News: Ferry chaos for Athens; European rail network

The best deals, the latest hot-spots and the what's new in travel goodies


Ferry chaos for Athens?

Ferry chaos for Athens?

One of the more bizarre twists to the increasingly frantic saga of Greece's preparations for the Olympics is the impact that the bed shortage in Athens is threatening to have on ferry services. With city centre hotels already block-booked for games officials and the world's media this August, the main Athenian port at Piraeus is gearing up to take some of the tourist overflow. Berths will be set aside for 11 large cruise ships which are to be used as floating hotels. Several of Greece's new high-speed ferries are also likely to be redeployed, running day-trip services for games visitors who will be staying on nearby islands.

This will put considerable pressure on the ability of Piraeus to handle its regular heavy ferry traffic at the peak of the tourist season; in a normal year close on one million passengers pass through the port in August. With quay access restricted, and thousands of extra visitors residing in the harbour itself, there are fears that services - including the metro and bus systems into the city centre - could be overwhelmed by the demand.

The plan is to move some ferry services to the remoter ports of Rafina and Lavrio. These lie well outside the city environs on the eastern Attica coast, and both have had their harbour facilities enlarged in the last two years. Despite being closer to the islands than Piraeus, they have seen relatively little ferry activity in the past, due to poor overland links that resulted in longer journey times. A motorway building programme linking both with the new airport should be complete by the summer, and connecting bus services will also be in place. This should enable some island hoppers to avoid entering Athens altogether, before taking ferries (with significantly shorter journey times) to the Cyclades islands.

Regular travellers are in for something of a shock this August. In a part of the world where accurate printed timetables are a rarity, the primary problem will be in establishing which port your desired ferry will be departing from. Those looking to make connections as part of an island-hopping trip could also find that their next boat operates from a different Athenian port from their place of arrival.

There is a proposal to link all three ports via four fast passenger boats, but like most ferry activity in Greece, advance information is thin on the ground before a service actually appears. The result is a maddening lack of detailed information: with less than 200 days to the Olympics, the extent of this ferry migration isn't yet clear, and is unlikely to become so much before the summer.

Once in the islands, moving around should be as easy as usual but there is a lot to be said for avoiding Athens this August. If you plan to travel to the islands via Athens airport, make a point of visiting the Greek National Tourist Board (EOT) information kiosk for the latest information on ferry departures before catching the next bus to Piraeus.

Frewin Poffley

The writer is the author of 'Greek Island Hopping' (Thomas Cook, £12.99)

Rail ways: how the Continent is moving closer

Fed up with flying? Thanks to acceleration on the rail network of Europe, you can now get surprisingly far in a day. David Gunning, of the specialist agent Trainseurope, has calculated the number of places that can be reached in a reasonable day of travel: starting no earlier than 7.30am from London Waterloo, arriving at the destination no later than 11.30pm.

Any station in Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and France is accessible with a connection in Lille, Paris or Brussels. So too are almost all stations in Switzerland (even high-altitude Zermatt) and Germany. But faster services through the Channel Tunnel also bring more easterly destinations within reach. The Austrian cities of Salzburg and Innsbruck are accessible in a day, as is the Czech capital, Prague - as long as the connections in Brussels go according to plan.

"If only the train operators would improve the connections at Lille and Brussels then a same-day link with Vienna is a distinct possibility," says Mr Gunning.

For travellers prepared to catch the 6.29am from Waterloo (which requires check-in before 6am), the range extends still further. Changing trains in France, you can reach Milan and Turin in Italy, and even the Spanish cities of Barcelona and San Sebastian.

Trainseurope: call 0900 195 0101 between 9.30am and 4.30pm, Mon-Fri; calls cost 60p per minute (the charge is refunded if you book); www.trainseurope.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project