Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200203 Greece

Friday 1 March 2002  An early walk to the jetty then out to sunbathe.  BBQ at lunch time.  In the evening we borrow Ritas computer to watch "Billy Elliot" on DVD which is great.
Saturday 2 March  Short drive into Kiato where we find Internet at Eu 3 (£2) hour. On the Western outskirts of Kato Diminio we find good parking on the beach by the river mouth and text Dave & Rita so they can join us.  Card session in the evening.
Sunday 3 March  Get up late.  Steve has been up half the night watching the Melbourne Grand Prix. I am really struggling with bad sinus problems again and not sleeping well at all.  Whilst on Cyprus I had almost no problems and could even drink a little alcohol so maybe it is different areas which have an affect on me.  Rita and Dave go on ahead.  After lunch they text us to join them by the closed "Akrata Beach Campsite".  Manage a brief game of Bush Rummy before my head gets too bad.
Monday 4 March  Making the most of the nearby water supply we shower, do the washing then wash the van.  The man on the campsite comes over to see if we are OK and to apologise for not being open – not that we had any intention of using the site anyway!  We leave first then stop as we see a British camper van parked up.  It’s Phil & Sue whom we were with in Morocco and last saw by chance in France last April.  We’d been hoping to see them but had no way of contacting them so once again destiny has intervened.  In Greece since last April they say it was too hot in summer and winter awful on the Peleponnese with temperatures down to 0C by 4.00pm and -6C at night plus snow.  By coincidence they are also going to Kalogria Beach so we head off knowing we can chat later.  Like us they are full timers but with only 3 years on the road to our 5.  Completely fill a trolley at the Egio Lidl but still the bill is only 90 Eu (£55).  Steve has piled in the beer and wine and I have stocked up cakes, sweets and puddings!  In Patras I leave Steve double parked on the main port road whilst I wander off around the back streets to find a much needed Post Office.  Kalogria is little changed since we visited 4 years ago except the water tap has been turned off.  A beautiful long stretch of sandy beach backed by the pine tree Strofylia Forest and swamps.  The mosquitoes could be a problem and may have prevented development.  Phil & Sue are already parked up and Rita & Dave arrive later.  Sitting out for late afternoon drinks with Phil & Sue the mosquitoes make their presence known with a vengeance.  Play cards with Rita & Dave then they stay for the 9.00pm movie which in English with Greek subtitles.
Tuesday 5 March  I’m developing a streaming cold which is what Rita & Dave had when we first met them but no doubt explains my bad heads.  It’s a beautiful day which we start with a long walk West over the hill to the next pretty bay which unfortunately has also been discovered by mosquitoes.  Get back to find the car park invaded by cows, is this the milk delivery or are we on for a beef BBQ later?  Only a few mosquitoes on the beach so we set up our windbreak and enjoy the rest of the day sunbathing au natural and cooling off in the sea until the sandflies get the better of us!  2 German vans join us late afternoon.  Steve, Phil & Dave play boules but I retreat inside before the mosquitoes appear.  Such a shame as we really like it here. 
Wednesday 6 March  Rita & Dave return to Patras for their ferry tomorrow. Phil & Sue set off to find a beach further South without mosquitoes.  It’s a bit of a windy day but the bonus is that it keeps the mosquitoes at bay.  Take a stroll East along the beach which seems to change little as far as the eye can see.  Phil & Sue text having found nothing suitable but looking again tomorrow
Thursday 7 March   Bit cloudier and windy but still good enough for a day on the beach and a few dips in the sea.  Sand flies are now becoming a bigger problem than the mosquitoes as they can get into the van through the fly screen.
