Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Ninteenth Week

Sunday 10-7-16

So the forecast today was for 37 degrees. It wasn't wrong. My solution was to spend most of the day in the shade of the van, write up last weeks blog and upload it. The wifi on the site was fast and free. I also backed up and recovered photos after our wine in the keyboard issues with two previous laptops. This was all aided by our recent big blowy fan purchase. The evening had been mapped out too. We were eating out at a grill restaurant, part of my ongoing search for grilled lamb chops, then cocktails in a noisy beach bar and then the Euro final. Liz being French having a keen interest in the result. We showered then wandered to the restaurant. Bingo, yes they had lamb chops. To say we were happy is an understatement.

They were great and we got eight each for 10 euro. Then it was part two of the mission, noisy beach bar. We found one playing AC/DC, old Rock n Roll and Santana, right up my street music wise. Liz had her cocktail and I crammed three ice cold Alpha beers in before kick off.

We saw the first drunk Greeks of our trip, they were happily knocking shots back and being nice and loud. Great stuff. Then it was back to the van and the dongle plugged in the laptop did it's stuff again. Shame the game was so boring and the French lost. But we'd had a good night whatever.

Camping Poseidon, Platamonas, Greece. N40.01329 E022.59299

Monday 11-7-16.

After a very steady pack up, last nights festivities had dulled my enthusiasm a bit, we paid up and left the camping. They tried to charge us 56 euro for two nights but Liz waved the ACSI book at them and they reduced it to 34 euro, the last date of the discount rate was today so we'd just got there in time.

We bought spinach pie and bread at the baker then jumped on the motorway to Thessaloniki. 55Km up the motorway we jumped off it and found a camping. Small, quiet and a lot cooler than yesterdays.

We walked around the site and found a cracking old Land rover with a very unstable camping box thing stuck on it. It was abandoned in a corner of the site and the last tax disc in the window was 2005. I liked it even though it looked like it'd handle like a pig on a pushbike.

We had coffees by the pool and then did some jobs. I put straps on the foil backed beach mats so they'd attach to the windows to act as sun shades and sorted the fan out with a strap to hang it over the bed. We also spent an hour putting a months worth of facts and figures in the trip log spreadsheet, another victim of the wine keyboard interface.

Camping Methoni, Greece. N40.42766 E022.60406

Tuesday 12-7-16

So we dropped back onto the motorway, paid our tolls and headed up to Thessaloniki. Luckily it has a ring road. Looking at it from the ring road which was above the town it looked like a hot busy mess of apartments, shops and businesses. We then headed south down the coast and into the part of Greece known as Halkidiki. We stopped to buy cigarettes in one of the seaside towns. I double parked as is the custom and a guy on the other side of the road double parked. All quite acceptable here.

The towns were busy and the beaches full of parasols. It was looking like yet another campsite night until we wandered into Paralia Trigias. By an old harbour building we found a quiet spot to park up next to some well looked after grass.

At the end of the road was a beach taverna. We had coffees then lunch back at the van. About four we wandered back for ice creams and two old Greek blokes started talking to us. We sat with them and they shared their retsina wine with us. One was a communist called Tito with Che Guevara tattooed on his arm the other was a capitalist called Georgos who loved money. This they told us in a mixture of Greek, German and English. But they were best friends non the less. The capitalist was off to Germany to work at the beer festivals making pizzas, he went by the name of Pizza George. The communist said he'd stay in Greece and drink wine. They called Liz Her Majesty when the found out her name. They were both very drunk. We left them after an hour and Pizza George drove his friend home. We sat outside the van in the shade and drank beer and read.

Wild camping at Paralia Trilias Beach, Greece. N40.26917 E023.18122

Wednesday 13-7-16

We looked at the map and I declared my total disinterest at seeing any more random Greek beaches. So Halkidiki was crossed off the itinerary. Seeing as where we were gave us a great opportunity to head north to Bulgaria that's what we decided to do. We backtracked up the dual carriageway to Thessaloniki then hung a right for a place on the coast called Stavros. The road was new and smooth and paid for by the EU. When we hit the coast we decided that as tomorrow would be a border crossing day we should find a campsite with Wi-Fi . We needed to find out what we needed, we didn't even know what the currency was in Bulgaria. And in Asprovota we found what we wanted. And it was probably our strangest Greek campsite yet.

We found a nice spot in the shade and then ambled around the place. It was huge, hundreds of pitches, but only maybe 10% occupied. You could see it had once been very busy and well maintained. But now it was struggling. We had become used to seeing Greek caravans left on the sites and people using them as weekend cottages, with little fences and paved areas they'd installed themselves, but here they took things even further. They were planting veggie plots outside their caravans.

The seafront was a bit bleak, but some of the residents had been watering the bit of grass in front of their plots to keep it green.

The Supermarket on site had seen better days too, we were glad we went to Lidl before getting here.

