Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Fifth Week

Sunday 3-4-16

So after the last three days on a campsite, having a mini holiday, we moved on down the coast today.  We’d thought of stopping in Bari, the port we’d sail from on Monday.  When we got there we found out it was the day of Bari Marathon.  Roads closed, sweaty Italian joggers and lots of parked cars.  We did find both of the sostas that we knew of in Bari though.  Both full, we think with sweaty people running the marathon.  So we fled, on down the coast, doing our last big shop before Greece in a handy Lidl.  We also filled our LPG tanks as it seems it can be hard to get LPG in Greece, let’s see. Then looking at two places, one had no access to the beach from the road so nowhere to park up and one, an actual sosta, closed for the season.  That was in a town called Capitolo.  As we drove out of the town we spotted a lot of motorhomes in a gravelled seaside carpark. 

As they say, one attracts another, we pulled in.  What we found were small beaches made from what we think were old quarries for the lava type rock.  Also what we found was something we’d seen before in Italy, people just out for the day in their vans, parked up and all eating outside them.  By six most of them had gone, by seven it was just us and the odd dog.

 We dined on Italian sausage ragout, had our last Sopranos fix in Italy and then retired.  Tomorrow would be a long day.

Beach Carpark at Capitolo, Italy. N40.91476 E017.34380

Monday 4-4-16

Up with the fishermen today.  They all turned up early to get on the boats, I got up with a coffee and watched them leave. 

We pottered about then left at mid-morning to head for Bari, again.  No marathon this time but a lot of confusion.  I’d booked online and the only details I had was the ferry companies name and Bari port.  We found the port but no signs for car ferries.  Drove on out of Bari, nothing, apart from four lanes of traffic that the Italian drivers turned into six lanes.  Drove back in, found an entrance to the port, went in, and got sent back out.  The security man said to go 3km down the road. The same one we’d been down, with all the mad traffic.  Went down it again, no entrance.  Headed inland and back into Bari on a different road. Suddenly signs for car ferry, lots of them.  And they took us to an entrance that we’d passed four times.  No signs on the coast road, just on the road from inland.  About 300m into the port we passed the security hut where they’d turned us back. Anyway, we found the nice ticket lady in the nice ticket office.  She gave us key cards, boarding cards, security passes and things to hang on windscreens.  Of which it turned out only the boarding card was checked.  We parked and waited to board, while we did a huge cruise ship arrived and dumped a load of passengers into buses. 

We presume for a tour of Bari’s traffic hot spots.  We boarded at half five, had a wander around the bars and shops on the ferry, then set sail. The camping on board idea means you sleep in the motorhome, but these Germans had taken the word camping quite literally.

Waved Italy goodbye and retired to the van for slow cooked beef and then bed to the sound of marine engine rumble.

On the ferry between Italy and Greece.

Tuesday 5-4-16

Four o’clock in the morning.  Not one of my favourite hours of the day.  We got up, went on deck for two shockingly expensive coffees and watched the lights of Igoumenitsa harbour appear. We got offloaded not soon after we docked.  I drove in the still dark morning for a few miles south of the port and found a quiet pull in at the side of the coast road.  We got back into our still warm bed. The day started again when it got light.

A cup of tea and a bowl of muesli sorted breakfast out and we drove slowly south on the coast road, loving what we saw in the early morning sun.  Small coves, beaches, little towns and harbours.  In one small town we bought fresh warm bread from the bakers and the smiley lady who served us got a taste of Lizzies three years of Greek lessons.  She replied in English.  We spotted a harbour that we’d marked on our map as allowing parking and dropped down into the town of Plataria.  It was still only half nine. 

Happy with our parking spot we walked around the beach from the harbour into the town and out to the other end which had a marina.  There were boats moored up for the winter from the UK, Germany, Italy and Holland. 

We bought Greek yoghurt for tomorrow’s breakfast, as you do in Greece, then spent the rest of the day sat in the sun. Relaxing. We spoke to the owner of a tourist boat getting launched for the 1st time this year and later had a very confusing conversation with two ladies who lived there, one Italian and one Greek, they used both languages at the same time.  We all smiled and laughed, so that sorted that out.  

I cooked dinner on the side of the harbour and then we slept.  Four o’clock in the morning was a long time ago.

Wild camping at Plataria Harbour, Greece, N39.44419 E020.27137

Wednesday 6-4-16

A new regime. None of the up and at ‘em, on the road and hammer a hundred miles out anymore.  Greece was our destination, France and Italy had been four weeks of transit points.  Nice, enjoyable, scenic but just a means to this end.  We got up and ate breakfast looking at the sea. Liz got her Greek text books out and sat in the sun swotting up.  I ripped a cd of Greek music, her teacher had given her, to the iPod and we listened to it.

