Sunday, 9 September 2012

Three Days in Greece

For most of the past two months, I have been writing and travelling, hence my lack of blogging activity - for which apologies. I have been completing two new manuscripts, one about Japanese Ferries, co-authored with Tsuyoshi Ishiyama, and another larger work to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Danish consulting naval architects, Knud E. Hansen A/S. In relation to the latter project, last week, I made a three-day trip to Greece, principally to examine Blue Star Ferries' new Blue Star Patmos and Blue Star Delos. 

Greece is, without doubt, among my favourite countries. It is still a ship lover's paradise and, in the late summer, there is often a very nice quality of light for photography, particularly early in the morning and in the late afternoon. On Day 1, I got up very early to watch the morning arrivals and departures from Piraeus at sunrise:

Back in Piraeus Great Harbour, the lovely old Agios Georgios rests between sailings:

Grotty yet atmospheric downtown Piraeus, where it is possible to buy everything from a needle to an anchor:

Where to get special supplies for sailing round the Horn of Africa:

A quite wondrous travel agent's - the most perfect 1960s time-warp:

The new branch of Telstar, the world's greatest maritime bookshop, run by my friend, Mr Costas Papaconstantinou:

For Greek Clyde steamer enthusiasts - and there must be some - they even have my 'Camera on the Clyde' for sale:

Clive Holes, gentleman and scholar, author of one of the more obscure works on sale in Telstar:

(As always, I spent a small fortune and came away with a worryingly heavy load of books - the problem of getting these past easyJet check-in without paying excess baggage would be considered later on.)

Next, I met up with Apostolos Kaknis, Chief Officer on the El. Venizelos, excellent ship photographer and all-round top-bloke, for a tour round the docks at Keratsini and Perama:

The ex-Nefili, bound for Venezuela:

Former DFDS Lisco freighter:

Next, a ferry trip over to Salamina Island:

Laid-up NEL Lines fast craft:

Every Greek handy-size bulk carrier, a work of abstract art:

An unexpected ship visit to a laid up passenger vessel, beginning in the engine control room:

Soviet switches:


Mildly decaying interior:

Greek magician:

Ex-Diamond Ferry from Japan:

A new Salamina-Perama ferry for the return crossing - very nice too:

Old 1960s Knud E. Hansen A/S-designed Gotland ferry in serious distress:

Back to Piraeus Great Harbour for the early-evening departures:

Preserved Liberty ship:

Apostolos in uniform, supervising the loading of the El. Venizelos prior to her late-evening departure for Crete:

Older Cretan ferries:

Dinner at The Lion Cafe with El. Venizelos motoring past:

Day 2, with Anek Line's Elyros at her berth:

A visit to the brand new and exquisitely designed Blue Star Patmos - the best ferry I've seen for some considerable time:

The naval architecture is largely by Knud E. Hansen A/S, working with Blue Star Ferries' expert Costis Stamboulelis and with the superbly talented Greek interior architect Apostolos Molindris. What a result! The a la carte restaurant, below, with its wavy silver leaf ceiling must be one of the most elegant ferry interiors ever conceived:

I knew that Blue Star Patmos would be good, given the talents of those involved in her design and construction, but she exceeded even my high expectations. From any viewpoint, she's a magnificent ship.

Another fine ferry of a much earlier era - the Agios Georgios.

Blue Star Patmos shifts her berth:

Mr Costis Stamboulelis of Attica Group must surely have been involved in designing more outstanding passenger ships than anyone else in the present era - most often working, of course, with Knud E. Hansen A/S. Let's take a close look at the detailing of that Ferrari of the seas, Superfast XII, another of Attica's superb vessels:

And at some other ferries too:

NEL Lines' long-serving Theofilos, the old Nils Holgersson of 1975 - a ferry I have always thought was particularly smart - albeit aging and probably now reaching the end of her career:

Time for a very quick look inboard:

Nils Holgersson murals:

Seventies-tastic colour-coded corridors:

Early-evening departures and arrivals:

Dinner at Zea Marina - Piraeus' posher end:

Atmospheric night time streets:

Day 3 - and a trip on the Blue Star Delos to Paros and back:

Whereas Blue Star Patmos, sailing to Chios, is more of an overnight ferry, the Blue Star Delos is orientated towards daytime voyages on the Piraeus-Paros-Nexos-Ios-Santorini route. She leaves Piraeus early each morning, returning late in the evening. Thus, where Blue Star Patmos has cabins, Blue Star Delos has a series of business lounges, which are very swish:

Another difference is the inclusion of a Goody's fast food restaurant, which has a very appealing design with cutlery murals and separations between the seating bays:

On both vessels, the outdoor lighting is very sophisticated:

Dawn's early light in Piraeus:

The splendid Olympic Champion:

A welcome place to sit:

Disembarking at Paros:

Paros signs:

Let's take a closer look at that:

Late-afternoon snack:

The return trip to Piraeus:

Editing 'Japanese Ferries' in the Business Lounge:

The crowds disembark in Piraeus:

The next morning, Agios Georgios receiving some TLC:

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