Its not often that i leave the rock that is my home, but today this was one of those days. Every morning (Unless the weather intervenes) i hear this boat arrive at 8am from Alonissos.
Down to the harbour and bumped into my neighbour, and her daughter who was off to Thessaloniki. So we were spotted even before we were had left, no secret departure for us today ...
We had seats near the front, and were able to peer through the curtains as we were whisked along at 27 knots. We sprinted up through the Gulf of Volos (Pegasitic Gulf) past Trikeri on what was an almost calm sea, arriving in Volos on time at 09.45am
Next stop was Giannis at Avis for a hire car, he is based on Skiathos in the summer. He gave us a lovely Suzuki SX4, at a very special price. I was a very happy bunny, as we headed out of town on the bumpy national road.
Then in one of those special moments, i selected fifth gear, and increased the speed to over 100kph. Two things its very hard to do on Skiathos and impossible in the tourist season.
Music playing on the stereo, on to the new road and whizzing along at 120kph (and higher) we were soon at the tolls at Larissa, €2.90 paid no queues here and away again.
Greek motorways are so different to those i am used too back in the UK. These are clean, smooth road surfaces, no pot holes, lined with freshly trimmed Oleander bushes - and hardly any other traffic ...
Off the motorway and back on to a bumpy national road, and one swift U-turn later into the retail park. Great roads, huge car parks which you could probably land an aircraft on - and we parked right outside IKEA at 11am for the 'Greek' Swedish experience
Its a Great value hotel in excellent location just minutes from the harbour and ferry port. I have stayed in a number of hotels in Volos for a night before going on to Skiathos, This for me is the best one, and the same price or cheaper than the others. Its in the pedestrian area so is quiet, The room was spotless, nice bathroom and there is a buffet breakfast in the price too.
There were around 20 cars there and we virtualy had the store to ourselves. Friendly helpful staff, a safety officer, even checked that we had seated junior in the shopping buggy correctly. Seatbelt adjusted and fastened and away we went.
We were there eight hours ...
It was amazingly a very pleasurable experience. We wandered the store, tried everything we liked. A nice lunch - Poached Salmon - Yes 'i know' but when you like somewhere that does not sell it, It was melt in the mouth lovely, and the first in 14 months. Swedish beer (Nice) and cheesecake.
Junior had a great time in the toy department, we had fun in the warehouse, and the credit card had a nice time too ...
Even getting the flat packed stuff transported was a great experience, the staff could not be more helpful making the arrangements. We left the store, were directed to get our car and bring it to the loading bay to load our bags. It was only 50 metres away and the car park may just have had that many cars in it.
We were not finished yet ...
Junior slumping in the trolley seat, we headed into Jumbo - only we took the wrong door, and were in the supermarket. Help was at hand, one of our Greek Skiathos friends was right in front of us, (Spotted again - by now half the island, probably knew where we were) she swiftly advised us the prices were more expensive than Skiathos - That was a shock - so too, was when she told us we were not in Jumbo.
Back out of the door, a swift trolley change, junior fighting hard not to fall asleep, from the formula 1, supermarket type, to the battered Jumbo version.
Everybody raves about Jumbo, cant say that i am all that impressed. It seems like a large version of a discount store stacked high and sold cheap. The majority seems to be imported goods, and cheap clothes. There was not anything there i particularly wanted to buy. We still came away with a bag of things, but as i was told quite clearly - 'This costs around 10 times as much on Skiathos' - and it seems that is quite true.
The store was very busy, staff all seemed grumpy and tired, and a security reception lady missing her previous vocation in the Stasi. I can't say that i would hurry back there again but you never know. I had had enough too, the car was full, just enough room for us, and off we went back to Volos.
Volos is a busy city, lots of traffic cars and buses, two of which tried to take the side out of the Suzuki. So i parked in the port car park, and we headed back up the street to the Hotel Electra
Hungry again we ordered a pizza take away and two beers from downstairs.
Then after a rambling conversation about the high cost of the beer (€2.50 each for a 500ml bottle) I won the day, when realisation finaly dawned, that this was half the price on Skiathos. Junior now wide awake after a nap in the car , trampolining on the beds, before being confined to the travel cot and a good nights sleep ...