But it was quiet, the toilets were clean with hot water in the showers and the wifi was fast and free. In Lidl today we'd done a bit of shopping and found mozzi nets on offer. We bought some and I spent some time cutting them up to replace the tatty nets on the van door screen. Liz also made a small one to fit over the drivers door using the magnets they came with so we can have that open while we're parked up.

On the free wifi we sussed out Bulgaria border requirements, found out they spend Levs in the shops, learnt how to say hello and thank you in Bulgarian and found a campsite to head to just over the border for tomorrow night. So we were all set, I do like a plan.

Camping Asprovolta, Greece. N40.73553 E023.71797

Thursday 14-7-16

Bulgaria bound we headed north for the border, we waved bye bye to the sea as the next time we'd see it would be in France in two months time. On our way north we passed this fine fellow. No idea what it was but it looked old.

We reached the border after an hour and a half. We'd dug out our insurance docs, V5 and driving licences as we'd read we'd need them to enter Bulgaria. After a short queue two policemen, one Greek and one Bulgarian asked to see our passports. The Greek then asked us what we thought of Brexit. We told him and he gave us a long lecture about why it was good and what would happen next. He kept us talking for 5 minutes even though there was a queue of cars behind us. Eventually he waved us through and that was it. None of the other docs needed. About a mile up the road we pulled in for fuel, it was cheaper here so we'd waited till over the border to fill up. A nice chap filled us up and then gave our window a wash. Liz went and paid and also bought a carnet for 15 euro to allow us to drive in Bulgaria for a month.

We found the campsite I'd spotted on Google maps yesterday. It was run by an English couple called John and Sarah. It was small and tidy. The showers and loos were brand new and we had use of a kitchen in the house if we needed it.

They invited us for drinks and a game of darts after dinner. They also had two Spanish lads stopping there doing work for them in exchange for room and board, these two lads from Bilbao were referred to as the Spaniels and they'd learnt to play darts that week. They beat us all.

Sometime in the early hours we made it back to the van, Bulgarian rakia had made me sleepy.

Kamping Kromidovo, Bulgaria.  N41.45472 E023.36283

Friday 15-7-16

I woke up at 10am. We went to see John and another Brit called Ian with our map and they helped us with suggestions for places to go. This done we packed up very steadily as we had fuzzy heads and it was 41 degrees. We waved bye and headed for a big supermarket Sarah had recommended. We found it and it had an ATM which was handy as we had no Levs, we'd had to pay for the camping with Euros. It was a big place and we found everything we needed. The advertising poster outside caught my eye, the lady on it seemed to have far too many teeth.

After this we headed east and into the mountains with an idea that it would be cooler higher up. Just before the town of Predel at 1100m above sea level we spotted a sign for Camping. We followed down a dirt track through a forest and came across a completely empty campsite. A very happy man ran out the house and shouted “hello you want camp?” at us. We said yes and he said anywhere, which was obvious really as the field was empty apart from a lot of small wooden camping chalets. I asked how much and rubbed my fingers together in the internationally recognised way to mean money and he held up 10 fingers. 10 Euro, bargain, we pitched up and he plugged us in to the only electric point on the site.

It was sunny but a lot cooler than at the bottom of the mountains in the valley. Mission accomplished for the day.

Camping Predel, Bulgaria.  N41.89648 E023.33054

Saturday 16-7-16

We paid the happy campsite fellow and headed for Lake Batak. There was a camping on the lake that we'd got a discount card for. I took a photo of our personal campsite as we passed it on the dirt road.

The way to the lake took us through the mountains. There were people turning hay over with pitch forks in the fields and we passed lots of farmers with horse and carts. In one town we spotted a Lidl so did a small shop, really we just wanted to compare it with the Greek ones. More cooked meats and less Feta cheese was the answer. We were met at the gate of the camping by a young lady called Jana. She showed us a pitch and apologised for it being busy, it was Saturday and all the Bulgarians would go home tomorrow after their weekend away. We had a nice view of the lake and the cloud was clearing. Another night sorted.

Camping Lake Batak, Bulgaria.  N41.95861 E024.15475

I've managed to rescue my facts and figures spreadsheet and updated it. Below are the numbers so far for 130 days away.

Cheers, the Van Brian Crew.


  1. Hi Kev & Liz, we stopped at Camping Predel a couple of years ago and we were the only folk there. The young owner proudly showed us new chalets he was building and the new toilet and shower block and then apologized because there was no water supply yet! Happy Travels.

    1. Cheers :) It was lovely and quiet. The owner was very happy and kept waving his arms at us and shouting No Problems and smiling. We liked it.

  2. What with both hips and left knee replacements, thus being tied to UK your Blog is really keeping us going. Thanks Kev and Liz.

    1. No problem, glad you're enjoying and get well soon :)


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