Driving England to Crete March 2013

Overland driving routes and ferries
traceew_20
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Driving England to Crete March 2013

Postby traceew_20 » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:48 pm

Hi all, this is my first post. My hubby lives in Elounda and I am joining him August 2013. In between I have arranged a secret practice drive across in March.

The problem is I have not factored in the weather France - Italy. Can anyone give me an information or details of what to expect please. Are we thinking snow chains......

Thank you very much in advance, and I hope I can join in many discussions on here, and learn much of what I need to know before I move

Tracee
Waiting to live the dream...

shine on
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Postby shine on » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:07 pm

I doubt if snow chains are required in March but if you are driving through Switzerland then I would research the weather and vehicle requirements from the AA. I'm sure also that someone here has travelled in March.
An up to date sat nav will make your journey easier if you are alone and don't forget to have one that includes Greece.
I drove there and back 2 years ago in the month of June and found it very easy although I did find the 22 hour ferry from Ancona long winded, try and get a cabin on the day to save money and sleeping rough on the floor.
Hope it goes well.

jet
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Re: Driving England to Crete March 2013

Postby jet » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:54 pm

traceew_20 wrote: Can anyone give me an information or details of what to expect please. Are we thinking snow chains......


I run every year in winter by car through the Alps and has never needed snow chains. However, winter tires required or new all-season tires. On motorways and main roads, it is easy to get through.

/jet

filippos
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Postby filippos » Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:15 am

You may find this and this useful. There are several useful links on these pages.

There's a fairly new requirement if driving in France that you must carry two breathalysers of a specific type. I think details are included in one of the links from the pages linked to above. You must also carry hi-viz jackets for each passenger inside your vehicle, not in the boot. (edit: That's jackets, not passengers, in the boot) It's generally recommended that you carry four, minimum.

Whenever I've driven to/from the UK I've always avoided Switzerland as you should have a permit to use motorways and if only travelling, say, 30-40Km in Switzerland it's expensive per Km as, I believe, the permits available are for six or 12 months so if you're driving on Swiss M-ways for a couple of hours ......

My favourite route is Dover>Dunkirk>Germany>Austria>Italy to Ancona then across to Greece. Generally, no speed limits on German & Austrian motorways and, in particular, no tolls so quick and cheap compared with French major routes.
Last edited by filippos on Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

STEVE.W
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Postby STEVE.W » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:34 am

Doing this trip next week, Hull-Zeebrugge-Luxembourg-Germany-Austria-Italy, Ancona & then the ferries. This route, as Filippos says, avoids a lot of toll roads & Switzerland.

From my research, if you use the motorway in Austria, there is a fee, just check on the AA site, there are no road toll fees up until the Brenner pass to get you over the Alps if you avoid the motorway in Austria by using the B179 & B189, Italy is toll roads & by taking the aforementioned route, current toll fees are 8€ for the Austrian section of the Brenner Pass then once in Italy, 2 tolls of 21.30€ for Austrian border to Modena then 13.90€ from Bologna to Ancona. Total mileage is around 1,200 & will take 5 days with a night in Innsbruck & 3 nights on 3 different ferries which is the expensive part, especially the ferries to Greece.

Some may wonder why go through Luxembourg, cheapest place in Europe to get fuel, diesel is currently a little over £1 per litre and as I will need a full tank, it's worth the 10 mile detour, fill up again in Austria before you enter Italy, avoid filling up in Italy as fuel prices are more than the UK, fill up again on mainland Greece as that is cheaper than Crete.

I will post back in a weeks time once we have completed the trip, I will then be able to post more accurate times, costs, mileage etc plus any tips I could pass on that may assist people in the future.

Steve

The Grocer
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Postby The Grocer » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:21 am

100 % agree with Steve W. We do the route normally twice a year but via the Channel Tunnel, through Belgium and then as Steve does. . The 8 euro Austrian vignette covers all motorways for a 10 day period and can be bought at service points as you enter.

If you stop around Innsbruck a great place to stay is HOTEL SERLES in MEIDERS. a few miles south of Innsbruck and very easy to leave & enter the motorway for. Great hospitality and food........

mouche
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Postby mouche » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:17 am

filippos wrote:Generally, no speed limits on German & Austrian motorways and, in particular, no tolls so quick and cheap compared with French major routes.


Have been to Austria every year last six/seven years and never seen a motorway without a speed limit and also you have to pay toll! I also happen to know the cost/fine for not having paid the toll for using the motorway.:oops:

The toll is cheap and you stop at the gas station nearest to the border and buy an emblem to put on the inside of the windshield.

It is not that uncommon to find a speed limit also on the German motorways.

Kilkis
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Postby Kilkis » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:38 am

I've tended to use the French route into Italy through the Mont Blanc tunnel. You pay more in tolls but the motorways are very quiet, lots of stopping places and there are several very cheap hotel chains that are basic but clean, modern and functional. I think it's a bit shorter in distance but I could be wrong.

The Italian motorways are much better than the French ones. The French ones have the tolls on the motorway itself and use bits around cities as free ring roads. This means that every time you get close to a big city you have to queue to pay and then, when you get just past it, you have to queue again to get a new ticket. In Italy the tolls are on the slip roads and the whole system is integrated. You can get on to the system in the north and stay on all the way to Bari/Brindisi despite changing motorway several times.

Keep your wits about you when overtaking on the Italian motorways. Traffic falls into two categories. The majority driving close to the speed limit, mostly 130 kph. A minority of high power cars driving at 200 kph and above. You can easily look in the mirror, see a clear road for as far as you can see, pull out to overtake, get half way past the vehicle in front to find a car doing 70 kph more than you about 200 m behind you flashing his lights and not slowing down.

I've used Ancona and Bari/Brindisi for ferries and there's not a lot to choose between them. The latter means a bit more driving but less sailing time. Superfast boats are very good but if you can get the same company from Italy to Greece as from Piraeus to, I presume, Heraklion then you will get discounts. There is a tie up between Superfast and Anek but I'm not sure how that works for discounts.

With regard to timing it is possible to do it pretty quickly but it is tiring and probably best not attempted if alone. Setting off early in the south of England it is possible to get an early cross channel ferry and drive to Geneva on day1. On day 2 drive from Geneva to Bari in time for the night ferry to Patras. Arrive in Patras on day 3 around mid-day and drive to Piraeus in time to catch the evening ferry to Heraklion. Arrive in Heraklion early on day 4 and reach Elounda before lunch time.

Personally I wouldn't consider doing it as a deck passenger. I like my comfort too much and if it costs a hundred Euro or so for a cabin then so be it. If you are going to drive a long distance the next day you need to be fresh. Note that the service restaurants on the ferries are only one or two Euro dearer than the self-service and a much nicer dining experience. It's the same food from the same kitchen.

Warwick

jet
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Postby jet » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:47 am

I will not fail to mention MINOAN Lines BONUS clubcard that I alone on 1 roundtrip Crete Italy combined 687 points. When I in December to order again from Heraklion office, I use 650 points to pay Patras-Ancona trip so I save 210 Euro, where total price is 621 Euro, I only pay 396 Euros as BONUS club member. incl. shared cabin and car. Additional card gives 10% discount in the restaurant and shops on board.
This time I get a free meal 3-course (captains table) worth 30 Euro

I know that ANEK Lines also has begun BONUS Smart, where I have cards, but this time I will use my accumulated points on MINOAN Line.

Minoan Lines has announced that from December will sail to-from Trieste, it makes it more advantageous km distance.

Worse it is next to impossible to get timetables from companies that are more than about 1½ months, so I must book OPEN RETURN back to Crete.
Then 1 months before e-mail ticket office to get reservation number.

Incidentally, I take the Auto Train from Bolzano to Hamburg, cost 179 Euro each way incl. couchette. Alone in petrol and tolls, I would use 350 Euro each way.

