Last year I wrote about driving from north west England to Fethiye taking the car ferry from Ancona, Italy to Cesme.

In July 2005 I did the journey again, following the same route, and this article is designed to be an update on changes since the previous journey.  Plus this time I recorded mileages and costs which I forgot to do last year.

Last year I wrote about driving from north west England to Fethiye taking the car ferry from Ancona, Italy to Cesme.

In July 2005 I did the journey again, following the same route, and this article is designed to be an update on changes since the previous journey.  Plus this time I recorded mileages and costs which I forgot to do last year.

On my first journey I didn’t book a channel crossing as I wasn’t sure when I’d reach Dover.  As a result I arrived in Dover and bought a ticket on the next ferry which was P & O and cost £125 for the one and a half hour crossing to Calais.  This time I booked with Speedferries and it was only £29 for Dover to Boulogne.  You book on-line at www.speedferries.com and, if you need to change your booking, they only charge £10. From Boulogne it’s a short drive to Calais then I followed the same route as last year:

Reims – Metz – Nancy – Strasbourg – Zurich – St Gotthard – Lugano – Milano – Bologna – Ancona.

{mosimage}The big change was in security at Ancona harbour.  There is now a wall separating the dock area from the town and, once you enter the docks (following the signs for car ferries) you are stopped by security staff every 50m or so.  They want to see proof that you’ve booked a ticket: either the actual ticket or a fax confirming a reservation.  I had neither but told them I’d telephoned Marmara Lines, made my booking and was going to collect the ticket.  It worked.  Had it not I would have had to park outside the dock area and walk in to make my booking.

In 2004 I travelled in late May which is low season for the car ferry.  This time it was mid-July and high season so the ticket for me and a Ford Focus estate was £354.  This included a cheap 4-berth en suite cabin which I was told I would be sharing, but no-one else ever turned up.  There are cheaper options and all fares are listed on www.marmaralines.com.   I booked on Friday afternoon for the ferry leaving 10.30pm Saturday.  Unlike the previous year the ferry was full and, by late Saturday afternoon, the ticket office was turning people away.

Costs on board have gone up from 2004.  You can’t pay cash for anything on the boat.  Once on board you go to the bank and buy a smart card in euros for whatever amount you want  – you then use the card to pay for everything.  When you’ve spent everything on the card you go back to the bank to top it up.  A glass of tea is 1 euro and a small beer is 3.  Food is good and reasonably priced in the self service café.  Many of the Turkish passengers had brought their food for the journey with them so, if you want to save money, do the same.  If you book a cabin you get breakfast.

In Ancona I stayed at the Hotel Sporting which is about 2 miles out from central Ancona on the seafront road.  It’s a newly refurbished businessman’s hotel which costs 75 euros per person per night in the week but only 48 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  That’s for bed and breakfast.  If you continue driving along the seafront road, away from Ancona, you pass through the neighbouring town of Falconara (Italian holiday resort) and end up in the car park of a large supermarket.  In 2004 I failed to find a supermarket and ended up buying food treats – parmesan, prosciutto, dried porcini – in a good but pricey delicatessen in Ancona.  This year I stocked up in the supermarket and can recommend their litre cartons of wine.  If you do decide to buy food for the journey the supermarket is the place to go.

{mosimage}The bonus of taking the ferry in high season is the fact that it passes through the Corinth Canal.  The journey is almost twelve hours shorter than in low season when the ferry goes all the way around mainland Greece.  The Canal is amazing and the Marmara Lines ferry just fits through – only 1m clearance on each side.  We passed through the Canal at around 7am on Monday morning with only about 100 of the 850 passengers on board awake to see it.  There was no announcement.  So if you take the ferry in high season be sure to ask a crew member for an estimated time of arrival at the Canal, and make sure you’re up on the top deck for best views.

Having finally left Ancona around midnight Saturday the ferry docked in Cesme at 7pm on Monday.  Then it took three hours to clear passport and customs.  This is very frustrating when all you want to do is hit the road to Fethiye.  My neighbour in the queue at Cesme, a Turk who lives in Germany, told me he had driven to Turkey in February this year in response to a family emergency.  As there are no ferries from Italy in the winter he had driven via northern Greece entering Turkey at the Ipsala border crossing which he said was now a 6-lane motorway with minimal waiting for entry formalities.

Hence I am now thinking of an alternative to the Ancona-Cesme ferry.  There are three car ferries each day from Ancona to Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland operated by Minoan Lines, Anek and Superfast Ferries – search for them on Google.  They all have websites and offer on-line credit card booking. They run all year round and from Igoumenitsa you can drive diagonally across central Greece, passing the famous monasteries at Meteora, to Larissa.  Then go north to Thessaloniki, Kavala and into Turkey at Ipsala.  From there it is a short (about 75 miles) run to the Dardanelles crossing at Canakkale, and then south to Izmir and Fethiye.

Finally the numbers:

 Costs (in euros):   Euro

 Tolls (inc. Swiss pass valid for 2005)

98

 Fuel (diesel)

236

 Hotels (3 nights b & b – 1 person)

139

 Ferry tickets (1 person 1 car)                                                                     

531

Spending (meals en route, etc.)

150

 Total  1,154

Total Mileage from Wigan, Greater Manchester to Yaniklar – 1,640

 

 

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