2018/03/06 – Goodbye Greece

Goodbye Greece

Tuesday 6th & Wednesday 7th March

Took advantage of the abundant water supply to do some much needed clothes washing (hard to do by hand but a necessity) and hoped for some sunshine some time today to assist with the drying.

Had rained constantly through the night but this morning looked promising for maybe some sun later.

The trip across the mountains again offering sea views at every corner was a real joy, particularly as we saw blue skies and sunshine in the distance.

Our campsite for two nights:  Stavros

Not a designated camping spot in our APPs however will give this a very high rating and had the most fabulous two days here.

This fishing village was a height of activity and our first stop for a few hours was right on the dock overlooking the fishing fleet.  There was a row of about 10 fishermen sitting on the boardwalk side by side.  They had telescopic rods fitted with multicoloured floats with a 6 inch tracer and a hook which they rubbed something on before casting out.  They continued to throw burley out to where their hooks were and were bringing in heaps of fish during the afternoon.  I thought how envious both my fishing brothers would be to see this.  Ever so patient they sat there until dark.

Some of the Stavros float fishermen

We moved about 50 metres further down the boardwalk from the main dock for the night as we thought it might get too busy and noisy with fishermen coming and going during the night.  Good call as we were rewarded with a super quiet night.

We were woken up in the morning by fishermen coming in by boat with their evenings catch and soon after the cars began arriving with locals eager to buy fresh fish – so interesting to watch the locals barter and select their fish.  We strolled along the boardwalk and watched with interest as fishermen began clubbing their catch with what looked like very wide flat cricket bats.  Turned out to be octopus they were clubbing – we think to remove the ink and other bad bits.  This process took a long time and a huge amount of energy by the clubber.  Spoke to some of the fishermen and again they had relatives in Melbourne!

Relaunching a fishing boat with a huge crane – Greek style

Ventured back to the main dock where the same fishermen were lined up in a row.  Took out the deck chairs and sat and watched them for ages.  Today the fish were not as plentiful but their patience was amazing and they sat for most of the day with just the occasional fish as a reward.  Not something this navigator or my driver would have the patience to do.

Were entertained by the local school band as they marched up and down the waterfront beating their drums and playing their trumpets and horns (very much out of tune) but looked like they were having a ton of fun.  Great to see.

Strolled up town mid afternoon but seemed like very little was open – must have been siesta time as later as it became dark, the tavernas came alive and people were walking everywhere enjoying a very balmy night – haven’t had many of these lately.

Retreated to our overnight spot and enjoyed another great peaceful night.

Thursday 8th March

Again were woken by the same fishermen coming in so decided to move along quickly so that the locals could park here right in front of the catch of the day.

Across the road trailers were being set up for their market day.  What a bonus for us to be right there within a few paces of the market.

Strolled up and down several times and picked up some really fresh fruit and veges – strawberries so fresh, red and sweet!

Next was the fish section where there were octopus, squid, calamari, whole fish and creatures we have never seen before.   Bought some calamari and then headed back to Ziggy to find a recipe.

Our campsite for tonight:  Nea Iraklitsa 40.875636N   24.315567E

There are so many beautiful places to stop in this part of Greece and the co ordinates above take you to a long beach with so many places to choose from.  Only one small taverna (more like a cantina) here so very little traffic.  Stayed here all afternoon and then walked a small distance to the town.  Found a spot to park just on the outskirts of town. 

Beachside at Nea Iraklitsa

In summer, there would be a cost to park here but the pay booth at the entrance was locked up and gates were locked open.   Went back to Ziggy and moved to town for the night.  Spent an enjoyable evening strolling through town and the Marina.

Looking towards Nea Iraklitsa from our overnight spot – that is a very clean beach by local standards???

Friday 9th March

Looked at a couple of campsites in Kavala but this is a very big town and busy port area and none of the three we looked at seemed to be safe or quiet so moved on quickly.

Our campsite for tonight:  Keramoti – 40.8552N    24.6889E

This waterfront village is quite remote and is a small port where ferries and passenger boats commute to the Island of Thasos.

The campsite is just out of town (co ordinates above) and has a great beach setting but is remote with no housing around. This would be a great place to camp but we decided to go back to town and park on the waterfront where there was more activity and things to see. 

Massive ferries came and went and large and small fishing boats loaded and unloaded and the activity around the small harbour was never ending.   Walked to town but apart from the activity on the waterfront, a very sleepy little town.

One of the car ferries at Keramoti

Befriended a beautiful little stray dog who obviously had just had puppies.  Couldn’t help but give her some food, though she was very wary of us.  My heart so goes out to these poor strays as many are so thin and sad looking.

Had our first feed of home cooked calamari with Greek Salad – not bad, for first attempt but eager to try again soon.

Keramoti is a very busy port with lots of action to watch

Had a reasonably quiet night though the fishing boats coming and going were a little noisy.

Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th March

Our little stray returned next morning followed by her litter of 5 puppies – just so cute.  She stopped outside the door as if to show them off so again put some food and milk out for her which she gulped down and never let her puppies anywhere near it.  Guess she knew they would get the benefit later.

Interesting countryside – Very flat now with low lying marshy waterways and lagoons on both sides of the road – bit like between  Key Lago and Key West in the Florida Keys in USA.  Low bridges were created across the lagoons to houses and even a church on its own little island.

Our campsite for two nights:  Fanari. 40.9627. 25.1261

Another special place here where there are many waterfront spots that are available to park in.

Did a walk through town and stopped for a beer on the waterfront and then dropped into a seafood market where we found our favourite calamari again.  Purchased four large ones and watched as they cleaned it for me.  My attempt at cleaning them the day before was pretty much correct.

Part of the oceanfront dining in Fanari

Parked in the beachfront carpark (co ordinates above) set up the table and chairs on the boardwalk and out came the BBQ.  Prepared two of the calamari, fully dried them with paper towels, laced them with some garlic oil, salt and pepper and then straight onto a very hot plate – four minutes each side said the recipe then garnish with parsley and lemon.  Sat in the sunshine with only short sleeves for the first time in a long time (though only for about an hour before the sun disappeared behind the clouds) and enjoyed the calamari and a great Sav Blanc.  Cars came and went and some beeped their horns and waved or gave us the thumbs up as they passed by. 

Cooking the calamari on the CADAC in Fanari

Quiet night though this is a popular spot with people coming and going for walks along the beach.  Moved at nightfall when the lights did not come on to a spot about 100 metres closer to town where we experienced a peaceful night.

Woke up Sunday morning to a height of activity.  A bride walked past heading for the beachfront and cars and people came from every direction.  By 9.30am we were totally parked in and used this as an excuse to stay for another night.

A brilliant sunny day and being a Sunday was the cause.  We walked up town and found every available parking spot taken with the numerous restaurants fully booked out and people waiting for an available table everywhere.  Stayed like this all day and did not change until well into the night. 

Monday 12th March

Sadly our time in Greece is coming to an end.  We both have fallen in love with this country and reluctantly make plans to head forward to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungry, Slovenia and Croatia – countries we have never been to before.

There are several more great waterfront camps near Alexandroupoli which we explored but opted to head inland towards Bulgaria.

Our campsite for tonight:  Near Loutros. 40.9627.   26.0516

A “tree change”  for today so headed north west into the mountains.  The spot we had planned (co ordinates above) took us through a small village of only a few houses and then down to an ungraded track which was a little rough.    It was getting late so opted not to go down today and parked in a great level spot in town where we had views across the valleys. (Co ordinates 40.9008N   26.0516E)

Local street art in Loutras

Woken up in the middle of the night by a massive storm, so glad we did not stay on the beach for this one.

Tuesday 13th March

Our trip today took us up a highway which ran almost parallel to the Turkish border.  We encountered more police along the way than we have seen in the whole of Greece.  Mostly on the other side of the road pulling up cars from Turkey.

We are only a stones throw from the Bulgarian border so will expect to go through the border tomorrow morning.

Very close to Turkey now

Bulgaria is in the EU but is not a Shengen country so we expect to be stopped at the border for passport control.

Our campsite for tonight:  Kastanies. 40.651001.  26.472601

Parked at a cafe opposite a Reserve which is just great.  The low bridge near the cafe across to the island is awash with a heavy flow of water across it so happily we stayed on this side for tonight.

A mini church opposite where we are overnighting near Kastanies

There is a security gated area adjacent to where we are parked and the security guard doing the border controls looks at us regularly.

After having a coffee at the cafe, we took a short walk into town where there not a lot happening so headed back as the storm clouds gathered overhead.

Another large storm hit us, this time with small hail stones but no damage done.  Rained throughout the afternoon which kept us indoors just watching the comings and goings in the cafe.