Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

199802 Greece – Crete & Mainland

SUNDAY 1 FEBRUARY 1998 – We aim for any early start and when Steve opens the van door at 7.30am he sees Chris and Barrie in their car waiting to see us off.  They have been there since 7am and Barrie has hung a big “Baggies” flag on the bikes behind the van to remind Steve that West Brom beat Wolves 1-0 yesterday.  A quick drive through Malia so Claire & Daz can see where the island pulses in summer.  Next a blitz on the ancient sites of Knossos, the archaeological museum, Gortys (where we bump into Claire & Malcolm again) and finally Festos.  We park up for the night and are joined by Claire & Malcolm.  We all gather in their motorhome for a combined meal.  Try to use out microwave to cook some food but find we have a problem with the generator.  Malcolm sorts it out temporarily with a by pass from the fuse.  Our feast begins with nibbles and sherry.  Main course is roast chicken, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, broccoli, carrots, peas, sweetcorn and gravy.  Desserts of Christmas pudding (with drambuie) and custard rounded off with cheese and biscuits.  The diet begins tomorrow!  

FESTOS – 94 MILES

 

MONDAY 2 FEBRUARY – Daz & Claire use our mountain bikes to cycle from Festos to Matala with us following as support vehicle (forgot to mention that they cycled from Vai to Palekastro the other day but this is twice as far).  We stop ahead of them at the top of a hill and I lean out of the window with a sponge and drink.  Claire is too shattered to be amused but they carry on and complete the journey.  After a few moments recovery they head off to climb up the rocks to the Matala cave tombs.  On to Kok Pirgos and The Red Castle fish restaurant for lunch where Steve & Daz share a fish platter with 15 assorted ones complete with heads and tails.  Last stop Ag Galini where the 3 Dutch vans are still parked up.  Nice warm afternoon for wandering around.  After dropping the laundry off we make an early evening visit to the Café Neo where we snack on baked potatoes, tomatoes, boiled eggs, olives and fish.

AG GALINI – 29 MILES

 

TUESDAY 3 FEBRUARY – Lovely hot day so we make an early start and after brief stops at Spilli and the Armenian cemetery we arrive at Lake Kournas at 11am.  Serious sunbathing weather but Claire & Daz do drag themselves away for long enough to take a pedalo out on the lake to see the turtles.  We leave after 4pm when the sun starts to drop behind the mountains.  Into Chania to book onto the ferry for tomorrow night.  We upgrade from our 2 aircraft style seats to an ensuite cabin for 4.  Claire & Daz manage a bit of shopping and sightseeing whilst we are dealing with this.  Meet American Steve at the roadhouse where we round off the day with a nice steak dinner.

ONIOUFRIOS BEACH – 93 MILES

 

WEDNESDAY 4 FEBRUARY – Another nice morning so we drop more laundry off in Chania and drive out to our usual peaceful beach spot – this time invaded by 4 coach loads of school kids on an outing to the park.  Claire & Daz sunbathe on the beach and Steve has a swim before starting the BBQ lunch.  We board the ferry at around 6.30pm but have to complain as the air conditioner isn’t working in the cabin and it is very hot.  We get upgraded to a distinguished class cabin but the only thing up about it is the 3 flights of stairs.  The air conditioner again doesn’t work but this time the purser assures me it will once we set sail.  The crossing isn’t good and the rooms stays hot most of the night.  At least when we came over as deck class we could move around the ship to find a cooler spot – will know for next time. 

FERRY TO ATHENS – 26 MILES

 

