The happy reunions started almost as soon as we reached the UK and just kept going.
The ferry from the Greek port of Igoumenitsa to Italy arrived late, and our favourite hotel in Ancona was already fully booked. We had to work quite hard to find an alternative that offered secure parking and somewhere to walk the dogs. After a couple of false starts, we lucked out with La Cantina di Ale, which ticked all the boxes. At this hotel and pizzeria, the pizzas were wonderful —thin and light with delicious toppings, and such a huge diameter that they have to order special plates to fit!
The next morning we headed to Pescara to collect Nacho, who belongs to Dana and Bruce. They’ve already moved to Scotland, where a tartan welcome mat is doubtless being laid out., So we had a rendezvous with Dana’s sister Laura at the Pescara Ikea to collect Nacho.
From there it was a short hop to Vasto to collect Guisy’s three cats, Jack Sparrow, Charlie and Carmella. Guisy is relocating to London and, of course, her beloved cats are going too. Her Dad and her brother-in-law, Federico, came to see them off.
Our next stop was Genoa to meet up with Zeva, a beautiful Bracco Italiano puppy, bred by Maurice, who was very moved at parting with her. Zeva is off to live in Morpeth with Alex, who’s been waiting more than two months for Zeva to join her.
We were hoping to reach Calais tonight but the holiday traffic in Italy means the roads are choked and everything’s moving very slowly. So we think tomorrow is a more realistic ambition!
Our ferry took us from Lesvos island to the Athenian port of Piraeus. Once breakfast had been served to our five passengers from Lesvos, and they had been walked, we were ready to meet up with the next set of passengers for our UK-bound trip.
First up was Neo, a mixed breed dog who belongs to Christos and family. They’ve moved to Kent, and now Neo is off to join them. He’s been looked after by Giannis, a dog behaviourist, who wanted to check us out before allowing Neo to leave with us. We were flattered to get a big thumbs up from him!
Sarah brought us her Cocker Spaniel, Lino. Sarah and family are also relocating to Kent, where they’ll be near Sarah’s mum. The family is leaving Athens shortly and will soon be reunited with Lino.
We were pleased to catch up with our friend Cordelia, who’s been looking after tortoiseshell cat Zavia on behalf of her owner. Zavia is travelling all the way to Scotland from Athens. We also met Elena, who brought us young cats Willow and Gulliver whose owner has already left for the UK.
We then headed to our usual meeting place near Thessaloniki to collect Judi from Maria and her Mum in temperatures approaching 100F. The tarmac was somewhat toasty under Judi’s toes, so it was a quick photo op before she gladly stepped into the Animalcouriers van. Maria will be in England in time to receive Judi from us.
To collect the first passengers for our UK-bound trip, Animalcouriers took the ferry to the island of Lesvos, where we had a very interesting visit to the Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production in Agia Paraskevi.
The museum was originally a cooperative oil mill set up in 1911, under communitarian principles, to help small olive oil producers. The olives were pressed and the oil handed back to the growers, who could then go to market and could compete with the big boys and get a fair price for their small amount of oil. The mill was eventually closed down in 1967 by a right-wing dictatorship who arrested and exiled the community leaders, and left the small producers unable to get their oil to market.
In the afternoon we made our way to Mytilini port to await our passengers. The winds were high as we watched the refugees, who’d made their way to the island on inflatable boats, try and hang on to their little tents pitched along the shoreline. It’s a sight that makes us very aware of the humanitarian crisis Europe (and the world) is facing.
Soon Rebecca arrived with five gorgeous dogs who are on their way to wonderful new homes in the UK. Their families are very excited and have been in regular contact with us. Rebecca and her volunteer colleagues at Lesvos animal friends look after and rehome many unwanted dogs and cats on Lesvos. They’ve teamed up with Wild at Heart to organise the rehoming of five dogs between them. Each dog is travelling on a separate Traces certificate as each is going to a separate address.
From the Lesvos team:
Billie is a mixed breed dog, who has been with the Lesvos rehoming group for a while. She’s on her way to Joanne in Sheffield.
Sammy is another mixed breed whose new home is the Brighton Rocks Restaurant and Bar in Brighton, with Jane and her family. En route, we’ll be teaching Sammy how to take orders and how to make a Brighton Rock Sundae!
