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Friday, May 25, 2007

CRUISING ABOARD THE "PASIPHAE PALACE"

MAY 22 On board the MV Pasiphae Palace, Minoan lines, from Venezia to Igoumenitsa Greece.

A hot steamy day and we battled through the crowds at San Marco, stopping by to lok at the Florian bar, a very Venetian, elegant cafe bar where Byron, Wagner and other intellecutals used to hang out. Much more impressive than Harry's and we wished we'd had time to stop there for a coffe. Wemanaged to get the vaparetto to our stop near the ferry terminal (that crazy long walk we made the other day wasn't anywhere near where we needed to be!) The tourist info woman said it was a 'ten minute walk", it turned out that wasonly to the turn off. We kept slogging along after that until eventually the shuttle bus came along and stopped for us. We got checked in and boarded immediately. It wasn't the Titanic but it was a pretty impressive craft for a 'ferry'. A huge boat, posh compared to the BC Ferries. There was even a disco and casino on board. We had booked recliner seats, but decided to ask for a cabin which we were lucky to get.

I felt sat at leaving Venezia, definitely would return; our only complaints were the crowds of tourists (especially those who gather under your hotel window and party loudly until 4 a.m.!) But we'd found the best way to avoid the mobs was to get out before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m. By far the best way to see the city when it is quiet and serene.

May 23. We spent a comfortable night in our own cabin on the ship. It was a pleasant journey and we arrived in Igoumentista by noon. The trip along the Dalmatian Coast was calm and pretty. I went up to the very top deck to take pictures of Italy's 'heel' and the coast of Albania.

We arrived in Igoumenitsa at noon. I was there four years ago seeing Susan off on the ferry to Anconda, Italy. This time there was an impressive new ferry terminal and bus depot (part of the improvements Greece made for the Olympics). We only had an hour to wait for our bus to Parg. It turned out to be real "Cook's Tour" bust trip through the pretty country villages, so I had a good look at more of Olymmpias's country (Alexander's mother) Everything here is green and fresh. It even showered a little on the way through the mountains to the coast.

EPIROS: This part of Greece is known as "Epiros" and it has quite a long history of civil strife and tragedies. It is located in the NW corner of the mainland, bordering Alania and the Ionian Sea. The high Pindos mountains spearate it from Macedonia and Thessaly in the east. In early times this area was inhabited by tribes, one of them, the Molossi dominated the whole region and became so powerful that it's leader was made King of Epiros. If you have been keeping up with the last chapters of my novel "Shadow of the Lion", this is the home of Olympias, who was the neice of this king who became the wife of Philip II and mother of Alexander the Great.

Through the ages there have been many strifes in this wild mountainous area. It fell to the Turks in 1431 and later became part of Greece in 1913 when the Greek army seized it during the Balkan Wars. During WWII, a strong resistance army too to the mountains. During the civil war 1944-45, Epiros became a scene of heavy fighting. When the resistance split into factions many children from Epiros were forced to evacuate to the Eastern bloc countries by the Communists. If you have read Nicholas Gage's book "Eleni" it tells how he and his siblings were escorted out of Epiros so they could escape to be with their father in the States. Their mother, Eleni stayed behind and was tortured and killed by the communists.

We are heading for Parga, a beautiful port resort on the coast south of Igoumenitsa.
NEXT: Return to Parga

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