Leaving late from Greece, and receiving a warm welcome at our hotel in Italy

After collecting our final Greek passenger, Niko, Animalcouriers headed to Igoumenitsa port to make the crossing to Italy. It’s always a nail-biting time, checking in with the port authorities, but it all went off politely and we were nodded through to the port.

Our ferry was due to leave at 23.30. It eventually turned up at 05.00, and we were finally moving by 05.45. It’s a long crossing to Italy, so the engineers put up with courier J’s demands to see the dogs and cats, so she could check they were cool and keep them fed and watered. There’s a new airflow system in our van that works off an ancillary battery which lasts 26 hours, which is the length of the crossing.

When we reached Ancona, we headed to one of our favourite hotels, A3PAssi, owned by Antonella and her father Antonio. It’s an agricultural hotel (agriturismo) with private parking, endless olive groves, and lovely lanes for dog-walking.

We arrived so late the restaurant and hotel were shut, but a tray of bread and cold cuts, yogurt, apricot tart, and a bottle of house wine had been left out for us. What’s more, the car park and lane lights were on, there was water in the standpipe, and a key in the door. An amazing welcome despite no-one being around!

From over 11,000 olive trees of different varieties, the family produces a range of award-winning oils. Antonio maintains that the quality of the oil is down to the processes they use from the growing, to the picking, pressing and processing, through to bottling.

Their restaurant, La Tavola, offers traditional local cuisine made from fresh, top quality, organic ingredients, cooked with a lot of passion and a pinch of creativity.

We sampled (and bought) bottles of Antonio’s World No 1 Ascolana oil, a rare and valuable oil that has a strong fruity flavour with a hint of tomato leaves. Antonio gave us instructions on how to gently heat and consume this wonderful elixir.

A crate of A3Passi's award-winning olives

A crate of A3Passi’s award-winning olives

A closer look at the fruit

Olives waiting in line for the extraction process

Olives waiting in line for the extraction process

Organic produce from the farm, just crying out to be sampled

Organic produce from the farm, just crying out to be sampled

 As we went back and forth with the dogs, our paths crossed with farm trailers coming and going at what is a very busy harvest time

As we went back and forth with the dogs, our paths crossed with farm trailers coming and going at what is a very busy harvest time

Some olives are left to ripen further, and will be bottled with garlic and herbs

Some olives are left to ripen further, and will be bottled with garlic and herbs

Banks of bright chrysanthemums are interspersed with the crops

Banks of bright chrysanthemums are interspersed with the crops

Antonio always comes over to say hello — here he is checking that we'd enjoyed last night's picnic supper

Antonio always comes over to say hello — here he is checking that we’d enjoyed last night’s picnic supper

The lanes around the farm and the lush grassy slopes around the olive trees are a perfect environment for excellent dog walks.

Diego

Diego

Souki

Souki

Niko

Niko

Berti

Berti

Maya

Maya

Lucy

Lucy

Sugar

Sugar

Jacq

Jacq

Dexter

Dexter

Phantom, so-called because of her masked face

Phantom, so-called because of her masked face

Arizona, who's always ready to play

Arizona, who’s always ready to play

Lily enjoying watching all the comings and goings

Lily enjoying watching all the comings and goings

Gismo looking very demure

Gismo looking very demure

Two pups

Two pups

Two more pups

Two more pups

The puppies are travelling in pairs, in side-by-side compartments. They need cleaning out at least twice a day, so we pop all four in together while we do one compartment, then repeat the process for the second compartment. Here they are all having a big drink together.

The puppies are travelling in pairs, in side-by-side compartments. They need cleaning out at least twice a day, so we pop all four in together while we do one compartment, then repeat the process for the second compartment. Here they are all having a big drink together.

Collecting Nacho, Jack Sparrow, Charlie, Carmella and Zeva in Italy

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!

Awards on the walls of the Cantina di Ale's breakfast room. And in the kitchen, photos of chefs past and present and all their families. A super place where simplicity and good food prevail.

