HOW TO TRAVEL FROM THE UK TO A GREEK ISLAND WITHOUT FLYING – The Carbon Jacked Greek Odyssey
As imperfect environmentalists, we’re all about finding creative ways to combat climate change, reduce our impact on the planet and have a bit of fun along the way.
For us, there’s no point trying to save the planet if you never see it, but you can’t escape the fact that travel causes emissions that we need to find ways to massively reduce. The solution isn’t to stop travelling altogether, it’s to travel better.
Until aviation sorts itself out, one of the best ways to do this is to use alternatives to flying when you can, so we thought we’d have a pop at an elaborate journey to show you the highs, the lows and what this means for your carbon footprint.
THE ROUTE AND THE RESULTS
3 trains, 2 ferries, 1 coach
- London > Paris | Eurostar train | £103
- Paris > Milan | Train | £70.25
- Milan > Bari | Train | £60.99
- Bari > Patras | Overnight ferry | £53.41
- Patras > Athens | Coach | £15.93
- Athens > Naxos | Ferry | £53.68
- Our journey - 27.65kg of CO2e per person
- Flying - 405.83kg of CO2e per person
- Our journey - 6 days (inc. overnight stops in Bari and Athens)*
- Flying – 1 day
*We stayed overnight in Bari and Athens, but you can do the journey in 3 days.
- Our journey - £357.26 (excluding hotel stays)
- Flying – approx. £176 per person
So our transport costs were approx £181 more than if you flew.
Was it worth it?
Yes, with caveats….
Long story short – travelling without flying is better for the planet. In fact, flying to Greece would’ve caused over 14 times more emissions. That said our journey definitely cost more and, unsurprisingly, took a lot longer, but it made for a pretty epic adventure.
️We know it’s not always feasible to avoid flying, and there are major cost / time considerations, but we wanted to show that it is possible. Going from the UK to Greece is obviously somewhat at the extreme end, but there are lots of journeys where it’s much more feasible to avoid flying and the price isn’t hugely different either. For example, you can get to Barcelona in a day from the UK via trains.
The rest of this blog is a blow-by-blow account of our journey, including the ups, downs and everything in between, so check it out if you want to see all the gory details.
THE DAY-BY-DAY SCHEDULE – how the Carbon Jacked Greek Odyssey unfolded...
DAY 1 – London to Milan
PM - The 3 amigos travel to London from Sussex / Loughborough 🇬🇧
07:00 - Underground to St Pancras 🚇
08:00 - Obligatory pain au chocolat & Pret run at the station 🥐
09:31 - Eurostar ➡️ Paris (an enjoyable and relaxed experience, strange it's 1 minute past the hour though)
12:47 - Arrive into Paris, Gare Du Nord 🚉
13:00 - Tube from one side of Paris to the other 🚇
13:30 - Essential coffee break… because when in Paris 🇫🇷 and because Curtis loves the caffeine ☕
14.40 - Rushing for the train after a disastrous lunch run (a very unenjoyable experience) 🥖
14:43 - Train from Paris Gare de Lyon ➡️ Milan (cracking views)
22:00 - Arrive in Milan 🇮🇹
22:05 - Start walking to hotel, get lost in car park
22:30 - Check into hotel 🏨
22:40 - Talk about going for pizza and wine in the room but never actually leave
Stats for the day: 15 hours travel time, 3 tubes, 3 coffees, 1 Eurostar, 1 train, 2 happy Jacks, 1 tantrum from Jess on the pains of social media, and 3 travellers ready for sleep ahead of another day traversing Europe.
Highlight: Incredible views on the train from Paris to Milan 🏔
Lowlight: Jess’ tantrum
DAY 2 – Milan to Bari
06:00 – Alarm goes off ⏰
07:00 – Breakfast in the hotel (nab a couple of extra apples and bread rolls for the train)
07:40 - Leave hotel for Milan’s splendacious Centrale train station 🚉
07:50 – Curtis gets second coffee of the day
08:05 - Train from Milan to Bari - “The. Best. Train. Ever. Seriously.” According to Jacques (and that’s the abridged quote). Tbf the coastline views were particularly serene 🛤
14:00 – The Jacks run the gauntlet along the many many carriages to procure another coffee after a heated debate with the barman mostly done via gesticulation ☕️
15:00 – a mini meltdown… but not from who you’d expect
15:27 – Arrive in Bari 📍
16:30– Lucked out with a wondrous hotel 👌
17:00 – Chase the last remnants of the sun around Bari 🏃🏽♀️🏃🏽♂️🏃♂️
22:00 – Traditional Bari dinner in the Old Town where Jess finally gets her glass of wine (although at 17.5% it made things a bit interesting…) 🍷
23:00 – Crash out 😴
*Timings May vary
Stats for the day: 8 hours of travel time, 785km, 1 train, 7 coffees, 17.5% wine, 19,329 steps.
Highlight: Bari old town + port and our hotel… an unexpected gem with vegan breakfasts, natural wine, second-hand books and absurdly high ceilings. Check out @imago.plus
Lowlight: Train WiFi was a bit dodgy and Curtis’ alarm is a simply unacceptable sound.
DAY 3 & 4 – Bari to Athens
AM – Eat, Love, Pray in Bari (actually mainly spent working) 🇮🇹
17:30 – Frantic march to the port while dodging numerous cars and lorries
18:30 – Board ferry and carry out an extensive, somewhat disappointing, assessment of facilities
19:00 – Ferry sets sail ⛴
19:10 – Glory strikes as we secure cold beers on the helipad for departure 🍻
19:30 – Disaster strikes as the prospect of 17 hours in airline seats dawns (the irony of ‘airline’ seats’ is not lost on us) 💺
19:45 – Further disaster strikes as we realise we were misled about the onboard disco and pool 🕺🏽
20:00 – 23:00 – A slightly exhausted session catching up on work
23:30 – Scout out alternative sleeping arrangements and set up camp 🏕
00:00 – Bed down
04:00 – Pandemonium and aggressive alarms ensue as the ferry stops at Igoumenitsa and most of the passengers, particularly the drunk ones, disembark. Jacques sleeps through. 😴
06:00 – Jess awakes to glorious sunshine and Greek islands on the horizon. 🌅 She goes for coffee and a restorative reading session. 📖
07:00 – Team CJ set up shop at the stern of the ship for some early morning work 👨🏽💻
12:00 – Arrive in Patras, our planned transfer bus no longer exists…
12:10 – Taxi driver gets aggressively angry at the concept of us sharing a taxi with another lone traveller, but we make light of his undue rage and bring the gentleman along for the ride 🚖
12:45 – Splendid coach journey to Athens, although Athens bus station was, as per, found wanting… 🚏
16:00 – Arrive in Athens. Known for many things - democracy, the Olympics and now most famously a pitstop on the CJ Odyssey. 🏛
Stats for the day: 1 ferry, 1 coach, 787km, 0 discos, 0 swimming pools, limited hours of sleep.
Highlight: Morning on the ferry – sunrise, coffee and contemplative reading.
Lowlight: The lack of a 24-hour disco on the ferry.
DAY 5 & 6 – Athens and onwards to Naxos
Day 5 - Athens
AM - went something like work, coffee, work, coffee, work ☕️
PM – exploration and discovery 🎒
- Lacklustre jog (the cumulative tiredness was really starting to take hold at this point). Found a great viewing point of the city mind you 🌇
- The alternative tour of the Acropolis with renegade tour guide @jess__rogers. Glorious views and many, many facts (some of them hopefully true) 🏛
- Much-needed sustenance
03.00 – 05.00 – Jack woken even earlier than usual by frankly riotous preparations for the day's flea market 🫒 (the olives looked damn good mind you)
05.30 – Make our way bleary-eyed to the Port of Piraeus
07.00 – Ferry to Naxos… the final leg ⛴
07.01 – 10.59 – work, coffee, work, coffee 👨🏽💻
11.00 – Arrival in Naxos to be met by wind, euphoria, delirium, and everything in-between 📍🇬🇷
Stats for the day: 1 ferry, 176km, 1 Acropolis, 12 or 13 gods. Gale force winds.
Highlight: 'Obviously the tour of the Acropolis' (and the Athens coffee scene)
Lowlight: Why do you need to start setting up for a market at 3am??
And that was that. Final thoughts...