With flights becoming more expensive, we thought we'd test out some alternative ways of getting from Northern Europe to Greece. Below is Stella and Ron's account of their recent journey from UK via Venice to Corfu.
In September Ron and I had occasion to go back to England for a few days and decided to turn it into a little holiday and wedding anniversary treat by returning home via Venice.
We used good old Easy Jet from Gatwick to Venice. (This no frills airline has been well used by our Agni Travel guests this summer and, with the odd exception, has been very reliable).
Arriving at Marco Polo airport at 8.20pm on Thursday we decided to go mad and get a water taxi to our hotel which was just off the Grand Canal. This we booked (95 Euros) at a desk by the airport exit where they gave us a ticket and told us which jetty to go to. It was quite a long walk but the water taxi was waiting and we sped off into the night.
It seemed a long way in the dark but even so it was quite exciting especially as we joined the Grand canal and motored under the Rialto Bridge.
The taxi dropped us at the jetty just a few yards from the hotel, which was down a little alley and had just 7 rooms. We dumped our luggage and then went in search of some food. Being a pasta-freak Italy is my ideal eating out country and we had a delicious meal beside the Grand Canal in sight of the Rialto Bridge.
Friday morning dawned warm and sunny so we made our way to St Mark's Square for some sightseeing. The queues for the Basilica were enormous so we 'did' the Doge's Palace instead, including walking across 'The Bridge of Sighs'.
Nathan had told us we must go to Harry's Bar for the best Bellinis in the world and that evening we eventually found it - no big signs or flashing lights but a rather inconspicuous little bar just off St Mark's square. It was certainly an experience and we managed two Bellinis each (69 Euros!) before staggering back to St Mark's for G&Ts in the square to the accompaniment of an orchestra (very Audrey Hepburn!)
Saturday we had to check out of the hotel by 10.30 but they let us leave our suitcase there for collection later. More sightseeing and shopping, including a Venetian mask (for a party next summer!), before the heavens opened and we had to take shelter in a restaurant for lunch. When it rains in Venice you really know about it and in next to no time the restaurant floor was 3 inches deep in water and my handbag and contents soaked!
After lunch we had to make our way to the ferry. A half-hour wait for a water taxi when it's pouring with rain is not good and by this time we were drenched. Another wait for a taxi to the ferry port saw us giving up with the umbrella and just making a run for it!
By the time we got to our cabin we were soaked to the skin and on opening the suitcase some of our clothes in there were wet too.
We were sailing on the Minoan Lines 'Pasiphae Palace' and had an outside cabin which was small but had everything we needed including a good sized bathroom with a really good shower.
Leaving Venice we sat on the Port side and watched the city retreating behind us. A commentary was broadcast over the tannoy so we could spot the places of interest as we went by. As it was raining my photos didn't come out too well through the ferry window but it was still an experience not to be missed. Venice is said to be one of the most spectacular ports to arrive to and leave from and I can certainly endorse that.
The journey from Venice to Corfu by ferry was 28 hours (taking into account the 1 hour time difference between Italy and Greece) but the time passed quite quickly. There was a comfortable lounge bar with attentive waiters, two restaurants, one self-service and the other A la Carte as well as shops and a casino. There was also a pool on the sun deck however this was not in use due to the weather.
We spent our time reading and having cups of tea and coffee and also had three very good meals (1 breakfast and 2 dinners) in the a la carte restaurant where the menu was varied and the quality of food excellent.
Sleeping wasn't a problem in spite of the thunderstorm that followed us down the Italian coast - the boat just rocked gently and soothed us to sleep!
At 8.30pm on Sunday evening we reached Igoumenitsa and by 10.30 we were back in Corfu where, guess what ... it started to rain!!!
As an alternative and economical way of getting to Corfu from the UK, EasyJet to Venice and then the ferry to Corfu makes for a relaxing journey and adds some adventure to it too. If you don't want to have a cabin then you can book an 'airline' seat or as a deck passenger but I'm afraid I'm a girl who likes her home comforts so camping on the deck was not for me!