THURSDAY 5 FEBRUARY – The alarm goes off at 5am and although we are convinced we haven’t slept it does wake us all up.  Good job too as when we emerge from the cabin at 5.30am we are docked and the majority of passengers have already left (crazy Greeks, they spend half the night keeping us awake with tannoy announcements but don’t make one in the morning to get you up!).  Luckily we were not blocking anyone on the car deck.  Drive out of the docks onto the GREEK MAINLAND and south to Glyfadda for a few hours sleep.  Just in the throws of deciding when and how to “hit” Athens when the heavens open up.  The rain finally stops and we get a taxi straight to the acropolis (taxi very reasonable at £3.50 for 11 miles).  The site is fantastic.  Perched on a hill with incredible 360-degree views over Athens and into the distance.  The sun has come out and it is getting quite warm.  Spend time looking at the various temples before hitting a problem with Daniel’s dinner.  We need to find a place with a microwave to warm his frozen meal but can’t find one anywhere.  Sitting it in boiling water doesn’t work and he is none too thrilled at yoghurt along.  We get a taxi back to the motorhome (can’t figure out why the meter shows £4.50 as we drove faster on exactly the same route back) by which time Daniel is asleep.  Drive further onto Voula Beach.  It is now hot and sunny and we stop for lunch.  A final drive around the coast brings us to Varkiza, a small town with beach, good parking and shops etc.  I cook a meal for us which holds a couple of surprises – the battered onion rings turn out to be calamari fritters and the pistachio dessert is tasteless so we can only imagine it is pistachio coloured!

VARKISA – 28 MILES

 

FRIDAY 6 FEBRUARY – Our last day together so we begin with a lie in followed by a traditional English cooked breakfast.  Claire & Daz pack whilst we take a stroll with Daniel.  We are really going to miss him; he is such a pleasant little fellow.  Head to the airport before it gets dark and I prepare our “last supper” whilst Steve and Claire check out departure details.  Preparations begin in earnest after dinner and I enjoy bathing Daniel for the last time.  And so to bed with the alarm set for 3am. 

ATHENS, GLYFADDA AIRPORT –

 

SATURDAY 7 FEBRUARY – No problem checking in and with luck they have a row of 3 seats so that they can spread out with Daniel.  We say our Goodbyes and I just manage not to cry until they are out of sight (what a softie hey?).  We try to move the van to a quieter spot away from the airport but get a bit lost and by the noise I think we have ended up parked right at the end of the runway.  Feel a bit like the lads in “Wayne’s World” lying back to watch the planes fly overhead.  Give up on sleep around 9am and move on to fill up with water and for me to do a hand wash and make the most of the warm breezy day.  Park up by Glyfadda marina and in the evening visit the cinema to see “The full monty” – what a laugh.  I can’t remember when I last laughed aloud so much at a film.  A lot obviously gets lost in the translation to Greek subtitles as at times there seems to be only us and another couple behind us laughing.  A classic example is at the funeral when two of the lads remark on two of their other friends turning out to be gay and finish the conversation with “well there’s nowt as queer as folk!” 

GLYFADDA MARINA – 24 MILES

 

SUNDAY 8 FEBRUARY – Back on tour and we head out to the Peleponesse.  Our approach takes us over the Corinth canal.  Opened in 1893 it cut 6 hours sailing time around the Peleponesse peninsula.  Today it is little used, as the super tankers are too big to go through.  We are lucky and see a ship being pulled through by a tug but unlike he one Michael Palin was on with only 6” to spare this one is a baby.  Still a spectacular sight to see and obviously on the main tour itinerary as on both sides of the bridge the large car parks are full and shops, bars and restaurants take advantage.  Ancient Corinth the roman city is huge and impressive.  There’s an unusual fountain area where a natural spring still fills the roman water cistern and is still used today.  A quick visit to Nemaea with the stadium for the biennial games (the winner got crowned with a ring of wild celery).  Last ancient site of the day (yes it’s Sunday sites are us day) Mycenae, a citadel surrounded by massive graves.  These tombs are entered via a long corridor then through a chamber doorway into a huge domed underground central area.  It is though the tombs here held royalty and the treasures found are the richest archaeological finds to date but you have to go to the museum to see them.  There is a secret water cistern in the citadel with dark twisty underground passageways leading to a sudden 70-foot drop into the well.  We have learnt from past mistakes and pass on this one.  A little further south Nafplio is our stop for the night.  A pretty town and once the capital of Greece.  The old quarter is a maze of Venetian houses overlooked by the citadel on one hill and the fort on another 857 steps up from town).  You can wander round for ages stumbling on quaint houses, backyards full of junk, side alley steps covered with flower tubs, catholic churches, mosques and Turkish fountain – enchanting. 

