Saturday, 3 March 2012

Overview - Journey information, GPS etc.

Overview

Journey undertaken by myself in Chausson motorhome from 2nd May to 20th September, 2011, various comments about journey. Had a great time, a few traumatic events, nothing serious, apart from a few overly attentive elderly gentleman who just couldn't work out why I was on my own!  Found all of the countries very safe to travel in and found no difficulties with the languages at all, most of the youngsters spoke English at school and wanted to practice!  Did have all phrase books though!

https://www.scribblemaps.com/create/#id=61K22GCmyM&lat=52.38226178693743&lng=5.955762618749986&z=6&t=road

DATE, TOWN, MIILES, (DAILY), NAME, LATITUDE, LONGTITUDE, COMMENTS

1st week

UK

02/05/11 Sandy, Beds 30391

03/05/11 Dover 30549 (158) Port

BELGIUM

03/05/11 Eupen 30766 (217) Reservoir N50.62180 E6.09148 Free

GERMANY

04/05/11 Hymerring Eurocamp N49.77368 E9.58034 Free/Elec € for ? Hours

05/05/11 Altotting 31348 (582) Town Car Park N48.22953 E12.67449 Free for 3 nights

AUSTRIA

08/05/11 Orth/Donau 31483 (135 )Town Car Park N48.14523 E16.70383 Free. Wonderful trip along Danube


2nd week

09/05/11 Deutsch Jahrndorf 31516 (33) Town Camping (CL) N48.00777 E17.11073 Donation €6 Lovely spot looked after by villagers

HUNGARY

10/05/11 Pannonhalma Monastery 1800 florints

10/05/11 Gyor Diesel £52.80 Vignette £6.22 1 week for motorways

10/05/11 Budapest Haller Camping N47-28-33 E19-4-59 €15 per night Good site. Tram/buses free for over 60's take passport. Wonderful city, lots to see.

ROMANIA

13/05/11 Carie Thermal Camping (N47-40-27) ? (E22-26-42) ? not open 5/5/11 -? GPS not correct

13/05/11 Coluic Popas Touristica 31992 (476) Parking space outside Hotel. Got there late

8.30pm, slept very quickly. Woke early to sound of pack of dogs barking. Clock went forward another hour.

14/05/11 North VLADIMIR Suczawa N47.49632 E25.26106 French/English spoken motorhome dump point sign not sure if open, didn't stay.

14/05/11 Suczawa 32121 (129) Cristiana Camping N47.60257 E25.85236 Eng/Fr/Ger – my GPS not book!

3rd week

18/05/11 Touring Monasteries Cristiana Camping. Many monasteries easily found, chose main ones. Fees charged in order to take photos at various sites.

19/05/11 Sighisoara 32461 (340) Aquarius Camping N46-13-24 E24-47-45 2 nights 80 Lei (Ron!) Very interesting city.

21/05/11 Bucharest 32667 (206) N44-31-01 Banesa Camping E26-05-34 city. 80 Lei per night, expensive, only site available 2 nights. Bus Tickets obtained from reception. Walk up to main road, turn left onto main road for bus stop. Little adventure! Got on wrong bus from city, however, one driver deposited me in front of another bus, whose driver promptly took me to spot near correct bus back to camp. Thank you to those Bus Drivers, no English spoken!!!!!

4th week

BULGARIA

23/05/11 Nr Veliko Tarnovo 32810 (143) Camping Veliko Tarnovo N43.04.01 E25.45.11 €104 for week, including 1 meal, 2 drinks per day! Went to main town for Son e Lumiere, taxi to town. Good site to chill out, or warm up as weather very summery!

5th week

31/05/11 Road 55 Lakeside freecamp N42-35-15 E25-52-13 Looked good but not sure
where the entrance was!

31/05/11 Nr Harmanli 32984 (174) Sakar Hills Camping N41 52.247 E25 59.497 4 nights. Had great time with owners of site and their son who ran it.

02/06/11 S of Haskovo 33122 138 Perperikon N41-43-01 E25-28-09 3 L entrance and parking, wonderful scenery. Should have explored more but was impatient to get on road to Turkey.

TURKEY

04/06/11 £10 Visa or 30TL, or 15€ Border. Motorway Toll 20TL on card

04/06/11 Kilyos 33332 (210) Mistic Camping N41-14-59.30 E29-2-15.19 €12 Disco/bad bus service (3 Buses to Istanbul)

6th week

07/06/11 Istanbul 33366 34 Wharf Fisherman's N41-00-05 E28-58-38 30TL per night my GPS!

09/06/11 Istanbul Turkey Touring Org Insurance for 2 months – vehicle docs needed

Oto Sanayi Sitesi Yani 1, Seyrantepe Yolu, IV Levent, Istanbul.

Tel: 0090 212 282 8140 Fee 120TL . Motorway Toll 50TL another company!

10/06/11 Ankara 33676 (310) Esenboga Airport Hotel N40-04-26 E32-56-24 my GPS

€19 per night swim/sauna. Got stuck in mud at front of hotel, tiredness sent me the wrong route! Was pulled out by very kind bulldozer driver and me and the van were washed down by hotel employee at the back of the hotel! Great stop. Bus to city down road. Museum of Anatolian Civilization was in there for four hours!

12/06/11 Bozakale 33814 (138) Bashkent Camping N40-01-42 E34-37-09 20 TL Site good, wonderful scenery. Didn't eat in restaurant.

7th week

13/06/11 Urgup 33993 (179) Kaya Camping N38-38-12 E34-51-15 24TL per night. Wonderful sites and scenery. Good walking, but too warm for me! Great company, English, New Zealanders and Dutch.

19/06/11 Sultanhani 34113 (120) Kevan – Camping N38-14-55 E33-33-28 50TL 1 night, dinner, 1 wine, breakfast 50TL, my GPS. Wonderful Caravanserai in town 3L. Went south next day to Meke Crater Volcano N37-41-34 E33-38-17 Crater with lake, 2 km off highway.

8th week

20/06/11 Konya Cultural Centre N37-52-06 E32-30-54 Whirling Dervishes on Saturday night 9pm parking free, entrance fee. The Mevlana Institute is in town, parked at Cultural Centre and walked.

20/06/11 Konya 34245 (132) Free Camp Site N37-52-11 E32-33-01 TC Karatay Belediyesi, Hobi, Bahceleri, Karavan Park. Konya. On roundabout, bit noisy, but free, water, electricity, toilets free. Very generous. Guard at gate and industrial centre next door. Tents allowed too!

22/06/11 Catalhoyuk Archaeological site SE of Konya Amazing dig 20C BC. Great site and museum. Only person there. Went south and then west to Beysihir, encountered 2km of newly tarmacked road, what a state the van was, extra resealing to base of vehicle!

22/06/11 Beysihir Lake 34401 (156) Free Camp Site N37-40-09 E31-42-48 quiet night no disturbances, near town.

23/06/11 Beysihir Esrefoglu Wooden mosque, smelt very good!

23/06/11 around the Lake 34474 (73) Eflatunpinar N37-49-30 E31-40-28 Spring/shrine – frogs very loud! Lady comes out of house to sell you craft goods, very quickly!

23/06/11 around the lake. Stopped to start cleaning tar from the van! OK spot, except for bird scarer gun, started at 10pm until early morning – not good! Had to retrace steps

didn't like sound of the condition of the southern road around the Lake back to Konya.

24/06/11 Konya 34604 (130) Camp site above N37-52-11 E32-33-01 and parked. For Whirling Dervishes met Belgian couple, took van down to Cultural Centre. Wonderful experience.

26/06/11 Civlic 34970 (366) Parked for night, bit noisy not disturbed though. Sunday night festivities. Place a bit grubby, decided not to hang around.

9th week

27/06/11 Karatepe 35126 (156) Archaeological site N37-15-00(06)! E36-13-10 Amazing Hittite site with museum, road from Kadirli awful, TT took me that way! Missed signs when on initial road out of Osmaniye.

28/06/11 Kastabala Archaeological site Personal guide. Small site wonderful scenery.

27/06/11 Adana 35209 (83) roadside parking N37-01-36 E34-19-27 Parked for night, not

disturbed. Walked across road from parking spot outside Museum, to look at Roman bridge. Went into largest mosque in Turkey. Museum was shut for

27/06/11 Adana Museum – shut upgrade.

27/06/11 Tarsus St Paul's Well Small site, didn't stay long. Got in pickle with parking wardens!

28/06/11 Kanlidivane Archaeological site Big hole in ground, religious site.

28/06/11 Dioceasarear Archaeological obtained site guidance sheets from guardian.

28/06/11 Silifke 35323 114 roadside parking N36-27-31 E34-08-14 Silifke, next to sea and hotel.

29/06/11 Alanya 35528 (205) main route N36-30-30 E32-04-34 On side road, near hotels. Not disturbed.

29/06/11 Manavgat/Side 35564 (36) Archaeological site N36-46-17 E31-23-47 Large free carpark heading off to turtle site.

30/06/11 Degirmenozu, Koprulu Kanyon Milli Parki, Roman Bridge, Selge (not actually seen, couldn't park in order to go on foot) Archaeological site Don't know how I got on wrong road, but landed in Degirmenozu, advised to go back. Turned right to gorge, Wrong! Had to negotiate narrow Roman bridge with right angled entrance and exit. Helpful young Turkish lad helped me, but not a good way to proceed. (Missed left turn quite early on journey.) Hill out from bridge smooth stones, bad if wet! I went back to say thankful whereupon he tried to sell me a trip down the gorge on a strange boat! Bad enough driving through! Needed better map!

30/06/11 Aspendos 35690 (126) Archaeological site N36-56-22 E31-10-25 Car park 10TL, Adm 15TL, 16TL magnificent site map/guide/postcards, good night

01/07/11 Sillyon Archaeological site N36-59-35 E30-58-37 Didn't get to site, parking very restricted for motorhome. Bit hot, decided to travel on.

01/07/11 Perge 35728 (38) Archaeological site N36-57-34 E30-51-12 Fantastic site, long time discovering everything.

01/07/11 Antalya 35741 (13) Museum N36-53-03.9 E30-41-00.6 Car park next to area of restaurants with live entertainment. Bit noisy at night! 3TL cheap. Museum15TL Not a lot of English! Tram to old town, small fee, good just for sightseeing.

03/07/11 Termessos Archaeological site N37-01-06 E30-30-29 History of site lead me
there. Entrance GPS Long road upwards single track. Long walk up, not a lot of
renovation, however wanted to see the Tomb of it's hero Alteacea, one of Alexander's Generals.

03/07/11 Kemer, Onno Tunc Caddesi 35809 (68) Bus Carpark N36-35-49 E30-34-08 Large free car away from tourist centre. Not disturbed at all.

10th week

04/07/11 Phaselis 35820 (11) Archaeological site South of Kemer, sign posted. Beautiful setting, parking close to sea, 3 bays, tourist boats, good swimming, reasonable ruins. 8TL entrance.

04/07/11 Cirali-Kumkuca 35846 26 Town N36-24-13 E30-28-22 I think there may have been campsite, but I couldn't get on! Found this GPS space right by a parked mobile bank, stayed 2 nights, not moved on.

05/07/11 Olympos Archaeological site Walked along beach to site, quite pleasant, went early morning. Tried to walk to Chimera, followed map near bridge, signposted, but quite a long walk from town, narrow road. Decided to drive that evening. Big carpark at end with hospitable guide! Long hard walk up and down, torch needed at night, and better to go then you can see flames at their best.

05/07/11 Chimera Flames from rocks Could have parked here for night, decided against it!

06/07/11 Myra 35897 (51) Archaeological site N36-15-27 E29-59-12 Arrived just before site closed, found free car park, could have stayed night but didn't. Visited the Church of St Nicholas until closing time then decided to go on to Kas.

06/07/11 Kas N36-11-57 E29-37-58 Kas Kamping, recuperated. 30TL night ACSI Arrived 8pm. Set up near entrance, good places near sea had gone! Quite steep hill. Not well, heat finally got to me, rested my GPS!

10/07/11 Kas Olympus Mo Camp N36-12-26 E29-37-03 Flat, on beach, wished I'd been here! Bike ride to Kas, 2/3 km (could go back here liked it).

10/07/11 Dalyan/Ortaca 36088 (191) parking space N36-50-28 E28-39-03 Next to Municipal Building, being Sunday no one to object.

11th week

11/07/11 Aphrodisias 36140 (52) Archaeological site Car park 10TL, Adm 8TL Guide 5TL Food 8.5TL. Enjoyed site and museum, bumpy trip from car park to site, compulsory, or walk!

11/07/11 Pamukkale 36258 (118) Baydil Camping N37-55-05 E29-07-16 Waved down by site owner at entrance, 25TL a night for single person negotiated. Unwanted attention by his brother! Cafe, souvenirs adjoining site. Main entrance to site opposite, 20TLentrance, other charges inside Hieropolis cafe/restaurant/swimming

pool quite high. Take off shoes to go through travertine, take good pair for walking through archaeological site.

12/11/11 Pamukkale North Entrance Hieropolis N37-56-27 E29-07-00 If you park here, then it's a very long walk through the ruins to the travertine. Don't know whether you can actually stay here the night!

14/07/11 Bodrum/Didum Temple of Apollo N37-23-06 E27-15-14 Large car park outside restaurant, very full, music till 12. Everybody obviously enjoying themselves.

15/07/11 Didyama Miletus 36526 (268) Archaeological site N37-31-49 E27-16-25 Large shaded carpark. Large site, lots of walking, pack of dogs. Museum about 1km from carpark very informative. Air conditioning – wonderful.

15/07/11 Priene 36559 (33) Archaeological site N37-39-36 E27-18-03 Long walk up, very hot still. Wonderful views from top, especially with mountain behind the Temple of Athena. Enjoyed it.

15/07/11 Kusadasi 36584 25 Yat Camping N37-52-05 E27-15-59 Very unwell, recuperating
again. Finally advised to get rehydration tablets by my marathon running son. Worked a treat, ankles had begun to swell up. Shops close. Didn't do a lot really!
Spent time pondering on where to go next. Getting close to driving through Greece, to go home.14TL per night. Discovered when back in UK Thyroid/Kidney problems needed attention!

12th week

21/07/11 Ephasus 36588 (4) Archaeological site Car park 7.50TL site 20L very crowded. Magnificent site, well worth coming. Left late, went to cafe and then travelled on.

21/07/11 Sirine Uninhabited Greek Village Bad move, went through village up very bad road, just had to keep going, couldn't reverse or turn round. Finally found somewhere. What trauma.

21/07/11 Red Basilica, Bergama 36725 (137) Wide parking space at side of road
N39-7-18.03 E27-11-3.81 Not disturbed. Saw camping site down road, but late so didn't go in.

22/07/11 Bergama/Asclepion Acropolis/Pergamon Archaeological site Drove to top of Acropolis, parking 14TL, entry 20TL magnificent view, grand theatre, good ruins.

22/07/11 Behramkale/Assos 36840 115 Carparking on hill N39-29-08 E26-20-01 Man waved me down, said “no down hill”, 10TL he actually stayed the night to guard me/the carpark. Overlooked Lesbos. Lovely meal in town with free wi-fi.

24/07/11 Troia 36904 (64) Troia Pension & Camping, Tevfikiye N39-57-21 E26-15-01
Got here very early from Assos, Entrance and guide tomorrow morning. Stayed
2 nights only, had meals, drinks and souvenirs 175TL all in. Met Dutch and Greek
Taxi drivers.

13th week

25/07/11 Troia 36930 (26) next town Trip to get cash ATM

26/07/11 Canakkale Museum/Ferry Gallipoli Museum 5TL, Ferry 35TL Eceabat

26/07/11 Gallipoli 37039 (109) French Cemetery N40-03-14 E26-12-28 Road in front of cemetery. Didn't get moved on. Signs saying no camping when near the historic cemeteries. Fridge not working at all. Karatepe Campsite just would not let me in at 8.30pm.

27/07/11 Gallipoli Free Camp Site N40-03-07 E26-13-28 Did actually park near the Frenh Cemetery, guard came to lock up and didn't move me on!

GREECE

27/07/11 Alexandroupoli Car park at beach N40.84342 E25.86477 Arrived late, completely
missed Camp Site.

28/07/11 Alexandroupoli Camp site. Big site, some wifi, €10.89 for single person, couldn't
find anyone to fix fridge.

29/07/11 Thessaloniki N40-30-10 E22-58-13 Zampetas Caravans.  On road after airport, Greek flag flying on forecourt. Fitted new fridge for good price. Very helpful very busy business. Was offered weekend in Halkadiki, but needed rest.

29/07/11 Angelohori Beach car park N40-29-37 E12.67449 Free parking. Storm flooded car park. Bit noisy during Greek matrimonial row! Albanians camping on beach. Was OK kept everything locked, obviously.

29/07/11 Thessaloniki Mechanic N40-35-15.37 E22-58-01.63 Recommended but not
used, didn't need to.

14th week

02/08/11 Thessaloniki N40-35-38 E22-56-54 The town, Fiat, etc Emergency Service Car Park

02/08/11 Thessaloniki Navainou N40-35-20 E22-56-36 Free parking space. Not used.

02/08/11 Thessaloniki Euoom N40-34-22 E22-57-07 Free parking space. Not used.

03/08/11 Thessaloniki 37474 (435) Fiat/on airport road going south. Fiat looked at Fan, said it couldn’t be done till end of August and €200. Didn't know where I would be end August. Was taken around Saloniki by George, the Greek Taxi Driver who I met in Troia. He wined and dined me very lavishly, had a really great day. He suggested I go to the Halkidiki Peninsular and wild camp, but I really needed a washing machine!

03/08/11 Thessaloniki N40-35-38 E22-56-54 stayed one more night.

04/08/11 Halkidiki 37603 129 N40-03-05 E25-59-28 Katerina Camping, Sikia. Tried one other place, but it was very crowded and just couldn't contemplate trying to park there. l left and found this one. Owner very helpful. Took dashboard apart found fan part, emailed Soul Garages through Fiat Forum, he sent part to cousin on Andros.
Look forward to it!

15th , 16th, 17th week

14/08/11 Halkidiki free camping N39-57-47 E23-55-37 free camping between 2 beaches.

14/08/11 East Coast Greece 38071 (468) Volou Argalastris N39-18-56 E23-04-17 Sign saying Parking. So I did, there were 2 other motorhomes there.

15/08/11 East Coast Greece N38-20-07 E23-42-58 Eikostis Pmptis Martiou Stopped on road for a swim.

15/08/11 East Coast Greece 38102 (31) Leoforas Athion N38-19-21 E23-46-59 Atlantis Disco. Bit noisy, camping on beach.

16/08/11 East Coast Greece N38-17-52 E23-54-10 Kalamos village market bought some fruit.

16/08/11 Rafina Docks 38180 (78) Rafina N38-01-21 E24-00-36 Met Sara, travelled up to
their home in Ramatta, Andros. Had a couple of really great weeks with Sara, John and their zoo of animals, as well as all the Brit ex-pats. Greek hospitality was wonderful. Do hope the country manages to sort out their financial difficulties. Fan part arrived, replaced by John and myself very easily.

19th week

08/09/11 Rafina 38192 (12) Kokkino Limanaki campsite N38-1-52 E24-0-0 Very cramped site, stayed 2 nights. €28.60 2 nights.

10/09/11 Meteora 38439 (247) Meteora Garden Camp Site N39-42-31 E21-36-35 Tried Athens, couldn't park, just drove north, had had enough. Got to Meteora to do the monasteries. Still 36C+. Lovely area, majestic scenery. Arrived at Greek Border to find that they were on strike. Met some Austrians who accompanied me to free beach camping, met others who said Albanian roads were not good! Decided to go by ferry to Venice. Left early next morning.

20th week

14/09/11 Igoumenitsa Nea Selefkeia N39-30-53 E20-12-46 Free Camping area, lots of
signs saying No, but nobody took any notice and we were not moved on. Gentleman from Linos Travel told me how to get there.

15/09/11 Igoumenitsa 38610 (171) Ferry Just followed signs to Port by 8am

ITALY

16/09/11 Venice 38610 Port then Treviso N45.66769 E12.26361 Rd to Treviso for camperstop. Empty loo, didn't fancy doing it on the ferry! Various toll charges along route, €2.50 Venice, €2.80 Belina, €3.10 Bullana. €6.10/€8 Austrian toll, vignette. €7.90 Brenner Pass

GERMANY

16/09/11 Jachenau 38871 (261) Spellplatz N47-34-08 E11-18-09 €5 per night x 3 only. No
WC emptying, although porta loos on sight. Didn't use them. Followed toll road to cousin's house, she had helped to set up this parking space.

17/09/11 Jachenau Visited Kate's cousin's, although they were going off elsewhere.

17/08/11 Hymerring 39127 (256) Eurocamp Spellplatz N49.77368 E9.58034 Another good resting spot. Free.

BELGIUM

18/09/11 Eupen Reservoir N50.62180 E6.09148 Free

FRANCE

21st week

19/09/11 Dunkirk 39570 (443) N51-01-14 E2-11-37 Ticket Office Carpark Bit noisy but OK for early start.

19/09/11 Dunkirk McDonalds N51-01-23 E02-18-45 free wifi, lunch. Managed to park.

19/09/11 Dunkirk N51-00-23 E2-16-35 Auchan Supermarket good shopping, good parking

UK

20/09/11 Dover 39570

20/09/11 39591 (21) somewhere along road N51-16-14 E01-03-48 Morrison's Supermarket Space for parking, had a nap!

20/09/11 Harpenden 39683 (92) Saw granddaughters, son and Daughter-I-Law

21/09/11 Sandy, Beds 39716 (33) Sandy CL Saw Daughter

original mileage 30391
finishing mileage 39716 (9325)
Igoumenitsa to Venice approx 850 land mileage
Rafina/Andros return approx 80 land mileage
English Channel 44 miles (return)








21st week Journey home


Monday, 19th September, 2011 Left Eupen about 9am to travel to Dunkirk via the motorway. The large building which looked like a liner I had seen on the way over, looked better from this angle going towards Dunkirk. It was actually a Hilton Hotel, which I hadn't noticed on the original journey. Again, no further problems on the road except when I hit the Dunkirk area. I tried to find the Car Ferry port. There were long queues going along the motorway, so I decided to google a Supermarket and found an Auchan not too far away. But before I did, I saw a McDonalds, had lunch, a bit expensive but free wifi. Caught up with about 10 days of emails before I got home. Found the huge Super Duper supermarket Auchan, to purchase red and white wine ordered by my son. Found a very lovely lady assistant who advised me which wines were good, in the price range that I required. Don't really like buying wine for other people, you never know what is good. Anyway Simon, a connoisseur of French wines (at least he knows more than I do), reckoned that anything from Burgundy and the Rhone valley would be OK. Kate and Simon had met in Beaune when they both worked for an American Hot Air Balloon company back in the early 1990's. They both speak French; Kate teaches French to youngsters in the Harpenden, Hertfordshire area. I still get along with my schoolgirl French, with my cockney accent! I am understood! Just!

By the time I found the Car Ferry noticeboards heading away from Auchan, it was time for tea, a quick nap, settling down for the night in the car park next to the docks. A 6am early start was required to be ready to queue up for the DFSL ferry service which I had booked last December through the Camping and Caravan Club.

Tuesday, 20th September, 2011 Good journey over, quite calm, not very crowded either. Exiting Dover docks was uneventful as usual, not being pulled over by customs this time. Found a Morrison’s Supermarket near to Canterbury, to have a nap, it was a bit noisy last night near the docks! At least it was quieter than the roadside lay-bys, you can't have a nap very easily there, you are buffeted by the big lorries and coaches all the time. Made it to Harpenden by 2.15pm, Margot didn't recognise me. However it was a big game to keep me hidden when we got to school to pick up Sophia and Rosanna. We were sitting outside the wrong class entrance so the girls found Kate before they found me. Big hug from Sophia, but even bigger hug from Rosanna, because she didn't know I was coming back. It was so good to be with the girls again, and my how they had grown in 5 months and also they looked so much more grown up. We all went to the swimming pool for their weekly lessons, came home, Simon was there, home early from work. Brought the van down so that we could off load the wine for storage, and then re-park the motorhome further up the road for the night. Home again after nearly 5 months, 10,000 miles and lots and lots of memories. A safe journey, the van performed brilliantly, no further hiccups with the engine battery, but I'm keeping an eye on it! Tomorrow I would be visiting my daughter Sally to celebrate her new job with Tesco's, her new cat, and her holiday next year from St Petersburg to Beijing by the Orient Express. Wow, I wouldn't mind doing that, have a change from driving all that way, perhaps a few years time. Now to sort out all this writing, photographs, mementoes etc. etc. Hopefully, my travels will stimulate other single travellers to venture out there, knowing that I managed, felt safe at all times, except for the few minor glitches with the Turkish gentlemen! Happy adventures and safe travelling.

Ann Speirs annigonis@yahoo.com


20th week Meteora Monasteries, Igoumenitsa, Albanian Border, Venice


Monday 12th September 2011 However woke feeling very depleted, it was very warm, decided I would save the other monasteries for a cooler climate next spring. I headed through the mountains and tunnels towards Igoumenitsa and the Albanian border. There were more tunnels than scenery along this route and none of the toll booths were open, I think they were on strike, or had never even been opened. What a waste of revenue. Good for me, not good for Greece. Filled up in Igoumenitsa with diesel and proceeded to the border, and guess what, the Customs officials were on strike for 2 days. Met some Austrians who were also caught up in the strike, Ricky and Bill, had a drink together and then proceeded to the nearest beach until Wednesday morning when hopefully the strike would end. Whilst sitting and talking about their Hungarian Electric Scooter for €500 from Tesco's near to where they went in winter to a thermal baths, looked good, but the battery was very heavy and I couldn't possibly take it out of the bike, however there was a charge up point in the frame which was handy. They gave me a brochure on Butrint, Albania, from the Rothchild Foundation, London. They thought this place was much better even than Olympus in SW Greece. They were a bit worried that I was thinking of driving through Albanian as they had tried it themselves and felt the roads were horrendous. They were going back to Igoumenitsa and up to Venice €500 return trip for 2, early September/late October. So here I am sitting on the deserted beach typing up my notes, getting a hot head and thinking that sometime today I had better start my van as the battery was not holding it's charge from the long drive on Saturday and Sunday.
Camping on the beach

Goats waking us up the next morning
Come the evening, a German couple parked beside me. I casually asked if they were going through to Albania. He said 'No' and wouldn't even try it, very bad roads. So that's 2 motorhomers now saying that. A third very large off road German vehicle turned up too, and Ricky said I ought to ask them about Albanian roads! That was it. I just couldn't face any more bad roads, my mind was made up, I would go and book the ferry to Venice in the morning and just drive back to UK by the ferry from Dunkirk which I had booked last December, for 8am on 20th September 2011. At least it didn't involve any further expense and the tank of diesel I already had plus another would get me back home in five days. TT reckons 830 miles from Venice to Dunkirk. Fine by me. Did want to go up that Adriatic coast, perhaps another time, very much depending on whether Albania can get their roads sorted! Perhaps I can back pack sometime! Ha ha!

Wednesday, 14th September 2011 I left a note for Ricky and Bill, because I knew they wouldn't surface until much later and as I was getting whiffs of cigarette smoke in the van, it was time to leave. It was about 9am, there was quite a lot of traffic about and I drifted into Igoumenitsa drove along the sea front past the old harbour and on to the new harbour to look for Linos travel, recommended by the neighbourly German. He said even if Minoan Lines said they had no spaces, Linos always managed to get one. We had worked out that the fare would be about €220 what we forgot was the government tax, which brought it up to €247, which after all that, didn't think it was too bad it was saving me 800 miles travelling, tolls and various other taxes through each country, and best of all, no more bumpy roads.
Going back to Igoumenitsa
The owner of Linos Travel asked me how old I was when calculating the fare! So I replied “67”. “You don't look that old” he said and “Why is there no husband.” Well, did he need to ask! He invited me to sit down “and be the owner” while he went round the corner to get the ticket and ask for a discount! He didn't manage to get one, never mind. The gentleman gave me a very flowery farewell and then presented me with some red worry beads advertising his Agency and Igoumenitsa! It said “from Igoumenitsa with love” phone 2665023493, and Linos Travel on the other side.
Another beach campsite before the ferry still about 36C
My new gentleman friend told me where to find a beach with other travellers which was the turning left, before the football stadium and just to follow the road. Nea Selefkeia N39°30;53” E20°12'46”. I spent the day on the beach; signs which said “No Camping” but the signs were very old and absolutely no one paid any attention to them. Again it was hot too, and I didn't want to go in the sea, it was very shallow; there were no showers on the beach and I didn't have enough water to last the next few days; so I just carried on with various jobs in the van and read my Michael Connelly book “The Poet”. It was the second time of reading and just as exciting as the first; the plot probably clearer this time round.
My second visit to Venice after 17 years
Thursday 15th September, 2011 Making sure I would wake up at 7am in order to get to the port by 8am, I set 2 alarms. The port was already very full and I wondered whether I would get on. When eventually it was my turn, I stopped on the ramp, yuk! Very gingerly allowing myself to crawl up the slope without spinning the wheels. Good job it wasn't wet! By the time we had all parked, and had been **given our hook-ups from the electric reels above in the metal ceiling, I settled down for the voyage. It was so smooth, I hadn't realised we'd left and missed pictures. The boat was full to the brim, the last man on with a boat in tow was half way down the ramp!

I ventured upstairs, had a coffee and muffin; went out on deck until we were turfed off by the cleaners wanting to clean the deck. I tried to get comfortable in a lounge but it didn't work, so eventually went downstairs, opened up the windows and had a nap. Then lunch; I wandered off to see if there were any other Brits on board. Met a couple Ann and Tony who lived on Crete and were going back to UK with their little dachshund dog. There was one other UK couple on board but I didn't find them. Nearly finished my book, napped and it was time for an evening meal. There was a glorious sunset, you could see the rays of light against the sky, hopefully it will come out in the picture. The sea was getting a bit rough, but it really wasn't a problem. I suddenly realised that the 9am arrival at Venice was probably one hour less than now. So I had better be ready on time too, because I wanted to see Venice in the morning light if I could. I was feeling the movement of the sea and just hoped that my inner ear was going to behave itself over the next 12 hours. Perhaps I should have taken a pill, but when it was so calm, there didn't seem much point.
getting off the ferry with the liner behind

Friday 16th September 2011 Coming off the ferry was very simple, decided to go to an Aire at Treviso in order to empty loo and get some water. Absolutely no problem. Warm sunny day, so decided to head for Jachenau and an aire there. The journey was good, some tolls, and when I got to the Brenner Pass I had to pay €8 toll and €7.90 vignette for the Austrian toll roads, on which I only travelled 20 kms at the most. The mountainous country was marvellous, the air seemed so much cleaner here too. I hit an aire about 5.30pm, decided I couldn't go further, so pulled up promptly, ate, then slept. Lovely quiet location although I was near the entrance, close to the ticket machine €5 per day, 3 days maximum. I learnt later that my cousin's wife was instrumental in setting up this aire. However, only problem, was there was no toilet emptying facilities, although there were at least four portaloos in the area.
Through Italy to Austria

Saturday, 17th September, 2011 I woke earlyish but didn't hurry. Kate's cousin's village was only about 12 kms away, and wasn't sure whether he was there anyway. I decided to go around the lake on the toll road which was €5. It was very pleasant. Lots of parking spaces, beautiful views, but you could only enter the park from 8am till 10pm, and there were notices up everywhere. This was because lots of Austrians used to come up and camp out here, and it got too much so they have to put a stop to it, hence the toll road. When I first saw the village of Jachenau it looked very special to me, very well laid out, buildings pristine. I managed to find my cousin's house, although I didn't have the right number. He explained later that the emergency services and courier services complained that the numbers were incorrect and they couldn't find the right address, particularly in an emergency. It was a bit of a shock to find them there, and I was somewhat embarrassed to ring the doorbell without having announced myself, except for a very garbled message on the phone yesterday! Hanni opened the door, she recognised me and immediately said we are leaving in 30 minutes to go on holiday. More embarrassment, however, they didn't actually leave until 3 pm to go to a 60th birthday party in Munich. David certainly didn't recognise me, when last he saw me I was in fancy dress as the Green Hulk! They had had a bad morning. A lot of paper had been taken to the recycling unit and the wrong papers had been thrown into the bin. They had spent the entire morning looking for the lost documents to no avail. And, then I turned up.
Collecting the mown grass from the Spellplatz near Jachenau
They went on their way and I decided to follow through Munich and onwards probably towards Hymerring, the Eurocamp (GPS in earlier section) facility where there were lots of parking spaces and electricity if you required it. The drive to Hymerring was quite uneventful, traffic fast as usual! Lots of lorries, but got to my destination swiftly and safely. The weather had turned very dull with intermittent rain.

Sunday, 18th September, 2011 Texted my daughter-in-law Kate who reminded me that the 20th September was in fact Tuesday, and not Wednesday as I had texted. Oops, that meant I was a day out in my calculations for driving to Dunkirk. Glad someone was on the ball. I said I'd be arriving after lunch on Tuesday and many thanks for putting me right on the date; I might have missed the ferry which had been booked for 9 months! They were not going to tell the girls (my three granddaughters), but apparently Simon told Sophia the oldest one. So it wasn't such a big surprise to her. Rosanna and Margot apparently didn't get to be told the secret!

The journey today was again along the autobahn, no tolls, lovely road. Unfortunately, at 199 kms into the journey there was a huge traffic jam. It was just at the intersection of the A66 which I took and instructed TT to take me by the shortest route to Eupen, the aire just inside the Belgian border. It had started to rain and was very dull. The route went up and down hills, forests, beautiful villages where they were celebrating harvest by placing creatively designed scarecrows at the entry and exit points of the villages. Some were also having a beer festivals with lots of people dressed in their local costumes. The journey was quite eventful and certainly more interesting than the autobahn. Eupen, of course, hadn't changed since last time. When I arrived, there were no other motorhomes, however by the time I left the next morning there were about 7 of us. It rained heavily during the night but didn't interfere with my sleeping too much.


19th week Back to mainland Rafina, Meteora Monasteries

I decided to leave on Thursday 8th September. I patched up the wiring loom at the back of the van, put a carpet cladding over the top and ascended the hill towards the church. It was the second gulley that actually caught the back and although the carpet was a bit roughened up, everything else was OK. We patched up the rear bumper with sellotape, again; checked the lights were working OK and went on to Gavrion to catch the ferry. John was on his 600cc 4wheel drive Giros! We'd emptied all the water out of the van before ascending the hill, so when we got to Gavrion, John proceeded to attach the hose pipe to the sea front spring water outlet, so I had water for the journey. It wasn't as windy today. I tried 4 ferry boat shops before finding the right one with a credit card machine! 92.50€ back to Rafina. Having said goodbye to John, we then met Sam, Grecian vet from the island going to Volos for a holiday and then back to do the donkey charity work. I had a long wait, practically the last one on the ferry and I had to reverse on too! Which meant that I only had the sheep lorry in front of me. Parked, locked up and ascended the stairs. There leaning over the balcony of the ship was Sheila the vicar from Batsi returning home via Manchester to Cannock. We chatted, had coffee and the journey went very quickly.
Looking at John & Sara's house from the road up to the Church
When it was time to go down to the van, the stair way was chaotic. I wondered whether I would make the van on time, so other people didn't have to wait for me. The passengers fled off the boat as quickly as they could. Fortunately they didn't push down the stairs, I said goodbye quickly to Sheila who went to retrieve her luggage. As I drove off the boat she was waving at me. As my van was more or less, on the weight limit, I didn't offer her a lift but I suddenly felt rather guilty. I parked up and went back to look for her, couldn't find her so went on my way.
Hedges need cutting back, hardly any room!
The camp site I'd booked on to for the night was the Kokkino Limanaki campsite (N38°1' 52'', E 24°0'0'') . The site wasn't very far, 7 French Vans had just parked up and they were paying for one night only at reception. I had to leave my passport which I wasn't too happy about, however, I showed them my CCI card and was given a discount, instead of €20 it was only €14.30 a night, much better. By the time I got myself organised it was time for bed, phoned Sara and John to say I'd got there ok and texted Sally too.
Friday 9th September, 2011. Next morning I felt really tired didn't want to get up, by the time I had messed around I looked at the clock and it was nearly 1pm. What had I been doing, still felt tired, went to reception to get directions to Athens by bus, then metro. I went back, had another nap and decided to leave around 3pm and go later. It was still hot I didn't feel at all happy about walking to Rafina, up a lot of hills. As I would probably be walking back in the dark, I just stopped, turned round and went back. Paid for 2 nights and said I would be leaving in the morning. That's the point I'm at now. Just can't face going into Athens in the heat! Worked out routes and mileage back home. Didn't really want to go by ferry from Igoumenitsa, however decided to go to Delphi, then Meteora monasteries then over to Igoumenitsa and see how I felt then.
My first view of the Meteora
Saturday, 10th September, 2011 As it happened I drove to the Acropolis in Athens only about 19 kms, couldn't park although it was only 9 am. Decided to head for Delphi found myself going further north with TT and with that, I headed straight for the Meteora and found the Garden Camping site. The journey there was through the mountains and then the plain of Thessaly onto the rock formations of Meteora. I decided to rest this evening, cook myself something. As usual although some Germans, Dutch and Italians on site no one said Hello so I didn't bother either. I got up early next morning to head out to the Monasteries.
Sunday 11th September 2011 Went straight up to the Grand Meteora monastery, was able to park easily and proceeded to walk the 300 steps down and up to the church. It was €2 entry fee, the officials were eagerly looking at the ladies to make sure they were appropriately dressed, if not wraps were available. There was an assortment of rooms to view, no photos to be taken inside. The grounds were lovely if you could imagine them without the tourists. Some had such loud voices they obviously didn't observe the signs about this being 'holy ground and please respect and have reverence for it!' At one point I went Sssh! the particular man did at least quieten down. In each room there were the inevitable book shop, I did buy one reasonably priced book on the six monasteries for €3. the church was very colourful, very reminiscent of the painted monasteries in Romania, but cleaner and much more brightly coloured. I did in fact light 7 candles, a first. Put all my considerable small change into the box for these. It was a very worthwhile visit. I then after about 2 hours decided it was time to leave and did the journey somewhat slower, back down and up the steps. It was really hot by then, about 36°C. The car park was really full now, but I was able to get out quiet easily. I meandered round the roads, stopping to look at the various methods of obtaining access to the monasteries. To get to St. Trias, there was a metal looking box which floated between two points from the roadside to the monastery. Or, you could take the 160 steps! Including a very long walk down a slope. I decided against this one. Save it for my return visit in the spring.
I headed on to St Stephens Monastery which was run by nuns. Just a small bridge to gain access and as I queued to pay for my ticket, lots of Greek people, just sidled right past. The nun didn't have a chance to take money as she was on the phone I think asking for an audience with the Priest by the sound of it. This let through quite a large number of non-paying visitors. Perhaps another nun could have been present, all revenue lost, although only €2 per person, they probably lost at last €40 while I was standing there. Or do the Greeks get free admission here and it's just us foreigners who have to pay! There was quiet a lot to look at here too. The most interesting was in the refectory where all the local dignitaries from various centuries had been painted, including a woman who had defended their (monasteries) existence. The current slogan on the book I bought, and also a decision made by The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece in 1990 for the monasteries is 'