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252. 17 June 2016. From Sea to Shining Sea.

20/06/2016

The Holiday Inn on the Milan ring road is like every other Holiday Inn. We had booked a triple room, but thankfully no-one had particularly objectionable sleeping habits and it was altogether more civilised than the F1 at Macon.

We were on the road by 0800, and the road flew arrow-straight to Ancona. It was completely flat for the vast majority of the way, too, and we established a comfortable speed just slower than that of the lorries, so that they could overtake us, rather than the other way about. Unlike yesterday the sun was shining, and Noel wore shorts.

The only excitement was the strong wind, which forced us to slow down a bit when the trailer got a bit skittish, but we didn’t get lost, and refuelled in plenty of time, and arrived at Ancona three hours before the scheduled departure.

Having checked in, we parked on the dockside and watched the Cruise Europa moor up at 1430 – about two hours before the scheduled departure time. The Cruise Europa is enormous – about 54,000 tons – and unloading took an hour and a half, accompanied by frantic shouting and cursing as many of the articulated lorries had to reverse down the ramp.

Elliot had asked about filming us going on board, and that was no problem, except that he wouldn’t be allowed to film on the ship. He found a good vantage point and waited. And waited. And waited.

If unloading had been disorganised, loading was chaotic. Eventually, around an hour and a half after the scheduled departure time, we drove up the ramp, and found that we had to dive up the internal ramp to the upper garage deck, then turn round and reverse into our parking spot. All of this was communicated to us in fractured English in a continuous stream of abuse delivered in a scream. Eventually we were successfully parked without having hit anything, and the stream of abuse was directed at all the others. We eventually sailed two hours late.

Here's how close the trailer was to the lorry next to it. About 100mm maximum!

Here’s how close the trailer was to the lorry next to it. About 100mm maximum!

Meanwhile the rest of the groundcrew and film crew had arrived at Thessaloniki by air, and driven to Kavala where they spent the night in a luxury hotel. Poor things.

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