Coincidence or fate? Volos may have the answer!

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September 29th 2014
Published: June 26th 2017
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Marmaris, Turkey to Volos in Greece

Additional maps: Marmaris, Turkey to Volos in Greece

Total distance travelled: 2,740 nautical miles

The ship departed at 4pm on the dot. Rhodes is only a stones though from this part of the Turkish coast and sure enough after about an hour we could see the Greek Island on our portside. We were about 5 miles off shore. During the 342 nautical miles across the Aegean Sea to Volos we passed Greek Islands too numerous to mention.

Another excellent show was produced called: The Land of the Pharaohs. The costumes, as expected were Egyptiany although the same acts from the other shows made an appearance albeit in a change of costume in keeping with the theme. The boy swinging on a rope was there. I bet kids must have hated him at school as there is always one smart arse kid who can shimmy up the ropes in the school gym while the rest of us struggle to get a few feet of the ground before sliding down again!! (complete with rope burn!) The balancing men were there as well as the singers and dancers. However it is now day 10 and there is no sign of clacker-ball man since the Ninja Turtles set. I thought the Land of the Pharaohs would be just up his street as a slave overseer! Perhaps he's clacked his balls for the last time!!?

For the first time ever tonight, one of the waiters used a crumb picker-upperer. This is an implement concaved like a shoe horn but about ½ inch wide. It is used to brush the crumbs from a tablecloth and then with a flick of the wrist, the crumbs are caught in the curved part of this useful tool. I have seen these used on Princess Ships for the past few years but never on MSC. That is until now. Roisin says if MSC operates anything like the UK Civil Service, our waiter is likely the only one to have been on the training course AND completed the online e-learning package. (after doing a risk assessment for possible RSI of course!!)

As this evening wore on, the sea state was picking up and the ship was pitching quite noticeably. I knew it was going to be another sleepless night for Roisin. The wind only measured 87kph so it was only half the speed we experienced on our first day out of Venice. At 10:30 I volunteered to go to the buffet and fetch a cup of tea for Roisin. Whilst I was at the drinks station 3 decks above, I was conscious that someone was waiting for me to finish. 'D'ya want tea, Beryl? Goan sit thee down and I'll bring t'over.' I heard the familiar voice behind me ask his wife. I instantly turned to my right and immediately said in a surprised tone as if I was seeing an apparition, ‘Brian?' I could see he was equally as startled that this stranger knew his name; his brain frantically trying to recall who I was.

‘The MSC Opera 2009. We met at the ballet in St. Petersburg and ended up eating pizza at midnight', I added.

Beryl, his wife now joined in the conversation: ‘Ah, yes, forgive us for not recognising you as we've been on so many cruises since then.'

It's OK', I said. ‘You were the very first people we ever spoke to on our very first cruise AND you're from Wigan so we recall you with fond memories'

Whilst Brian and Beryl sorted themselves out with tea, I ran down to fetch Roisin. As I explained how and who I'd just bumped in to, she exclaimed, ‘I knew it was them on the dance floor on the first evening!!'

We went back up to the buffet and for the next 2 ½ hours chatted over what we have done and where we have been in the past 5 years. Both were looking extremely well. Beryl and Brian are naturally lovely and funny people and we came to realise the first time we met them that we are likeminded couples. I always regretted not keeping in touch. This now must be one of the Greek fates of Lachesis, Atropos or Clotho intervening and giving us a second chance. By the way, Clotho is not one of the lost Marx Brothers: Harpo, Groucho, Chico, Zeppo and Clotho? It's a pity one of the Greek Fates couldn't have a word with Poseidon and tell him to stop ‘piss-farting' around with the sea and the weather.

It was another uncomfortable night. I managed to doze until 5pm when the seas abated and calm ensued. Roisin was wide awake until 04:30ish when she finally fell in to an unsteady sleep. I woke at 9am. I let Roisin sleep until 11. We were not due back on board until 5:30 so we had plenty of time to see as much or a little as we wanted. Due to us still both feeling the effects of the last night, we plumped for the 2nd option!!

