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.

2018/02/24 – Greece, Greece and more Greece

Greece – 24th February to 5th March 2018

Saturday 24th, Sunday 25th February Monday 26th February

Our campsite for tonight:  Nea Moudania – GPS 40.2378N. 23.2883E

This is a great little town, very modern and not destroyed by graffiti. 

It rained for the three days so opted to stay put until the weather cleared a little.

The campsite is a huge waterfront carpark at end of a Boardwalk with trendy tavernas and was very busy on Saturday and Sunday.  It surprises us how many Greeks eat out for lunch and dinner, even though the economy is supposed to be in tatters – most people seem to drive fairly modern cars as well.  Wherever we have been in Greece, the tavernas are pretty much full for around three hours in the middle of the day and then begin to fill up again around 7pm until 11pm.

Our sunset from Ziggy at Nea Moudania – only time we had sun – during the day we had rain, sleet, hail and snow

Fishermen still braved the wet and cold conditions but we did not see anything being caught.

Quite a few shops in the surrounding streets and even found a Vodaphone store where we topped up our SIM card to cover us for the next couple of weeks in Greece.

Monday was horrible, bitterly cold with rain, sleet and even snow falling in the middle of the day – though melted on reaching the ground.  Managed to find an internet network from one of the closer tavernas, where the password was proudly displayed on the site itself – nice one – took full advantage of this, though we had to park very close to it.

Spent the three days reading several books (have nearly read our compete library of Jeffrey Archer books) and occasionally going for quick walks in between rain showers.

Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th February

Woke up to sunshine this morning – first time in a week – yeah!  Now we understand why the Brits and Europeans worship the sun on the odd occasion that it happens to pop out.  We too now can be found sun worshipping as it seems to be very rare here.

Our campsite for tonight:  Poseidi – GPS 39.9611N.  23.3709E

What a difference a bit of sunshine makes – certainly lifted our spirits for the next couple of days.

We are now heading down another three fingers at the southern end of the eastern side of Greece.  This first finger is very pretty with lots of new buildings and apartments and very little or no graffiti.

Beachfront Taverna at Poseidi

We again are right on a beautiful sandy beach with waves lapping only a few feet away and parked right next to a “funky bar” which we wanted to try.  Even though there were several cars at the front, turned out to be workmen getting the bar ready for opening in summer (both days of summer).  Not open until April, they said.  We wanted to celebrate the sunshine so walked to the little village to check out eating options for tonight.

Sat in the sunshine like beached whales until 4pm and watched fishermen in boats casting and reeling in nets while hundreds of seagulls circled overhead hoping to pick up the scraps.

The wind came up and what had been a calm sea became choppy with white caps forming and then the fishing boats headed for cover. Ziggy began bouncing around in the wind so we headed for the cover of town for the night. Found a parking area in the middle where we were protected from the wind. 

A big storm hit not long after with thunder, hail and sleet.  The sound on the roof was deafening – we certainly were glad we moved to town.  No dinner out tonight!.

Woke up to a beautiful sunny next morning so headed straight back to beach site where we spent the whole day just lapping up the sunshine, though it was still cold.

Walked into town again in the late afternoon and joined the locals for a drink or two.  Decided to bring Ziggy back to town for the night in case the weather turned foul overnight and parked in the same place as night before.

Back to the taverna (only one open out of 15 or so in town) and sat in front of a fireplace and shared a five course dinner and wine for less than €30. 

Not many patrons tonight though there was one table with eleven Bulgarian guys and one female sharing a feast.

They rolled in to the village in 3 black Audi A8s – now we have seen plenty of Audi A4s at home and a few A6s but no A8s – they are big limousines – all the guys looked around 25-30 years old, had buzz cuts, wore black clothing and looked very, very fit and had very, very serious looks on their faces.  Their cars parked outside the Taverna with BG number plates and another Bulgarian guy standing guard over the cars – strange as there were no other cars in the street, the village was deserted and apart from the Bulgarians and us there were only 2 other diners in the Taverna.

Thursday 1st March

No sunshine this morning so hoped the overcast sky would not dampen the spirit after we had two glorious sun filled days.

Not a huge number of designated camp spots in these three fingers of eastern Greece to choose from in our APPS so spent some time looking and moving on where some places did not seem safe.

Our campsite for tonight:  near Vourvourou – GPS 40.1939N.  23.8061E

Not a designated overnight camp site and on arrival saw one  “no camping and no fires sign” hidden behind a tree.  Park 4 Night gave it a big wrap and claimed the locals had no problem with staying here in off season months. 

Good wild campimg spot near Vourvourou

Took a chance as this was a really beautiful tranquil waterfront site in a bushland setting with views across to Mt Athos.  We could only see the silhouette of the mountain because of the overcast conditions.

Spent a wonderful day and night here with no one anywhere – just the two of us and the birds (plus a stray German Shepherd).

Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd March

Our campsite for two nights:  Near Sarti – GPS  40.0760N. 23.9841E

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find something new to talk about as each camp we stay in in this beautiful country has similar characteristics e.g. Marina or absolute beachfront, waves lapping on the beach or boardwalk a few feet away, the place to ourselves, tavernas with the best food and the most wonderful carefree happy people.

This overnight spot is similar but more remote with no tavernas or town nearby.  Sarti is over the hill but a few kms away.  It rained the first day but when the sun came out on day two, it was not difficult to decide to stay for another night, in fact it was really difficult not to stay for many days as it was so great.  The view across the sea to the snow capped Mt Athos on the sunny day, was super.

Our wild camping spot near Sarti

We are truly relaxed now and really enjoying the Kindle books so graciously donated to us by our Scottish friends and are now quickly ploughing through the many Jeffery Archer, Michael Connelly etc novels we have.   Last count think I have read about 80 books since the beginning of our travels and my driver – more.  We do have Sat TV but apart from watching the occasional video, leisure time reading books is preferred.

Looking across to the snow capped Mt Athos

The campsite on the beach is towered over on three sides by mountains with only a handful of homes visible and even these seem to be unoccupied.

