Back to the Peleponesos!

Optimistically we started driving towards Korinthos on the non toll coastal road from Athens, however the weather was terrible. Horizontal sleet and rain was hitting us and some parts of the ever so narrow coastal road with hairpin bends were flooded that deep, we were worried Adrian’s engine might flood. To add to the chaos, there were of course the Greek drivers, whom I sincerely doubt any of them legally earned a driving licence. Even in these severe weather conditions they continued to drive on the wrong side of the road coming towards us on steep hairpin bends, none of the lorries, cars, mopeds etc had their headlights on ( this in particular is a popular past time in Greece, no matter the time of day or weather conditions) and best of all, they wait to overtake you on a carefully selected sharp blind bend. So we decided enough is enough, turned around and accessed the motorway with tolls to continue our route to Korinthos. Even on this road there were treacherous parts, with salt spray machines on the go at several points.

We arrived at the campsite and were glad to have a wonderful warm shower and do some much needed washing. It dried surprisingly well outside with the cold wind, I was worried it would turn into icicles! We felt sorry for the young family parked next to us, they had 2 little kids under 3, one of whom had surprised them with severe d&v all night, not very pleasant in a small van whilst in freezing wet conditions. They were quite rightly going to try and find an apartment for a few nights to catch up with some much needed sleep and washing! On the other side of us was a lovely older British couple who we got talking to about our travels. He enthusiastically told us that they had travelled a fair bit in their lives, starting with the ‘magic bus tour’ to Kathmandu in the 70ies, now that’s some proper hippy spirit for you!

Ancient Corinth

On New Year’s Eve morning it hadn’t snowed for a couple of days so we decided to make the trip to Nafplio, a usually buzzing town, to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The road was beautiful, clear blue skies and lots of snowy hilltops in the backdrop, making for a bitter cold day.

We arrived at the harbour in the afternoon, where there were lots of other vans  from various nationalities already parked up. We did some last minute shopping in town and wandered around for a bit. As the cafes and restaurants didn’t look too busy yet we decided to go back to the van, have a drink there and phone the family in anticipation that the lines would probably be too busy at midnight. We went back out around 7PM and passed all the other vans again and every single one had their satellite dish up, I guess they were watching the clock on tv?  We were surprised the restaurants and especially pubs were still not busy. We found a nice bar and ordered a couple of beers. As we looked around us we realised we were the only ones drinking alcohol. Everyone else was having coffee, despite this being a pub where the average age was no higher than 30! We asked the barman and he explained to us that everybody will go home to their families soon to have dinner and celebrate the new year with them. Then, at around 1 or 2AM people will come back out for drinks until the early morning.

The town looked fairly deserted but we found a nice pizza place where we had a late dinner. We asked the waiter what happens at midnight, his well thought out response was: ‘ well, the year changes.’ After having collected ourselves following our fits of laughter, we said, ‘no here’, meaning Nafplio. He still didn’t get it and thought we were talking about the restaurant, so he said ‘ well, at midnight we just turn the lights off and on a few times and then we say happy new year!’ We left the restaurant at 23.45h in the hope of finding some more excitement than a faulty light switch, and as someone had suggested earlier that day, went to to main square in town as there was a possibility of a gathering and/ or fireworks, but nobody really seemed to know. To our astonishment the entire square was empty, including all the restaurants and bars surrounding it apart from two other equally confused tourist couples, one Japanese and the other Dutch, a street dog and 2 little kids playing football. There was no clock, no music, no fireworks! We all resorted to the clock on our phones which all said different times, until from afar we heard the TV in one of the bars counting down 7,6,5… happy new year!! The Dutch couple were far more organised than us and brought a bottle of prosecco and glasses with them, which they very kindly decided to share with us. After we devoured the bottle we asked them to join us for a drink in a bar and sure enough, from around 1AM other people slowly started trickling in. We ended up having a good night out, albeit with a slightly bizarre start, however anything beats last years stomach flu version in Sicily!

The new year treated us with some sunshine, so after a long lie in and a New Years breakfast we decided to spend a few days at the beach a few kilometres down the coast. Neil enjoyed some spearfishing, but unfortunately didn’t catch any whoppers. I think it will take a while before we can become self sufficient!

We explored some more places further down the coast and pottered along a small harbour town called Vivari before spending a couple of nights in Tolo. This town looked deserted on arrival and we parked up at the end of town in the harbour carpark. At the waterside was a little stage built up, we thought probably left over from Christmas. The next morning however we were woken up by an almighty loud toot coming from one of the boats lying next to us in the harbour. Next we heard some loudspeakers being tested so I peeked out of the window to find that the stage we had parked next to was being built up and sound checked etc! More and more people started to arrive, so we quickly got dressed and went to see what all the fuss was about. It turns out that on the 6th of January, they celebrate Epiphany, an annual Christian celebration to commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river (see: http://peloponnese.events/en/event/theofania/2017-01-06/). Here in Tolo every year they follow a great tradition and spectacle. The priest appears on stage and gives preaches a bit before blessing a cross that he then throws into the sea. A few keen teenage boys dive after the holy cross and the lucky one to find it will proudly carry it around house to house in the village. Or so the story tells us. From what we saw,most people were just interested in seeing the boys dive into the water. The cross was found after a couple of minutes and as soon as they all came back out of the water everyone dispersed and before we  knew it the car park was completely empty again. I guess the traditional religious side has perhaps become less relevant these days!

Vivari and Tolo

We returned to Nafplio and caved buying an electric hook up cable for our van, something we have managed to do without for the entire year, purely using solar power and gas to supply us with heating, lighting and so on. However more cold and wet  weather was predicted and our solar panel was not managing to charge up fully, which meant having to be selective on what to use the energy on; charging up machines such as iPad/ phones etc, heating/ hot water and/ or lighting.

We spent a cold night at the beach in Nafplio and after looking at the forecast it was predicted to be -6C the following night, so we decided to travel further south to seek some warmth. We drove to Kalamata, again using the motorway, as there had been a lot of snow fall throughout the Peleponesos and we didn’t fancy getting stuck on some cold mountain! It’s incredible how mountainous Greece is. There is just no easy way of getting anywhere unless you take the expensive toll roads, and even these can be pretty hilly at times!

On the road

In Kalamata we finally got to use our electric cable and test out all the features we had never used before. Ahhhh we could now have unlimited heating AND plug in machines to watch films all day! Just what we needed, as a thunderstorm hit us hard all day and night, we were finally cosy and snug with the heating pumped up to sauna temperatures, it had been a while since we had been this nice and warm!

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Our view in Kalamata

When the weather turned better after a couple of days and we got Adrian, all our machines, and ourselves fully recharged we set off towards Monemvasia, a place we have been wanting to visit for some time. We stopped at Gythio for the night, about halfway.

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Staying on the island at Gythio

We drove through a varied landscape inland, crossing over from one side of the the finger to the other, until we started hugging the coast again for the last part of the journey. There it was, a large rock sticking out of the turquoise sea with a beautiful backdrop of golden sun rays. Monemvasia, the Greek Gibraltar. We parked up in the harbour and as we opened the doors we nearly got blown into the sea, the carpark being a huge wind trap. So we drove along to the other side of town and parked up next to the sea wall in another little harbour where we got everything we needed, shelter from the wind, free electricity hookup and a water tap next to the van.

Monemvasia – mainland and the rock

Monemvasia – the wildlife

Although very out of season and not busy at all, we instantly fell for this charming village. The town itself where all the shops and restaurants etc are is on the mainland, which is where we stayed. Then Monemvasia old town is situated on the island, which is connected to the mainland by one small road. The island mostly consists of a large rock sticking up high, similar to Gibraltar. On the south side of the rock, the lower town is situated, in Byzantine times a buzzing place where the lower classpeople worked and lived. This tiny village had no less than 27!! churches! A small amount of houses is still inhabited today, as the place has been beautifully restored and preserved. Most places however serve as cute boutique hotels and small restaurants or souvenir shops. Then there is the upper town, where the upper class resided and the citadel was situated. The two are connected by steep tiny walkways made out of large uneven cobble stones. One must leave all vehicles including bikes and mopeds at the city wall entrance as the only way you can navigate these streets both in the upper and lower part of town is by foot, hence renovations are laborious and slow, one wheelbarrow at a time.

Exploring the rock

We have been here for about a week now, parked back in the main harbour where amazingly they also provide free electricity, and even intermittent free wifi from the surrounding cafes depending on which way the wind is blowing. We have been enjoying the superb local souvlaki, fresh bread from the numerous bakeries, and even scrumptious chocolate cakes in the shape of a mouse! We have been battling it out with the weather, with some good days and some bad having been exposed to all wheather scenarios within a week, from giant hailstones, gailforce winds, down poor of rain, crashing sea waves to beautiful and hot sunshine and pink skies. Neil has managed to catch his first (and probably his last!) 2 groupers whilst spear fishing, which went down a treat for dinner. We also enjoyed some lovely walks through Monemvasia, today nearly getting stuck on the hill as they close the upper town after 3PM in wintertime. We managed to run to the gates and caught our breath outside as the guard closed the gates behind us. The citadel at the top was a little further away from the entry than we had anticipated!

Grouper

Our time in Greece is slowly coming to an end, we are booked on the ferry from Patras to Ancona on 2nd of February.  We have just been planning our last week or so in Greece, so soon it will be onto pastures green and new before we say goodbye to this beautiful country that has captured our hearts.

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Welcome to Crete! 