Awards on the walls of the Cantina di Ale’s breakfast room. And in the kitchen, photos of chefs past and present and all their families. A super place where simplicity and good food prevail.

Our hotel was on the outskirts of Recanati, about which the guides usually say 'Recanati is art, history, culture, music, faith and nature.' This is Palazzo Bello, the summer home of one of Italy's most famous poets, Giacomo Leopardi.

Our hotel was on the outskirts of Recanati, about which the guides usually say ‘Recanati is art, history, culture, music, faith and nature.’ This is Palazzo Bello, the summer home of one of Italy’s most famous poets, Giacomo Leopardi.

A plaque showing the opening stanza of Leopardi's best known work, Zibaldone, which reads, 'Palazzo Bello, a dog's bark in the night, comes from the farmhouse, with the passing traveller... ' Very apt as the farmhouse is now the Cantina di Ale!

A plaque showing the opening stanza of Leopardi’s best known work, Zibaldone, which reads, ‘Palazzo Bello, a dog’s bark in the night, comes from the farmhouse, with the passing traveller… ‘ Very apt as the farmhouse is now the Cantina di Ale!

 

The poor old palazzo really is crumbling away, but provided us with a lovely breezy hill-top walking spot for the dogs. Just as well, as it was already 92F at 7.30am!

The poor old palazzo really is crumbling away, but provided us with a lovely breezy hill-top walking spot for the dogs. Just as well, as it was already 92F at 7.30am!

Amazing what you can get at Ikea these days! Laura and her friend bring us Dana's cat Nacho.

Amazing what you can get at Ikea these days! Laura and her friend bring us Dana’s cat Nacho.

A closer look at friendly Nacho who loves a cuddle

A closer look at friendly Nacho who loves a cuddle

Jack Sparrow and Charlie are great mates

Jack Sparrow and Charlie are great mates

Jack Sparrow has amazing markings around his eyes

Jack Sparrow has amazing markings around his eyes

Handsome ginger-and-white Charlie

Handsome ginger-and-white Charlie

Carmella looking very snuggly in her bed

Carmella looking very snuggly in her bed

Maurice saying goodbye to puppy Zeva

Maurice saying goodbye to puppy Zeva

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Lovely Lino shows us his fine profile

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Hector always seems to have a smile on his face

Sammy is also a smiley fellow

Sammy is also a smiley fellow

Neo very eager for his walk…

Neo very eager for his walk…

…and relaxing in a spot in the shade

…and relaxing in a spot in the shade

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Randall enjoying the fresh air

A winsome look from cute kitty Willow

A winsome look from cute kitty Willow

We think Gulliver is well named — very alert, always exploring his bedroom, and doubtless ready to research his next trip!

We think Gulliver is well named — very alert, always exploring his bedroom, and doubtless ready to research his next trip!

Zavia is gaining in confidence and happy to have a little chat. We love the ginger detail on her head and nose!

Zavia is gaining in confidence and happy to have a little chat. We love the ginger detail on her head and nose!

Pretty hot out on our walk — Lino was glad to get back for a cool drink of water

Pretty hot out on our walk — Lino was glad to get back for a cool drink of water

Billie is very lively and finds it hard to stand still

Billie is very lively and finds it hard to stand still

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Judi is also a live wire. Here she is in the beautiful shady gardens of the Palazzo Bello

Demetris has 'cute' down to a T

Demetris has ‘cute’ down to a T

Arriving in Greece with Beau and Bumble; and meeting some of the locals

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.

We got a shady, airy spot on the ferry for our van, which meant the dogs could comfortably stay in their travel compartments, rather than moving to the on-board kennels.

We got a shady, airy spot on the ferry for our van, which meant the dogs could comfortably stay in their travel compartments, rather than moving to the on-board kennels.

Staffie Beau steps out into the Greek sunshine

Staffie Beau steps out into the Greek sunshine

Like Beau, Labrador Bumble found the Greek temperatures quite high — both dogs were pleased to get back into our air-conditioned van!

Like Beau, Labrador Bumble found the Greek temperatures quite high — both dogs were pleased to get back into our air-conditioned van!