  About a hundred children walked around the bay, towards us.  This seemed odd.  They arrived en mass accompanied by four teachers who opened deck chairs, a table, a BBQ and then sat and smoked fags.  The kids, between 5 to 10 years old, ignored us and threw pebbles in the sea and turned rocks over looking for sea cucumbers.  We only guess this as Liz said she heard them shouting the Greek word for cucumbers now and again.  After a while they ran back to where the teachers were sat and then appeared again with souvlaki on pointy wooden sticks. Liz, a teacher herself, commented that Ofsted would throw their toys out of the pram in the UK if this happened, unaccompanied children, next to open water with pointy sticks.  As it happened no children died, were injured or suffered any hardship at all.  We watched them all wander off back to school then we wandered off ourselves.  Not far, to a harbour with a baker selling warm sesame seed covered bread.  We parked the van next to the boats whilst we nosed about.  Next up was where to stop tonight? Napania Beach was marked on the big map of Greece which Liz had spent months working on.  It had places marked that we’d read of other people stopping at.  20km later we found it. Now at this point we were thinking, have we found “the place” or is this just the first of many?  A bay, a beach, a place to park under olive trees and at the end of a dead end road.

  No mobile phone signal and internet as yet a fable only told to the locals by foreigners who were not to be trusted.  Liz made the beach her own for the afternoon reading Great Expectations and I sat under an olive tree and read Laurence of Arabia. 

Can you spot Van Brian hid under the Olive Tree?

When it got dark we watched fireflies and looked up at a stunning star filled sky.  It’s sickening isn’t it?  If it makes you feel any better our dinner was crap.  What I thought was cream, bought in Italy, was a sweet dessert topping.  Not the best thing to make a cream sauce to go with Palma ham stuffed ravioli.

Wild Camping on Napania Beach, Greece. N39.27990 E020.46593

Thursday 7-4-16

We got up and looked at the sea, ate Greek yoghurt with muesli and read.  That’s it for the morning. We lunched on huge tomatoes, olive oil and feta cheese.  I mended the mozi screen on the side door and Liz laid on the beach.  Two people turned up to have a swim then left, then we were back on our own. Liz climbed up an olive tree. 

I got my ukulele out. 

We ate pork and rice, drank wine then went to bed.
So as to fill this not very fact filled day out, and also to give me an idea of what we need to buy the next time we find a shop, I got my Quartermaster’s hat on and did a ships log of our supplies.  It’s copied below, it may be of interest:

The Big Stuff:
·         Approx. 90 litre of fresh water in the tank (washing up and showering)
·         11 litre of bottled water (drinking and cooking)
·         Approx. 17 kg of LPG for cooking and heating shower and sink water
·         9 butane canisters for the little butane stove (hot as hell, boils water in seconds and last ages)
·         A nearly empty toilet (couple of wee’s and one poo, mine)
·         A nearly empty grey waste tank (one nights washing up and one shower)

The Bar:
·         2 bottles of Italian Beer (98 cents a litre, bargain)
·         8 litres of cheap white wine (Madams tipple)
·         1 litre of cheap red wine (My tipple)
·         ½ a bottle of Absinth (to be disposed of carefully and very soon, I’m never drinking it again!)
·         ¾ of a bottle of good quality French Pastis (to be taken daily at 5pm with ice and cold water)
·         5 miniature bottles of Gordons Gin (Emergency Rations)

The Fridge:
·         ¼ block of sweaty, mouldy, mature cheddar (has become a kind of pet)
·         A Jar of green olives
·         A shrivelled lemon (not pet status yet but soon will be)
·         ½ litre of milk (blue carton, could be semi-skimmed, not sure)
·         Some sliced ham
·         500g of pork steaks (tonight and tomorrows dinner)
·         Pack of pork lardons
·         Leftover tomato salad (tonight’s dinner)
·         4 eggs
·         Some sweet Italian desert cream (no idea what to do with this)
·         Pot of Greek Yoghurt (tomorrows breakfast)
·         Mayonnaise, brown and red sauce and salad cream
·         Bottle of Sriracha Hot Chilli Sauce (Flying Goose Brand)

Dry Stores:
·         Cheap Italian “English Breakfast” tea (2 bags per cup required)
·         Ground coffee (for the little coffee pot)
·         Instant coffee (for my travel mug)
·         Coffee pods (for my travel espresso maker)
·         Sugar
·         Three bags of various shaped pasta and two packs of spaghetti
·         2 bags of 2 minute microwave rice (heats up quick with a bit of water on the stove, saves on  gas)
·         Big box of plain couscous, various packets of flavoured ones
·         Jars of asparagus, carrots, peas, flageolet beans and green beans
·         Tins of tuna, mackerel, sardines and a tin of anchovy’s (I keep this as I like the picture on the tin)
·         2 tins of sweetcorn (makes emptying the toilet more colourful)
·         ½ bag of muesli
·         ½ bag of Special K
·         2 packs of plain wraps (keep well and great back up for lunch if we can’t find bread)
·         ½ bag of white flour (thickens sauces and helps when making meatballs or patties)
·         ½ jar of Dijon mustard, ¼ jar of Sa-Vo-Ra Mustard relish, tube of Colman’s English mustard
·         Spice box, full of dried herbs, tabasco, Harissa paste, sea salt and pepper, Worcester sauce, dried garlic and a tube of tomato puree