As said in the last post our arrival in Crete was rather disappointing. We expected to be greeted by glorious sunshine, luscious green palmtrees along white sandy beaches. Far from it, we arrived in the pitch black at 6 AM with gale force wind and rain. On top of that we both had manflu, sleep deprivation and a soaking wet bed from a leaking back door. Neil managed to brave the weather and got up the ladder outside to get it fixed, whilst I tried to save the bed with towels. Luckily we stayed dry for the rest of the day/ night and we got over the hump of our snotters. The next day after a slow start we rotated the wet towels, chucked out all our tissues and stocked up on plenty of healthy goodies to start our journey in Crete. Before we could make our way around the island however we had to get the van fixed. It needed a new CV-joint as it started to make funny noises going up hairpin bends. With a little help from google I found a motorhome rental business located on Crete, run by a Dutch bloke. I figured he must know someone who can fix our Adrian so after a friendly chat with Gus he directed me to Ioannis in Heraklio. He even phoned him up for us and told us we were welcome in the garage the next day.

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Adrian on the way to Crete

So we drove to see Ioannis in Heraklion the following morning. He had a spin with Adrian and located the problem which he would be able to fix in a few days time after ordering parts etc. We were thankful to Gus for the recommendation as at the official FIAT garage this would have cost us at least double in price.

As we didn’t want to venture too far with Adrian’s current state we decided to hang around Heraklio until we could get it fixed. We found a good parking lot along the boulevard just outside the centre where we camped out for a few nights.

Heraklio, the capital of Crete is a great city. Even in winter there is plenty of life around. The Saturday market is not to be missed with the usual plentiful of fresh fruit and veg, cheese, olives fish, herbs and the likes. There was also a large clothing section where we treated ourselves to some new pants. It was brilliant strolling through this part of the market, it is overpowered by Roma who buy up batches of clothing, I’m guessing by the kilo and try to sell it at the market. This can vary from cheap plastic jeans to some branded stuff such as H&M, Kookaii etc. I was very pleased to get my very own bargain after submerging myself into a giant pile of clothes, I got myself a genuine brand new Esprit skirt for €1!

Heraklion and its market.

We also explored the natural history museum, which does what it says on the tin, giving us a good overview of the history, flora and fauna of Crete. We especially enjoyed the earthquake simulator, where you get to sit in a classroom and they simulate actual earthquakes at different strengths. It also had a great range of informative displays on earthquakes around the world, Europe in particular. This gave a very clear image of the how and why of the recent tragic incidents in central Italy, the entire country basically being a giant minefield for earthquakes, sitting on the border of 2  tectonic plates.

Natural history museum.

We dropped Adrian off at Ioannis and we got him back fully repaired late afternoon, so we drove a little out of town where we camped out next to the Cretaquarium. A visit to this place was obviously on the books for Neil the fish doctor! Bar another small family we were the only visitors, giving us extra space to look at the displays. The whole place focused directly on all the stuff that exists in the surrounding Mediterranian sea. They had some impressive big tanks with sharks and turtles, and some other fish and sea creatures from around Crete, giving Neil a good idea what is out there and what to look for when spear fishing!

Crete aquarium

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Fish nerd bit: Pterois sp. have turned out to be a significantly invasive in the Atlantic, notably in the Caribbean region. Not sure how things will play out in the Med…

That evening we drove back into Heraklion and saw the Christmas lights being turned on. It seems Christmas is as much commercialised here as it is everywhere else in (western) Europe. There are many entire shops dedicated to selling Xmas decorations, trees, bells and songs screeching through microphones in the streets. They have a Christmas market in town centre complete with Santa and ice rink, however they haven’t really fine tuned the whole thing yet. I was hoping for waffles and gluhwein, instead there was only popcorn, candy floss and coffee. But nevertheless they have a whole program for the festive period and for the lighting of the big tree it seemed some important bod (probably the major) and the brass band came out to play, topped off with an impressive display of fireworks. However, even though they have clearly put in a lot of effort into making Crete look “Christmassy”, it  all feels a little new and fake somehow, as if they have really bought into the commercialisation of Christmas over the last few years. After all, it is hard to imagine kids ice skating and building snowmen on the coast of Crete, like the window decorations in the shops.

Christmas market.

After dwelling around Heraklion for long enough, we decided to move along the north coast towards the west. The weather had not been too kind to us all the while we had been in Crete with a mighty cold wind coming from the north and occasional persistent rain. However a few nice days were on the books and so we drove to Rethymno on the north coast. This is a place anyone would instantly fall in love with on arrival. We parked up at the edge of town next to the sea and spent the next few days exploring this lovely  picturesque and perfectly formed town.  It’s got a giant fortress at the top end of the town overlooking the sea and on the other side the old town down below and the snow capped mountains in the distance. At this time of year it is free to enter and roam about to your hearts content. The idyllic old part of town directly below consists of a maze of tiny streets and alleyways, both residential with cute  Christmas window displays alongside pink flowering plants overhanging the windows and tiny balconies, as well as lots of nice individual shops, tavernas and cafes. It is easy to get lost dwelling through the little streets, but that is exactly the beauty of this place. We went for a wander into town on Sunday, a day where most shops etc are usually closed in Greece, apart from the odd tourist shop and supermarket and found ourselves drawn to some glorious music coming from one of the little streets further on. It turned out to be 4 man band playing local folk music who had set up in front of some shops. The shop owners and other locals had laid out a great buffet in the street accompanied by wine and raki ( the Cretan local spirit) and were inviting anyone who came past to stay and help themselves whilst enjoying the music. We ended up tipsy on raki and listened to the band for a couple of hours until the sun went down and it got rather chilly as we forgot to bring coats!

Rethymno.

The previous day we greatly enjoyed the sunshine at the beach in front of Adrian. Ahhh this is what we came to Crete for, swimming in the sea in December and drying off in the winter sun on the beach! Neil has treated himself to a new proper spearfishing wetsuit that will keep him a lot warmer for longer, especially at this time of year. Of course he had to test it! Getting the thing on is a bit of an ordeal as it’s got very soft rubber inside that easily rips when dry, so the trick is to put it on after you have covered it in hair conditioner apparently!

Neil managed to catch an octopus which I started prepairing by wacking it on some rocks. A small group of older women noticed what I was doing and started cheering me on in Greek, I had no idea what they were saying but it sounded like they were approving my old skool method of prepairing the beast! A little later I had a nice conversation with a guy who just came out of the water unfortunately empty handed. He showed me his catch from earlier that week on his phone, some giant octopuses and told me he swims year round, no wetsuit, no gun, just a knife, although he had also caught some just with his hands and killed it with a rock on shore!! We got chatting where we were from etc and I enthusiastically started talking about our trip and that we were currently wild camping and pointed at Adrian parked across the road. Shortly after he told me he had to go, as he had to go to his job, night shift as a local police officer, oops! He didn’t seem the slightest bit bothered about us camping out though, if anything he appeared more jealous of our trip!
After two days of glorious sunshine and winter warmth our good weather luck quickly ran out. We moved on to Chania, the second biggest town on Crete where we endured a few days of very wet and stormy weather. With that the temperature quickly dropped, especially after sundown ( although it never really came up in the first place! ) and we huddled together with blankets for warmth. The sea looked like something out of a horror film; high waves with big white frothy heads crashing into the side of the shore, flooding the boulevard with every gust, making it a frog leap game to pass across without getting soaked.

The town itself was charming with an old and new part, the old with its charismatic weaving little alleyways filled with tourist shops selling mostly leather goods, such as bags and sandals, the new part filled with busy traffic and high street shops. Somewhere in between the two lay the indoor market. We expected a typical Greek market like we have seen in so many other places, but indoors. The guidebooks also described it as a charming place where you can soak up some true Greek spirit and local food, or something along those lines. However upon entering we found ourselves in a true tourist walhalla, all the stalls selling overpriced  souvenirs, from herbs and spices to scarves and t-shirts. There were only a couple of stalls that actually sold real food such as fish and veg. 2016_12_13_greece_p1220148

Floating shop of sea stuff in Chania.

From Chania we had a choice to either follow the coast west and down to the south where the road quickly diminishes into small mountain passes leading to either small towns or bays. Or turn back and follow the more convenient road back over towards Heraklio and beyond and then go south. Although the south west of Crete is meant to be the most beautiful and give you a ‘true Cretan experience’ we opted for the latter for several reasons. The weather was going to continue to be bad with more wind and rain to come and with that we also thought it might be nicer to be around more civilisation to be able to escape the weather into a cafe or restaurant, especially with Christmas coming up.

We drove past Heraklion and onto the area of Spinalonga, a tiny island a few hundred meters off the coast where in the past they extradited people with lepracy to. These days nobody lives on the island anymore but it is merely transformed into a major tourist attraction. Unfortunately we were here out of season so no chance of a visit. We decided to camp on the peninsula next to Spinalonga and appeared to have the whole place to ourselves, bliss! it was quite windy but we managed to park in a nice sheltered bit and so we enjoyed a couple of days of cold but dry weather filled with long walks, spearfishing and enjoying the views.

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Spinalonga.

Next stop was Agios Nikolaos (there appears to also be a town on the mainland with the same name, confusing for weather forecasts!), a fairly posh harbour town with some big yachts in the harbour, that we also used as a base. We even detected the same boat that we’d seen on Sicily in Marina di Ragusa, where we were exactly a year ago!

Agios Nikolaos.

