Snuggling down with our blanket somewhere at the foot of the Cottian Alps sounds idyllic, doesn't it?
We had travelled as far as we could without sleep and we were making good progress. But we needed a couple of hours just to recharge our batteries and so we pulled up in a truckers lay-by, not entirely sure whether it was legal or not. We clocked the time - 2 a.m. Our travel time had spanned 19 hours at this point.
After turning the engine off, we pulled out our pillows and tried to navigate a comfortable position that didn't involve a handbrake in the thigh. We could see we were surrounded by the most stunning snow-topped mountain range, and were a little disappointed that we hadn't managed to drive through in daylight. In the spirit of The Waltons, we did our usual 'night nights' and snuggled under our fleecey blanket.
Two hours passed. The temperature in the cabin dropped dramatically. I suppose the aforementioned snow-topped mountain descripton would have been a warning to most, but it had not crossed our tired little minds that we could potentially die of hypothermia.
A little over-dramatic?
Travelling through the Frejus tunnel and arriving in Italy felt like a big deal. One country done, tick!
Surpisingly, there didn't appear to be any border checks and we travelled through Italy unchallenged. We could have gone missing and nobody would have had the foggiest idea where we were. Any future FBI investigations into our disappearance would have led them to believe we were still lost in France, down a dirt track with cows.
My tip of the day would be to use your card when going through the tolls. Traceable.
The motorways of Italy weren't quite as open, spacious and sane as the French. The traffic seemed much heavier and some of the drivers seemed to be in a really big rush, weaving in and out of each lane just to get an extra car in front. I had already given myself several pats on the back for being such a marvellously calm passenger - my 'Are you sure you're in the right lane?' queries were much fewer than on previous trips.
There was some stunning architecture along the way, I believe this is the Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana railway station. For me, the curves suggested a nod to the Sahara desert, for *my Husband it was the squishy pleats of an accordian.
*According to Science Daily, a researcher has found that a person's mental state affects how they look at art. "One intuitive explanation is that personality and the way in which we visually examine artwork contributes to our preferences for particular art." Basically, I like sand and he likes music.
Powering through, we arrived at Ancona Ferry Port with time to spare. That was on top of the 3 hour delay we had been informed of from earlier in the day. Our meticulously planned route had to be re-jigged at the last minute, in order for us to be able to make the next connecting ferry. Oh, how we were flying by the seat of our pants - look at us, all travel-ly with abandonement. The excitement! Caution was well and truly thrown to the wind as we agreed on a new destination of Igoumenitsa, as opposed to Patras. Can you even imagine?! No, neither could we. It just meant that we had a marginally better chance of arriving at Pireaus in time and so we didn't really have any other option. It meant that a further 6 hours driving was to be added on to the journey, but whilst we would be pulling up in Pireaus ready for our next sail, the previous ship would only just be pulling up in Patras. It was really a no-brainer.
The ship was enormous. I've been on one before, I'm sure of it, but up close and personal it was incredibly intimidating. We realised the ferry was pulling in when a gaggle of people congregated around the port, mobiles in hand in order to video the reversing of the boat into the harbour. I joined them, of course. You have to think about the training involved in that - I consider myself to be a decent parallel parker but I'm not sure I would trust myself with something of that size.
All aboard! We had an 18 hour sail ahead and us, the dog and the cat checked into our room. Our pet friendly external cabin gifted us with the most beautiful sunset as we sailed out of Ancona and towards our next destination, mainland Greece.