Demetri is off to live with Jules and Kate in Northampton, who say: “We are very excited about getting Demetri finally ‘home’ It’s been a while since we saw him in Lesvos — hope he hasn’t grown too big!!!”
And from Wild at Heart:
Randall is going to Ali and her husband who, like all good owners, wanted to know how the journey works and are looking forward to seeing photos of Randall along the way.
Hector (to be renamed Ben) is on his way to Jonathan in Reigate, just a few miles from courier J, so maybe we’ll meet out walking!
You can see photos of Randall and Hector, and other lovely dogs looking for new homes, on the Wild at Heart adoption page — these two are at the foot of the page.
After a slight concern that we wouldn’t get kennels for the dogs on the ferry to the mainland, we were finally allowed on board and were allocated three big kennels. With Rebecca’s help, we got all the dogs organised and then we were ready for the off.
Animalcouriers reached the Greek port of Igoumenitsa by ferry from Italy and motored straight on down to Athens to reunite Beau and Bumble with their owners.
Meanwhile, courier J flew in to Athens to take over from courier Mike for the remainder of the trip. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at a taverna overlooking the water before waving him off.
Not long now before we meet the first of the cats and dogs who’re joining us for the trip back to the UK.
Having delivered cats Willow and Teddy to their owners in Brittany, and Hector to his family near Paris, Animalcouriers headed for the border with Italy. We stopped near Geneva to collect Yellow Labrador Bumble, who’s been staying with Rowena and her Golden Retriever Rusty. Bumble is travelling with us to rejoin Jude, Roger and family, who’ve gone on ahead to Athens where Roger is working in shipping.
Once across the border, we stopped in Milan to deliver Iorek to Nadia, who welcomed him on behalf of Isabella, who’s following on from Birmingham. The whole family turned out to greet him!
Then it was on to the picturesque town of Monterchi in Tuscany, to reunite bewhiskered black-and-white puss Tubbo with Ian and family. Monterchi boast the only known depiction of a pregnant Madonna — unfortunately we couldn’t stop to see it, but fortunately Wikipedia came up trumps.
This morning we drove to Naples where we reunited Beagles Bertie and Ted with their owner Robert, who’s on an attachment with NATO. These lucky dogs are just a couple of minutes from the beach, and have a nature reserve on their doorstep that contains some ancient ruins. With their noses, perhaps they’ll sniff out some antique treasures!
Animalcouriers set off from the UK to Greece via France and Italy with gorgeous dogs and cats on board. We were lucky enough to have a few of them staying with us for a couple of nights beforehand, too.
One of our house guests was Hector, a handsome black Cocker Spaniel from south London. He’s off to join his owners who’ve relocated to the Paris area — they’ve gone on ahead to get everything ready for his arrival. Hector has unbelievable ball skills, and managed to keep a three-year-old boy amused for hours. Hector is a real joy to have around, always bouncy and happy and waggy tailed.
Best pals Harvey and Macchia have also been staying with us. This Black Lab and Italian Pointer travelled down from Cheshire and are off to Italy where owner Sally and her husband have a second home. Both are rescue dogs: Macchia found Sally when she was on one of her trips to Italy — Macchia is very attached to humans and loves cuddles. Harvey was attacked by another dog so he’s a little anxious on the lead, but loves playing ball almost as much as Hector.
Seven-year-old Iorek, a beautiful light-coloured German Shepherd dog is traveling with us from Birmingham back to Milan. His owner Isabella is still in England, so her sister Nadia will be waiting to roll out the red carpet. Iorek is travelling really well, despite Isabella’s fears he could be travel sick.
British Blue cats Willow and Teddy are relocating with their owners Nicky and David from Surrey to Brittany. Despite their slightly haughty demeanour, they are very confident, friendly cats. We’re sure they’ll love the countryside and open spaces that will be at their back door, and that they’ll become country cats in no time.
Black-and-white Tubbo is travelling with us from southern England to Arezzo in Italy to join his family, who’re already on their way there by car with their dog. In his younger days he was inclined to portliness, which is how he acquired his name. Now, however, he’s a fine figure of a cat and sports a splendid set of whiskers. One of the reasons his family asked us to transport him is because he makes a lot of noise in the car. We must say, however, that we’ve barely heard a peep from him. This may well be because travelling in our van is a very different experience from the car journeys most cats are used to, which involve going to the vet in a small cat carrier, with a view of the world rushing past the window. This can be rather disconcerting for them so, next time you take your cat to the vet, try draping a cloth over the carrier to help him or her to stay calm.