Since the ferries are starting to arrive late in the day Ancona, I take first night in Hotel Main Street 29 Euro incl.Breakfast http://www.hotelmainstreet.com/en/
at San Marino and thoughts cheap petrol before I run away. San Marino is taxfree. So suit driving distance to Bolzano, where Auto Train depart afternoon and arrive the next morning in Hamburg.

I have been a member of the ARC Europe Show your Card (Car Club), then you get 20% discount by Minoan Lines.

/jet
Last edited by jet on Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:27 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Tim
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Postby Tim » Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:29 pm

Agree fully with Warwick about not doing the journey as a deck passenger. I did Minoan Lines from Heraklion to Piraeus and booked an 'aircraft seat'. It was in a TV lounge within which the TV blared all night. No sleep possible.

The next night I was on Superfast from Patras to Ancona. This time the 'aircraft seat' was in a quiet lounge but far too uncomfortable to sleep in. Ended up lying on the floor all night. Needless to say, no sleep again.

Drove all the next day and slept that night in the car just over the French border in a motorway services.

Finally relented on the fourth night, got my wallet out and booked a cabin (and shower!) on the Dieppe - Portsmouth ferry. It was like heaven.

Treat yourself if at all possible.

Tim

filippos
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Postby filippos » Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:54 pm

mouche wrote:
filippos wrote:Generally, no speed limits on German & Austrian motorways and, in particular, no tolls .........
Have been to Austria ......... never seen a motorway without a speed limit and also you have to pay toll! I also happen to know the cost/fine for not having paid the toll .........
The toll is cheap and you stop at the gas station nearest to the border and buy an emblem to put on the inside of the windshield.
It is not that uncommon to find a speed limit also on the German motorways.
I did say, "Generally", no speed limits and that is true of German autobahns where there is no blanket limit although, yes, there are a few in specific places.

Some sloppy writing on my part - the no tolls bit was intended to refer to Germany. It was only after my last trip through Austria (about three years ago) that I discovered the m-way toll (€8?). Maybe I was luckier than you over the fine as I went through Austria in the small hours of the morning. On previous trips through the country I haven't used M-ways.

I know now that there's a blanket speed limit (130 kph - just checked) but can't say I saw signs on the Austrian M-ways: assuming there are some, perhaps I missed them (ooops) while concentrating on traffic in the rain at about three in the morning.

In my defence, I'd only add that the first of the links I posted included the info that there are 'few limits' on the German autobahns and the second link directed people to other sites giving detailed roads info, including speed limits. However anyone not following those links could have been mislead by my post so thanks for picking up the errors as it could save others problems and/or fines.

Kilkis
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Postby Kilkis » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:14 pm

filippos wrote:...I know now that there's a blanket speed limit (130 kph - just checked) but can't say I saw signs on the Austrian M-ways: assuming there are some, perhaps I missed them (ooops) while concentrating on traffic in the rain at about three in the morning...


I can't imagine you doing more than 130 kph filippos so no problem there eh?

Warwick

filippos
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Postby filippos » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:04 pm

Warwick, you must take into account the restraining influence of 'Er Indoors when supposing that I might break speed limits. When I'm flying, ooops, driving solo (rarely) you may have slight justification for being suspicious - except in villages where I stick to 35kph or less, which seems to irritate some native local drivers.

Reg
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Postby Reg » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:48 am

Going back to the snow chains / weather issue. We have driven to the French Alps once or twice a season (and very oftern at Easter) for quite some years. Mostly we have had no snow problems, but that is not always the case. In the middle of France and once going up to the Mont Blanc tunnely we have faced some real wintery weather.

We always carry chains as we often need them in the mountains, but I doubt many purely motorway drivers carry them. It it starts snowing, immediately head for a service area and sit it out.

One other factor is when in March. The earlier the more risk.

Reg

Kilkis
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Postby Kilkis » Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:23 am

I once drove down at the end of April and the worst weather was driving across northern Greece. Heavy snow and poor visibility at mid-day.

Personally I've never used snow chains in my life and have driven in some pretty bad conditions e.g. around Sheffield during the winter when the government flew in a minister by helicopter to see how bad conditions were and across Snake Pass when it was officially closed.

Warwick


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