After a night in the harbour we spent a couple of nights just outside of the town where Neil enjoyed some more spearfishing and I some nice walks, before moving on to a tiny harbour town just outside of Ierapetra. We knew bad weather was on its way but in no way we could have predicted just how bad it was to be. We entered the small harbour town by a road that ran along the beach and drove along what seemed to be a narrow boulevard to its tiny harbour and parked next to a big boat out of the water and the harbour wall on the other side. Even though it was going to get windy and possibly wet we would be nice and sheltered here, or so we thought! The wind picked up in the evening and then it started to rain. Big thunder rumbles could be heard in the distance. We decided to watch something on the laptop before retiring to bed, however the weather outside became increasingly louder, so we were forever turning the volume up. Around 11PM the hail started. At first a little flurry, thinking this was it.  However about 20 minutes later a giant hailstorm exploded above us, it was so loud and the stones so big we were scared they were going to break our skylights in the roof! Soon we were buried in a thick layer of ice and every few seconds there was an avalanche sliding down the windscreen. To make matters worse the thunderstorm had also arrived with loud bangs of thunder and lightning directly above us, lighting up and shaking Adrian on the ground. After what seemed like a lifetime the hail slowly stopped and turned into torrential rain, which continued throughout the night along with the thunder. Needless to say we got very little sleep that night, continually thinking we were going to die for various reasons! When it became daylight I didn’t dare look out of the window at first as I heard so much water gushing, I was dreading to think where it was coming from, let alone going. It turned out that the side of the hill behind us had now turned into a waterfall, and we were parked in its river to the sea. The rain miraculously eased and stopped by around 11 AM so we decided to make a run for it. We weren’t sure how to get out of the town, back the way we came seemed the best option, as the other was was a narrow one way street through some taverns terraces with big overhanging balconies. We drove back the way we came only to find that the beginning of the road had disappeared and turned into a giant river. Neil got out to check how deep it was, but when he was knee deep in the water we realised this was a no go. Now what!? We did a 60 point turn on the narrow street we were on, trying not to sink into the soft beach next to it and desperately looked for another way out or we would be stuck here for Christmas with no food! We found a dodgy narrow side street and both explored it first by foot. We decided we would have inches to spare but we might just make it, what choice did we have! I walked in front shouting directions whilst Neil steered Adrian forth inch by inch before a young guy came running out of his house shouting we couldn’t go there. Further along the road would be a dead end… Our only other option was the steep and narrow one way (the wrong way!) road at the other end of the harbour. We drove back and again assessed by foot. The owner of one of the tavernas came out and assured us we could make it over the hill no problem. I bet he himself only had a small lightweight car though! However after building momentum and me running ahead to ensure no cars were coming down and guiding Neil to the least steep bit, Adrian managed to miraculously fly over the hump and came out on the mainroad in one piece. After this conquest it started raining again but it did’t matter, we were out!

The weather.
We decided to go to Ierapetra to spend Christmas there. After negotiating the scarily small roads in the busy city centre we arrived at the harbour car park where we camped out for a few nights over the Christmas period. The weather had turned bad again with heavy rain but we’re just glad to be somewhere where we weren’t going to get stuck! We treated ourselves to some warmth and food in one of the cosy local cafes. The weather remained relentless over the next few days but we were promised sunshine for Christmas Day. The morning of Christmas Eve we decided to get some last bits for Christmas at the local morning market. After getting blown about town unable to find the market, we finally arrived when it started to bucket it down. We quickly bought some veg and went for shelter in one of the bakeries nearby. The problem was we hadn’t done all of our shopping yet and needed to make a last pitstop at Lidl. we waited for the rain to ease but it was going from bad to worse, the market now slowly turning into a grade 3 rafting river, so equipped with our Scottish raincoats and some Dutch courage we made a dash for it. It was mayhem in Lidl of course , everyone trying to do some last minute shopping, but we survived and returned to Adrian soaking wet and with enough food to survive a nuclear war.

Ierapetra.

On Christmas Day we were wakened by the wind shaking Adrian about, but when we opened the blinds, what was that… At last! Blue sky and sunshine! We enjoyed a Christmas walk before returning to Adrian to do a round of family FaceTime and ate and drank for the rest of the day.

We decided to move west along the south coast due to yet more bad weather coming our way. We were closely following every weather forecast going, but it was a bit like Russian roulette, you were never sure what you were going to get! On Boxing Day we awoke with more rain and decided to have a leisurely day driving towards Matala, hoping to find some shelter of the predicted wind and rain. We arrived at beautiful Matala bay in the sunshine, but the small inlet functioned as a giant funnel for the wind, rather than providing shelter from it. We seeked out another town over the hill on the southcoast where Neil ensured me we would be sheltered from the harsh wind forever coming from the north. It was late afternoon and the sun was already lowering before we set off. The hill we had to cross didn’t look like much on the map, but in reality it turned out the most terrifyingly steep drive of my life. First there were endless mere vertical hairpin bends going up, and equally steep going down. The ‘town’ we arrived at was more like  a group of half a dozen  deserted houses and some barracks housing the workers of the giant oil plant just off the coast.

I convinced myself we were going to get stuck here with more rain to come and the only road we came in on collapsing, sweeping us with it to sea. The next morning we woke up to sunshine, we survived, but I still wanted to get the hell out of there just in case!

Pics from the road.

We returned to Matala beach to see if the wind had eased off over there, as we wanted to see the caves on the beach. The wind had turned into a sand blizzard blowing the entire beach inland. We had to move Adrian sideways behind a building so that the engine wouldn’t clog up with sand. We went for a quick wander to see the caves after braving the walk across the beach where we got covered in sand blowing sideways. On return to Adrian we looked at the weather forecast again. There was more wind and rain coming for the forseable future and the temperature would drop drastically over the next few days… After a lot of debating we agreed we could yet again go back to the north to the more populated cities and do some city based activities whilst waiting out the weather. Or we could drive to another one of the many deserted bays on the south where everything would be shut for winter and sit out the weather in Adrian. The latter would be great if the weather was nice, then we could go out and enjoy the nature, swim, walk read books in the sun. However after so much time in the damp weather Adrian wasn’t getting a fair chance to dry out properly and everything felt damp inside, due to constantly bringing in soaking wet shoes and coats, towels etc. Quite frankly we were slowly getting cabin fever aswell. We had only seen one other motorhome driving past in the whole time we were on Crete. Most things were closed for the winter season, whole towns were empty, even cash machines had been taken away with a notice saying it would return in April. Crete very much felt like a holiday island, clearly thriving on tourism in summer,  but nobody apart from us seemed daft enough to come here in winter. Other than that I think we have simply been unlucky with the weather this winter, but it seems we were not the only ones, with most of Benidorm and surroundings flooded and snowless Alpes in skiing season. I’m sure if we had come a month earlier or perhaps a couple of months later we would have had a very different experience in Crete but right here right now didn’t feel like we’re were going to enjoy continuing our journey in Crete, it felt more like sitting out our time.

Caves at Matala.

So after a long discussion we made the mutual decision to return to the mainland and explore some more of the Peleponesos where had previously greatly enjoyed ourselves.  We accepted that the weather might be equally bad and cold, but there would be less wind and there are more lively places occupied by locals year round, not just ghostly holiday resorts.

We had an open return ticket so with one phone call we booked ourselves on the boat the next evening back to Piraeus. We were the first ones on the boat and got ourselves installed in a prime location with blankets on the floor as we had no cabin for our overnight crossing. Neither did anyone else apparently. After a couple of hours the boat was packed with bodies across the floor everywhere. We didn’t get much sleep with a couple of screaming babies next to us, but we were glad to be going back. No regrets!

  
At 6 AM we arrived in the harbour of Piraeus and were ushered off the boat. It was still pitch black and to our surprise we arrived in a snow blizzard, 20 CM of snow lay on top of cars for the first time in 30 years! We parked up in the harbour waiting for daylight and to make a plan of where to go. We had planned to go back to our beloved Nafplio that day, but with this blizzard we didn’t want to drive through the small mountain roads. We opted for ancient Korinthos instead, it would be our first official paying campsite in about three months. We looked forward to a much needed washing machine and a long hot shower…

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November rain; Peleponesos continued

For the first time in his life Neil was able to enjoy a swim in the sea on his birthday and drying off in the warm autumn sun in Agios Nikolaos. After all on the 15th of November it’s usually freezing cold in most places! Topped off with a lovely birthday meal in a traditional Greek restaurant it was a great low key celebration of adding on another year.

Agios Nikolaos.

The following day we moved on to Kalamata, the second biggest city of the Peleponesos where we enjoyed a few days of ‘ being in the big city’. We were informed by an ex- local guy who was visiting the city that if we parked at the yacht harbour we could make use of their showers and toilet area. We tucked ourselves in a corner behind the yachting club and even managed to get free wifi. Added bonus; there were washing machines and dryers, much needed as we had only managed to do the odd sink wash of essentials for over a month!

Kalamata

The warm weather during the day continued, but it was definately starting to cool down slowly at night times. Kalamata is a fairly new built town, due to most of it being destroyed by a big earthquake in the 80ies. It still has a lovely bit of old town which is largely pedestrianised and filled with little shops and restaurants, next to the more commercial side of town with the well known big chain shops such as H&M etc. Every Wednesday and Saturday there is a big market on, with the usual lovely local cheap fruit and veg and fish, but this one also had several semi permanent cheese shops, bakers and butchers. We stocked up well and managed to book tickets for the ferry to Crete just in time before the office closed for the weekend. On the way back to the van we nipped in to the JUMBO shop, a walhalla of cheap Chinese tat, which was now mostly stocked with everything Christmas, along with the most ghastly R&B Christmas greatest hits blaring through the speakers. We tried to make a quick exit, but it turned out you had to follow a path through the entire shop IKEA style to get out!

We had another week or so to spend in the Peleponesos before having to drive back up to Piraeus, Athens to catch the ferry to Crete, so we decided to go a bit further west to explore a bit of the last ‘finger’. We drove to Pylos, a small and fairly touristic town on the most western coast of the Peleponesos. We stayed here for one night and to our surprise within 24 hours we met 2 fellow UK motorhomes in the same harbour. We exchanged some hints tips for on the road and then went a little up the road.

A few kilometres north lies Gialova lagoon, a salt water lake with lots of water birds and other wildlife. We spotted some greater egrets, a variety of herons and even flamingos, who all come here during the winter months. We also saw lots of mullets nearly jumping out of the water, so we tried our hand at a spot of fishing, but these ones didn’t seem to eat any bread, a bait we used very successfully in other places. Alas, we enjoyed a fishless dinner! We camped at the end of a dirt track on our own little ‘private’ beach, where I anticipated we could sit and watch the sunset, however at sun down suddenly a giant cloud of musquitos managed to track us down, which made us quickly cover up and flee into the van. We spent the rest of the evening squashing mosquitos who managed to nip into the van with us.

Gialova lagoon

We woke up hopeful the wee beasties had left with sunrise and at first glance it didn’t look too bad, however we were warned by fellow travellers that on the walk we were going on they were pestered by them in the middle of the day, so we set off well covered up and armed with our trusty bottle of Smidge. We walked along a beautiful trail through at first a swampy area that came out in some sand dunes that surrounded a perfectly formed horse shoe bay, an inlet from the sea. I didn’t think mosquitos liked salt water, but they were thriving here! The turquoise water in the bay looked tempting for swimming, but I didn’t dare take any layers or clothing off in case of an attack! Instead from here we climbed up the hill to the cave of Nestor, a large rock cave with a large entry. To me this mostly looked like a giant gaping and petrifying black hole and I wasn’t keen on entering. We had taken torches with us and after a very quick explore I ran back out to the friendlier and more familiar looking outside world. I guess it didn’t help we were in the middle of watching season 1 of American Horror Story, so my fear or dark and unfamiliar places might have been somewhat warped!

The cave and the spider!

Further up we climbed until we got to the top of the hill where we found Old Navarino Castle, what once must have been a significant settlement, seeing  as the area of the ruins were widespread. Some bits were very well preserved as large bits of the outer wall and turrets were still standing. It also gave a magnificent view to the other side of the coast from here, where some curious spikey rock formations have formed. From here it was a beautiful walk back to the van along a lush green and arid winding hill side, a perfect example of Mediterranean nature, as if you were walking through an artificially built Eden project.

The castle and surrounds

After our morning walk we decided to go for a snorkel, the water looked too tempting not to! However upon getting in the beautifully clear and turquoise water was absolutely freezing and I had to really make an effort to swim to stay warm enough. Luckily I quickly located a small but perfectly formed octopus for Neil to lay his hands on, dinner! A bit more swimming in this amazing area, but we quickly admitted defeat against the cold, and weary the sun was lowering, we anticipated a viscious return of the mosquitos. I set upon the task of tenderising our small octupus by the usual bashing on the rocks rather embarrassingly, when we came out of the water there was another guy sorting out his catch of the day; 2 giant octopuses, and a couple of bag full of a variety of fish, grouper, red mullets etc! We were right about the mosquitos though, they quickly returned with a vengeance, so much so that we decided we didn’t want to get covered in bites whilst sorting out all our wet and salty gear outside, covered in sand. We quickly dumped everything in a bag outside, stripped off and had showers and drove back to Pylos where we returned to the harbour for the night. There was a tap there so we dragged all all sandy salty gear ( flippers, wetsuits, snorkels, weight belt, speargun etc) to the tap and washed it. Of course we were then left with a big load of soaking wet stuff that we couldn’t just hang out on a washing line outside in the middle of the town, so we hung the wetsuits off the roofrack and carefully stacked the bathroom and the rest of the van with all the other stuff. There was no way we could move around, let alone cook, so we enjoyed a lovely dinner out. In the typically traditional Greek restaurant we were invited into the kitchen to have a look at the dishes on offer, instead of selecting from the menu. We chose a variety of dishes cooked by Mama, which was later served by the daughter.

Luckily the wetsuits dried out reasonably well overnight so we could pack them away the next day to backtrack our route back to Kalamata for a supermarket pit stop before heading over the Langada pass which runs between Kalamata and Sparta and is said to be (one of ) the most beautiful roads in Greece. We were not disappointed! The road meanders through mountain gorges with ever changing scenery along the way. It peaks at around 1400 m, although the height varies depending on which source to believe, our GPS indicated just under 1300m! I think we took the route at exactly the right time of year, just as the leaves are taking on their bright Autumn colours, a variety of greens, yellows, oranges to deep red. We were lucky it was a clear sunny day and with it being late afternoon, the sun was at just the right angle to reflect the colours even more beautifully. We passed through tiny idyllic villages, herds of mountain goats, past fields of green, up and down winding hairpin bends and even though some low hanging mystic fog. To make for an even more dramatic scenery, we also drove through a couple of large overhanging rock balconies, almost a tunnel bar the one side. Of course we had to stop for an action shot for one of them as I drove through! Needless to say we spend most of our time on this road in complete awe, counting ourselves lucky for this amazing experience.

Langada pass

But the beautiful scenery in this region didn’t stop here! We eventually arrived in Sparta, a town well known for its famous heroic warriors ( not to be confused with Dutch football players!)  and spent the night here. These days Sparta isn’t the most exiting place to see, it’s mostly a reasonable sized modern grit structured town and very little of the historic remains are left.

The following  morning we drove up the road to Mystras. Modern Mystras is a small local village just like many others, but above it lies ancient Mystras, an enourmous old Byzantine settlement, most of it largely intact. In fact, it is so big that there are 2 entrances to the site built up a steep side of a maintain, the lower main entrance and the top entrance, to which you have to drive to by car.

Again we were lucky with the weather, it was perfectly wind still with clear blue  and sunny skies, giving us a view for miles. We trodden through the lower part of the village which had so much on offer, several monestaries and churches complete with beautifully restored or still intact frescos, courtyards, mansions, cobbled lanes, sewage systems, museum etc, all built on a steep hill side so you were ever going up and down. We lost track of time and had to race to get out of the lower part to drive to the top part to explore the other half before it shut at 3PM!We only made it to the very top of the hill a race against the clock, a very steep climb to the top of the remains of the castle where we were rewarded with the most spectacular views yet. We had a 360 degree view over the valley with Sparta in the middle and on the other side a steep drop to the carpark where Adrian was parked with the dramatic backdrop of the  huge Taygetos mountain. Unfortunately when we came back down we didn’t have enough time to visit anything else of the village, including the Palace (yes, it has a castle AND a palace!), but we got a perfect overview form above. Due to being in the mountains it was definately colder and with an early sunset behind the mountains. We contemplated staying in the carpark up high for the night for the beautiful rewarding views in the morning, but decided to drive back down to the valley, as at just after 3PM we were already freezing our socks off up there!

Mystras

It turned out to be the right decision anyway, we  woke up to a dull and dreary cover of gray and cold weather. A perfect day to get some miles in! We headed north towards Corinthos, the last bit reluctantly on the motorway, however there is no other direct route north unfortunately. We bypassed Corinthos, crossed the famous canal -what a sight!- and headed west, pretty much to the end of the mainland, to spend a few days here before heading over to Piraeus for the ferry.  We camped next to lake Vouliagmenis, a saltwater lake due to a large water inlet straight from the Mediterranian. We drove to the end and wanted to park on a carpark next to a taverna where we read there was a water supply and public toilets. Unfortunately everything was closed up and the tap was turned off. We had a wander about and found a man from the taverna next door, whom we asked if we could get some water anywhere. This was our first encounter with a grumpy Greek, so far people here have been super friendly and welcoming. He sneered at us “what do you want?!” And we asked for water. He dismissed us with an abrupt “no” and directed us back to the village a few kilometres up the road, even though we could clearly see a working water hose lying in his garden. We drove back round to the other side of the lake in the hope we would find a tap. In the end we found a working beach shower from which we filled up our watering can as there was no normal taps, a bit anoying but good for the old arm muscle training 😉! Not far from the shower there was a bit of wasteland where we camped for the night.

By this point Neil had slowly developed a man flu so he opted to stay in the van to chill out whilst I went out for a walk around the lake. I was never lonely though, as I was met by loads of travelling companions in the form of dogs and puppies. At a taverna just up the road had a mummy and daddy black lab equivalent, who managed to produce  a litter of 9!!! puppies! They were the cutest sight ever, as I approached on the road I was slowly getting surrounded by clumsy balls of fluff who where trying to jump on me in their enthausiasm! There was a big gate surrounding the taverna and it was clear they were meant to stay behind it but most of them had found the small escape route too small for mummy and daddy dog to get  through. I marched on and eventually they couldn’t keep up with me so they gave up on following me. Not long after though I was met by a new doggy friend, who clearly thought I was taking him for a walk and so lead the way around the lake. That was until I got to the end of the road which was cut off by the sea inlet, so I had to turn around and pass all the puppies again! By now someone must have collected them all as they were all behind the fence, locked by a large padlock!

   
   We decided to move around the other side of the lake due to being very exposed on the current spot, as there was bad weather predicted with heavy rain, wind and thunderstorms. On the way we briefly visited the fair sized ancient site of Heraion, situated at the tip of the bay alongside some cliffs. Here we were met by an army of cats, who all immediately hid underneath the van due to the cold windy weather. We were a bit weary of driving off, careful not to drive over any cats or take one hostage (they are partial to climbing into the front of the engine due to the warmth), I’m sure if we had a dead cat in our engine we would have smelled it by now.  We returned to the taverna parking, I’m sure much to the enoyance of the grumpy neighbour, but here we were nice and sheltered from the elements and the bad weather, which didn’t come apart from some rain at night and some dull grey weather the next day! Here there were more doggies to play with, these were particularly funny, very enthusiastic and keen to get some scraps, with which they rewarded us with being our personal guard dogs, never leaving the side of the van again, even sleeping next/ under it at night. This was very cute but also slightly annoying, as they suffered from a severe case of the woofs, especially at night time. As for most dogs, once one starts barking, they feel compelled to bark back for no apparent reason. I don’t think these 2 realised they were blatantly woofing at each other in the darkness, both parked up on either side of the van!

Lake Vouliagmenis

On Monday morning we headed over to Piraeus, keen to get there before the shops shut as Neil wanted to have a look at spearfishing equipment. In Greece they very much stick to the siesta time in the afternoons, anything between 2-6PM, but on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday they don’t open back up in the evening, even in winter season. Approaching Athens was a bit of a shock to the system, as we hadn’t seen a place this big and busy for months! We managed to make our way through the spiderweb of road networks and dodged many a dodgy Greek driver, either on the phone, asleep, possibly blind or with no driving licence or all of the above.  We haven’t seen much police around here in Greece and it appears they aren’t too big on law enforcement of any sort, perhaps one of the reasons is that crime rate is so low? This also shows in other forms such as smoking in public places. A lot of Greeks seem to smoke and everywhere you go people smoke inside, including restaurants, offices, shops you name it. We passed a carpet shop in Kalamata from where there were thick blue clouds exiting the doorway, I guess you’d want to maybe order the rug doctor steam cleaner when you buy something from there! Also, I’m sure I saw somebody smoking on a public bus passing us in Piraeus!

We wondered around town once parked up and althoug didn’t find what we were looking for, we came across some other exiting stuff, such as a big M&S store, where we managed to score ourselves a massively overpriced Christmas pudding for the festive season! Now all we need is some brandy for the butter, not sure if ouzo will do… We spent all day wandering around town finishing off with a big shop in lidl. When we exited the shop with some overfilled bags which were going to be a drag to carry home anyway, the heavens opened and the promised thunderstorm finally made it our way. We waited around 20 min in the by now chaotic carpark as people were frantically trying to get in and out of their cars without getting wet. This meant they all tried to park as close to the entrance as possible, with the odd one practically parking inside the shop, resulting in chaos, including blocked off shopping trolleys and all. After 20 min the rain didn’t seem to calm down at all so we decided just to make a run for it. Having lived in Scotland for 10 years, luckily we were prepared and geared up with our excellent raincoats, however still leaving our bottom half and shoes with mesh open to the elements. By now small rivers had formed in all the streets in a city not built for such capacity of rainfall and overflows from balconies had formed waterfalls. We frantically ran through the streets with our big heavy bags and frustratingly got lost in the maze of wet and dark streets, unable to read our soaking wet map and not wanting to stand still for long. At long last we found Adrian albeit totally drenched! We spent most of the next day indoors, as it was still raining and we were not anticipating much sleep on the boat. Our crossing was from 9PM till 6AM the following morning and we had cheap deck tickets, meaning no comfy cabin but a small space on the bench in the cafe if you’re lucky. By now Neil had helpfully passed on his  manflu to me, so both of us were spluttering and coughing all over the place. We headed over to the harbour early in the hope we could board quickly and get a good spot on the benches to lie down overnight. We were one of the first ones on board and Adrian was in a much better spot than on the last crossing from Spain to Portsmouth. We got a prime spot on a bench, however they had turned the airconditioning to freezing point on the boat, not something you need when it’s only 8 C outside. We sat with all our clothes and blankets on for several hours until someone must have found the thermostat and turned it to 30C ! We got very little sleep but overall the crossing was calm a fairly uneventful. This morning we disembarked at 6AM in full darkness in Chania, Crete.  We drove to the leisure harbour where we are currently still parked up to have a sleep and sit out the weather. Since we have parked it has not stopped raining so we called for a duvet day, until the side of the bed got wet. There was a leak at the back of the van, I think due to the large amount of rain and one of the rubber seals not sealing properly. We have put it back in place and greased it and so far it hasn’t leaked since so fingers crossed as there is a lot more rain to come!

  
Hopefully tomorrow it will be dry(er) and we will emerge to start exploring Crete !

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Peleponesos, the first and second finger

We left our much beloved Nafplio behind to make our way along the coast down the ‘index finger’, Argolis being the ‘thumb’. The Peleponesos looks a bit like a hand with a thumb and 3 fingers,  a bit like my uncles hand, having lost his ring finger in an accident as a child. In fact, I think I’m about the only member of the family who has still got a full set of fingers and toes, most of them missing various tops, nails etc, but that’s a story for another day.

The pretty road hugged the coast line, taking us through various picturesque villages on one side and rugged mountains on the other. We arrived at our destination Paralio Astros late afternoon. Since the clocks have gone back an hour the days here don’t last as long, and even on a nice and sunny day it will be pitch black along with a sudden temperature drop at 6pm. We parked up at the deserted beach just out of town where we could see the waves growing white heads before they crashed into the beach. We explored the town by foot and the many terraces of the big line of restaurants and bars door to door along the waterfront looked promising, however most of them turned out to be completely deserted, even on a Saturday evening. The rest of the small but pretty town didn’t have much to offer either, with a complete lock down of all the shops, apart from the mini market run by a man with no teeth who ushered us in to try and sell us something. Unfortunately we were not in need of toilet paper or tinned corn, which was pretty much all he had on offer.

2016_11_05_greece_p1200630Paralio Astros

The next day we continued along the coast with our first stop a bit further up the road at a large salt marsh area. According to the signs there was a lot of wild life to be found here from tortoises to golden jackals, but all we found walking through the area was some ducks and a heron. However the area was covered in samphire, the green stuff you eat with fish in posh restaurants. As we weren’t sure if this was in fact the edible stuff until we got back to the van to look it up on the internet we didn’t pick any, however in hindsight we could have had a nice meal out of it!

2016_11_06_greece_p1200642Samphire

We followed the coastal road until Leonidio where we planned to stop for the night. From there on we would turn inland into the mountains. Around that area there are very few roads and not a lot of other options if you want to get places. We arrived at Leonidio, a town with quickly narrowing streets meandering through the busy centre. To our horror there were roadworks in the main road, the only one that looked a little wider than the rest of them, and so we were forced to find our way through the maze of town centre with the lanes slowly closing in on us. We very nearly got stuck in one lane, the width originally based on a donkey and cart, definitely not an Adrian. Luckily the guy from the oncoming Punto backed up and got out to help. I also got out and with clipped in mirrors and a cm to spare each side we managed to crawl through. I think the roadworks were a known problem with not just us getting into trouble, as another local on a scooter stopped and very kindly asked us if we needed help to get out of there. She pointed us in the right direction and hoorah we ended up on a double lane road! However we weren’t there yet, we could choose to stay in the tiny car park in town, but after this we were keen to get out of there, so headed to the beach area. Once more we had to come back on ourselves as the sat nav directed us into what looked like the width of a footpath.

Finally we made it to the beach where we parked in the harbour car park. A very nice area with a long stretch of beach and a few cosy tavernas and bizarrely loads of ducks on the beach. It also had working toilets and beach showers, however we didn’t make use of the latter as there was an ever increasing storm whilst we were there. Standing at the beach without being blown over was nearly impossible so we retreated to the van for a cosy night in. Bizarrely the outside as well as the inside temperature was higher than usual and we opted to sleep without a duvet and sheets only. The difficulty in a storm is you can’t really open any windows without the risk of them flying off. So whilst the rubbish and bits of palm trees were flying around in the street, we were huffing and puffing in the hot van with hardly any airflow!

Our next stop was Gythio, a little harbour town where our main aim was to find some info on a ferry across to Crete from here. To get to Gythio we took a spectacular mountain from Leonidio via the mountain village of Kosmas.

Drive over the mountains from Leonidio to Gythio

2016_11_07_greece_p1200680Monastery on the road out of Leonidio

2016_11_07_greece_p1200714Driving through the town square in Kosmas (this is the main road) at the top of the mountain

We have tried numerous times to figure out the ferries via the Internet, as most thinks like that are cheaper and easier to book online rather than via a travel agent these days, however not in Greece it seems. All the websites we’ve tried to use seem to be stuck in the ’90ies and take you round in circles.

Once in Gythio we parked up on a little island next to the harbour where we had the place to ourselves. We ended up staying 3 nights, riding out the storm that was blowing over us. We managed to locate the travel agent who informed us that the ferry between Gythio and Crete had stopped a week ago for 2 months due to the yearly boat maintenance, so if we wanted a ferry we would have to go back up to Athens, Piraeus. She was very helpful however by providing us with prices, timetables and boat companies and informed us that the ferry goes daily and the prices are fixed, no matter what day you book. With this information we can hopefully figure out when we want to get back to Athens and get on a boat!

Other than that, we found Gythio a pleasant but rather uneventful harbour town, good for eating our own weight in fresh fish at the restaurant and stocking up on supplies. It also had some pretty interesting fishing/ hardware shops along the seafront, where Neil could eat his heart out over the well stocked spearfishing sections.

