Wednesday 24th January
Our first task for today was to purchase a SIM card in the nearby town. Found a park at the beach near the town and walked to the nearest Vodaphone store (have you ever tried to find a Greek phone shop – the Greek alphabet makes it harder?). Our Telstra 4GB for the month is 85% used up and with 18 days to go before the 4GB is refreshed, we needed data. Found the store without too much trouble and with the help of a very patient and extremely helpful young man managed to get a 5 GB SIM card installed in our dongle for $42AUD. Interesting the data lines were down in the Vodaphone shop so we had to walk across the road to a dress shop to put the transaction through on our credit card – not sure how all that worked???
We then drove by acres and acres of oranges, mandarins, lemon trees and olive groves – they have been everywhere in Greece. Couldn’t resist stopping at a roadside fruit stall and purchased a huge bag of fresh navel oranges (over 20 in the bag for €3 and a beautiful fresh cauliflower for €1. Now to find a juicer somewhere.
Our campsite for tonight: Parking Pylos Marina, Pylos
Interesting little town built on the side of a hill overlooking a huge port and Marina. The locals park at the Marina during the day but there is room for literally hundreds of cars/buses/motorhomes here. First time we have seen a motorhome for ages – one only from Belgium.
Took a walk through the village and up the hill to the Greek Orthodox Church. Magic view of course from here, right across the town, Marina and sea and mountains for as far as you could see. From there we ventured across to the ruins of a castle on the other side.
Lots of restaurants and tavernas still open at this time of year and many people were about enjoying them.
Thursday 25th January
Our campsite for tonight: Kalamata Marina, Kalamata
A Marina is the choice for tonight as we seem always to be drawn to a sea view. A huge Marina with space for around 10 motorhomes, however again we are alone. A very safe spot with a security guard continually buzzing around on his little scooter making sure we were okay.
Saw a variety store on the way in so off we went to find a juicer. Not a lot of appeal to this town but has tons of restaurants along the boardwalk around the Marina – and we found our juicer for all the fruit we have bought.
Friday 26th & Saturday 27th January
Weather has greatly improved over the last few days and we have had several days of continuous sunshine now.
The scenery is spectacular as we head through the mountains. So many lovely little villages along the way and we could not resist pulling into a funky little bakery high on a hill overlooking the valleys below. Greek coffee and home made baklava – so so yummy and oozing with delicious local Greek honey. We have seen so many bee hives over the last few days.
The architecture has changed dramatically in this area, where the houses and buildings are like miniature castles – made out of stone and mostly perched on the side of cliffs with breathtaking views. This area is so pretty and really worth the trip down the coastline.
Our campsite for tonight: Parking Diros, Diros
Off the main road now, we go down, down, down past a hillside taverna and further down a steep windy road to the secluded beach. Nothing down here but crystal clear water quietly lapping the shoreline which is made up of all white stones mostly around 10cm in size. A touch of paradise in the middle of nowhere.
The bay is steeped on all sides by mountains with just a few houses up high on the hill. A small number of locals come and go during the day for picnics and some venture out in fishing boats or snorkel.
So tranquil here and for the first time in weeks, out came the chairs and the books as we grabbed a little vitamin D from the sunshine.
Only one other motorhome here during the day but it did not stay overnight.
Interestingly we saw several cars arrive during the two days and the occupants disappear into the bushes hunting around for something. They were carrying plastic shopping bags and collected bits off low shrubs. One beautiful elderly man stopped to chat and offered us some of what they were collecting. Looked like very very thin asparagus around 20 cms long and tasted a bit like raw green peas. He didn’t speak English but we got the gist that whatever it was – was good for the eyes – anyone know what it might have been?
Had two wonderful days here and imagine it would be packed in the summertime. No services here except for rubbish bins – just one of those great wild camping spots.
Sunday 28th January
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Do we head further south now (the road is marked as a scenic road) or do we head toward the east coast ?
Finally opted to head east and soon (with the help of a great road and not too many mountains to climb) arrived at our next destination at the Dimitrios Shipwreck just south of Gythion. The town itself looked like a great place to stop along the seafront and the shipwreck is only a couple of kms from the town. The parking area is on the seafront right next to a restaurant (closed for winter) but unfortunately looked like a hangout for young locals. Picked a few fresh lemons from a tree beside the restaurant and headed off – Our policy is that when wild camping if either one of us does not feel safe we head off – we also look for tyre burn outs and discarded alcoholic drink bottles – if present we don’t stay.
Our campsite for tonight: Parking Ekklisia Ai GIannakis, Trinisa
Only another few klms away we found the ultimate little Greek fishing Village with just a taverna and a small fleet of fishing boats (about 10) and the smallest church we had come across – nothing else not even houses.
Parked Ziggy and walked over to the fishermen who were cleaning octopus (catch of the day). Drawn by the Greek music and the locals sitting outside the taverna, we ventured inside to grab a beer. There was a fire raging and the small taverna which would only hold around twenty people was filling quickly. We grabbed a table and the rest of the afternoon soon disappeared. Had the best afternoon ever with the locals. Ate like kings – fresh fish – Greek salad – and way too many Ouzo’s.
Many of these Tavernas don’t have menus – the cook leads you into the kitchen and then shows you what is available – you point at what you want and put up either 1 or 2 fingers for the number you want – we are so embarrassed that we cant speak a word of Greek – these people are so nice – it doesn’t matter – they just smile and all is ok.
We had to pinch ourselves – we thought we had gone to heaven – brought back so many great memories of our last holiday in Greece – nothing seems to have changed here in the rural and coastal villages.
Apart from not having menus they have an unusual way with the rest of proceedings. As you eat and drink many plates and bottles accumulate on the table and they are not cleared away.
When you say you want the bill, the waiter comes over and counts the plates and empty bottles and then writes the total down on a piece of paper and it is never a big bill.
Then the waiter removes the empty bottles and upends the scraps and leftovers from the plates in to the middle of the table – the table cloth is a paper overlay which the waiter then wraps up and takes to the bin.
Received gifts of fresh mandarins from one of the fishermen and fresh oranges from the restaurant owner.
The restaurant was filled to more than capacity all afternoon and did not clear until nightfall.
We sit here now at 7.30 pm and everything is in darkness – heaven once again.