Volos is one of the largest cities in Greece as well as one of the country's most prominent ports. The modern-day city, built near the site of ancient Iolcos, was built up in the shadows of Mount Peilion overlooking the Pagasetic Gulf. Volos was part of the Ottoman Empire until its annexation to Greece in 1881. The city and region has a prominent position in Greek Mythology as Iolcos is the port from which Jason sailed on the Argo in search of the Golden Fleece. I seem to recall Jason also had a rough time crossing the Aegean and I bet he didn't have an aft cabin. But then again, we didn't have to tie ourselves to a mast and have dreaded sea spirits known as sirens to deal with!!! Mt. Peilion, on the other hand, is reputedly the birthplace of the half man, half equine creature, the Centaur.

The city of Volos dominates the region of Magnesia. I wonder if their cows produce is known as Milk of Magnesia in these parts!!!

The ship docked in an industrial part of the city. At first glance it didn't look like Volos had that much to offer unless you were booked on an official excursion that would take you a couple of hours outside the city to visit such sights as the Monasteries at Meteora. These are perched on the top of sheer cliffs and have featured in a James Bond Movie. This was an 8 ½ hour tour. A trip to the Peilion villages would take you high in to the mountain. It was a 4 hour tour. On leaving the ship and entering the transit shed we were handed a city map. At least that was a start. There were 2 routes that we could follow. The blue route took us through the city centre sightseeing whilst the red route led us to the seaside sightseeing. We followed the signs stencilled on the pavement for the city centre. It was about ¾ mile through some less than inspiring roads. Without warning, the dusty narrow paved, car lined streets opened up and we found ourselves on Leof Labraki Street that led toward the waterfront. This then merged with Argonafton Street. It was a very wide boulevard that gave an open feel to the city. The usual array of cafes and bars lined the side of the street as we passed Volos city hall. Apart from the national flags flying outside, it didn't really have the feel of the city's centre of local government. It looked more like a modern back packer's hostel!! (sorry Volos but that's how it is!!)

We walked as far as the sculpture of the Argo. We found our bearing on the map that had been provided to us and realised we still had at least another 1 ½ miles to walk if we wanted to complete the seaside sightseeing DIY walking tour. There was no hop on-hop off bus to easy our weary legs!! The trek would ultimately end at Goritsa Hill. This 200m high mound of woodland offers a grandstand view over the surrounding area. At the top of this hill stands the church of Zoodochos Pigis, whilst at the foot lies the so-called Panagia Tripa of Goritsa, a little church dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary, built inside a natural cave. I'm sure these are all commendable sights but due to the tribulations of last night, we were both feeling slightly jaded and would not do the visit to these attractions justice.

Before we boarded the ship once more, we found a spare seat in the port building where we were able to log on to the free Wi-Fi. Although my net book was receiving the signal, I was still unable to connect. A young Brazilian man who spoke impeccable English realised my predicament and offered to help.

‘Sometimes the server does not send the IP address and you have to copy this manually across to the properties', he said.

This was all new to me but a useful tip for the future as I stood up and watched the process unfold over his shoulder.

Just at that moment another batch of passengers passed through the security in to the small port building. Despite me being less than 2 feet away from my seat, a middle aged lady (NOT disabled, NOT unsteady, NOT old so don't have a go at me!!) went to sit in my seat.

Excuse me, there is someone sitting there', Roisin said politely.

‘Well it doesn't look like it to me!!' came the abrupt reply as she stormed off to sit in another part of the small seating area.

Some people as just downright rude and spiteful. Even our new best friend, the man from Brazil looked up from my net book and said that there is no excuse for rudeness.

Karma soon worked its magic (or possibly Clotho) for as soon as she found the network she had to leave her seat for a minute to read the password that was written on a board some yards away. Whilst she was out of her seat someone else came and sat there!! Roisin and I were still in glaring mode while this happened so we both let out a laugh. Just loud enough so she could hear and clear enough so she knew our laugh was directed at her!!

The weather en route to our next port of call, Gythion is looking good with a calm sea state and temperatures of 32 degrees C tomorrow. It's a pity this welcome news couldn't have come a week earlier!!!

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1st October 2014

lovely Volos! You guys should jump ship and see one of the best bits of Greece... Pelion is outstanding, and there are even full size replicas of these old triremes and monoremes so you can row home if you like!cheers A

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