The Journey Home

Lefkada to Weymouth

The cycle route between Paris rail stations

The Downloads:

Downloads for this route in Garmin Google Earth and .GPX formats

The files are in .zip format. They need to be unzipped and saved to a directory of your choice. You can then load them into the appropriate application and GPS.

The Blog

Days 28 to 30 16th to 18th October 2011 - Lefkada to Weymouth

Days 28 to 30 16th to 18th October 2011 - Lefkada to Weymouth

The journey home started on Sunday 16th October and took three days. I had hoped to cycle at least some of the way from Lefkada to Igoumenitsa. But the lovely weather broke on the 15th with torrential rain, gale force winds and extremely loud and bright thunder storms. I therefore gave it up and booked a ticket on the 13h45 direct bus.

The bus was not very crowded and my bike went into the boot without the bribe I expected to have to make. Mind you I did wonder whether we would need a whip round to get through the Preveza tunnel. The coach's dongle failed to operate the barrier which the driver almost knocked down. Perhaps it is something to do with the Greek financial situation but eventually after a series of mobile phone calls we were on our way again.

It was interesting seeing our cycled route from the bus both from a higher up and a faster perspective. Some of the roads we did not take by bike did look unmade but others were certainly viable by bike and on a future trip would provide some interesting colour to a main road ride.

Having to wait in Igoumenitsa was not a pleasant prospect. The town and port area are the pits, give me Albania any day. Having said that I did find a rather nice cycle and pedestrian way to the north of the town.

I followed the shore line round and then continued along the waterfront right around the deep inlet which forms the harbour. It may well be the way to the little used crossing of the Albanian border which we avoided taking by catching the Saranda ferry. I rode very slowly for a couple of hours.

The port Igoumenitsa

Returning to the centre I needed to find the part of the port which serves Italy. There were of course no signs and it was obscured by the mess of part completed building works. When I did find the modern building it was a cross between an airport, train station and a public toilet. It was totally unsuitable for the likes of me to spend any more than the minimum of time in.

I exited rapidly and found a cafe which boasted a free wifi connection. Here I was able to drink coffee, watch the world go by and Skype the stoker who in the past has managed to mitigate the unpleasantness of towns like this. Unfortunately by about 8pm I was the only customer left and they clearly wanted to close. Reluctantly I packed up my gadgets and left.

It was now time for dinner and I found a little restaurant which served some nice pasta and the half litre of red wine also went down well. It must be the effect I have on people but again I was the only customer and they put the lights out when I left. Of course it could also be the unmistakable unsavoury smell of Shimano sandals.

Just after 10pm I presented the email given to me by the stoker at the 'Fast Ferries' in the hope that I might be able to board early. As I almost expected I was told that the ferry would arrive 10 minutes before departure at 23h59 and by now there was no alternative but to stay in the terminal. Apart from the fact that the town seemed shut it was blowing a gale outside and it was extremely cold.

At about 23h30 I went outside and entered the dock via the car entrance. This is what bikes are supposed to do despite the fact that there was no one at the car entrance which was on free flow. I came out in front of the passenger terminal which I had just left from the rear.

Undaunted, though I should have been, I made for dock 10 from which my ferry was supposed to go. There was no sign of a ferry but there were people and cars milling about and the consensus of opinion was that it was the right place to freeze to death waiting.


Just before midnight a ferry hove into view but the driver gave every impression of being drunk. He missed the dock completely to start with and then spent about 15 minutes with his bow and stern thrusters going sideways. Eventually we were allowed to board and having stowed and tied Claudie I presented my ticket at the door to upstairs.

My ticket at first confused the man and then he became animated. 'You are on the wrong ferry' he said 'Get off quickly and go to dock eleven, we are bound for Ancona'. I did as he suggested.

At dock 11 we had the whole process over again except that the captain appeared to be able to drive and almost hit the right place first time. I finally boarded and was in my very nice ensuite cabin by 1am. I lost no time in getting to bed being well aware from previous experience that I am seldom seasick in my sleep.

It was a very rough crossing and I cannot claim to have slept through all of it but I stayed firmly in bed until 8am. At about that time the banging and bashing eased a little and I thought we might be nearing land. I showered and went on deck only to find from my GPS that we still had forty miles to run. As were doing only a 'Superfast' 20 knots we still had at least two hours to run.

With less than an hour and a half to get my train at Bari Central station and to dismantle Claudie I was in a hurry. I was not only first off the ship but also first through the dock gates. Bari looks an interesting place with an ancient castle and pretty old town. I just sped through following the GPS instructions.

It was a great relief to be on the train which was only 13 minutes late. It actually felt rather like being at home. It was clearly designed and probably built by the same people who in the 1990's supplied the UK rolling stock. You have guessed it, there is no room for luggage on this long distance service, it has worn badly and seen better days.

This was a long journey to Bologna and the rather pleasant route follows the east coast for much of the way. There was a slight hiccup when the guard objected to Claudie as it was in the way of his PA system. He enquired as to the ownership and of course I had no idea what he was saying. But being Italy it did not stop here, most of the carriage joined in with suggestions and eventually I had to own up.

Eurostar Paris

Bologna was a depressing place in the damp and dark winter evening. I had a long wait and spent as much of it as possible eating a very average pizza. I returned to the rail station in the hope that my Paris sleeper train would board early. I had no such luck and it actually arrived 15 minutes late, just after midnight.

Having been defending myself against the perceived assembled crooks of Bologna station all evening, I crashed out behind the locked door of my sleeper. I did not stir until 8am but was disappointed to see that we were still in very rural France. A quick check with the GPS showed we had a very long way to go. I was not however worried as my booked Eurostar train was not until 1pm. I should have been.

We finally staggered ino Paris Bercy Station at 12 noon. I had assembled Claudie in the compartment and got going as quickly as possible. Amazingly I got to Paris Nord station in half an hour. No doubt some Parisians are still complaning about being nearly killed by a cyclist.

Claudie was again in his bag and being xrayed by the paranoid Eurostar lot who have a minimum 30 minute checkin. I arrived on time at St Pancras by mid afternoon, crossed London and was soon on my way home.

I was as usual delighted to be home and to be met at Weymouth Station by Anne and Janet. The only down side was that the absurd useless ironmongery provided by South West Trains had badly buckled Claudie's wheel which had survived the roads of the Balkans unscathed.