One of the more remarkable things we noticed, in Greece in general but particularly in this town, is the seemingly low crime rate. Most people in Greece don’t bother locking their car and/ or leave their windows open. Here, shops were leaving most of their stock sitting outside, not just during the daily siesta time between 2-5PM but also overnight. One shop had a row of at least 15 brand new bikes sitting out at the front, unlocked, unsupervised, overnight! I wonder how a country gets to be so laid back and stress free about this, and the sheer fact that stealing is just not a thing! We have also come across many shops or market stalls which are simply unattended, of which the owner turns up after a few minutes as he was having coffee a few doors down. This would simply be unthinkable in most other places, certainly UK or Netherlands, where I’m sure it’s not unheard of folk nicking the selling product as well as all the money out of the honesty box next to it.

We continued south towards the tip of the finger. By now the roads were getting more and more interesting, due to their decreasing size and level of steepness. We crawled along little villages, luckily on virtually empty roads, finally arriving at our planned stop for the day, the tiny one street  beachside village of Kotronas. Again for a second we were wondering if we would fit through the steep narrow streets, but we need not have worried as over the next 2 days we saw several busses and a cement mixer coming past. On the description of the place it said we would be able to stay on or next to the  lovely beach or at the tavernas parking place next door. The beach however appeared to have taken over the one street in town, the place was one big sandpit with no real distinction of where the road ended and the tiny beach began. We opted to stay next to the wall of the small harbour. There was ample space on the pier, however with an increasing wind blowing side on this didn’t seem the best option. To our surprise there was another British motorhome parked here, owned by Gerard who was travelling by himself and we ended up spending the next few days enjoying each others company. We splashed out and ate out 2 nights in a row in the only taverna open in town, next door to our vans. The first night just because we felt like it and the second night, well quite honestly because we were starving after swimming in the sea all day and couldn’t be bothered to cook, but it also seemed a perfect excuse to get rid of the local ‘character’ in a pc way.

That afternoon we had managed to catch an enormous octopus which we planned to eat and share with Gerard that evening. As we were sorting ourselves out once out of the water, from the corner of my eye I saw an obviously pissed and naked guy getting changed into his clothes on the pier after I presume his daily bath. Once clothed he happily approached us and checked out our catch of the day. Upon spotting the octopus he got very exited and stated he would prepare it for us by bashing and rubbing it to tenderise, and before we knew it he took off with the thing and started preparing our beast. We humoured him and offered him a beer for his efforts, which at first he seemed happy with. As he was rubbing the octopus on the rocks, a lot of froth came out of the beast, which he washed off in the sea every so often. This appeared to attract other fish, and we saw a whopper of a moray eel appear next to the shore. He got extremely exited, insisting we should catch it as they are good to eat according to him. Gerard managed to hook it with relative easy with some octopus bait. Now the interesting bit started, as moray eels are viscous animals and can give you a nasty bite with high chance of infection. Our chum however just stuck a knife in it and managed to cut its head off after a bit of a struggle. He continued to prepare it by skinning and cutting it into chunky filets. Neither of us were very keen to eat the thing, knowing it can potentially be poisonous due to its own diet. But as our new ‘friend ‘ had insisted he really wanted it we were more than happy for him to have it. It appeared however he was mow more set on the octopus and insisted on sharing all the fish, he would prepaid the eel for us at his house, which we weren’t sure even existed. We tried to politely say thanks but no thanks, after which he threw a toddlers temper tantrum and chucked the eel as well as an unopened beer in the sea. He was headed for the pliers and the octopus as well but I managed to save these just in time. The 3 of us were stupefied and asked him what on earth he was playing at. Not long after it appeared he regretted his decision and stripped off naked again and jumped in the sea to retrieve the eel 😊! As he continued to linger around and being increasingly contradicting and mostly anoying, impossible to shake him off we decided to just go for an uncomplicated pizza at the taverna instead!

The next morning Gerard had left early but we knew he was heading in the same direction as us, so unsurprisingly we met again later in the day at our next destination, Porto Kagio. To get there we braved one of the steepest and most winding hairpin downhill roads yet, but Adrian managed well, mostly in first gear though! Porto Kagio is a tiny fishing village set in a beautiful secluded horse shoe bay with turquoise waters, a popular spot (probably mostly in summer) for boats, seeing as the only access road in and out of town might be a bit adventurous for your average tourist. The fact that it is nearly at the tip of the finger, a long way from anywhere else and the entirety of the village consists of about 10 buildings set along the beach, the only road consisting of the pebbled beach in front of these buildings, makes the place all the more exiting and magical to us and gave us a real sense of achievement on arrival. We parked at the only place available, a small car park from the one of two tavernas at the end of the beach. Sure enough, Gerard arrived half an hour later!

We chose to stay at this place due to the predicted weather, it was supposed to get very windy during the day and night, so we thought we would be nice and sheltered in the bay, with the wind coming from the other side over the hills. That afternoon, although windy, the sea looked too tempting so both Neil and I had an underwater explore. The wind was blowing off shore and out to sea so it was very easy to swim far away, but a bit of a struggle to get back! After about an hour I decided I’d had enough, with the wind blowing over my back, making swimming a lot colder than the day before. However on the way back I found an octopus, too tempting not to catch, and when Neil came out a lot later than me it turned out he had caught another one, setting our total at 3 in 2 days! Since Gerard was with us as well, we decided to cook all 3 of them, have the 2 little ones grilled and put the 3rd one in a paella. It’s such a bizar sight how they curl up and change colour in the pan (obviously they were long dead before hand, I don’t generally take pleasure out of boiling animals alive!)

We cosied up wit the 3 of us in our small van for a nice octopus dinner whilst the storm picked up and kept changing directions, rocking the van left right and centre. Gerard suddenly remembered he left his top window open so he made a dash to make sure it was still attached and his van wasn’t soaking wet. Meanwhile Neil went to save the wetsuits which we hung out to dry and were flying around on the beach by now, whilst I tried to keep the door from flying off while he was handing me things. Luckily it was all ok, Gerard’s van wasn’t too wet and we found all our swimming items and hung them in our tiny bathroom to drip. Our van was a mess with sand and wet stuff everywhere, but we couldn’t care less, there was wine and octopus for dinner!

We didn’t get much sleep that night, the van rocking frantically with every howling gale force gust, I was worried our flippers and snorkels would be gone by the morning as we had left them ‘secured’ outside under the van. And similar to the week before it felt like we were suffocating with heatstroke, unable to open any windows due to the storm. In the morning Gerard was on his way early again and this time we said good bye properly, as it’s unlikely our paths will cross again, both of us heading into different directions. We took advantage of the now sunny and slightly less windy weather with a second attempt to dry out our gear during a leisurely breakfast after hardly any sleep that night.

Once fuelled up we set off to the most southerly point of the finger, where the gate to Hades lays. Again, the road got a bit adventurous, but nothing Adrian couldn’t handle. There was beautiful scenery all around, here on the arid ‘Mani’ part of the Peleponesos, the scenery is speckled with lots of abandoned stone towers, making it all the more eerie and dramatic on a windy day. We parked literally at the end of the road and upon getting out, the drivers door nearly flew off! We had a potter about and looked at a few archaeological sites nearby but opted out of the walk to the lighthouse and the gate to Hades at the end of the footpath, as we were both knackered and felt we had been sandblasted enough over the last couple of days.

We spent the night in Areopolis, the capital of the region, a tiny place all things considered. We wandered through the small cobbled streets before succumbing to a lovely Greek kebab, since on Sunday’s most places are closed for the day and there wasn’t a whole lot else to do in this sleepy but picturesque town.

Today we set off further up the coast, we are keen to try and catch a glimpse of the super moon tonight. We ended up in Agios Nikolaios, a lovely little coastal village with plenty of life in it. We are parked along the sea and currently enjoying a glass of wine outside on the terraces of one of the many bars and restaurants here. Hopefully tomorrow we will find an equally nice bar to celebrate Neil’s birthday. I think life doesn’t get much better than this!

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Nafplio, my love

The past couple of weeks we have remained in and around Nafplio. We have really come to love this small city, with its pitoresk streets in the oldtown, it’s  lively harbour side with restaurants and cafes door to door, it’s vibrant market every Wednesday and Saturday morning and it’s many other shops and gorgeous smelling bakers in the new part of town. 

   
 We have been pending between the beach of Karatona 4 km south of Nafplio and the town itself. The beach area is a large horseshoe bay with ample space to park your motorhome. We were correct in thinking this is where the other vans were hiding, as we have seen many come and go the last couple of weeks. It’s funny how most motorhomers behave like sheep. This beach area stretches for about 2 km with parking all along, however most of them tend to stick together in a tiny area all parked next to one another! We have been moving around and stayed at lots of different spots, finding the perfect location, either next to the water source, in the sun for much needed solar power, next to trees to hang our washing etc. The other day we were the only ones parked at a great spot right on the beach, when we woke up we had 4 new neighbours! 
   

  

    

   

    

Whilst at the beach we have made the most of all our watersport equipment and accessories that we carry around with us. We enjoyed a trip in our inflatable canoe and paddled to the island just in front of the bay, thinking we could have a nice picnic here or moore the canoe to go snorkeling around the island, only to find the entire island was made of the sharpest rocks imaginable sticking out everywhere and no jetty of some sort around. Not exactly a great place to go near with an INFLATABLE canoe! We admitted defeat and returned to shore from where we went snorkeling  instead. 

Although there are still plenty of people around that don’t seem too bothered about the sea temperature dropping slowly, we have definately opted to start using our wetsuits, especially for snorkeling and spearfishing when you tend to do more floating around rather than swimming. Neil has provided us with some great catch of the day, a variety of mostly smaller fish, nonetheless tasty, such as red mullet and he even managed to catch an octopus!

