The Only Way is Hellas – Part 2

When we left Mr Matthew Campbell of MJC European fame, he was parking up at Modena Sud for a dinner last Tuesday evening. We pick up the Essex Express Wednesday morning leaving Modena Sud around 7am for Ancona. A nice little 250km wander down through the Italian countryside on a grey Wednesday morning, arriving in Ancona around 10am. Ancona Port hasn’t hosted MJC for 5 years or so, but Matt found the right place to be and got himself booked on the Anek Lines sailing, luckily Matt managed to get his own cabin away from all the pesky kids off on their holibobs. With time to spare there’s time to pop into Ancona town for a wander. Tough old job this international driving!

Off the ferry around 0930hrs Thursday morning in Igoumenitsa and then southbound and down towards Preveza. It makes a change to take some of the smaller routes or national routes as opposed to always banging out the big KM’s on the autoroutes. Coming out of Igoumenitsa Matt picks up the 18 and points the big DAF to Preveza. See the map I’ve crudely added in below. Nothing like Trucking International’s Long Distance diary maps that’s for sure!!

From Preveza our perma-tanned driver carries on through a newly built tunnel, out and round the airport just south of Preveza, over a dodgy metal bridge and into Lefkada. Having made it this far, it’s further south still and the roads are a little smaller and the towns a little tighter. Then after Lefkada it’s again down a coast road to the tiny port of Nydri. All these coast roads must be much the same as the many Saturday nights our man in the pilots seat has spent cruising up and down Southend seafront. Preveza down to the island of Meganisi is only 50km or so but there’s plenty to take in and plenty to keep even the most experienced European driver on their twinkle toes. As you can imagine the ferry (if you can call it that) from Nydri to Meganisi is barely more than a motor boat with a ramp, it makes the Woolwich ferry look like a cruise liner! Encouraged onto the boat by the crew Matt, has to empty all the air out of the suspension on both truck and trailer to fit on, even then the roof of the trailer grazes the lights in boats roof. In the UK I think most drivers call this snug. A snug fit is enough!

Once arrived on Meganisi it’s off the ferry, turn left and then follow pretty well the only main road, main unmade road for a kilometre or so to the building site destination. All in a days work for Essex’s best. I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling when you’ve gone so far and are virtually at the delivery point but you still have that feeling things could go wrong, with roads/tracks like this I’m sure Matt had the same thought just around the next bend below!

Arriving on site, things slowly start to happen. The crane lorry arrives to help with the unloading. As you can imagine in this part of the world there was no hurry and luckily no health and safety to worry about. Some 2700km from door to door and as you’d expect the cargo was in immaculate condition and although slower than some would like unloading went without a hitch. A few hours later and with an empty trailer it was time to head back to the little port to wait for the ferry back to Nydri. One small problem, Matt wasn’t expecting to have to put in some decent reversing practice……

You can hear them now; “we’ve had bigger than that down here driver!” – no you haven’t, we all know that. Unable to turn round it was a 1.5km reverse out of site and most of the way back to town before MJC could turn around. Now international driving is a thankless task in most cases but having a cream little job like this definitely makes a change and also epitomises both the “can-do” attitude and exploratory instinct of one of the UK’s best. We bred drivers like Mr Campbell constantly during the pioneering years of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s but these days they are few and far between. I can see the sat-nav RDC drivers having a minor coronary when they can’t find Meganisi in their “regular destinations” list, but a true international truck driver just loads up and gets on with it. Nicely done MJC, but as we all know the sun never sets on a long distance lorry driver, back to Italia to load back to the UK.

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