At Athens airport courier J found that all bus tickets were free of charge — no surprise then that it was standing room only!

At Athens airport courier J found that all bus tickets were free of charge — no surprise then that it was standing room only!

‎Happy little Beau is even happier now he has rejoined his owner Katie. We met her in Pireus port as the reunited pair are travelling on to the beautiful island of Rhodes.

‎Happy little Beau is even happier now he has rejoined his owner Katie. We met her in Pireus port as the reunited pair are travelling on to the beautiful island of Rhodes.

‎Bumble is a girl who knows what she wants so when she has an itch she gets it scratched.

‎Bumble is a girl who knows what she wants so when she has an itch she gets it scratched.

Last, but by no means least, miss Bumble was greeted by an enthusiastic family in Athens. Bumble, by the way, is eating a chew and not smoking a cigar.

Last, but by no means least, miss Bumble was greeted by an enthusiastic family in Athens. Bumble, by the way, is eating a chew and not smoking a cigar.

A last evening meal in the sun by the beach for courier Mike before heading back to the colder climes of Yorkshire

A last evening meal in the sun by the beach for courier Mike before heading back to the colder climes of Yorkshire

Fresh local prawns, what a treat

Fresh local prawns, what a treat

It wasn't long before we were joined by some of the locals

It wasn’t long before we were joined by some of the locals

A closer look at this pretty tortie-and-white girl

A closer look at this pretty tortie-and-white girl

One ginger fellow was more daring than the others…

One ginger fellow was more daring than the others…

… got up on his hind legs and tapped courier M on the arm to remind him he was there!

… got up on his hind legs and tapped courier M on the arm to remind him he was there!

Delivering Jasper, Daisy, Milly and Booby in Greece; and Monte, Scotty, Atlas, Baloo and Vali get on board for the UK

When Animalcouriers arrived in Greece we were disappointed to find the car ferry timetable for our proposed route to Skiathos, to deliver Daisy and Jasper, had been changed! So with a bit of quick thinking, we decided that courier Mike could take the two cats on the Flying Dolphin seacat, while courier J stayed behind in charge of the van. Quite an adventure for these two curious cats, but they took it all in their stride and were delivered safely to their owners Siobhan and Stu.

When we delivered little Yorkie Milly to Bruno and his wife, it took her only a few seconds to realise she was back in her owners’ arms. Her trip started out in South America so it’s been a while since the family have seen each other. Milly was wriggling and squealing so excitedly at being reunited, her owners could barely hold on to her!

We met Freya in Piraeus Port to deliver her dog Booby to her and it was hard to say which of them was more excited. Freya and Booby then boarded the ferry to Crete for their summer holidays, helped by courier Mike who carried their luggage. Freya managed to book a pet-friendly cabin for the overnight crossing with a bed each for her and Booby.

Last night we met up with Cordelia and her husband Pavlos who brought us Monte and Scotty. These two cats are relocating to England to join their owner Caroline, and Cordelia has been looking after them as Caroline has already moved back. Monte has a chronic condition which means he always has a runny nose! So we have a special box of tissues handy. Amazingly, he’s quite happy to sit still and have his nose wiped! We’re really looking forward to sharing the antics of these character cats.

Before leaving Athens this morning we collected Bull Terrier Atlas. His owner Stelios got married last Saturday and has relocated from Athens with his bride to Exeter. As you can imagine, it’s all been a bit hectic for Stelios, organising a wedding as well as getting Atlas ready to travel. Fortunately his mum and brother could step in and take care of Atlas until we arrived.

While in Glyfada we also met up with beautiful Golden Retriever Baloo, who’s been looked after by her grandparents since her owner Irene relocated to England for work. Baloo has already shown us her sociable, friendly personality ‎which we know is a typical Golden trait.

En route to Igoumenitsa port, we diverted to a garage/coffee to rendez-vous with super fluffy Vali. She’s off to join her owner Christos who’s working in London. His family are very proud of him — something to do with Google, Olaf said.