Veggie Box: Needs filling desperately
·         2 red onions
·         1 white onion
·         1 stray shallot onion
·         ½ head of garlic
·         1 large sweaty carrot
·         Carton of mushrooms (growing and reproducing)

Snack Cupboard:
·         ½ bag of huge Italian Cheese Wotsit things
·         ½ bag of pecan nuts
·         4 bags of plain crisps (not Walkers)
·         ½ bag of Dime bars
·         Various chocolate bars (now a bit melted)

Wild Camping on Napania Beach, Greece. N39.27990 E020.46593

Friday 8-4-16

We needed food and drinks, so we had to leave our cove.  We had a slow breakfast and then packed up the van.  The nearest town was 10km back north so that’s where we went.  When we got there it was veggie market day and busy.  The van had to be abandoned on the pavement and we wandered around the town.  We bought fresh veggies off the market, bread off the baker and beer and wine from one of those Greek mini-market shops that sell everything.  Then I spotted a Vodaphone shop, quite out of place in a little town.  The guy spoke good English and we soon had a Greek data sim for the little Myfi unit we have in the van.  Stick the sim in it and it creates a wifi hotspot we can connect laptops and phones to.  All shopped up we left, heading south past our cove.  At this point I realised that the Vodaphone guy hadn’t given me the back the id he needed to register the sim, my driving licence.  Oh joy, back north, abandon van on pavement, find shop, get id and then for the fourth time that day drive past our little cove, heading south.  We drove in and out of a beach town but it didn’t tickle our fancy.  Then at another beach town, called Loutsa Beach, we got our fancies tickled.

  We parked at the far north end with the beach outside our door and the sound of waves coming in through the windows.  Then it rained.  Not in our plan this.  So we played with our new sim and got our emails after two days offline, ate lunch (nice fresh bread) and snoozed.  The sound of the sea and rain on the van roof made me think of British seaside holidays, I felt a longing for a bag of fish and chips.  Not to be sadly. 

Braised pork for dinner tonight.  The rain stopped and we walked down the seafront, with cagoules packed for more rain. No more rain just lots of small hotels and Tarvernas.  All closed but most with people painting and hammering at things, getting them ready for the tourists.  We made a big shopping list and dined still listening to the waves.

Wild Camping at Loutsa Beach, Greece. N39.01439 E020.53292

Saturday 9-4-16

After the now routine yoghurty muesli we packed up and drove out of town.  The last time we’d filled the tank with water had been 7 days ago.  Today’s mission was to find a tap.   You’d think that would be easy but we’d not seen one, a working one that is, in Greece.  All the beach showers had taps but these had all been turned off for the winter.  When back on the main road I had a flash of inspiration and swerved off at a petrol station.  It had a tap next to the tyre pump.  Liz used her Greek on the attendant who came over to see us “Baroome na ehumey nero parakalo?”  It worked, he smiled and said no problem.  So we got our tank filled, 120 litres of it.  We aren’t that bothered about the quality of this water as it only gets used for washing-up and showers.  For drinks, cooking and cleaning teeth we use bottled water.  We were considering actually paying for a campsite so we could get water so this saved us a few euro.  Next up for our Saturday morning chores was a serious “big shop” and research yesterday had unearthed a Lidl in a town 15km south.  They aren’t as easy to find here as in France or Italy.  When we’d found it and done it we’d got drinks and food for a week plus enough toilet paper, mouthwash and ice cube bags to last us till Germany in September.

 We drove through the large town of Preveza, it was busy but not mad like the Italian towns, people seemed to be moving at half speed.  As we came out the town we spotted a beach road running from a marina so dropped down the hill to it. 

It ran for perhaps two miles and we could pull up anywhere along it for the night.  So we did.  Did the customary wander up and down it after lunch then sat down to write these ramblings up.  And that’s where you find us now, very happy with Greece.

Wild Camping at Mitikas Beach, Greece. N39.18874 E020.53292

Happy With Greece

Below are the updated facts and figures for 32 days away.


  1. Great read again! I like the idea of the small butane stove Kev, what type is it and can I buy one from Amazon? Fabulous idea getting your water from the petrol station, I've noted that one. Keep on enjoying yourselves.

  2. Thanks Julie. We use one of these...

  3. we're in queensland reading this - good stuff..:thumb

    1. Cheers Phil. Glad they entertain.

    2. Trying to catch up, insanely jealous and keep looking at vans for sale ! Keep on writing.

      Paul (oblertone) & Jaq

  4. Hi Kev, leaving Bari tonight .. Greece tomorrow early! Any suggestions for 1st night stop? Heading south, but as only in a T5 .. Prob near a taverna! Thx .. Prob try a me do a few km


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