Friday 8 March  Admit defeat to the sandflies and set out to explore the coast North and then East of us.  Gianiskari beach looks great in the brochure but access is now barred by the military.  Explore from Ionian Beach to Kato Ahaia and find all the beaches either blocked by Hotels or dirty and unappealing.  In Niforeka we find a roadside tap with spring water.  Stop to do our washing and shower in the van before filling the tank.  Phil & Sue have now found a good beach but much further South so we reluctantly head that way.  Good shopping with Lidl and Dia in Pirgos.  Pass the sulphur springs at Kaiafas then take the first turning right after Zaharo which leads us over the railway then out to a nice quiet beach.  Phil & Sue are delighted to see us as are the 3 friendly dogs. 
Saturday 9 March  A disturbed night with me snorting, Steve snoring, the dogs barking and occasional rain pattering on the roof.  A dull day with intermittent rain.  Steve & Phil fit in over 2 hours of boules in the afternoon before we all get together for drinks at "our place".  Nice quiet night.
Sunday 10 March  Dull day with occasional rain.  Steve & Phil have their 2 hours of boules then it’s drinks at "their place".  Woken just after midnight with a car racing up and down the track beside us.  As I peer out of the window it does a hand brake turn and skids to a halt just beside the van which is very unsettling.   The car then continues to race up and down the track doing hand brake turns at our end but not so near to us.  Nonetheless it is unnerving and I am keen to move but first Steve goes outside to investigate.  At this point the car drives off and peace is restored.
Monday 11 March  Wake to quite heavy rain and water dripping through the wall mounted microwave.  With a bit of help from Phil we manage to remove the microwave and trace the leak back to the bathroom roof vent problem which we intend dealing with when back in England.  Cover the roof vent with a sheet and catch the residual drips in a dish.  Maybe this explains why the microwave is no longer working?  Teach Phil & Sue bush rummy before they join us for lunch.  A quiet night.
Tuesday 12 March  Dull day but good enough for us to borrow Phil & Sue’s bikes to cycle to town to use the Internet Eu 3 (£2) hour.  Fit in a few sitting out spells as the clouds break up.  Phil & Sue have bought a fresh tuna and invite us to join them when they BBQ it – delicious.  The evening continues with cards followed by a game of Humbug.  You have to hum the title of a song for your partner to guess.  Each time I hum my face takes on a sad look which makes everyone laugh and in turn makes me crack up.  Few songs are guessed but it doesn’t stop us continuing for quite some time. 
Wednesday 13 March  Nice day so Steve tackles the roof problem which is big.  First we must dry it all out then see about sealing the sun roof back in.  Afternoon relaxing on the beach.
Thursday 14 March  Luckily a dry hot day so we press on with drying the roof out.  Steve & Phil fit in boules and another British motorhome arrives.  Evening meal at our place followed by more games.
Friday 15 March  Finish off the roof job which should at least last until we get back to England.  A hot enough day for me to swim in the sea – twice.  P & S boules.
Saturday 16 March  Steve and Phil set off early on the bikes to explore the coast South of here for about 10 kilometres to Elia.  Sue and I walk to the village of Kakovatos which is alive with people soaking up the sun at the pavement cafes.  Return along the beach to await for Phil and Steve who arrive back after a 4 hour productive drive.  2 good free camping spots plus a bag full of tomatoes.  One of the greenhouses had cleared all the dying tomato plants out and piled them in a heap. Steve & Phil poked through and found hundreds of good tomatoes still on the plants.  Tomato & Lentil soup on the menu tonight, and tomorrow and maybe for the rest of the week!  Afternoon session of us relearning the rudiments of bridge before the boules session. 
Sunday 17 March   Phil’s 53rd birthday. Whilst Steve & Phil watch the Grand Prix Sue & I cycle to Zaharo for the bank and Internet.  All go out to lunch at the very basic Greek bar beside the railway.  5 beers, 2 soft drinks and a Meze meal for a total of Eu 16 (£10).  All play boules where Phil & I beat Steve & Sue 3 games to 1 (maybe for once Steve was wishing I was partnering him).  Late afternoon BBQ then evening entertainment first from a Greek family who come down to fly kites for their young children.  Dad is expert at letting the kite drop almost low enough for the children to grab the tail then at the last minute hoisting it back up. Next after dark a young lad comes to the van asking for help.  He has driven his ordinary car straight onto the beach and got bogged.  We are unable to push him out so Phil ends up moving his van to attach a tow rope.  Having freed the car the driver then proceeds to flood the engine and won’t listen to advice to wait at least 5 minutes before trying again – what a plonker!  The final entertainment is provided by Phil & Steve getting drunk on whiskey.