Mike boarding the seacat with his precious feline cargo

Mike boarding the seacat with his precious feline cargo

Siobhan making sure there's no risk of handing Daisy and Jasper over to the wrong person!

Siobhan making sure there’s no risk of handing Daisy and Jasper over to the wrong person!

Stu and Siobhan with their cats safely delivered

Stu and Siobhan with their cats safely delivered

Daisy saying goodbye to courier Mike, with Jasper behind

Daisy saying goodbye to courier Mike, with Jasper behind

Siobhan and Stu have already sent photos of how well the cats are settling in — here's Daisy looking pretty chilled out…

Siobhan and Stu have already sent photos of how well the cats are settling in — here’s Daisy looking pretty chilled out…

…and Jasper practising monorail snoozing

…and Jasper practising monorail snoozing

The happiest of reunions for Milly and her owners who've been apart for a while

The happiest of reunions for Milly and her owners who’ve been apart for a while

Milly makes a late entry for the 'longest tongue' competition (in between all the hugs and kisses)

Milly makes a late entry for the ‘longest tongue’ competition (in between all the hugs and kisses)

Booby overjoyed to be back with Freya and looking forward to their summer in Crete

Booby overjoyed to be back with Freya and looking forward to their summer in Crete

Heading towards the ferry to Crete, courier Mike helps with the luggage while Booby clamours for Freya's attention

Heading towards the ferry to Crete, courier Mike helps with the luggage while Booby clamours for Freya’s attention

Pavlos and Cordelia bringing Monte and Scotty, with the help of courier Mike

Pavlos and Cordelia bringing Monte and Scotty, with the help of courier Mike

Monte (L) and Scotty (R) very keen to know what's going on around them

Monte (L) and Scotty (R) very keen to know what’s going on around them

Handsome and confident, Scotty soon settles in for the ride

Handsome and confident, Scotty soon settles in for the ride

Monte with his tissue box handy!

Monte with his tissue box handy!

Bull Terrier Atlas with his uncle and grandma

Bull Terrier Atlas with his uncle and grandma

A closer look at handsome Atlas

A closer look at handsome Atlas

Baloo with her doting grandparents

Baloo with her doting grandparents

What a pretty girl she is!

What a pretty girl she is!

Spyros with beautiful Vali (short for Valentine)

Spyros with beautiful Vali (short for Valentine)

Olaf with Vali

Olaf with Vali

Meet our passengers from Greece, who are heading to the UK

Animalcouriers reached Glyfada in Greece, and our first job was to reunite Florrie, Rosie and Izi with Elias and Sheila, and Neo with Henry. Unfortunately it was a dark and rainy night — no good for photos — but we can assure you the reunions were very happy ones.

We’ve now collected our UK-bound passengers and are on board the ferry from Igoumenitsa to Italy. The van is parked very near our cabin, so we can keep popping  across to check on the pets and walk the dogs. We can even have one dog in our cabin from time to time, so they’re taking it in turns to watch DVDs with us. Shame we don’t have Lady and the Tramp or 101 Dalmatians with us! There are lots of other people on board with cats and dogs, so we’ll probably bump into other dog walkers while we’re out on deck.

Travelling with us is lovely Cleo the cat, who belongs to Efthinious and Valerie. They’re moving from Athens to Sheffield where both will be working and Efthinious will also be studying economics.

We were pleased to see Nela and her Chinchilla chum Ollie again, who are on their way back to the UK to rejoin their family — there’s a new baby for them to meet, too.

Eleni works with a group in the north of Athens who take care of stray dogs and also from time to time help visitors who want to adopt a dog. She brought Haiko to us who is off to join Johanna and Colin’s family of rescue dogs in Norfolk. Eleni arranged Haiko’s TRACES certificate at the local prefecture office, which goes with his pet passport to enable him to travel to the UK.

Lovely Nana, soon to be known as Lotte, is from the Filozoikos Shelter and has been adopted by Mel in Dorset. We’ve told Nana all about Dorset and she’s very excited about seeing it for herself.

