Friday, 27 May 2016

The Twelfth Week

Monday 23-5-16

It was Monday and we’d had enough of campsites for a while.  Van Brian got his dirty tanks emptied and his clean ones filled. We paid up at reception and dialled in a Lidl on the sat nav. On the way we passed this wreck on a beach.  The Dimitrios.

 When we got to the Lidl we found four other vans in the carpark, I wonder how much they make from people touring in motorhomes and looking for cheap booze and food?  We gave them €120 anyway.  Not much further on as we rounded a bend we spotted a beach.  The rest is as per usual, we drove down to it parked up and that was us sorted for the night.

There was a small campervan there too and later a big Hymer van turned up.  At the far end of the beach road was a fairly new harbour, it looked very well made with posts and rings to tie off boats and strong sea defences.  But it was clogged full of seaweed and as far as we could see had never been used.  There was one of those EU funding signs on the road so maybe they got some money to build it but hadn’t got enough to run it afterwards.  Whatever, it was an odd thing in the middle of nowhere and seemed a shame that it wasn’t being used.

 I’d bought myself a nice bottle of Merlot, expensive for us at €2.40, which I saw off that night as well as some beers and a film.

Wild Camping at Kokkinia Beach, Greece.  N36.79897 E022.78284

Tuesday 24-5-16

On our way back off the beach we stopped at the EU funding sign and took a photo.  We translated it later as best we could using a Greek – English dictionary and came up with “Construct Fishing Shelter Natural Disaster at Kokkinia Sweet Industry Marsh Lake – € 195700.00 – 2007 to 2013”  which I’m sure is not quite right but gives a rough idea of what it was all about.

 We’d read of a beach with a taverna that was ok to stop at so headed there, it was only 12 miles around the coast.  We found it at the end of a long road through an orange grove.  Oranges seem to have taken over from olives as the crop of choice in this area.   Four other vans were there too.

I spoke to a Dutchman stopping there, who said he’d been coming to Greece for twenty years and this year was the first time they’d paid to use a camping and only as they’d met up with his sister at one for a week.  He also said that in the Nederland’s if you parked on a beach the locals would come and say it isn’t allowed and to go away while in Greece the locals come to you and say well done for finding such a nice place to stop.  I had to agree that it was the same in the UK.  I also found out that the taverna wasn’t open in the week, only the weekends, which was a shame as it wasn’t a long walk home after a few beers.

We got treated to a sunset over the sea before dinner, which is always welcome.

Wild Camping at Boza Beach, Greece.  N36.70449 E022.82046

Wednesday 25-5-16

So we moved on today, heading south down the right hand finger of the Peloponnese.  We called in at a town where vans were parked in a field next to a taverna but it was nowhere near the sea and looked a bit grotty.  The last big place down this bit is Neapoli.  We got there and had a nosy but it didn’t look promising for an overnight stop.  As we’d got to the bottom of the west side the only way now was up again on the east side.  We drove north until we got to a turn off that would take us over the ridge that runs down the peninsular to that east side.  This was a very small, very windy, very steep road.  At the top we stopped at a little blue and white church with views of the sea on both sides. This was at 450m above sea level.

West Coast one side

East Coast on the other
After this we dropped down to the East side on an equally small, bendy, steep road and at the sea turned north to Gefira.  From Gefira you can drive or walk over a short causeway to a big rock on an island called Monemvasia.  We parked at the harbour and walked across.

Some vans were stopping at a taverna carpark below the rock, but it all looked a bit busy with sightseers.  In the harbour carpark where we’d parked were three huge tour busses and the town had a definite tourist trap feel about it.  So we left and wandered around the coast for three or four miles and eventually found a beach with some pine trees to park under.

This was more our kind of place, and we could see the big rock on an island across the bay, probably better than those parked directly underneath it.

So we were happy and had lunch in the shade then followed by snooze in the shade and sun on the beach.  A big Swiss motorhome turned up late afternoon and tried to park on the sand.  He broke both his ramps and wedged one under his bumper.  But he wouldn’t give up and spent half an hour digging himself in deeper and deeper while his wife shouted at him in German from a safe distance.  But I guess there’s not a lot of seaside beaches in Switzerland to practice on.