Monday 18 March  Steve has no hangover but Phil struggles to get himself going for our trip to Lidl in Pirgos.  An hour later he is really cursing when we arrive and see it closed for a Bank Holiday.  Return to find Steve packed up and moved from our beach spot.  Shortly after we left dozens of Greek cars began to arrive and surround him.  As a Bank Holiday it seems to be the done thing to converge on the beach and fly kites.  We planned to move today so Steve thought he had better get out whilst he could.  Follow the route Steve & Phil biked including a stop to pick up more tomatoes.  Driving down the narrow road to the beach we approach a blind bend very slowly.  A motorbike comes tearing round towards us and spots us at the last minute.  Trees prevent us pulling fully over to our side but he still seems to think he can squeeze past.  Only problem is he doesn’t expect the motorhome to be 6" wider than the cab nor our wing mirror to stick out at motorbike head height.  He hits our wing mirror then veers off down the ditch into the field where he soon gets bogged. Steve hops out and reports that the rider and passenger are both fine even though their bike doesn’t seem to want to start.  We have no damage so move on the let them sort themselves out as it was all their fault in the first place for going far too fast.  Arrive at Elia beach to find it also very busy with Greek families celebrating whatever it is they are celebrating.  The area like a big park running parallel to the beach with water taps along the side of the track.  It is backed by a pine forest in front of which is a lightly wooded area with grassy open spaces which then becomes an open area of scrub leading onto the beach.  We settle into the front row to get plenty of sun and a sea view.  The 20 or so camper vans seem to be well settled so we roll out the Moroccan carpet and surround it with windbreaks.  The camper vans are parked in the sun and the Greeks in the shady spots in large groups with amplified music, people singing and men playing what seems to be poor mans boules using rocks.  Tomato pasta on the menu for tea.
Tuesday 19 March  A beautiful morning for us to sit out whilst enjoying tomatoes on toast for breakfast.  Again I join Phil & Sue for the drive to Lidl which today is open.  Return via Zaharo arriving back in time for our tomato salad lunch.  A lovely hot afternoon by the van but cooler and a bit breezy as we walk along the beach.  After the obligatory boules Steve cooks our chicken on the BBQ whilst Phil, Sue & I erect a shower screen under the nearby tree.  Lots of bamboo cane has been washed up on the shore and we soon create screens by piling the sticks up between supports.  With a pebble floor and a rope slung over the tree for the shower bags we feel quite proud of our efforts. The BBQ chicken is delicious with potatoes and, yes tomatoes.
Wednesday 20 March  Cloudy start to the day.  A German comes round selling 5kg oranges for Eu 1.50 (95p) they are seedless, sweet and juicy.  Bridge session then boules with Phil & I beating Steve and Austrian Kurt 2-0.  Curry night at our place followed by party games
Thursday 21 March  Very nice day and hot early.  Steve & Phil take the bikes to explore further down the coast but report back that we are in the best spot.  Afternoon on the beach with us both going in completely as it is so hot.  Discover how to make tomato juice.
Friday 22 March  Dull cloudy start.  After Easter the Greeks will arrive and pitch their tents and caravans to leave here for the whole season.  Phil & Sue are staying until the end of May and realise after yesterday they will need more shade.  Whilst there is space they move to a shady spot 200 metres away.  Some rain in the evening followed by a very wild and windy night.
Saturday 23 March  Our windbreak and carpet have been ruffled but no other damage.  Bridge at Phil & Sues then a walk back along the beach where the waves are crashing in.  By this time the sun is out and with the windbreak back in place we strip off to sunbathe. 
