9th June: Mykonos – Athens – Thessaloniki
Feeling ever so pleased I had decided to relax the day before, on 9 June 2019, I woke at 7am with the kind of feeling in my stomach I had not felt since it was Christmas morning in 1989. The kind of excitement only something you have wanted to do for years can give, when it’s finally the day it happens.
My father and I packed all our bags and headed down for a quick breakfast before checking out and making our way to the car. We had thought the first task that day would be to navigate our way from the car park by Elia Beach to the port, so we could get the Gumball 3000 ferry to mainland Greece. Instead, the first was, in fact, working out how we were going to get all our luggage in the F355!! We had carefully selected what clothes to bring and the three holdalls fitted nicely in the ‘frunk’. What we had not allowed for, however, were the two rather large, extra bags of Gumball 3000 merchandise we had been given on registration day!! With some reorganisation however we managed to get one of them in the front compartment with the rest. The other, unfortunately, had to cramp my father’s style a little and sit underneath his legs along with his business briefcase which he had brought with him, containing my laptop and all our travel documents. Not quite the stylish look we were going for but, I suppose, that’s Gumball 3000!!
Getting to, on and off the Athens ferry
Punching in the port into the sat nav, around 15 minutes later we arrived at a port where there were, simply, NO other Gumball cars. The Rally had not even officially started yet and we were already lost!! Re-googling however meant we found there was a main entrance much further down the coast and so, around 10 minutes later we pulled in. And what a sight it was – over 100 supercars waiting to board the Gumball 3000 ferry and, even for such a small island like Mykonos, so many people had come to enjoy the sights and sounds only this rally can provide. We were asked to do a loop so that the cars could be put in order and, to my great delight, we were placed on the second row, diagonally behind Mr Gumball 3000’s car, a green Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The aerial shot was an absolute killer!
Getting all the cars onto the ferry, particularly with those as low as the F355 was a mission in itself, but we all made it, with numerous car alarms going off in the process as the motion sensors kicked in. And so began the three hour ferry ride to take us to Athens, where the flag drop would take place.
Whilst on the ferry, Mr Gumball 3000 opened the Rally, thanking everyone from the participants to the sponsors and reminded everyone it was a rally not a race… hmm we all thought… why are we all in supercars then…?! Then David Hasselhoff addressed us – a multiple Gumballer, although I understand he has never actually finished one – who was going to start us on the grid in Athens… it finally felt real!!!
We had the same palaver getting off the ferry as we did getting on, but having successfully negotiated that obstacle, there we were, in mainland Greece, with just a 25 minute drive to the start line. Somehow we managed to take a wrong turning almost immediately, before swiftly getting back on track and, after having a brief convoy with Mr Gumball 3000 and Eve before their sat nav took them a different way, we arrived at the starting grid in Athens at around 4pm.
The sight of all the fans really was something to behold and it’s said all too often but the excitement was genuinely palpable. Even more amazing was the number of people coming up to me wanting pictures with me and the F355 and telling me how it was their favourite car on the rally, despite there being much newer, more expensive metal being driven. Indeed the comment I received most often was about the noise – ‘pure Ferrari race car’ was probably the best of the lot!
The 2019 Gumball 3000 rally begins!
So with the Baywatch theme coming onto the loudspeaker, David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff, brought the flag down to start the 2019 Gumball 3000 rally and, from there, every single car made its way over the start line to begin their adventure across Europe. We had no idea what was instore for the rest of the week; all we knew was we had a five-hour drive to Thessaloniki to make it in time for dinner…
The time had come… LET’S GUMBALL!!!!!
For more great images, view our Gumball Gallery.