Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Ninth Week

Sunday 1-5-16

Last night we went back into town at half eleven to see another candle thing for Easter.  Liz went in the church and paid a donation and got herself a candle. 

The idea is you light it and walk home, if it’s still lit when you get there then it means a year of good luck.  I decided I wanted one and just as I got in church all the lights went off and lots of people piled in behind me.  I had a ten minute wait while the priest sang some songs and the people around me mumbled.  When I did get out I still didn’t have a candle.  Needless to say Liz’s candle blew out on the way home.  I bet this little chaps didn’t….

We woke up to the smell of charcoal and lamb cooking.  Went to see it and the blokes had started cooking it at seven.  It was ten o’clock now so we had a wine with them then left them to it. 

At two we got called over to the taverna on site and we joined the campsite man’s family (Lots) and a table of Dutch (four) and a table of Germans (four).  We had warm fresh bread, Greek salad, tzatziki (loaded with garlic), Kokoretsi (roasted sheep’s entrails, not my favourite) roasted lamb (my favourite) and at last home cooked chips.  Our first chips for two months. 

The wine was local and came in old plastic water bottles.  All very good.  We got back in the evening and dozed.  Like everyone else, full and happy.

Camping Koroni, Greece. N36.79966 E021.95058

Monday 2-5-16

As ever packing up site was a leisurely affair, we could do it in twenty minutes and be on the road but we can also stretch it out to two hours.  The supermarket was shut up the road, it’s Easter Monday.  But we did find one open in the next town.  Good find too, I cleared them out of 500ml bottles of Amstel lager at 70 cents a bottle.  This is half the price we normally pay for the premium beers.  We now had 22 litres of beer under the bed, it got renamed Kev’s Cellar.  As we drove away Liz realised we’d not bought wine for her, a schoolgirl error.  We found ourselves a place to stop at the end of a quay at the town of Petalidi.


We walked around the town, every bar who had seats and tables out in the square were full of men having a lunchtime drink, a bit like the UK on a bank holiday.  Just as we got back to the van the sky got grey, then windy and then it rained, heavily.  Tomato salad doesn’t taste right if it’s not sunny so we hit the comfort food and had soft boiled eggs on fresh buttered bread.

It was like being kids again.  By dinner it had cleared up.

Wild camping, Petalidi Beach, Greece. N36.95887 E021.93520

Tuesday 3-5-16

We decided to write today off.  It rained all day, Liz tweaked her back lifting my beer out from under the bed and I had a hangover.  It was like a rainy Sunday at home, dozing and reading on the settee and eating junk food.  Nothing else to report, let’s move on to Wednesday.

Wild camping, Petalidi Beach, Greece. N36.95887 E021.93520

Wednesday 4-5-16

The hangover was gone and Liz’s back felt a bit better.  The rain had cleared but there were still some dark clouds hovering about.  We could have stopped a few miles up the road but as the weather was iffy we decided to get past the city of Kalamata and down to an area called the Mani.  Luckily this also meant we’d be passing our shop of choice, a Lidl.  Food stocks replenished we then found a petrol station with LPG.  It’d been a while since the last fill but we only managed to get 9 litres in, or 4.5kg.  So we’d used about a third of one of our two 11kg bottles in 16 nights.  The station also had water to fill our tanks and a toilet to empty ours cassette in.  The road then went inland and up to 400m above sea level.  This made a change from the coast roads we’d been following for the last month.  At one point we followed a very slow pick-up truck with a priest driving it.

Not something you see every day.  We dropped down via a series of sharp hairpin bends to a seaside town called Kardamyli.  The town had narrow streets but as we drove out a small track led down to a small harbour.  Just our kind of place. 

At lunch, with a goose stood outside the van watching us eat, it started raining again, it reminded me of Wales.  By dinner the rain was gone and we looked around the two stone buildings next to us.  One turned out to be a church and the other was a fisherman’s house, now both empty. 

That night a street lamp lit the church and the sea below us, I stood outside feeling very lucky to be there.

Wild camping, Kardamyli Harbour, Greece. N36.88322 E022.23433

Thursday 5-5-16

After exhaustive trials I’ve worked out Greek yoghurt and my digestive track don’t get on.  For the sake of a more pleasant atmosphere in the confines of the van I’m going to find an alternative breakfast item.  We walked up the small track from the harbour and then down into the small town.  It’s the town where the writer Patrick Leigh Fermor lived.  And this fact seems to draw the literary and arty types.  So, amongst the usual Greek shops and bars are art galleries, bead and glasswork shops and book shops. As well, trendy bars and restaurants cater to middle aged ladies wearing baggy hippy trousers and hairy men, who sit outside them looking serious whilst smoking and drinking their coffee.