 Now this is actually quite a lot harder than what you might think. The problem is, these animals are tough cookies and don’t tend to die instantly with the danger of role reversing and them catching you! The first challenge is finding one, as they live in holes they are not always easy to spot, especally amongst the rocks, so you really need to keep your eyes open. Another trick we learned from a fellow traveller is they like to dig themselves a hole in the sandy bottom. The entrance is usually surrounded by a lot of empty shells, which is the thing to look out for. After I got over the excitement of finally locating one I called Neil over with his speargun so we could have him for dinner. Neil speared him after which squirted some ink at us so we could see. The octopus clearly had other ideas and twisted itself around the spear and the knife with all its tentacles! A fierce fight between human and octopus commenced, ultimately resulting with an octupus in the pan not long after. The meal preparation of the thing was another obstacle we encountered. We have eaten a few beautifully cooked/grilled octopus in restaurants, but how do they get them so tender? Well apparently what they do here in Greece they slap the living daylight out of it on a rock before they hang it out to dry on the washing line so they dry out nicely before grilling. So off I went to find myself a rock to manhandle my octopus. The drying thing we very quickly discovered wasn’t feasible with the millions of flies around so we resorted to the more reasonable option of braising it for about 45 min until tender. After this all we had to do was add a bit of flavouring, some herbs and balsamic vinegar ( we ran out of red wine) and grilled our beast to perfection! Unfortunately it had shrank to about half its size, so the giant octupus we caught was barely substantial enough as a side dish, especially for 2! 

   
 The weather has been mixed over the last few weeks, with some very nice sunny hot days but cooler in the evening, forcing us to dig out our duvet again, and even some dull and dreary rainy days, perfect for Neil to catch up with some work and for me do laze about, read books, do house (van!) work etc. We actually bought a book on Greek Mythology and religion and try to have a history lesson every day, slowly working our way through all the gods etc! 

The only tricky bit here is having enough electric. As we’re not moving about so much, if at all for days, the normal battery is not trickle charging the leisure battery and with no sun around our solar panel was struggling at times aswell, so we had to be selective in our usage! Luckily the temperature was still cosy enough not having to resort to our fan heater. 

Another reason why we hung around the area is that I suddenly started suffering from a toothache. At first I thought something got stuck in my gums but when the ache was still there after a few days it was time to find a solution other than rigorous flossing and downing mouthwash. This proved to be much easier and straight forward than expected. We walked into a couple of different pharmacies to ask how to go about seeing a dentist and they both recommended the same guy, which we took as encouraging. The latter even arranged an evening appointment with him for me that same day! Dimitris turned out to be an extremely busy one man show, nevertheless competent in his work and spoke good English, always a bonus when your own health is concerned. He had a brief look that evening and told me I needed a large filling. I was to come back the following evening when he would make things happen. So the following evening I was back in his chair when he gave me the most powerful anaesthetic  I’ve ever had at a dentist, making me look like I had Bells Palsy. Luckily I felt nothing of the drilling of the giant hole I’m my mouth. Dimitris showed me in the mirror how I was missing about 50% of my tooth due to decay, something that didn’t happen overnight, both of us stunned by the fact I hadn’t felt a thing until now. He was happy chatting away to me and was asking me loads of questions to which I just responded to mostly by dribbling and making incoherent hand gestures. It’s a shame he didn’t understand my attempt of using  Signalong. Meanwhile I was trying to attract attention from Neil who sat quietly in a corner at the other end of the room, hoping he would be able to answer some of the questions, however due to the loud drill he was blissfully unaware that anyone was talking at all! After nearly an hour at the dentist he was finally finished, the total including a white filling came to a shocking total of… €40! When we were in awe of the price and tried to tell him that back in the UK this would have cost at least double that he quickly responded with: I DON’T WANT TO KNOW!!

He advised me to hang around for a bit if possible to be able to come back if I was in severe pain or it got infected as it was on the verge of  needing rootcanal treatment, so we returned to the beach area just in time for some better weather and as it turned out some lovely new neighbours. There was a nice Swedish couple who gave us a grand tour of their newer and bigger version of Adrian and the lovely British Craig an Joanne whose website I had come across just that same week ( http://www.ourbumble.com) on which they have loads of interesting and helpful info about their trip and motorhoming in general. We were tempted to stay due to good company but decided we had been lingering around the area long enough and it was time to move on to pastures new and explore a littler further south into the Peloponissos. It turned out just in time, as Joanne informed me about an hour after we had left the police turned up to move all the vans off the beach (where we were parked aswel) into the carpark area!

  

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Greece, Peleponesos 

During our weeks ‘holiday’ in our luxury apartment we greatly enjoyed not doing all that much, apart from eating, drinking swimming and sunbathing. We did however have a few trips out in my dads hire car, it was great being driven around for a change! We took a boat trip to the isle of Spetses, a lovely little island with 1 village where the rich and famous reside, or take their yacht for a day trip ( I believe our Dutch King Willem Alexander has one of his holiday homes not far from here on the mainland, no doubt with private yacht included). We saw some nice men’s swim shorts in a shop, the lady advised me I was looking at the cheap ones, these were only €120, the more expensive ones were hanging up….

 On arrival it appeared we landed in the middle of the yearly marathon, a great spectacle to watch! We perched ourselves strategically on a terrace on one of the main bends before the finish so the spirits were up and we joined in with all the cheering on for the home stretch whilst sipping our coffee and eating our massive cake (they do an excellent cake in Greece!). After this we just about managed to stroll around the lovely picturesque town for an explore, I was a little disappointed nobody cheered us on though. 

We also visited the lovely town of Ermione for its weekly market where they sold all fresh produce; fruit, veg, fish etc for a fraction of the price in the shops. We stocked up on our weekly supplies and drove on to Didima caves, where we saw our first wild (massive!) tortoise! Similar sort to Neil’s mums tortoise Livingstone (spur thighed ) but at least twice the size! We also saw some giant (day?) moths there buzzing about, they looked like little hummingbirds! 

So after a week of getting spoiled it was time to say goodbye to the family and retreat back into Adrian. As we pretty much cleared him out whilst at the apartment we took our time to move everything back in and rearrange a few things, so we spent another night parked just outside the resort and sneakily used their facilities. The next day we drove back to Ermione, as the weekly market would be on the next day again, the day of my 33rd!(Aaargh am I that old!?!) birthday. We parked in a lovely spot at the end of the village just outside a park right next to the sea, complete with our own jetty at our doorstep. On my birthday I woke up to fresh croissants and baklava. In the morning we strolled around the market getting our supplies and spent the afternoon on the other side of the park at a lovely swimming spot, where we did some snorkeling and had a picnic, with the sun warming our legs. Our dinner out in the evening with local octopus and mousaka was the perfect finish to a perfect birthday!

As we enjoyed Ermione so much, we stayed a few more days, sunbathing, swimming and catching our own fish for dinner. We managed to catch a few grey mullets, one was at least a kilo! Neil now also has a speargun, a boys toy he has secretly wanted for years but decided against initially as he understood you need a licence in Greece. However as from 2015 this is no longer required for tourists, so he is now as happy as a little kid in a sweet shop. Unfortunately he is still learning the ropes and his hunting has thus far not been too successful. However we have bought another spear tip today, as the fish kept falling off the last one as he shot them (so he sais, I’ve yet to see him land a big fish hehe). 

After a lovely few days in Ermione it was time to move on and explore some more of the Peleponesos. We drove on to Ancient Epidauros ( there are 3, old, new, and just Epidauros) which is a little harbour village similar to Ermione. Again we wild camped at the end of the peninsula next to the sea. There was a little swimming beach, but difficult to get in an out of the water as it was very shallow for ages and teaming with thousands of sea urchins. This did not stop us from going for a snorkel though, especially as here we had the luxury of free beach shower! After our swim we were cold and nackered so decided on a giant takeaway pizza, which we gulped down whilst watching all the boats and their people in the harbour. 

The next day we explored our surroundings. On the hill just above the village there are some Ancient Greek sites, complete with a small amphitheatre. We had a lovely walk on the top of the peninsula and could see all around both sides across the sea. We explored the rest of the village and across to the beach on the other side where there was also a possibility for wild camping, however the ground seemed a little soft. On return to the van the wind had picked up and according to the forcast it was going to get worse. We decided to sit out and stay where we were. The wind was head on and although getting stronger by the minute,  amazingly enough, barely noticeable when inside of Adrian, due to his lean and streamlined body, just like mine, ahum. 2 other vans turned up and conveniently parked right behind us in our shelter. We cranked up the music, something which is difficult as usually  we are either on a campsite where you have to be considerate to others, or we are wild camping and we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves, however here with the howling wind outside nobody could hear us anyway! 

The next day we woke up to better and sunnier weather, albeit still very windy and cooler. I decided to make the most of it and wash my hair outside under the cold shower. I ended up having to stand some paces away from it, as the wind was still so strong the water was going sideways! We filled up our tank from the tap attached to it. Greece so far does not seem to lack in water supplies, although a lot of the taps appear to have the handle taken off, perhaps for winter? Nothing a cheeky pair of pliers won’t fix 😉! 

After getting fully stocked with water we continued our journey to Epidauros, some 15 km further inland. This is where the famous ancient and still functioning  amphitheatrelies, aswell as the remains of the miraculous healing baths of none less than the son of Apollo, Asclepius. The site was impressive, especially the theatre. We climbed all the way to the top and enjoyed watching and listening to the people below who were testing the magic of the central stone circle  on stage from where anyone can literally hear a penny drop, anywhere in the seating area. Seeing the sites brought back memories of my school years when I reluctantly tried to learn the Ancient Greek language from which I understood very little but is now benefitting me as I am able to read the road signs and simple packaging in the supermarket etc. I much preferred the myths and sagas that came with the Ancient Greek culture about all the different gods and creatures. I now realise I should have paid more attention in class as there is so much I have forgotten and now wish I remembered! 

Late afternoon we made out way to Nafplio, the former capital of Greece, a long long time ago. This beautiful charming place is devided into the new and the old town. At the top of the old town shines the castle in all its glory, and at its foot lie little old marbled streets filled with charming shops and tavernas.

Again a bit of Internet research has come in handy and whilst in Greece we find that some websites for places to stay are much better than others. For most of Europe so far we made good use of CamperContact website, however this would not get you very far in Greece, certainly not in off season when most campsites are closed. We found Peejays Greek stopovers a very good and reliable source, along with some new online motorhoming friends website who directed us to the app maps.me where you can record all the places you have visited so far and attach coordinates, description and pics etc. Their websites combined show us many wild camping places and also basic info of facilities such as water and toilet emptying etc. Rural Greece is one of the friendliest and safest places in Europe and anyone in doubt about coming here in off season due to no open campsites etc, I would strongly recommend to give it a go as so far we find it a very welcoming and easy place to be. Nobody appears bothered about motorhomes and are welcoming them if anything. With a little help of the Internet and above websites it couldn’t be easier. 

So on the recommendation of Peejays we parked at the harbour carpark in Nafplio. We couldn’t believe our eyes, there were at least 10 other motorhomes there, and even more scattered around town we found later on! That’s more than we’ve seen for months! It suddenly felt a bit uncomfortable and reminded us of some sights we’ve been at in Spain. We have become used to being on our own or at the most a couple of other vans, and parking up in a line of 10 then suddenly takes away some of the magic and fun of motorhomeing which can get spoiled by the masses. It appeared the others only came for one thing though: the market. Most of the vans had left by mid afternoon and peace returned. 

This morning we visited the Nafplio local market (held every Wednesday and Saturday mornings), about 4 times bigger than the one in Ermione. What a colourful sight! Fruit and veg everywhere the eye could see and little old men and ladies promoting their goods by shouting across the market. Again, we bought a van full of fruit and veg for next to nothing. It’s interesting to see the big differences in countries, areas even and the local produce they sell. In Romania they were big into their water melons and peppers and giant aubergines, whereas here they have small long delicate aubergines, cucumbers, pomegranates, beans of any kind and lots and lots of greens; fresh spinage, beetroot leaves, rocket and other ‘wild’ greens. No shortage of fresh herbs either, giant bunches of dill, parsley and mint for €0.50, yum! 

We also finally managed to buy some internet here in Greece, Vodafone appears to outweigh all the other companies by far, 8GB for €10, data only, not too bad. It took the guy in the shop nearly an hour to get it to work though, he had to reset all the settings on our mifi! 

Tonight we have moved to a much quieter place next to the castle, a little walk downhill is a great swimming beach with showers and toilets, always a bonus! Tomorrow we will check out and probably move to a beach area just below Nafplio, another highly recommended place on the map for swimming and fishing etc, no doubt all the motorhomes are hiding there, we shall see! 

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 From Bulgaria into Greece

We continued our journey in Bulgaria further south west, slowly working our way towards Greece. We made arrangements with my dad to meet him and his partner in the Peleponesos on the 4th of October to spend a week with them in an apartment during their holiday. This meant we kind of had to get a move on!

We made our way to pitoresk  Melnic, a town in south west Bulgaria, famous for its wine and beautiful arid surroundings. After an enourmous lunch in one of the local restaurants we climbed to the top of the village for the beautiful views over the area. It reminded us somewhat of the Spanish badlands, very dry with beautiful cliffs and a view for miles. Later on in the day we drove on to Camping Kromidovo, a nearby campsite run by a lovely British couple. We stayed for a couple of days, and had a bit of a rest and a catch up with the usual essentials such as sleep, cleaning and laundry etc after spending a what seemed forever period of long driving days on the road. This campsite was the perfect place. John and Sarah have worked hard for the past 3 years building up this nice place, pretty much from scratch. This is the first year they are open and seem to be doing well, having now turned it into a campsite with possibility to stay in a tepee aswell as an Airbnb apartment. Anyone coming across this area pay them a visit, it’s located in a handy place just on the border with Greece and Macedonia and has plenty of local attractions.

On leaving the campsite we planned to spend our last Bulgarian Levs by stocking up on supermarket supplies, as Bulgaria is significantly cheaper than Greece. This didn’t quite go as planned as we somehow missed the turn off and found ourselves stuck on the motorway heading towards the Greek border. Oh well, Greek Lidl it is then! The border crossing looked a bit daunting initially, with hundreds of trucks (mostly Bulgarian) queing up and coming to complete standstill. We were a bit confused if we would have to do the same as we could not see any other vehicles at first, however after we’d seen a few cars driving past in the next lane we decided to follow suit, Adrian hasn’t  quite reached truck status yet! The rest was easy, the woman barely looked at our passports and off we went! We were now back in the land of Euros, and quite notably so! When it came to paying the bill in Lidl I nearly fainted, shocked with how expensive everything is here! Never mind, hopefully we will make up for it by mostly wild camping here. Not only because we can, as there are ample places to stay for free here, but also simply by now the season is definately over and most official campsites will be shut until next summer. 

We still had some time to see some bits on the way to the Peleponesos so we headed to lake Kerkini just across the border in the north of Greece. The sun was shining, the weather was hot and the views on the road were beautiful. By the time we arrived at the lake an our or so later I had already fallen in love with this country. 

The lake did not disappoint us. We drove along the bottom of it and made plenty of stops along the way to spot the Pelicans. Yes, pelicans! Finally hundreds of them! Unfortunately they were a bit camera shy, and didn’t like us coming too close but nevertheless we managed to get a good look at them. We drove on to a little deserted harbour next to Kirkini town and enjoyed the picture perfect sunset across the still lake on the shore with beer in hand, watching some lone Pelicans fishing and a local fisherman putting out his nets for the night. Through the binoculars I even spotted a flock of flamingos far away on the other side of the lake. We enjoyed a lovely quiet and peaceful night sleep.

The next day we had a long drive ahead towards Meteora, a place we were assured not to be missed if in Greece. This is an area of originally vulcanic rock formations pushed up into the air. Over time the rocks have eroded and have been transformed into huge round and smooth Boulder like formations. On top of these rocks are 6 small still functioning monasteries situated, which are open to the public. We arrived late afternoon and the light hit the area just perfectly as we drove through the small roads along the bottom between the rocks. Slowly we made our way up one of the hills and found the perfect camping spot for the night, on top of a hill next to one of the monasteries with wide views over the top of the rocks. It was quiet for a Friday night with not many other tourists around the area, so there was no concern of getting hassled or moved on. There was one other van or rather monster truck! parked there for the night and we spend a nice evening with our new German neighbours. They had just come off the boat from Italy that day and had just started their journey to Oman with their amazing self  built and converted ex Austrian army truck. 

The next morning we visited the monastery we were parked next to and decided that one rather than all six was enough for the day. After all, I think we have already attended more than our fair share of holy places on our journey so far. We did however drove the tourist route along the top of the rocks and stopped and walked along many of the view points, which were truly breathtaking. When we had seen the whole place (it’s not a huge area) we decided to press on down south and headed for Thermopilae, a place where one can find natural hot springs.

It turns out there are actually about 3 different places in the same area where you can jump into the slightly salty but lovely and warm “baths”.  We Only discovered this on leaving the next day as we drove past them, at the time we simply stopped where our sat nav directed us. Nevertheless a perfect spot for overnight, and we enjoyed an evening as well as a morning bath.We were the only tourists there but as it was the weekend, the place was crowded with locals, mostly elderly people who would simply turn up in their car in their bathrobes, enjoying a soak and a chat. 

We were perfectly on schedule for our arrival in the Peleponesos and decided to avoid some motorways for the next bit towards Athens area and beyond. We had already done a fair bit on the highly expensive motorway due to time pressure, with Adrian being over the height of 2.2m we pay bus prices.  Our alternative route to Korinthos was more time consuming with lots of up and down hills etc, but made for a more scenic route aswell. We eventually arrived at our next destination, a quiet parking next to the beach at the foot of the canal of Korinthos. There were still a few people on the beach and even in the sea. The water here looked bluer and  the Black Sea where we had spent a considerable amount of time, and most importantly, it was warm in Greece! We quickly joined in and went for a swim in the still warm sea. It’s great to have your house right next to the beach to be able to get washed and dressed afterwards and enjoy home made dinner in an idyllic place without having to pay to go out for dinner! We did however consider moving at some point, the choice of music coming from the bar next door was somewhat “challenging”  at times, with all the nineties pop classics such as Mariah Carey and Celine Dion sung by a Greek woman with a strong local accent. Never mind, it all adds to the charm!

We had made it to the start of the Peleponesos and we easily reached our destination of Porto Heli a day early on Monday afternoon. We drove to the holiday resort and parked up on a bit of wasteland behind it and met my family who had already been there for a week. Since we couldn’t get into our apartment until Tuesday morning, we camped out in Adrian for the night, whilst able to enjoy the resorts facilities. 

We have now been here for a few days and are greatly enjoying the simple things in life. Good food and drinks with great company, great weather, lounging on the beach and at the pool, snorkeling in the sea and sleeping in a massive real bed! We will be here until Tuesday after which we will  continue our journey through Greece, focussing on the rest of the Peleponesos before heading to Crete when the weather starts to get colder. At the moment I’m still getting burned at the beach, here’s hoping the weather will remain in our favour for a little while longer!  

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