as it's been great fun being on the road each day.
I wend my way down through the olive groves and then emerge into the sunlight – down to my right is the brillaint blue sea and Stephanos – just that one last hairpin to negotiate where everyone stops to take photo's (I've secretly been worried about this oneall the way as it's very tight and steeply downhill) but in the end it's not a problem. Finally, I turn onto the main street into the village and stop outside Kaparreli taverna, pop the bike onto the stand and take my helmet off. Even before I have a chance to collect my thoughts, a familiar friendly female voice calls out “Morning Martyn, you made it then” closely followed by “Would you like beer?” - Wendy (of Bob and Wendy fame) together with Bob's sister nicely settled at a table (whilst Bob himself fits the sails onto his boat). I think we're going sailing tomorrow!
[QUOTE=tiger79] No, not that sort of drugs! I'm talking about hospital-type drugs. We're booked to visit Corfu next month. My wife has recently developed a heart condition called AF; she's only had 2 episodes of it so far, but both required urgent A&E intervention and appropriate cardiac drugs. I've read a lot in the papers about Greek hospitals running out of even basic drugs due to budget pressures. My question is - what's the situation likely to be in Corfu? If my wife needed urgent care there, might the main hospital manage? Or are there private facilities which might be able to cope? Any thoughts appreciated.
We stay in Roda and a couple of our friends were staying there at the same time. The lady wasn't very well and had something wrong with her heart. Unbeknown to us, she went to see a Cardiologist in a place called Acharavi and she received excellent treatment from him and a diagnosis. Whether they would have the drugs needed for your wife, I don't know, but at least there are people that know what they are doing should the need arise, that has got to help. Over to you Kernowman if you are reading this (husband of the wife who saw the Cardiologist).
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