Sunday 24 March  Rain throughout the night reveals an inadequate roof repair so out comes the microwave again and up goes Steve onto the roof with a sheet of plastic.  Poor day with very occasional dry and sunny spells.  By evening things deteriorate and we get hail stones.  It’s a cold night.
Monday 25 March  The main part of the storm seems to have passed and left behind snow on the mountain tops. Phil & Sue join us for a long bridge session in the evening.
Tuesday 26 March  Dull, cloudy and cool day but I manage to get the washing done and dried.  Tea followed by another bridge session at Phil & Sues.  The problem now is going to be finding other people to play/practice with in the future who don’t take it too seriously and are very tolerant!
ELIA 9  
Wednesday 27 March  Wake up to bright sunshine and drag Steve out of bed so we can enjoy our breakfast outside.  Walk for over an hour along the beach.  Cloudy and windy late afternoon.  A German motorhome has moved in behind us and looks as if he is staying permanently.  In front of his motorhome is a huge awning, he’s built and equipped a bathroom at one end of it and then commandeered a large area under a tree for a kitchen and dining room.  Reckon the value of our premises will have gone down as we only have our rug surround by windbreaks and a basic tree shower room although I have made a pebble patio type garden which looks most attractive.  Evening thunder, lightening and heavy rain makes a good test on the roof repair which seems OK.
Thursday 28 March  Dull day so take the 10.15 am train from Elia station to Kiparissia 60c (40p) each one way.  Stayed at Kiparissia Beach 4 years ago so recognise many places.  Stroll around then use the Internet Eu 2.20 (£1.50) 1/2 hour.  It starts to rain so we stop at the Rough Guide recommended "Nynio" restaurant in the main square.  Steve’s fish soup has no fish in it, his clay pot veal doesn’t come in a clay pot and my Beef Stifado isn’t beef.  Worse still is when it dawns on us that we came to this restaurant 4 years ago and commented then on how bad it was!  2.15pm bus back which is surprisingly dearer than the train at 90c (60p).  Not a journey for the faint hearted with the bus veering across the road due to the driver stretching in all directions to clear the windows with newspaper.  The roof is now dripping through the air conditioner which could be the same or a different problem – bugger. 
Friday 29 March  Breakfast outside before the clouds draw in.  Decision made to leave tomorrow for Italy. Use the last of our silicone to create a dam around the air conditioner preventing any settling rain seeping in.  Until we get back to England there is little more we can do except pray for no rain.   
Saturday 30 March  Gas getting low, weather not great, Germans arriving in droves with noisy kids – decision made to head off to Italy tomorrow.  Sad news that the Queen Mum had died.
Sunday 31 March  Clocks go forward 1 hour so our early start isn’t.  Internet in Zaharo then a pause at the Kaiafas thermal spring.  The sulphurous water emerges in a cave then gathers in a pool before flowing into the lake.  Steve is not impressed by the smell but I’m game and wallow for about 1/4 hour in the body temperature clear waters.  As you move around sediment on the bottom is disturbed which then floats on the surface in chunks.  Don’t think it would be a nice place to bathe later in the day once lots of people have stirred it up.  Stop in Patras to look inside St Andrews cathedral, the biggest church in the Balkans and quite impressive too.  At the ticket offices we learn the Brindisi ferry is not running until tomorrow and then it is at the higher season price.  Opt for the Blue Star ferry to Venice Eu 188 (£125) leaving at 5 to midnight.  This could be a bad decision as the temperature up here in Patras has already dropped to 15C and the mountain tops are covered in snow.  However we always say that once you have made a decision, rightly or wrongly, at least you know what you are working around.  So now I have to replan our route across the top of Italy instead of up the west coast.  No problem with our 10.30pm boarding despite the fact that we paid for a 6m motorhome and ours is 7.5m.  Set sail just after midnight.  Bit of a noisy night with something rattling on the cargo deck, dig out the ear plugs and get back to sleep.

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