Fred is also from Filozoikos, another gentle character. All the dogs from the shelter are so relaxed and gentle — it must be because of the way Kiki and the rest of the team look after them. Within seconds of getting into his travel compartment, Fred was lying down, fast asleep! He’s on his way to a new home with Allyson in Brighton.

Cordelia from Nine Lives Greece brought us three cats who have new homes in the UK. Catherine has adopted a gorgeous pair of youngsters, and a rather gorgeous black-and-white puss is also travelling. There will be more about these cats in a later blog.

Handsome Beagle Alvin was brought to us by a friend of his family. Ellie and her children are already in London and missing their dogs, and Alvin is the first of the three to travel. We feel quite sure he’ll get a rapturous welcome.

Snowy white cat Lara belongs to the Spyros family who are flying to London, and will be there in good time to greet her.

And just a couple of days ago Kaiti got in touch to see if we could take her French Bulldog Victor to London for her. Luckily the timing was perfect and we had space for him to join the trip.

Beautiful smoky grey Chloe

Beautiful smoky grey Cleo

Chloe says goodbye and see you soon to Efthinious

Cleo says goodbye and see you soon to Efthinious

Welcome back on board, Nela!

Welcome back on board, Nela!

Ollie settles in for the journey

Ollie settles in for the journey

Handsome Haiko with Eleni and friend

Handsome Haiko with Eleni and friend

Lovely laid-back Nana

Lovely laid-back Nana

Nana's beautiful collar

Nana’s beautiful collar

Fred in his sporty bandanna

Fred in his sporty bandanna

The two pretty youngsters who've been adopted by Catherine

The two pretty youngsters who’ve been adopted by Catherine

A goodbye tickle from Cordelia

A goodbye tickle from Cordelia

Alvin with a family friend

Alvin with a family friend

A family farewell for Lara

A family farewell for Lara

A closer look at lovely Lara

A closer look at lovely Lara

Victor gets a goodbye hug from Kaiti

Victor gets a goodbye hug from Kaiti

Bye Mum! says Victor

Bye Mum! says Victor

Breakfast in Brindisi, dinner in Ancona

After a somewhat choppy crossing, Animalcouriers docked at the Italian port of Brindisi rather later than expected, having not boarded our ferry from Igoumenitsa until after 2.00am. It was time to walk the dogs, so we headed for breakfast and a doggy leg stretch at a nice hotel we remembered courier S had stayed at.

From there we drove towards Ancona where we’re spending the night. Our delayed arrival this morning means we haven’t got as far as we would have wished. But the late nights and early starts are taking their toll on couriers J and M, so we’re not sorry to have stopped a bit early this evening.

To meet the TRACES requirements, we notified Defra that we are transporting pets on an intra-trade certificate (ITHAC) and let them know when we expect to be in the UK. We explained that we’re transporting owned dogs, who are following their owners.

Very quickly we received an email reply saying:

“It sounds as if these dogs are PETS [pet passport scheme] compliant, therefore the ITHAC (health certificate) is not required.”

This was followed up by another email saying: “…an Intra Trade Certificate is not needed as this is not a commercial import. Therefore there is no need to notify your local AHVLA [Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency] office.”

We are delivering these dogs to their owners’ homes so, for us and their owners, the matter is closed.

We are hoping that, as time goes by, it will be easier for people who live in Greece and wish to relocate and take their pets with them to do so without so many hoops to jump through and layers of bureaucracy to overcome.

No ordinary croissant this — stuffed with Nutella and served warm. Food heaven!

No ordinary croissant this — stuffed with Nutella and served warm. Food heaven!

Lisa gets going — we can all sympathise with trying to get slightly stiff joints moving in the morning!

Lisa gets going — we can all sympathise with trying to get slightly stiff joints moving in the morning!

Smiling Romy

Smiling Romy

Pensive Lisa

Pensive Lisa

Lina notices the big anchor, and wonders where the ship is

Lina notices the big anchor, and wonders where the ship is

Romy fancies her 'longest tongue' chances

Romy fancies her ‘longest tongue’ chances

A lovely sunny evening in Ancona — Lisa is gradually losing the loose tufts of her winter coat and starting to look less like a teddy bear and more like the German Shepherd Dog she really is!