NAFPLIO – 140 MILES

 

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY – We climb to the top of the Palamidhi fort and I count over 900 steps to the entrance plus loads more inside the 8 bastions, which make up the compound.  It is named after Palmedes who invented dice, lighthouses and measuring scales.  The views are superb but there is a very cold wind so we are glad to leave.  We have spotted a better parking place at the bottom of the fort so move it then drop all the visitor bedding off at the laundry.  I spend all afternoon cleaning in the van.  Steve seems to be going down with a cold so sits in the corner and reads but still manages to dangle his legs around to trip me up.  Go out for an evening meal to a place on the harbour front where a man tried to entice us in last night by offering out of season prices.  Negotiate the mousakka and chips from 1300Drs (£2.85) to 1000Drs (£2.20) and beer from 450Drs (99p) to 300Drs (66p) or to put it another way we get a free beer with the meal.  The funny thing is that he is offering different deals to everyone but fortunately he writes your price on the paper tablecloth.  Steve’s cold is really developing and I am starting with one as well.

NAFPLIO 2 – 1 MILE

 

TUESDAY 10 FEBRUARY – I get up at 3.30am.  Steve definitely has flue, the snoring, snorting and throat clearing are dead giveaways.  I can feel myself getting bunged up so I am sitting writing yesterdays diary whilst sipping a Lemsip.  It is the first time since we left Cappadocia early November that we have had a lot of cold nights.  We are leaving the heating on low and I think we are getting the same type of cold we used to get in England when we first put the heating on in the autumn.  Back to bed.  I get up at 8.30 and we dose ourselves up before driving north first to Paliaepidauros then to the site of Epidauros.  The huge amphitheatre is impressive but the setting is not as nice as others we have seen.  The whole area is the Sanctuary of Asklepios, a kind of 4c BC health farm in a beautiful pine tree valley.  There are remains of baths, gymnasiums, hostels, stadium etc but all in the throws of major reconstruction.  Apparently anyone cured of an illness here used to leave behind a clay model of that part of the body (I wonder what he phallus was cured of?  Onwards for a tour of the coast and to Ermioni with a detour to check out the Lena Mary naturist hotel (now under development as a textile hotel).  Up the coast to Galatas opposite the island of Poros.  Didn’t realise that Poros was only 350m from the mainland or that it is actually two islands, the small one comprising solely of Poros town.  Park up and at 4.30pm set out to stroll around Galatas town.  We are trying to read a poster on the door of a Café Neo when a man comes out and hauls us in.  He insists on buying us an ouzo, then another and yet another.  He also keep ordering food for us, the last dish being an omelette with tomatoes and salami.  His name is Yannis and he works hard through the day as a labourer then comes to the bar with his workmates to drink until 7.00pm, the time his wife thinks he finishes work!  One of the men speaks English and when we try to buy them a round of drinks he says that in Greece when you are bought the first drink you cannot reciprocate at all that night so we must enjoy the hospitality.  Two of the workers nearly come to blows over who is to buy us the next drink.  Yannis gives us his phone number and offers us free accommodation at his pension (wonder how he would explain to his wife how he met us).  Eventually they begin to disperse and stagger drunkenly to their cars.  Back at the van we get a knock on the door from an old man who just says, “Welcome in my country”.  What a strange but friendly place.  Later on we take the ferry to Poros (bargain at 20p) but having walked along the seafront we conclude it is only a summer resort as almost everywhere is closed.  Back at Galatas we stop at a different Café Neo nearer to the car park.  “Die hard with a vengeance” is on the TV in English with Greek subtitles.  The old man who came to the van to welcomes us appears in the bar and starts to great us again.  One of the other customers explains that he is a bit of a nutter. 

GALATAS – 107 MILES

 

