The germ of the idea
As some background to where this has come from, many years ago and more than she probably cares to acknowledge, my good lady wife spent a year living in Crete, working for a family in the town of Sitea. Since then the small child she was looking after has got all growed up, married a chap called Giannis who has a penchant for breaking his leg, and had a small child of her own, but these Greek types are thoroughly nice people and have always stayed in touch. Every so often Mary, the matriarch of the family, will issue a decree that it is about time we visited and no disagreement or argument is permitted, so off to Crete we shall go. And let's face it, being forced to go to Crete is not one of life's great hardships is it!
Being a work-shy type of chap and one who also is very content sitting in the car for hours on end and just driving, I've come up with a marvellous wheeze to prolong this trip, namely that I will spend a week driving to Crete, meet Wife #1 and a friend of hers over there, have a very nice week's holiday, and then drop them off again at the airport and spend another week driving home again. And from such idle musing a five and a half thousand mile journey has been born.
This is the approximate route, starting off in Tewkesbury and heading for the Channel Tunnel, then driving down through Belgium and most of Germany on the first day. After that things get more relaxed, crossing Austria and Slovenia and picking up the Adriatic at the Slovenian and Croatian border. From then, the plan is to stay on the small road which hugs the coast and drive down through Croatia, a wee bit of Bosnia, back into Croatia again, Montenegro, Albania and into Greece. A quick stop overnight in Parga, a personal favourite of mine, then down to near Athens and the ferry over to Crete.
For the return journey, it was a choice of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, etc., which all sounds very 'stew and dumplings' and as though it would require the consumption of heroic levels of cabbage beneath leaden skies, or crossing to Italy and coming back that way via much sun, beautiful scenery and nice food. No contest really, so it's back to mainland Greece, a quick detour to see Sparta, then up to get the ferry to Brindisi in Italy, and then all the way back up the Adriatic coast again, then inland to Lake Garda, up through Switzerland, and finally a last blast through France and home.
Initial plannings are pretty much done, most importantly to find out what the driving rules are in the countries I will be passing through. The rules are mostly variation on a theme - for example 'it is recommended to carry a high-vis jacket', to 'it is law to carry a high-vis' jacket, and then on to the slightly more specific such as 'it is law to carry a high-vis jacket and it must be carried in the passenger compartment of the car and not in the boot' (looking at you Slovenia for that rather specific one). There is one country which does stand out a little in these general driving advice tips, this being poor old Albania, where the driving advice veers from 'don't drive outside urban areas after dark' through to the RAC's 'driving in Albania is not for the faint-hearted, small disputes can often quickly escalate and visitors should try to avoid these situations as locals are often armed'.
Hopefully I can get loads of excellent drone-cam photos, although with a more pessimistic viewpoint, crossing borders with a flying camera in the car seems more likely to end up with me in a small cell somewhere accused of being a spy, but we shall see...