We sat in the square opposite a Greek old man’s bar.  A couple of them came over and discussed the waterless fountain, twirled their worry beads then returned to their little coffee cups.


We bought bread for lunch then retraced our steps back to the van.  That afternoon we had rain again and we fed the two ducks and goose that came to our door. 

I read Harry Enfield’s Dads book about cycling around the Peloponnese, Greece On My Wheels, he took the same route as us and stopped in some of the same towns.  A good read, what was surprising was he was doing over twice the mileage we do a day and he was 70 and on a push bike.  That night I skinned half a huge Greek pork sausage and made it into meatballs.  Fried them and then added them to a tomato sauce with pasta.  Great to eat with a view like this out of our door.

Wild camping, Kardamyli Harbour, Greece. N36.88322 E022.23433

Friday 6-5-16

Sun and a cloudless sky, we were back on track.  Actually up the track from our harbour hideaway and South over some mountains after a Greek yoghurt free breakfast.  Before we left though, we filled up with water from the harbour tap with our bird friends watching.

A quick meat shop in a large deserted supermarket. In the 20 minutes we were there we were the only customers.  Four staff were tidying the shelves, an OCD sufferer would feel very comfortable shopping in there.  We passed through some of the most picturesque Greek villages so far as we climbed up and then rolled down the hills that brought us back to the sea at Neo Oitylo.

At one end was a harbour and a small taverna.  The road so narrow at the taverna that a chap sat outside having his morning coffee had to move his feet so I could drive by.

We could have stopped there but we thought we should look at the town and seafront.  The town was very small, a hotel and three tavernas and no shops.  We found a nice spot with the door looking onto the beach and made camp with the sun shining on the bay. 

We bought some coffees in a taverna we liked with a white terrace and octopus legs hanging to dry.  The waitress gave us their Wi-Fi code. 

Back at the van we pointed the gizmo at it and got some internets, useful as I’ll be uploading this tomorrow.  After lunch and snooze time I did a couple of jobs.  One of the burners on the hob wouldn’t stay lit so I took it to bits, fiddled with the thermocouple, put it back together and we were cooking with gas again.  The mozzi net over the door needed a new handle to open it and I found one in my Bag of Useful Bits & Bobs and fitted that.  Then it was beer o’clock.  I made a plan to go for a bit of a hike tomorrow, around the bay and the Northerly headland that you can’t drive around.  Liz didn’t fancy it as her back isn’t quite right yet.  So I’m off on my own exploring.  Our kitchen window view wasn’t too shabby either.

Wild Camping, Neo Oitylo Seafront, Greece. N36.69295 E022.38939

Saturday 7-5-16

So today, our 60th day away, I set off for a bit of a hike.  I followed the road out of the town then dropped down to the harbour we’d looked at yesterday.  Past the harbour a track led around the bay and the headland.  Every so often there’d be a brand new stone house being built, some actually finished, but none of them lived in.

I walked as far as I could before the track ran out and I’d hit rocks and sea.  Walking back I could see the town where we were parked up across the bay.

I also spotted this, someone with a sense of humour and good outlook on life….

With typical Van Brian planning I’d chosen the hottest day so far to walk the furthest so far.  When I got back I was a sweaty mess with hot feet and a red neck.

I retreated to the cool of the van to write this up.  So at 60 days we’re nearly a quarter of the way through our trip and we seem to be getting the swing of it.  Drive 20km, park up for two nights, move on again and every now and again stop at a campsite for a mini holiday and laundry.  We’ve still got a lot more of Greece to see and still looking forward to it.

Wild Camping, Neo Oitylo Seafront, Greece. N36.69295 E022.38939

Cheers, The Van Brian Crew.

Below are the updated facts and figures for 60 days away....


  1. Have you watched all the Sopranos Kev? Are you now on to Zorba the Greek? Great read, great pics, thank you :)

  2. Sopranos finished. Now on Phonix Nights. Saving Zorba for a special occasion!

  3. Great update.
    Glad to see the soft boiled egg and soldiers and it's not just a me that loves old fashioned fare.


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