Wild camping at Monemvassia Beach, Greece.  N36.72825 E023.02591

Thursday 26-5-16

The Swiss van extracted himself from his sand trap and left in the morning.  We were the only ones here and decided to give this place another day.  We walked down the beach in search of a taverna but it was hard going.  The sand was gritty and not at all solid, like walking in snow but in 30 degree heat.  So we gave up on that idea.

At the side of the beach we saw some huge, 6 foot high cacti, I think they’re Aloe Vera.

A German van turned up, a make I’d not heard of before, a Tikro.  The guy in it had a chat with us and I asked about the van.  The company only made 500 of these.  The owner of Stiez, the company that makes virtually all the windows for motorhomes and caravans in Europe, decided to retire and sold his company to Dometic, who make fridges for motorhomes and caravans.  He looked to buy himself a motorhome but couldn’t find what he wanted, a van less than 6m long and 2m wide with a big garage in the back and a full sized shower and toilet.  So he built his own, then friends wanted one so he built more. In the end he stopped being retired and was back in business again.  When he’d built 500 of them he quit work again and no more were made.

The problem this German had and a lot of the other owners too, was the engine in the Peugeot front end.  Peugeot used a Ford transit engine and according to this chap it wasn’t very good.  His had blown up at 50k km and so had lots of other peoples.  A problem with cracked pistons.  It cost him €12,000 to replace the engine.  A shame as it looked like a well thought out motorhome.
And there wasn’t much else to say about our lazy day at the beach.

Wild camping at Monemvassia Beach, Greece.  N36.72825 E023.02591

Friday 27-5-16

It was a lovey spot but we decided to move on, there's always something better around the corner.  And we went round the corner and then a few more corners.  In the end we did 80 miles today.  After a quick supermarket raid we headed north.  We looked at a couple of likely beaches to stop at but neither had any shade and it was 32 degrees today.  Both of these beaches were down ridiculously small windy roads with very steep hairpin bends.

The next option for us was a harbour 50 miles north of here which meant us climbing up to 950 meters above sea level.  The sat nav sent us into a village and we had to squeeze between houses with only a couple of inches on either side of the van. The scenery was great but the driving was a tad stressful.

At one point while driving down one of the better roads of the day through a nice pine forest the tarmac ran out and we found ourselves on a gravel road which lasted for five miles with yet more hairpin bends before the tarmac returned.  Eventually we came to the coast again and could see the harbour town below us.

But the crappy road trend continued as we did another steep hairpin descent to the town.  We spotted a sign for a camping which had been recommended to us a few weeks ago and decided a camping would be nice after the stressful day I’d had driving.  And that’s where we ended, at Camping Semeli.  A nice little site with free Wi-Fi, hot showers, washing machines and a beach, all for €15 a night including electric hook up.  And to top it off, they have a small cafĂ© on site which served us wonderful iced coffees.  I think I’ll like it here.

Camping Semeli, Greece. N37.14938 E022.89241

Cheers, the Van Brian Crew.

Below are the updated facts and figures for 80 days away.


  1. Another lovely week in paradise! .. do you download movies & series before you left? or on your travels ... to think i'll be following your route in 2 months, but in a T5, not quite as comfortable, but still .. very excited!

    1. We have a hard drive with loots of films and tv stuff that I downloaded at home. We play them back on a 17" laptop and use a Bosse speaker to improve the sound. Hope you enjoy your trip as much as we have :)

  2. Them Greek country roads had my head melted when I was there, never ending twisty bendy uppey downie, but it was all worth it a beautiful place with beautiful people,

    1. It is a top country for touring, the locals are great too, smiles and waves when you drive by :)

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. We're three days in front of you, we got stuck on the same beach as the Swiss guy! JCB towed us out. We did the dirt road thing too - for the second time! Left Semeli on Tuesday and now we're at Galatas heading up to Corinth tomorrow for a few days at Blue Dolphin campsite. Happy travels,
    Pat & Phil

    1. Thanks for letting us know about this site, it's a cracker :)

  5. It's a great site, spotlessly clean and a bargain at €15. If you treat yourselves to a meal try the last restaurant on the harbour and ask what specials they have. We had a delicious meal there.

    1. Yes, we're heading out tonight for a meal, we'll take a look at the last one and see if we fancy whats on the menu, cheers :)

  6. ps - Top duvet; do you get to draw on it ?

    1. It's a pain navigating with it. Liz has to shout out directions from the bedroom


Please comment if you want more info or would just like to say hello...