A lovely sunny evening in Ancona — Lisa is gradually losing the loose tufts of her winter coat and starting to look less like a teddy bear and more like the German Shepherd Dog she really is!

 Lina drinks in the new scents around her — olive trees and wild flowers

Lina drinks in the new scents around her — olive trees and wild flowers

While Romy was still out walking, cheeky Lina hopped into her compartment when she got back to the van and snaffled her bedtime snacks!

While Romy was still out walking, cheeky Lina hopped into her compartment when she got back to the van and snaffled her bedtime snacks!

Don't worry Romy, we'll give you some more!

Don’t worry Romy, we’ll give you some more!

Getting to know our passengers from Athens, and reunions for Elsa and Gypsy

Lisa and Lina are travelling with us from Greece to rejoin Nick and Linda in Scotland. Nick and Linda relocated last year and the dogs have been staying with Nick’s sister in Athens in the meantime.

Romy belongs to Christiana and has been in the care of her parents since she moved to the UK for work. Christiana’s parents say they miss their daughter but it’s hard to find work in Athens, so they are very pleased she’s found a good job in Southampton.

Once all three dogs were on board, we headed to Igoumenitsa port. Yesterday’s strike had prevented us from taking Elsa and Gypsy to Corfu, so Barry and Theresa and their son Matt made a proper outing of it, and came to meet us at Igoumenitsa instead. There were tears of joy when they spotted us driving into the port, and the family were delighted to be reunited with their cats.

Lisa is getting on in years so we will take special care of her

Lisa is getting on in years so we will take special care of her

Romy was brought to us at Glyfada following her trip to the prefecture for her TRACES health certificate

Romy was brought to us at Glyfada following her trip to the prefecture for her TRACES health certificate

Cordelia from Nine Lives Greece popped by to say hello. She didn't have any cats for us to take to the UK, but wanted to show off a puppy she'd found in Athens. To prove that he's bilingual, he very obligingly 'sat' when asked to do so in both English and Greek!

Cordelia from Nine Lives Greece popped by to say hello. She didn’t have any cats for us to take to the UK, but wanted to show off a puppy she’d found in Athens. To prove that he’s bilingual, he very obligingly ‘sat’ when asked to do so in both English and Greek!

Cordelia's pup needs a bit more practice before he can enter the 'longest tongue' competition!

Cordelia’s pup needs a bit more practice before he can enter the ‘longest tongue’ competition!

Smiles all round as Barry, Matt and Theresa are reunited with Elsa and Gypsy

Smiles all round as Barry, Matt and Theresa are reunited with Elsa and Gypsy

Matt is delighted to have his cats either side of him

Matt is delighted to have his cats either side of him

At Igoumenitsa we stopped at our favourite beach to walk the dogs, and met a beach resident. Lina was quite up for a play!

At Igoumenitsa we stopped at our favourite beach to walk the dogs, and met a beach resident. Lina was quite up for a play!

Walking Lisa in the evening sunshine

Walking Lisa in the evening sunshine

Romy lets the wind blow through her fur

Romy lets the wind blow through her fur

Lina breathes in the briny air…

Lina breathes in the briny air…

…and dips her toes in at the water's edge

…and dips her toes in at the water’s edge

The sun disappears over the horizon as we head back to the van

The sun disappears over the horizon as we head back to the van

Cali, Scali and Miski are back home in Crete; and Matilda has joined our trip

Yesterday was Clean Monday — the first day of Lent — and a holiday in Greece. Traditionally people fly kites and eat simple food on the beach. Unfortunately, it was absolutely pouring with rain, so there wasn’t much of either activity going on.

Animalcouriers arrived early at the Greek port of Igoumenitsa following our crossing from Italy. We drove off towards Piraeus port, calling in at Lefkas en route to collect Jennifer’s cat Matilda. Then we had an overnight crossing to Crete, where we reunited Cali, Scali and Miski with Sheila.

Courier M carried Miski and Scali into the house in baskets. After a quick sniff around, they followed Sheila and courier M back to the van to fetch Cali.

Because of the rain, this poor kite seller packed up early and went home

Because of the rain, this poor kite seller packed up early and went home

Paximavid bread — a Cretan speciality that's so hard you need very strong gnashers to deal with it. Better still, you dunk it first in wet cheese or oil.

Paximavid bread — a Cretan speciality that’s so hard you need very strong gnashers to deal with it. Better still, you dunk it first in wet cheese or oil.

Sheila and Miski walking down to the Animacouriers van to collect Cali

Sheila and Miski walking down to the Animacouriers van to collect Cali

Miski stopping off for some sniffing opportunities on the way

Miski stopping off for some sniffing opportunities on the way

Here comes Cali, safe in Sheila's arms

Here comes Cali, safe in Sheila’s arms

Cali reacquainting herself with familiar sights and smells

Cali reacquainting herself with familiar sights and smells

Mmm, something very interesting here!

Mmm, something very interesting here!

Look at our fantastic view, courier J! says Miski

Look at our fantastic view, courier J! says Miski

Scali is quite nervous of people as she had been badly treated, so we were lucky to catch this glimpse of her as she rediscovered her Cretan home. She and Miski were dumped a kilometre apart at five weeks old. Lucky girls to have been adopted by Jill and Sheila!

Scali is quite nervous of people as she had been badly treated, so we were lucky to catch this glimpse of her as she rediscovered her Cretan home. She and Miski were dumped a kilometre apart at five weeks old. Lucky girls to have been adopted by Jill and Sheila!

Miski was so excited to be home she shot up to the rafters…

Miski was so excited to be home she shot up to the rafters…

…and had to be rescued by Sheila

…and had to be rescued by Sheila

And here is lovely Matilda, who is travelling with us to the UK. Very cute and friendly.

And here is lovely Matilda, who is travelling with us to the UK. Very cute and friendly.

She will also accept a neck scratch and head tickle!

She will also accept a neck scratch and head tickle!

A sunny morning walk in Igoumenitsa

Animalcouriers were greeted by warm and sunny weather when we reached the Greek port of Igoumenitsa this morning. It was an early start, made easier by blue skies and just the occasional fluffy white cloud.

Following a good walk with the dogs and breakfast all round, the aircon is on and we’re heading along the coast towards Zakinthos.

Winston wondering if it's time to go back to bed yet

Winston wondering if it’s time to go back to bed yet

Lola, set off by blue skies and sea

Lola, set off by blue skies and sea

Roxy taking in her surroundings

Roxy taking in her surroundings

Winston having a good sniff around

Winston having a good sniff around

Sam auditioning for tongue of the week!

Sam auditioning for tongue of the week!

Issy catching a few rays

Issy catching a few rays

Bruno raring to go

Bruno raring to go

Crossing from Greece to Italy

We boarded the ferry late last night at the Greek port of Igoumenitsa and expect to reach Castiglione del Lago in Italy tonight, where we’ll meet our vet to carry out the canine parasite treatments required by the pet passport scheme.

We had more time than usual in Igoumenitsa and were able to explore the area as well as take the dogs for a good walk on the beach. There are salt lagoons and marshes near the town, with plenty of birdlife including egrets and many other species we’ll have to look up when we get home. Most surprisingly, there was a pelican fishing — unfortunately we couldn’t get close enough for a photo. And perched on a small hillock are the remains of a fortress from the 4th century BC, which just goes to show how long Igoumenitsa has been an important port.

Pepito looking especially handsome

Pepito looking especially handsome

Meet Oliver, who belongs to Theo — Oliver joined us in Thessalonika and is travelling with us to Walsall in England

Meet Oliver, who belongs to Theo — Oliver joined us in Thessalonika and is travelling with us to Walsall in England

A very relaxed-looking cow watched us from the other side of the road while we walked on the beach

A very relaxed-looking cow watched us from the other side of the road while we walked on the beach