Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Fifteenth Week

Sunday 12-6-16, Monday 13-6-16 and Tuesday 14-6-16

So on Sunday we woke up at Chiliadu Beach and looked at our map.  Fancying a change of scenery we spotted a big lake north of here, up in the hills at Lidoriki.  We asked the sat nav to take us there and set off.  As usual as soon as you head inland we found ourselves driving up steep roads with lots of hairpin bends.  After about half an hour I glanced at the fuel gauge.  It was nearly empty, so I asked the sat nav to show me fuel stations along my current route.  None found.  Bugger, there was no way we could do 40 miles up and the 40 miles back down again.  So we turned around and went back to the town near the beach where there were three fuel stations.  But it was Sunday and they were all “kleestos” or in plain English shut.  Where was the next one? 30km around the coast, so we gave up on lakes and dedicated today to getting diesel.  Which we eventually got on the main coast road.  Then we needed somewhere to stop.  This we found on a beach just west of the port of Galaxio.

There were three vans here already and I said Bonjour to the Frenchman, Gut Morgen to the German and then drew a blank at the Czechoslovakian, so I said hello and he was happy with this.  The bay had a small ferry moored up in it and a little harbour used by a fish farming outfit.  On Monday morning a tanker lorry rolled onto the ferry and it sailed off coming back two hours later with the same lorry.  Liz did some snorkelling and said the bay was full of fish.

The Frenchman knew this too and spent a long time with a very long fishing rod trying to catch one.   Unsuccessfully, until a Greek chap came down to the beach and caught a bucket full of fish.  The Frenchman chatted with him and borrowed some “special” bait, he caught two fish straight away.
We had a walk over the hill and in the next bay a very nice yacht was moored up.

That evening the bloke on the yacht got in his little dingy and buzzed around to our bay.  He parked it on the beach, walked down the beach looking at the vans then back again, not saying anything to anyone, got back in his dingy and left.  Perhaps he just wanted to stretch his legs?  I’d brought with us 20m of nice yellow elastic cord, the type they make bungee straps out of.  So I spent some time making up straps for the windows, these stop the wind blowing the window up past the ratchet point and then falling back closed.  I also made a long one for tying down the awning.  Something else that flaps about if it gets breezy.  And it got breezy every night here for some reason, not enough to drop the temperature below the high twenties, in fact the breeze seemed to warm things up.  I think it’s something to do with the land heating up and the sea cooling, or something like that.

It was a great spot and we stayed three nights, it was quiet and the beach was great.

Wild camping at Anemokampi Beach, Greece.  N38.35183 E022.37989

Wednesday 15-6-16  

But today we had to move, we had no veggies, meat, beer or bottled water but something else urged us to move too.  The weather forecast predicted 40 degrees on the coast.  Time to head up into the hills.  Jokingly I asked the sat nav to find me ski resorts near to where we were.  Amazingly it found one 45km away.  So we waved bye bye to our beach and headed for the hills.  On the way we stopped at a supermarket and refreshed the cupboards.  Liz checked the till receipt as the lady was messing with our bank card and realised that the three chicken breasts we’d just bought were €10.  So they got put back and we caused a deal of confusion getting a refund.  But I found Greek Alpha beer at buy 6 get 4 free so it was worth it.  After that we climbed up to our ski resort destination.  We passed through Delphi on the way, which looked awful, tourist coaches, tat shops and fast food restaurants.  The ruins here draw the punters it seems.  The roads after Delphi started to get interesting.

We climbed right to the top, passing the ski resort and up to a phone mast, but this was a bit exposed and remote even for us.

The hills were falling onto the roads up here but there was room to drive around them.

So we backtracked a couple of km and found a nice spot at a pull in at the side of the road.

Temperature wise it was in the mid-twenties and a nice cool breeze was blowing.  We levelled the van up, switched the fridge to gas and that was us sorted for the night.  I like it when a plan comes together.

I got up at 3am and it was a glorious 16 degrees in the van, almost chilly.

Wild Camping, Near Parnassu Ski Resort, Greece. N38.54903 E022.57493

Thursday 16-6-16

We checked the captain’s log and found out it was our 100th day away today.  Much as we liked it up here in the cool there wasn’t an awful lot to do.  So we rolled down the other side of the hill heading north.  We needed our water tank filling and that’s not been a problem here in Greece.  All the petrol stations have a tap you can use and at the side of the road, when you’re in the wilds, they have taps set in stone walls every so often.  This is what we found on our way down.

Something else we found as we came out of the pine forests was a British military cemetery.  

It was immaculately kept, the grass was watered and cut.  In fact we’d not seen a patch of grass this well cared for anywhere else on our travels.  The borders had small rose bushes and flowers planted in them, there were no weeds anywhere.  Amongst the gravestones of British soldiers from lots of different regiments there were also four Russian soldiers of the Russian Labour Corp and one Maltese soldier. 

It was a fine resting place for them.  We drove on and hit the coast at a very big town called Lamia.  We did a big shop and then decided we’d like a campsite tonight.  I found one marked on the map but when we got there it was very much closed.  But it was on a gravel road by a beach, so we made our own campsite a bit further along the road.

That night we sat outside the van enjoying a cooling breeze off the sea, it’d got up to 33 degrees today.  We watched a ferry in the distance crossing the sea to the island of Evia.  We thought that would be a nice thing to do.

Wild Camping, Longos Beach, Greece. N38.75729 E022.93199

Friday 17-6-16

So that’s what we did.  We drove 20km around the coast to the small port of Arkitsa, bought a €31 ticket for a ferry leaving in half an hour, had a coffee in a cafĂ© across the road and then got on it.

The crossing took half an hour and was very smooth, the sea was flat and there wasn’t a breeze.  We sat on the deck in the sun looking down on the filthy roof of our van.

The port at Loutra Epipsou on the island surprised us, we thought it’d be a small place, like the one we’d sailed from on the mainland.  But it was big and busy.

We had thought of having a night there, we’d had some good stopovers at harbours in the past, but it wasn’t that kind of place.  So we drove east around the island and found a campsite 15 km further on.  The pitches were shady and the showers were hot.  It’d do us.  We’d had a fun day but it’d worn me out.

Later on, the sight of the dirty van roof on the ferry got to me.  I called for all hands to the mast with orders to swab down and scrub the decks.  We needed to be ship shape and Bristol fashion.  I was getting the hang of this sea fairing lark.

And that was another week done. Tomorrow will be the half way point of our trip and we still have a lot of Greek coastline to explore before we head for Eastern Europe.  We don’t plan much, we just do what we feel like each day, which seems to work for us.  I wonder where we’ll go next week?

Camping Rovies, Isle of Evia, Greece. N38.83191 N23.19900

Cheers, the Van Brian Crew.

Below are the updated facts and figures for 101 days away.

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