WEDNESDAY 11 FEBRUARY – Steve is struggling with his cold (he didn’t seem too bad last night in the bar though).  I nip to the kiosk for cough sweets whilst he festers in bed.  The sun is shinning and not a cloud in sight and this entices Steve to get up.  A short drive west takes us to Troezen.  We park in the lemon groves and walk past hundreds of lemon trees and through fields full of carnations to get to the ruins.  Not much of a site but a super view of both the northern and southern argolid coast.  Back to the van to pack a picnic for our hike up the gorge to “Devils Bridge”.  The path is difficult to find and after much rock clambering, stream hopping and scrambling up and down the gorge sides we give up when we still haven’t found it after ½ hour.  Luckily we do find a nice pool and sit in the sun before taking a skinny dip, drying out in the sun then eating our picnic, probably better than walking to the bridge anyway.  Back at the starting point we decide to explore downstream and this is where we find the bridge!   Someone as secured a rope between two trees and you have to kind of abseil sideways hanging above the stream to get to the viewing point.  It is like a fairy grotto with the rock bridge above strewn with greenery, caves, rock pools and waterfalls that look like waterslide – and only a 10 minute downstream and not 30 minutes up stream as stated in the book!  Amble back to the van tired but having really enjoyed the walk in the sun.  South to Tolo for the night.  We spot some oil under the front of the van and this causes concern.  John the mechanic on Crete said he thought one of the front shock absorbers had gone but it would be better to wait and get it fixed in Italy.  We have around 1000 miles to go before we even get to the ferry so will try and find a Ford garage tomorrow.

TOLO – 56 MILES

 

THURSDAY 12 FEBRUARY – Call at the Ford garage in Nafplio and they can’t do anything but assure us it is no problem and we will be able to get it repaired or new parts in Tripoli or Athens (we believed we would need to replace both shock absorbers with new ones).  I rather get the impression that if a particular place can’t help you they try to reassure you that it is no problem regardless.  Drive on then stop to phone Ford Tripoli rather than make the 150km detour.  Exactly the same response but they say that Nafplio or Athens will definitely be able to help!   Give up and drive south down he Arcadian coast with fine views over the small islands.  A nice hot day with clear deep blue skies so we stop at Paralia Astrols and pitch on a grass verge behind the pebble beach just south of the village.  We are attempting to follow a 7-day Peloponnese tour from a book and today should be day 2with us driving 118 miles to Monemvasia.  We have already taken 5 days and driven just 24 miles of it!  Enjoy an afternoon sunbathing and watch the sea turn pink from the reflection of the sky as the sun goes down.  Just beautiful.  Early evening walk around the village.

Paralia Astros – 24 miles

 

FRIDAY 13 FEBRUARY – Steve is still struggling but it’s a nice day so he manages to drag himself out to sunbathe.  It is hot all day so we stay out until 5pm then pack up and make the short journey south to Paralia Tirou where we make our usual stroll around the town. 

PARALIA TIROU – 22 MILES

 

SATURDAY 14 FEBRUARY – Leave at 9am and drive south to Leinido, a pretty medieval village beneath high red cliffs.  The streets are the narrowest we’ve been on but knowing that buses use this route we are sure to be OK.  There are high walls on both sides and backing out would be even more difficult than keeping going.  Fold the wing mirrors in and I stand in front of the van guiding Steve as we somehow squeeze round 90 degree corners and eventually get through, often with barely an inch to spare.  We then find out that the buses do use this route but stop at the edge of the village whilst the passengers walk and pick up another one on the other side of town!  Beyond the village the road winds up into the mountains.  A herd of goats dawdle by the side of the road and as we near them one starts to stray in front of us.  Steve hits the horn but the stupid things charges into us.  Fortunately the goat is only stunned and no damage has been done to the van.  The road climbs up to Kosmas village at over 1000m where we see snow amongst the many huge fir trees, a bit like a mini Canada but with much narrower roads. On through Sparta and to camping Mystra, 2500Drs (£5.50), our first stay on a campsite since 5th November.  Arrive at noon and set up stall to enjoy the sun.  There site is full of orange trees and the owners says to help ourselves.  He only gets 30Drs kilo (3p a pound) so it’s not worth him picking them.  The juice of four goes down nicely with a dash of vodka.  We meet fellow traveller Jans from Germany.  He tells us his life story over vodka and orange, a paediatric doctor who as worked for UNICEF and other charities worldwide but mainly in Bolivia and Vietnam.  His wife and daughter were killed in Romania 2 years ago and he is trying to get back to Bolivia hasn’t got the right paperwork and not enough money.  In the evening he comes and sits by us in the restaurant and we end up buying him a meal (so much for our romantic Valentines meal for two!).  We leave early, as Steve cannot stand the sight of an old man skinning sparrows on t next table, the Greeks eat 3 or 4 each as a meal – gross.

SPARTA – CAMPING MYSTRA – 67 MILES

 

SUNDAY 15 FEBRUARY – The ancient site of Mystras is huge and covers the whole side of a hill.  A castle at the top, numerous churches and monasteries in the upper town and ruined houses on the lower level.  We start at the bottom and I reach the upper town but leave Steve to go on alone to the castle.  He is much better now but I think he has passed the flu on to me.  Monemvassia is our next stop.  Stuck on an island rather like Gibraltar, it is similar to Mystras but still inhabited.  The tiny cobbled streets are lined with shops and tavernas and it’s a lovely place.  End up at Gythion and park on the “mole”.  We have a lovely meal in the taverna adjoining the stadium.  The old man speaks no English but takes us into the kitchen and pulls trays out of the oven for us to see.  Steve chooses lamb with a type of pasta and I have ½ chicken with herby potatoes.  Very authentic, nice and inexpensive.

GYTHION – 111 MILES

 

MONDAY 16 FEBRUARY – Explore around the Mani peninsula, famous for it’s tower houses.  We stop for a couple of hours to sunbathe in a secluded pebbly cover near Vathia.  Can’t believe how good the weather is for February.  We complete the circuit late afternoon and head up the coast towards Kalamata.  The paces we had earmarked for overnight stops are no good, all ports with narrow streets.  End up driving until dusk to the beach just north of Kardamilli.

KARDHAMILI – 103 MILES

 

TUESDAY 17 FEBRUARY – Kalamata is t largest town in the area.  The epicentre of the 1986 earthquake it has since seen 50% of the population leave.  Drive to the LPG station and check out the Ford garages.  LPG is no longer available and we are told that the only place on the Peloponnese where they have it is Patra, about 1 week away at the speed we travel.  We turn the fridge off and hope we have enough gas to last for cooking and heating.  The Ford garage say “no problem” for us to wait and easy to get fixed up in Athens.  Our drive down the coast takes us to Koroni but we have to turn back.  A lorry replacing all the telegraph poles blocks the narrow street into town.  Drive out of town and find Amnos campsite nr Finikoundas with a German motorhome on it.  They have been here since December and no one has come for any money.  Enjoy a free nights parking on a grassy site scattered with pampas grass, palms and pretty flowers and adjoining a nice beach.  

FINIKOUNDAS, CAMPSITE AMNOS – 77 MILES

 

WEDNESDAY 18 FEBRUARY – Typical, we’re at a lovely spot by a beach and it rains.  North to Pilos where we bump into an Australian lady at the bakers.  Drive to the campsite where Elayne is staying with her husband Chris and sons Adam (15) and Tristan (13).  In Australia you can take your children out of school and educate them using the outback correspondence course.  The family left Melbourne in November 1996 flew to USA and bough a truck and tents to tour there and in Mexico.  Next they visited the UK and bought a camper van converted from a PO delivery van to drive across Europe.  Now they are changing to 3 motorbikes to go down to Egypt and possibly Ethiopia.  The campsite owner wants to charge us nearly £10 to stay overnight but Chris knows a good free camping spot nearby.  On his bike he guides us to a cove on the bay of Navarino between a freshwater lagoon and the sea.  We’re also near Nesters cave and the bay of Voidhokilia.  Walk through the bugs at the side of the lake and continue on to beautiful Voidhokilia beach known by the locals as Omega bay because of its shape.  The Aussies come down to join us for an evening meal complete with a travel brain storming session before we get too drunk to retain any more information.

NAVARINO BAY – 21 MILES

 

THURSDAY 19 FEBRUARY – The “Clash’s” join us at 10am for a hike up the hills to explore Nesters Cave then higher up to Paleao Kastro and the ruined fortress at the top.  Superb views of Navarino Bay, the lagoon and omega beach.  We clamber down and head to the beach to swim and sunbathe as it is now hot and he skies are deep blue and free of clouds.  This is one of the nicest beaches we have found in Greece with soft sand and dunes.  The family leave before us as they have a lot of work to do condensing the contents of a campervan onto 3 motorbikes.  They plan to be back in Australia this November so we exchange details in the hope that we will one day make it there.  I now really need a special overseas book so that I can list all our contacts country by country as we have made so many new friends.

NAVARINO BAY 2

 

FRIDAY 20 FEBRUARY – An early start for out drive north through Filiatra where there is a replica Eiffel Tower and also a globe from the 1964 New York expo.  Harry Fournier, an ex doctor from Chicago, came here in the 60’s to build his fantasies.  The most amazing one is his fairytale castle on the beach.  Very like Disney but with 30-40 foot statues of Poseidon’s horse, Neptune and Athena amidst other strange statues scattered around the gardens.  At the moment all a little derelict but it looks like renovations work is beginning.  A nice change from all the old sites and fortresses.  Stop behind the beach at Kiparissia and enjoy and afternoons sunbathing.  This fantastic weather has now meant we have just completed day 4 of the tour on our 13th day.  Tonight we are joined by English Jo (Josephine) and Dutch Han (Johan) in their motorhome.  We walk in to town for an evening meal then return to invite Jo & Han round for drinks and a chat.  They’ve been touring in their motorhome for 6 years.  I’m beginning to think we were late jumping on the bandwagon and certainly not as unusual in our ideas as we first thought. 

KIPARISSIA – 44 MILES

 

SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY – Bit of a cloudy day.  Stay put and spend the day with Jo & Han, eating, chatting, drinking and playing boules.  We share an evening meal before settling down for the night.  Bit of a disturbance late evening when a load of youths begin riding their motorbikes around us.  Han pops out and has a word with them and all goes quiet.

KIPARISSIA 2

 

SUNDAY 22 FEBRUARY – 7am start for our drive to Olympia, the site of the original Olympic games.  Visit the sanctuary, stadium, archaeological museum and Olympic museum making the most of the free Sunday admission.  The actual site is a little disappointing but the museum makes up for it.  Hot and sunny now so we head to the nearest beach at Skafide and sunbathe for a few hours.  Continue north to Kalogria, a beautiful 6km strip of beach backed first by dunes and then a nature reserve in a pine forest.  The books tells us that you can swim in the estuaries here along with 1 metre long friendly water snakes – pass.  Joined on the car park by a German motorhome. 

KALOGRIA – 105 MILES

 

MONDAY 23 FEBRUARY – Perfect nice hot sunny day for sunbathing.  An elderly Englishman Maurice walks down with his dog “Mug” and Steve takes Mug for a run along the beach, as Maurice is unable to do this.  The German van leaves in the afternoon.  Late afternoon we drive to the corner of the car park where there is a water tap and give the van a really good wash.

KALOGRIA 2

 

TUESDAY 24 FEBRUARY – Another scorcher, probably the hottest day we’ve had since last autumn.  Sunbathe until 3.30pm then drive to Patra for LPG and a food shop.  Park above the town by the castle and church.  Walk down to town to check out the ferries.  We want to take one from here to Italy via Corfu but this is not possible in winter.  We will have to either miss Corfu or drive there then catch a ferry from Igoumenitsa.  On the way back to the van we call in at a rickety old off licence full of barrels.  You can buy almost anything by the litre.  We end up with wine, cinnamon brandy, 5* brandy, raki, ouzo, cointreau and crème de menthe mostly in 1 ½ litre water bottles.  An excellent £20’s worth.  Back at the van we realise our nice quiet spot is not so as the church clock clangs a bell every ¼ hour.  May have to sample some of our booze to knock us out although the samples in the shop have got us off to a good start. 

PATRAS – 31 MILES

 

WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY – The bells chime twice for ¼ past, four times on the half hour and 6 times at ¼ to the hour plus a different bell then chimes 1 for each hour.  The as if that isn’t enough at 11.30 last night the dustbin mean came round then at 7.30am all the church bells in the area started to peel at once.  At this point we get up.  Our journey east takes us to Dhiakofto.  After dropping off the laundry we take the 100-year-old rack and pinion railway, 1800Drs (£4) return, up through the spectacular Vouraikos gorge to Kalavrita.  On 13 December 1043 at 2.43pm the Germans massacred the entire male population of 1436 mend and boys.  The clock on the church tower stays at this time and there is a massive shrine just on the outskirts of town.  It has a huge cross, external flame (but not burning just now), individual graves and a crypt with hanging incense burners, each with a tag dangling and the names and ages of the family members killed.  Quite a sobering place, we had no idea how badly this country suffered once invaded by the Germans but we can understand why they still hate them and prefer the British.  The return train doesn’t leave until 13.31 so we sit in the square and enjoy a snack and beer before ambling to the station.  The train is on the platform and we nip to the station loo before our 1-¼ hour journey.  Whilst we are both sat on the toilet we hear the train begin to pull out but are in no position to react quickly enough to get to it.  I look at the timetable and am embarrassed to see the departure time listed as 13.21 and it is now 13.22.  Probably the first time anything has left on time in Greece.  My fault entirely and Steve is non too pleased to learn the next trains isn’t until 15.30 and there isn’t a bus until 16.30.  Try to hitch a life.  A number of cars pass by and drivers indicate that they are either full or turning off but after a short time a Rover stops.  Dimitri gives us a lift back to Dhiakofto where he owns a bar; he takes us right to the van and pops in for a look.  We say we will try and call at his bar later as we have to stay in the village to collect our washing from the laundry (or rather the pharmacy as the laundry closed for the day at 1pm and they said they would leave our stuff there but didn’t mention that the pharmacy was closed from 1-5pm!).  After tea we collect the laundry and visit Dimitri.  It’s a very nice bar, surprisingly busy as he charges 500Drs (£1.10) for a small beer whereas the Café Neo’s would charge 300 or 350Drs for a large one.  Good luck to him.

DHIAKOFTO – 41 MILES

 

THURSDAY 26 FEBRUARY – Some rain and wind through the night so we have a lie before driving to Acrocorinth to explore the fort.  We spend quite a long time exploring the area and admiring the views.  Late afternoon we take the toll motorway, 800Drs (£1.75) for a fast (well fast for us at 55 mph) drive to Athens.  As usual we don’t like the traffic but manage o make our way to the Continent hypermarket near the airport.  We haven’t been in a decent supermarket since meeting Claire over a month ago so it’s not surprising that we spend over £100.  Park at Glyfaddda and hope there won’t be too many night flights.  Seems to have ended up on “lovers beach” as courting couples come and go all night.

GLYFADDA – 120 MILES

 

FRIDAY 27 FEBRUARY – It wasn’t too noisy in the night.  Drive to the campsite at Voula but it is now closed to everyone except the disabled.  Back to Glyfada to park up behind the beach near the marina.  Nice hot day so we sit out and do a bit of plane spotting.  Take in the afternoon showing of “Titanic” at the cinema, very good.  The Athens News proves interesting (for a change).  Apparently this weekend is a big holiday and Monday a bank holiday.  The bulk of Athenians are expected to head out to Patra for the carnival and we had been considering going there.  On the other hand it could be a good time to explore the city and as a bonus the sites and museums are free on Monday also.  Just find out that its Mother’s day on Sunday (the first we know of it as the diary I bought in Turkey doesn’t mention it!).  Too late for cards so will have to make a few phone calls.  Gremlins strike again and the furnace for our blown air heating is not working, and we now find that the instruction book is missing. 

GLYFADDA 2

 

SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY – Lovely morning, clear blue skies so we are up and about early preparing for our visitors.  Have a problem when it comes to shower time.  Steve injured his little finger last year, first in Italy on a mock parachute jump then again last August in Turkey whilst playing squash.  It has been swollen and red at the end ever since and throbs occasionally.  (Now you can see why finger is underlined!).  Jan the German doctor told us to buy a roll of plaster of Paris and wrap it tightly for a couple of days to force the “poison” back into circulation.  All well and good when I put in on last Wednesday but now we can’t get it off.  We try scissors, hacksaw, stanley knife, oil to lubricate and hot water to melt it.  Eventually a combination works but his finger looks just the same.  Had visions of a trip to hospital at one stage.  On to the furnace problem which we just can’t figure out.  Although we are getting hot days the clear skies are giving us cold nights and we could do with the heating.  Force ourselves to pack in sunbathing and drive to the airport to meet Karen & John.  It’s great to see them again and we appreciate all the goodies they have brought.  Thanks once again everyone for your letters etc.  Park in Glyfadda and after a wander round town I prepare a Greek meze style meal. 

GLYFADDA 3 – 12 MILES  

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