Yesterday we watched a goat herder taking his flock down the mountainsides for grazing and today, they headed down to us on the beach.  The lead goats with cow bells on gave us advance warning and soon we had 100 + surrounding Ziggy.    So sorry to see them head away from the beach and over the next mountain.  A few hours later they returned on their way home.

Being invaded by a herd of goats and their dogs

Did not hear a sound on both nights except for the occasional wave crashing on the shore.

Sunday 4th March

Reluctantly we left late in the afternoon in search of our next spot and after assisting a Greek family bogged on the beach in their very new Mercedes 2 door sports car, we ourselves struck issues with water logged tracks, wash outs, subsided roads and walls of water cascading across causeways.   Several times we had to reverse back through narrow tracks when we could not go forward.

There has been so much rain in Greece over the last few weeks and with little or no drainage provided, streets and low lying areas flood quickly and roads have deteriorated.

With two of the places in our APPs not able to be reached because of water and road issues, we headed into some of the small seaside villages looking for a dry place to stop.

Our campsite for tonight:  Porto Kaufo – GPS 39.970993N.  23.917494E

A small road led downhill to this little village and at the bottom we found this magic spot along the boardwalk in a secluded bay with mountains all round and fishing boats at the little Marina.  Dropped into the taverna and asked if we could park here – no problems they said, so did not need any more encouragement to stay on.

Had another great meal in front of a fireplace and enjoyed the company of the waiter (who has a relation in Melbourne of course) who spoke excellent English and finished up in Ziggy with a bottle of wine and back to Jeffery Archer before having a peaceful night’s sleep.

Here we are eating again – Octopus, Mussels and Bocquerones – yum

Monday 5th March

The sun again disappeared today but overcast conditions did not stop a long needed walk.  So many beautiful bays to explore here.  Too much sitting and reading when the weather has been bad has not been good for the waistline and exercise has been virtually impossible.

Headed off after lunch and travelled through some picturesque countryside.  These three fingers of land in eastern Greece are not very wide and sea views greet us at every corner.  Small villages are in every bay and all along beautiful expansive beaches.

Got stymied again today when our choice of another beachfront campsite firstly offered a not too deep waterway to cross followed a km further on by an impassable waterway only a few metres before the campsite.  We sat there and pondered if we could get across but after having rescued someone bogged yesterday who didn’t make it, sadly opted to move on – better safe than sorry.

Our campsite for tonight:  Limani  GPS 40.395462N. 23.893749E

We have now left the second finger and into the third.  Not many places to camp in this part as the bottom half is taboo for women to enter and men are only permitted entry to the many monasteries by appointment.  Greece is very much a man’s world where everywhere you go, the men sit in tavernas eating and drinking and twirling their worry beads – very rarely do you see their women.

Another Greek fishing village – we are in Heaven

This campsite is not a designated camp spot in our APPs but has a huge carpark  on the arms of the Marina and is just outside of town.   Lots of fishing boats here and fresh water taps to fill up the tanks. 

It was quite wild and windy to sea but the harbour walls were tall enough to provide a safe harbour protection from the rain and wind.   A great view to the harbour and peaceful and quiet with only four stray dogs to keep us company.




2018/02/20 Meteora – Out of this World

Tuesday 20th February
 ️  Our campsite for tonight: Meteora, Kalambaka (Kalampaka) 39.7259. 21.6323

 Meteora is just the MOST AMAZING place to see and rates amongst the most beautiful and unusual scenery we have been lucky enough to experience.  The roads up to the top are excellent and many tourist coaches visited here during the day.  Our trip up was hampered by rain and really heavy fog, sometimes not travelling more than 5kms per hour.

 This campsite is set on a plateau right at the top in between the monasteries of  Grand Meteoro and Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas with Varlaam in the distance.  The fog was so heavy, we had to wait several hours before we even had a small but foggy glimpse of just one of these monasteries and very occasionally when the fog lifted a little more (only for minutes at a time).  We saw a little more each time.  

Managed to get a few photos over the next couple of hours but hoped for more and better ones tomorrow.

 Spent a very quiet night on the plateau (alone again) in the hope that tomorrow would give us more visibility to see this Meteora phenomena.

Wednesday 21st February

 Still showers and fog next morning but we waited and were rewarded when the fog lifted occasionally offering more photo opportunities and views across the valley below.

 These monasteries are built on top of vertical cliffs with overwhelming rock formations and caves or craters.  Seemed like the cliffs had been hit with a shower of meteors at some time.  With the clouds resting just below the monasteries, it appeared as if they were floating on the clouds.  Just so magical and mystical and breathtaking.

 This is a BIG must see for anyone travelling to Greece – and would strongly suggest trying to see this on a clear day.

 Our campsite for tonight:  Parking Taverna Arensis, Kalambaka (Kalampaka) 39.708618. 21.654341

 We decided to stay on for another day but as the temperatures were expected to drop substantially overnight we chose to stay in town.

 The town itself is very very touristy with lots of accommodation and tavernas but the parking area was too difficult to get Ziggy in so opted to go up the mountain a little instead.

 This campsite is at a taverna and even though it was raining when we arrived, the boss man came out to greet us and booked us in for dinner that night – no cost for camping but a bit of pressure to eat In house.  We were the only customers for dinner but the raging fire place and the Greek salad was excellent (souvlaki and Greek sausage wasn’t the best).  Dinner was home cooked by his mother and she did try hard and was just lovely.

 Thursday 22nd February

 Headed back up the mountain again this morning with the hope of getting better photos but no luck and with the long range weather not looking at all promising – rain, rain and more rain expected for about a week, we reluctantly moved on.

 Our first stop was at Vergina to see the tombs and the ancient palace but it was raining so heavily and with no chance of letting up, we headed off again.  We saw the tombs from the road but the gates were locked and the were tombs covered with plastic.   Have heard they are worthwhile seeing but not in this kind of weather.

Our campsite for tonight:  Methoni – 40.4544  22.5923 (no photos)

 This is a small seaside fishing village with a few tavernas along the harbourfront.  Again no one around except for a few locals in the tavernas and a few fishermen coming and going from the small Marina.  Like all these seaside villages, the seafront views are just wonderful.

 Friday 23rd February

 The tollway system is really hard to understand and sometimes you travel only a short distance before hitting a toll station and other times we travelled 70 kms with no tolls at all.  Took the tollway today as it was still raining and at times the fog was so thick, cars travelled at only a few kms per hour on the 130km roads.   Very scary as we climbed over mountain passes with no sign of the fog lifting until we headed down into Thessaloniki.

 This is a massive town and very industrial.

 Our campsite for tonight:   Zampetas, Kalamaria – 40.502892. 22.970530

 If you need to have any repairs done or motorhome supplies, this is definitely the spot to stop.  They offer a few places for motorhomes to stay and provide all the facilities you need including water, electricity and wifi (though very limited range).  Phone ahead if you need parts so they can order in for you.

 There were three other motorhomers here – Aussies, Brits and South Africian.  Had a super time sharing stories with the Aussies (Jordan and Alexendra) and the Brits with their two young boys 10 and 6 who were travelling the world.    ROB TO ADD FURTHER NFO HERE.

 Jordan and Alex called in here to have some major repairs done including a new dashboard for their Hymer (had rotted away from constant condensation) and repairs to their overhead bed structure.

 We didn’t need any repairs or supplies but spent a few dollars in their shop – they have absolutely everything you could wish for here and are the friendliest and nicest people from the shop attendants to the managers and service people – so helpful and full of advice for places to see in Greece.

2018/02/15 Greece – Sounion to Kala Nera

Thursday 15th February

Still drizzling when we left Sounion. Decided to have a few relaxing days on the beach with no mountain climbing, extra long walks or visits to archaeological sites planned – give the sore knees and feet time to recover.

We have found in Greece that the tolls are not based on the total distance travelled like Italy where you get a ticket on entry to a tollway and pay on exit. Here you pay a standard fee from one toll station to the next where distances between each can vary substantially. If you are unlucky enough to choose to get off after a couple of kms, then you pay the same fee.

Found it difficult to get NAVIE to stay away from the toll roads to our next destination but found a route that only required 2kms travelling along the tollway. Took a chance and yes – 1.5kms along we hit a toll station and paid a hefty €8.20 to travel only another 0.5 kms – ugh!

Our campsite for tonight: Porto Rafti GPS 37.8918N – 24.0246E

Just what the doctor ordered, a quiet beachfront parking area with magic views (though still drizzling) with a couple of shops, a bakery and tavernas (none of which are open).

Raining in Porto Rafti – still

Beside the campsite is a fenced in beach volleyball court, which hasn’t been used in a long time.

Lots of locals came here during the day to just sit and enjoy the views while others braved the cold and rain with some beach walking. The town is only a couple of kms away, but we opted not to explore but sit and read and relax in the warmth of our Ziggy.

The never ending pretty line of lights across the bay during the night showed how populated the seaside villages were.

Friday 16th February

Avoided the tollways today and travelled all the way along the coast line. Roads were really good even though our Collins Map Book showed them as very minor roads.

Our campsite for tonight: Agioi Apostoloi, GPS 38.2944N – 23.8970E

This is a really beautiful little seaside village with lots of tavernas and shops and a great little Marina.

The parking area is well done and well lit with lovely gardens and palm trees lining the boardwalk and the short walk to town. Today is really cold and windy (just managing to get into double figures) with the sun only peeking out very occasionally.

Raining in Agio Apostoloi – still

The waves lapping up against the boardwalk today are very agitated and it amazes me to see the locals out swimming in this cold unfriendly washing machine like sea.

A really beautiful village and worth a night or two here.

Saturday 17th February

Again travelling along the coast road, we passed over some beautiful coastal mountainsides with endless views across the sea to more of the islands on the Greek coast.

Sadly we have run out of fresh oranges which were so plentiful on the other coast. Have been spoiled with freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast each day and then more with the vodka in the evening. Have not seen any roadside stalls for days now and the orange trees are few and far between here.

We have seen so many unfinished concrete two storey dwellings all over Greece. Just the concrete frames and a concrete internal spiral staircase and nothing else. These have been abandoned for a long time with no sign of ever being completed.

Our campsite for tonight: Drosia, 38.4828 – 23.5189

A couple of kms from Drosia, this campsite again is absolute waterfront with a taverna and small fishing fleet in the Marina. We took a walk along the beach and found very little sign of life. Quite a few very large homes on large blocks of sea front land, all with high fences and imposing gates but very few looked occupied. More also of the concrete unfinished structures.

Marina and Taverna in Drosia

The taverna was packed from lunchtime until dark and the aromas coming from there were mouth- watering. We walked past several times but there was standing room only so left the locals in peace and retreated to Ziggy for some of last night’s leftovers 😋

Sunday 18th February

Sunshine for the first time in days but still a cool 11 degrees (inside Ziggy) when we woke up. Looked outside at 6.30 am to see some locals right in front of us fishing – if it was 11 inside – wonder what it was outside?

Took toll road as couldn’t find easy way to avoid this – cost €9.60 X 2 for approx 40km between toll gates.

Our campsite for tonight: Kaktis – GPS 38.7083N 23.0630E

Didn’t take photos as my driver forgot his camera but the campsite was again a parking area adjacent to a Marina on the waterfront. Very busy little village with lots of waterfront restaurants.

Weather has been overcast with very little sun and again cold. Enjoyed a half hour sitting on the Marina watching the fishing boats come in and then took a long walk along the seafront.

(No photo for Kaktis as the weather was kaktis)

Monday 19th February

Lots of activity this morning as the car park became packed with locals and tables and chairs were being set around us – so thought it was time to move on. Lots of families with kids flying kites everywhere. Thought it must be a special day.

Couldn’t find any way of avoiding the toll roads today. Our first choice of campsite at Almiriou (39.2085. 22.8221) was very remote – beautiful waterfront views, 2 kms of beach and great places to park but no one was anywhere to be seen and it pretty much looked deserted. Decided to move on.

Volos was our next choice where there were three places to choose from. This was an industrial city and soon we wished we had opted to head west and inland instead of this side.

What a nightmare for my driver and Ziggy. Our first stop was in the heart of the city and looked very unsafe so onto our next stop to the other side of the town.

People and families and cars were everywhere and it didn’t take long to guess today was a special holiday. Double and triple parked cars made it impossible for Ziggy to get through so after a few nine point turns we headed out of town. The last spot not far from here was on the beach but again all the tavernas were packed and any chance of parking were impossible.

Our campsite for tonight: Kala Nera, GPS 39.4038N 21.6323E

So happy to be away from here and as it was getting late headed for the next available camp spot.

This part of Greece is not our favourite as it is very industrial but here we finally came to rest at a great little waterfront spot with only a couple of spare spots. It was again raining slightly and our walk only confirmed that today was a holiday as the restaurants were again packed and dads were flying kites on the beach with the kids.

Had a flash flood in Kala Nera and parts of the beachfront were washed away

Probably the most boring post we have done – we have had nothing but rain, rain and more rain – not good for photography

2018/02/12 – Athens and Sounion – 1978 – 2018

Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th February

Our campsite for two nights: Parkopolis Port Parking, Piraeus/Athens

Took the toll road as there didn’t seem to be a lot of options from Corinth to Athens.  Went through two toll gates and thankfully only paid a total of €10.   The toll road was a breeze and we reached Athens quite quickly. 

Travelled through the outskirts of Athens to get to the Port.  Back in the big smoke again and dreading every minute of driving through it.  The traffic fortunately was reasonably light though probably my driver would not agree with me as he was very quiet and concentrated very hard. 

The campsite is nothing more than a car park with no amenities other than Internet, but only a couple of minutes walk to the train station and the Port itself.  Marie the parking attendant was super and gave us a map and a wealth of information to assist us with getting to Athens by rail and what to see whilst we were there.

Spent late afternoon walking around the Port area.  Had walked less than 100 metres and saw men urinating in the streets, homeless people sleeping in doorways and footpaths and men, women and children begging.

The whole area, and this is typical of much of southern Europe, particularly France, Portugal, Spain and Italy as well as Greece,  is not much more than one big rubbish tip – individual residences and businesses don’t get their own rubbish bin but a communal one for the street or the area and of course when there is no ownership to a bin then there is no responsibility and the whole system goes out the door and rubbish is just thrown anywhere and everywhere – even though some bins are marked recycling this just does not happen.

We felt very safe in our camp though with attendant supervision all day and gates are locked at 10pm at night.  We had a Brit motorhomer next door for the two days but didn’t see them at all, they like us spent full days in Athens sightseeing.

Took off early next morning to the train station and following Marie’s instructions, made life easy for us.  Piraeus is the end of the rail line and within seven stops we were in the heart of the Acropolis area. The view from the train on the way to the Acropolis was just mile after mile of graffiti.

Near the Athens Flea Market and Plaka area

Bought a seven site pass at the Acropolis which normally costs €30 each but being over 65 and using my EU passport was reduced to €15 each.  We have found a few places that provide reduced rates for EU citizens over 65 years of age.   We visited The Acropolis and the Parthenon, Ancient Agora and the Temple of Hephaistos (and so many more Archeological sites and museums), the huge Athens Flea Market at Monastiraki and strolled up and down the Plaka area until we could walk no more. 

Possibly one of the few places in Athens you will see any greenery – right below the Acropolis

 So much has changed since our visit in 1978 with most of the statues now missing from the Acropolis and Temples – now housed in the museums.  Even out of season, it was extremely busy at all the tourist spots – very popular with Asian tour groups – would hate to battle the summer crowds.

The Amphitheatre at the Acropolis

The back streets away from the main tourist spots were an eyesore – beggars and derelict buildings everywhere.  Lots of Police on motorbikes, bikes and on foot.  This has been the norm here in most of the European big cities.

Athens is obviously feeling the results of the EU migration policy – in the Plaka area there were hundreds and hundreds of men aged between around 18-30 years old just standing around doing nothing in groups or around 4-12 – on a working day and in the middle of the day – they had a real eastern European look about them and it was quite worrying – they obviously were not gainfully employed.

Feet and knees not sore and tired yet

We have procedures that we follow when walking in areas of high risk – we always walk in a direction facing the oncoming traffic, change sides of the street regularly, look in the glass of shop windows for reflections and when we feel someone is close behind us for some period of time we stop suddenly without warning and turn around.

Looking down at the Temple of Hephaistos from the Acropolis

I always carry my shoulder bag which contains our passports and all important paperwork with a chain which is locked to my wrist and the Driver regularly wiggles his shoulders to feel if anyone is trying to get into the backpack .

When walking down a narrow lane in the Plaka near the Flea Market we were followed by two dodgy looking guys and a female.

When we stopped unexpectedly and turned around the female was almost in the Drivers backpack and they pretended they were lost and moved to the side.

We resumed our walk and then the same thing happened again – just after that 2 Police came along on bikes gave them a real check out and the dodgy ones disappeared.

Very disappointing how Athens has changed.

Tasted the local “gyros” which is similar to our kebabs but wrapped in a whole Greek pita and served with a delicious sauce a bit like spicy hollandaise, tomato, lettuce and a few hot chips – so yummy!  Two of these and two 500ml Fix (best Greek beer) for a mere €9.

Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the day but by late afternoon when we could walk no more, headed to the train station.  There was standing room only and we were packed in like sardines but no one cared (except my feet of course).

Another very quiet night with just the two motorhomes in the car park overnight.  Highly recommended for location and ease of transport to Athens – though could not find anything interesting in the Port itself.

Wednesday 14th February

Valentine’s Day today so headed down to the tip of the island to the beautiful seaside village of Sounion.  We had such fond memories of this place in 1978 so thought after 40 years we would go back – expecting lots of changes of course.

Took the coast road and passed by so many Olympic Games sites – now looking very unoccupied.   Must have been such a financial burden on this relatively poor country.

Our campsite for tonight:  Sounion  GPS  37.6552N. – 24.0247E

Surprisingly, very little had changed and even the little seaside restaurant (Fish Tavern Ilias) we so fondly remembered, was still there.  Some renovations of course but the main old part still there. 

Celebrated lunch with my Valentine whilst overlooking the sea.  The grilled octopus was just delicious (but quite ugly looking).

Looking down at Sounion from Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon – brown building is hotel we stayed at in 1978 and white building top left is our favourite Taverna from 1978

One of those funny little memories we had of eating at this Taverna in 1978 was that when we arrived I ordered an Ouzo and Coke and my Driver, as usual, ordered a beer.  The Greeks could not imagine that Ouzo and Coke would be mixed so I was presented with about a 7 ounce glass of Ouzo and one of Coke. 

Beautiful octopus – great looking too – not

This is one of the great memories we have recounted over and over again for the past 40 years.

The hotel next door where we stayed in 1978 was still there.  The only addition was another waterfront restaurant – all else unchanged.

Overlooking the small village, high on the hill, was the Temple of Poseidon.  Again the statues had been removed and now, like everywhere in Greece, barricaded and fenced off, with a pay station (in 1978 there was no fence and no pay station).  The entry costs to all archaeological sites are reduced in the winter months, but still very reasonable compared to other cities.

Rain clouds came over in the late afternoon but we were so happy that we had a beautiful day until then to visit the Temple and have a superb relaxed lunch in the sunshine.

There is a campsite area half way up the hill to the Temple but is very open and exposed so opted to spend the night at the other campsite down beside the Taverna.

Temple of Poseidon – Cape Sounion – southern tip of Greece mainland

Lots of stray cats here, but given a choice, they are better than the stray dogs who bark endlessly.

Rained all night but had another very peaceful quiet night with one other motorhome here to keep us company.

Food and drink is still comparatively good value in Greece compared to most other European countries, however not as cheap, comparatively, as it was 40 years ago – could have something to do with the fact that there is now 24%  GST in Greece on everything you buy.



2018/02/09 – Acient Corinth Greece

Friday 9th and Saturday 10th February
Our campsite for two nights: Camperstop, Ancient Corinth

Spent two wonderful days in this campsite which is run by a wonderful old Greek couple. They have created the campsite at the back of their home and provide everything you could want – water, power, shower and WC, grey and black waste disposal and Internet as well as a great undercover space to meet and mingle with other campers all for a mere €10 per night.

We certainly met some really interesting motorhomers here – Berndt and his wife are German but also speak Greek, French and excellent English and have been designated as Commandants of the campsite and interpreters for the old couple.

They have been living here for a couple of years now and have become Greek citizens. They have no immediate plans to return back to Germany as they disagree with what has been happening in Germany, politically, over the past few years (mainly the migration issues).

There was also an 85 year old Brit who is also in the process of obtaining Greek citizenship – very colourful character who is looking for a short term Bulgarian wife to assist his efforts to register and insure his motorhome in Bulgaria – then getting an instant divorce 😍 – all could be done from this campsite in Greece! He evidently has lost his British motorhome insurance and can’t leave the campsite until this happens – the Bulgarian marriage is the easiest way out???.

The township is only a km from the campsite – but all uphill. Not much more than a couple of streets to the main part of town with scattered homes and small farms and of course the ancient ruins making up the rest.

The Museum of Isthmia here is one of the most interesting we have visited in Greece so far and the internal security was just amazing.

Inside the Museum of Isthmia

Every room we entered was manned by a person who followed us through every inch of the museum. Evidently they had a very large theft some years ago (around 300 items) and through the FBI traced the thieves and lost artefacts back to the USA. This museum houses the rich excavation finds from all periods including finds from Prehistoric settlements, Roman statues, mosaic floors and murals.

The Temple of Apollo and the ruins surrounding it, were really worth the visit – a very large area in total and including an amphitheatre.

Temple of Apollo at Ancient Corinth

Stopped in the Main Street for a drink and chat with the locals before venturing back down the hill to the campsite. Lots of tavernas and eating places here as well as shops selling all replicas of Grecian pottery and statues.

Rained heavily through the night and continued on through the whole of next day so opted to stay on at the campsite until the weather cleared.

Sunday 11th February

Said our goodbyes to the old Greek campsite owners who insisted we take some of their home grown vegetables – broccoli, potatoes and a massive butternut pumpkin. They provide fresh fruit and veggies from their garden to everyone and stock the fridge in the communal area daily. They also provide their own olive oil and wine for purchase. Beautiful people and a really great campsite.

Headed off to Nemea around 30 kms away, only to find the Ancient Stadium and Ancient ruins including the Temple of Zeus, closed until further notice because they could no longer staff it. We still managed to get a photo of the temple through the fence.

Temple of Zeus at Nemea

This area is also renowned for wine growing with a few wineries open to sample some of their wines. Sampled a couple of good reds and a rose (not normally our preferred wine) – but this one was good.

From there we travelled to Mycenae one of the most ancient prehistoric Acropolis of the Peloponnese.

Part of the burial tombs at Mycenae

The Fortress here was built by the Mycenaean civilisation with the Lion Gates and the Cyclopean walls just breathtaking. The museum here included a treasure of pottery, tools and jewellery of this era.

The Lions Gate at Mycenae

A quick trip then back to Ancient Corinth to the top of the mountain overlooking this city (park4nite GPS 37.8899N – 22.8682E). Here the fortified Acropolis, Acrocorinthe is one of the largest and oldest fortresses in the Peloponnese. Its imposing walls belong entirely to the medieval period. Built before 1210 on the large plateau at the summit, stands the ruins of the temple of Aphrodite.

The view was absolutely breathtaking and it is possible to stay here for the night but as we had planned dinner in the town, (after all it was the Navigator’s birthday) we came down from the mountain and found a park close to the tavernas.

Our campsite for tonight: town Ancient Corinthe – (Park4nite – GPS 37.9076N – 22.8801E)

Not more than a carpark, but only a few metres from the towns tavernas, this campsite allows for overnight parking for cars and motorhomes.

Found a taverna with a fireplace raging – (that was what we needed as the temperature had turned quite cold) – so ventured in and had just the best night. Menus were in about 5 languages including English too (wake up to yourselves France) which helped because the owner didn’t speak English.

Sat beside four old Greek men who were just enjoying each other’s company (and the odd Ouzo) and soon we engaged in conversation with one of them who spoke English – he (Spiro) translated for the rest. We laughed a lot and had a super meal and soon our friends left in the dark on step through scooters. 10 minutes later Spiro came back with a bag full of freshly picked oranges from his garden – how special was that – this is the hospitality we have treasured here in Greece and it made for a great birthday night.

Birthday Taverna dinner for Krys with Spiro (the orange man)
Monday 12th February

Decided to head back up the mountain to the summit this morning and have breakfast at Acrocorinthe. Quite a few cars already up here by 8am when the gates opened so after a beautiful breakfast including freshly squeezed oranges (compliments of Spiro) we headed up the million steps to the top. Really invigorating – started with coats, gloves and neck warmers and came back in short sleeves – did I say invigorating – meant exhausting!

Are we really heading up there??? – Yes and the view was great

Next we drove to see the submersible bridge at the Corinth Shipping Canal.

Corinth ship canal

Only saw a couple of yachts go through whilst we were there – missed seeing one of the larger ships go through – so unbelievable though – what a buzz.

It is a long way down to the bottom of the canal

2018/02/06 – Greece – Water taxi from Galatas to Poros Island

Tuesday 6th February 2018

Our campsite for tonight:  Parking Galatas – opposite Island of Poros

This parking area P3 is located right on the waterfront with views across to the island of Poros.   Galatas is definitely the poorer mainland sister of the two and is a little old village that sits in the shadow of its island sister of Poros. 

Looking from our overnight site across to Poros Island

Scattered tavernas and small supermarkets line the Galatas side but very few are occupied, with tourists opting to take the water taxi across to Poros for a mere €1 each way.

Poros looks so over populated with three storey terraced apartments and buildings occupying every spare inch on the waterfront and spreading up the entire mountain side – not a tree in sight – a little like Cinque Terrase but on a larger scale.

There is little or no waiting as the numerous water taxis continually come across between the islands and drop off passengers and then go to the back of the taxi queue to wait their turn again.   Some of the water taxis look like they can hardly make it to the other side but obviously this is a source of income to many here.

A nice home on Poros Island

We, like other tourists ventured across to Poros and climbed the 200 steps to the Clock Tower which is the upper focal point of the island.  Views of course were spectacular from here and we could see Ziggy on the other side waiting patiently for our return.  Huge passenger and car ferries leave from here to tour the islands.

View from the Clock Tower on Poros Island back towards Galatas

The other side of the island was similarly over populated and the walk was really enjoyable up and down the cobbled streets.   So many of the terraced apartments have been renovated and restored and are just stunning.

They have some naughty brand names for bikes in Greece

Down at the waterfront it was an eaters delight with so many restaurants to choose from and further along the boardwalk, a yachting fleet of 34 – 44 foot vessels stood ready to rent out in the summer months.  From here it would be amazing to rent one and tour the Greek Islands – sadly too cold right now.  I could see the faraway look in my drivers eyes – his dream no doubt.

The rental fleet ready to go – all French Jeanneau

Wednesday 7th February

There are quite a lot of wild camping spots along this part of the coastline and the APP “Park 4 Night” (French) – certainly gives us a lot more choices than the Dutch “NKC Parkings”.   We firstly travelled to Methana which has two great spots – one on the massive jetty with water on both sides and the other on the Marina.   Both would have been fantastic but little or nothing was open in the town so decided to move on. 

Our campsite for tonight:   Palea Epidavros. GPS 37.6369N. 23.1618E

Found this little gem on Park 4 night as well.  There are two spots here.  The first was a real challenge for Ziggy and my driver to navigate through this narrow streeted town to the beach.  Sometimes we were not able to get around the tight corners without doing a three or four point turn.  The beach was deserted but as we looked across the bay, we saw another better spot with a motorhome there already, so heart in hand went back the way we came.  Very tight again and at the end of it, we were delighted to make it without striking another car.

Looking from our overnight site back towards Epidavros Bay

So peaceful and quiet here, with the only sounds being of the small waves lapping up on the beach of this headland.   The town itself is quite busy with tourists because of the archaeological theatre which is only a few klms away.

Thursday 8th February

Our campsite for tonight:  Isthmia, GPS 37.9134N  23.0078E

Quite an isolated spot on the waterfront with a great beach.  Very little here apart from a few seaside homes and a beautiful taverna.   The views across to Corinth were entertaining watching the large ships coming and going in the distance.

A great place to catch up on chores, read and do some light laundry. 

We sat and watched two young ladies riding two graceful and stunningly groomed stallions – one black and one white.  They trotted beautifully along the beach and then into the sea – sometimes the horses heads went below the water line and of course riders were very wet.  These were obviously very special show horses with this being part of their training.

Overnight beachfront at Isthmia

We have been amazed at the number of stray cats and dogs here in Greece.   Our first memory was at our first night in Greece where this beautiful dog who had obviously just had pups, befriended us and followed us wherever we walked and sat outside just waiting for us to come out.  Of course, we fed her and patted her but did not realise that she was a stray as she had a collar on.  The day we left, she ran beside Ziggy until she could run no more and we were so sad and felt so bad, we have not fed any since. 

We have been told by locals that this is normal and strays are left alone to survive or die.  Many local restaurants feed these strays and in return the dogs sit guard at the restaurant doors protecting the premises.  We have been told that it is wise to feed them as they will sit guard at your motorhome and alert you to any strangers who approach!  Haven’t tried this as yet but don’t think I could just leave them as we did with our first encounter.  Some of these dogs are just so beautiful – it really breaks your heart to see them like this.

Had dinner of course in the taverna (Greek salad was fantastic as always but seafood selected was deep fried and far from the best).  Stray dogs followed us back to Ziggy but soon gave up and went back to the restaurant to wait for more generous customers.


2018/02/03 – Greece – from the 4th century BC to today

Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th February 2018

Our campsite for two nights:  Nafplio

The first capital of Greece, Nafplio, gave us two wonderful days of walks and treasures to explore in this city.

This waterfront campsite gave us a front row seat view across to Bourtzi Island Fortress which was built in 1473 and became the residence of the executioners who carried out the death sentences in Palamidi prison.  It was converted to a hotel in 1935 with the only access being by boat.

View of Bourtzi from Ziggy

The campsite is one of mixed parking where locals fill the car park over two periods each day.  Firstly for around three hours during lunchtime and then again around 7pm to -10pm for dinner – after that mostly only motorhomes and trucks stay during the night. 

Saturday is market day so we found our way to the markets and watched locals buying up big on fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a variety of fish and shellfish from the open air stalls – some were not packed in ice!.  Australian OH&S Officers would have a field day here. Stall after stall of assorted clothing and nick nacks were on offer and eager customers rummaging through them for a bargain.

Walked through the really interesting Old Town where the entire floor area of the town square was marble.  The terraced houses were just beautiful- fully restored and painted in pastel shades with balconies featuring coloured painted wrought iron railings and finishing off the picture with colourful potted plants.

Napflio town square with marble tiles

There are so many magic walks that lead around the waterfront headland.  Our 3km walk took us along the steep cliffs of Acronafplia and past the walls of Palamidi Prison, through to Arvanitia Beach.

We spent some time speaking to a German motorhomer who gave us a wealth of information about the area and things to explore.  We had planned to spend our second night in the area at Karathona Beach but he told us the police were booking over nighters here at €150 a piece for camping there – he got booked two days before.

Left Sunday morning to go sightseeing.  First stop was Palamidi Fortress (from the Nafpoli side there were 1000 steps to get there) but by car and on the way to Karathona Beach, there is a turnoff which takes you to the front gate.  

The Navigator checking out the view from Palamidi Fortress

This Fortress is huge and even though we didn’t do the 1000 steps to get here, I am sure we did about 250 steps around the site.  The views were panoramic across the town below and way out to the sea and mountains.  Worth every minute spent here and should be put on “your must do list”.

1000 steps leading to Palamidi Fortress

From there we went to the famous Karathona Beach (for lunch only).  Very dead at this time of year with none of the tavernas open but in the summer time would be huge.  A beautiful beach but littered with garbage everywhere – very sad but pretty much the scenario all over many of the countries we have seen.  Saw the “no camping signs” and wondered why others chose to ignore it – cost them a pretty penny. 

The view from Palamidi Fortress down to Acronafplia

Came back to our campsite where a well deserved rest was needed before sampling some more great food at one of the waterfront tavernas.

Monday 5th February

Our first stop was at the Ancient Archaeological theatre in Epidavros.

This theatre was erected at the end of the 4th century BC (not AD) – how old does that make it and how were these structures built with the limited equipment they had in those days.

Epidavros Theatre

It is estimated the theatre could accommodate 12,000 spectators.

Theatrical plays are still performed here during summer Epidavros festivals.

The theatre was excavated in 1881 and further restoration work was carried out between 1954-1963.

Epidavros Theatre

There are large parking areas at the site but overnight parking is not permitted.

Our campsite for tonight:  Porto Heli (PortoCheli).

Not in any of our apps but recommended by our German motorhome friend from Nafplio.

Travelled through some magnificent scenic mountain roads to the southern tip of this part of Greece.  Like so many places in Greece, the towns and villages are spelt differently on maps and APPS making it a nightmare to navigate using street addresses.

A street scene at Porto Heli Harbour

The village is set on a magnificent harbour front with expensive yachts and motor cruisers everywhere – many flying British flags.  Expect this is a place where wealthy Brits moor their boats and probably own some real estate here as well.

Our sunset view from Ziggy at Porto Heli

The harbourfront has free parking areas and there are no signs indicating otherwise.  Found the best spot of course and settled in for another peaceful quiet night.

2018/01/29 – Greece – the best Calamari ever

Monday 29th January & Tuesday 30th January

Woke up to another magic Greek sunrise after a wonderfully peaceful night. Blue skies, no wind and not a cloud anywhere to be seen.

Travelled from the west coast to the east coast today. Hard to believe things could get any better but they did.

Our campsite for two nights: Monemvassia

Again on the waterfront at a small village with a small fishing fleet and port for larger vessels. A huge parking area is provided for locals and restaurant goers and of course motorhomes. A very touristy place, however in the winter months, not as busy with many of the restaurants and tavernas closed for the season.

The ancient city of Monemvassia is just a short 15 minute walk across to the island directly opposite the Marina. Wow – what a surprise. We saw the castle and church perched atop the mountain but it was not until we were half way around the other side, did the ancient city come into view. It has been mostly restored now and houses lots of very classy old hotels and restaurants.

One of the many narrow cobble stoned streets through the ancient walled city

The restored buildings have been done very effectively and in the style of the old ruins which are still nestled amongst them. There are several levels of buildings built into the mountainside with narrow cobbled streets, just wide enough to walk along – no cars or bikes are permitted so everything is brought in and out by wheel barrows. We saw the porters bringing in fresh linen for the hotels – yes in wheel barrows. All rubbish is taken to the front entry of the town – beyond the entry gate.

Great views which ever way we looked

Took a good part of our day as we strolled up and down and through the many levels – what a hoot! Such hot thirsty work all this mountain climbing – just had to stop at a rooftop taverna and sample the wares whilst overlooking the breathtaking ocean views than went forever.

Even a Roman Bath

Another beautiful sunny day next day so opted to stay on. Only a couple of motorhomes here overnight with our neighbour (Ben) being this amazing 83 year old Danish man who had been travelling in this same motorhome for 42 years. He lost his wife 12 years back but still travels to Greece for six months every year. He was quite excited today as he was receiving his new dentures. Evidently he threw the old pair out accidentally in the rubbish and has been waiting for 6 weeks for new ones.

Decided to have a nice lunch today – really hankering for some more fresh seafood – so after a long walk around the village – stopped back at the closest restaurant to us on the pier. No seafood would you believe – so Garcon recommended the second last restaurant at the end of the bay – a cousin, I think?? Kosta was his name – couldn’t tell you the name of the restaurant as it was written in Greek. We sat outside – across the road from the kitchen – and were served the best grilled calamari we have ever had. A whole calamari sliced thinly and grilled and flavoured Greek style. Yum.

The best calamari – ever

Bought an amazing chocolate covered mouse from a bakery on the way home – which we had after a light dinner.

Wednesday 31st January & Thursday 1st January

Could have stayed on for more days here but we have so much still to see so opted to move on. Ben had told us about this super place not far from here so took his advice and headed in that direction.

Port Limenas, Geraka – ancient ruins of temple of Zanez

Only about 20kms from Monemvassia and a very pleasant drive through the mountains, we arrived at this small one road in and one road out – quaint but small waterfront village with a church and a few houses and some waterfront tavernas. The end of the road was a parking place on the pier for boats and of course motorhomes, though it is not registered as a parking place in any of our apps.

Looks like a good spot for Ziggy to view the sites

We ran into a couple of locals sitting in front of a taverna (had their worry beads doing a few laps) while we spoke with them. They told us the tavernas only opened at 2pm so as we had seen the sign to the temple of Zanez about a km back, decided to explore this and soak up the hour or so until opening.

All the way uphill, we ventured over rocks and boulders along a track that thankfully was marked with red paint on the occasional boulder along the way to assist us with finding the temple. Took quite a while and eventually we reached the top, only to find there was not much left of the temple – hardly worth the effort to get up there to see the ruins but the 360 degree view at the top was really worth it.

Got lost a couple of times on the way down and backtracked a couple of times until we found the red paint again. Now really thirsty and hungry we headed back to the taverna where the locals had been sitting – only to be informed that Wednesday was a rest day and none of the restaurants would be open.

Had a Ziggy lunch and sat for some time and watched the fishermen try their luck from the dock.

Had seen this beautiful isolated beach only about 10kms back so decided to head back there and spend the night.

Our campsite for tonight: beachfront – co ordinates 36.728362. 23.026256

Found a couple of Brits here soaking up the sunshine and after a long chat moved further up the beach to give them and ourselves some privacy.

They too were regulars to Greece and turns out they knew and were friends with Ben who we met at Monemvassia. They are so lucky to be able to venture here every year from just across the channel – we are so envious and would love to be in their shoes.

Spent two wonderful sunny days here soaking up the sunshine and recharging the batteries (ours not Ziggy). Even got out the BBQ and indulged in a wonderful rib fillet steak and a good bottle of Greek red wine for lunch (think it was Greek- can’t remember!) then read my latest Dan Brown book, Inferno – but dozed off mostly in the camp chairs for a good part of the afternoon.

Our beach front campsite for 2 nights – even had a BBQ

How wonderfully relaxing this country is!

Friday 2nd February

A cloudy day for the first time in a few days so said goodbye to our Brit friends who are heading in the same direction as us over the next couple of weeks. Likely we will probably run into them again.

Opted to head inland north over the mountains today instead of hugging the coast road. Had heard that this was the wisest thing to do from here.

First stop after replenishing our food and grog supplies in Lidl in Skala was Sparta.

We headed to Mystra, the ancient site in Sparta, and spent the afternoon exploring the mid 13th century medieval fortress, citadel, churches and monasteries.

All of course built into a mountainside. It constantly poses us with the question – how did they do it way back then when they didn’t have the equipment and technology we have today. For us, it is such a huge hike just to walk it to the top. Unfortunately, at this time of year they close at 3pm so we did not get to see everything. Really worth the time to spend here.

Decided to head for the coast again as there did not appear to be any interesting places to camp in Sparta though there is lots more to see here. The main streets are lined with orange trees in full fruit. Strange that they still sell oranges here when they are there for the picking in every street. Have run out of the large bag we bought – fresh orange juice for breakfast for days – very tempted to stop and pick some but not sure if it is legal.

Travelled across country again over the mountains. Great road with lots of scenery, though lots of hairpin bends and soon we sighted the water again.

Our campsite for tonight: Beachfront, Myli (Mylio) – a few kms south west of Amyros – not designated campspot.

Just a small village again with only one street leading to the beach where there is a boat ramp, great beach and of course lots of tavernas. Parked right on the boardwalk and dropped in to one of the tavernas to check if we were allowed to park there. With a big smile and “no problemo” reassuring us, we headed back to Ziggy and tapped into a free wi fi and spent a couple of hours catching up on the blog before choosing one of the tavernas to have another great Greek meal – just so inexpensive and oh so good.

There were more boats then cars to compete with for an overnight spot

Of course as soon as they find out we are from Australia they can’t tell you quickly enough that they have a relation or friend who lives in Australia – usually Melbourne.

A local fisherman repairing his nets

We then ask them if they knew that Melbourne is the 2nd largest Greek City in the World – some do and some don’t.

2018/01/24 – Greece – Octopus, Bocquerones and Ouzo

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.

Pylos Harbour

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 these Churches in this part of the world

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.

Looking down at Diros where we will be camping for the next 2 nights

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.

What a great spot – the water is so clear

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.

Drying the clothes at Diros

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.

Not a bad sunset at Diros

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.

Freshly caught Octopus being cleaned and then straight on to our plates

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.

Part of our meal – they were called Bocquerones in Spain – not sure in Greece but they were great eating

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.