Almost identical Beagles Bertie and Ted seem to operate as a single unit. They’re relocating from Cheshire to the Naples area, where they will doubtless waste no time putting their noses to the ground to show off their sniffing and snuffling skills to the locals. Owner Robert has gone on ahead and is really looking forward to being reunited with his dogs. However they’ll be very much missed by his Mum and Dad who’ve been doing a great job of dog sitting.
Little Beau is a typical friendly Staffie who loves people. We met her just hours before the trip set off and there’s little doubt we’ll be best friends with her by the time we reach Piraeus port in Athens, which is where we’re meeting up with her owners Kate and family. They’ve relocated from London to beautiful Rhodes, which will be a very different place indeed for them all to live.
Beautiful little Hia (short for Hyena) had a long journey from Korea to the UK. She left Korea at 08.00am and arrived in Paris 11 hours later. On the flight she sat next to her human mum, and was as good as gold. Animalcouriers collected Hia in Paris and drove her to Calais, where we boarded the Eurotunnel, courier S ensuring plenty of pampering along the way for this little girl. On arrival in the UK it was a short hop to Hia’s new home in Surrey to be reunited with her family. It’s all very exciting as a new baby is due in just a few months.
A few days later courier S was back on the road with Border Collie brother and sister Dexter and Lucy. These very frequent travellers are heading from their home in London to their summer home in Avignon. A perfect pair of angels, these two dogs are completely at ease with the routine of travelling. They know when to lie back and enjoy the ride, when to smile at customs, and when to rush around and make the most of our comfort breaks.
From Narbonne Animalcouriers headed north towards Calais, stopping last night at Chaumont, where there were excellent dog walks to be had alongside a pretty canal.
On our way this morning, we were driving though a small hamlet, only to find the road blocked by an aged yet distinguished Golden Retriever. He waited until we had shown due respect by completely stopping our van. At which point he rose slowly from the middle of the road and sauntered in his own sweet time to the pavement to let us pass. A class act!
We’re now at Calais, ready to board the ferry to cross the Channel.
PS – we’ve just been informed by WordPress that it’s six years since we started our blog! 2, 570 posts later we are still enjoying our travels — thank you all for your follows, likes and comments, it’s a pleasure to have you on the road with us.
Animalcouriers met up with Cody and his family on the front between Gibraltar and La Linea. He’s off to Northern Ireland to stay with mum Nikki’s sister while the family packs up ready to follow him. They all said they would miss Gibraltar but they’re looking forward to new schools and a new way of life. As Nikki put it: ‘It’s goodbye shorts and flip flops, hello Ugg boots and woolly hats!’
Then it was off to collect Ben from Margaret at Benalmadena Costa. Margaret moved here over 20 years ago, and character cat Ben came on the scene a few years later. Now the time has come for Margaret to go back to Burnley with Ben and rejoin her family.
After an overnight stay in Nerja, we caught up with Kathy and Neska. These canine chums belong to Ana and George who relocated from Granada to the UK a few months ago, leaving their dogs in the care of Irene. Now Ana and George are all settled in and have sent for their dogs to join them.
When Kristina and her family recently moved from Torrevieja to Buckinghamshire, they found African Grey Parrot Charlie a new home with friends. However, African Greys are very sensitive creatures and, despite best efforts, the solution didn’t suit Charlie 100%. So plans were changed and now he’s on his way to the UK to rejoin Kristina.
Yesterday evening in Valencia we met up with Xavier from our colleagues Traveldog, who brought the final passengers, two dogs and four cats, for our UK-bound trip. First up was wolfdog Galatzo from Madrid, who’s travelling to Glasgow. Anything but wild, this handsome chap is very sociable. We were also joined by Cocky, a little Westie, who hails from Santiago de Compostella, and has settled into travelling like a pro.
Siamese cat Paddula is travelling with slinky black Lalaiph from O Porrinno; and tabby cat Cuca is travelling with Napoleao from Porto. Cuca has asthma, which is treated with an inhaler. His owner, Teresa, says he can get very stressed and provided advice on how to use the inhaler. But so far he’s been very relaxed indeed, and probably wonders why we keep checking up on him!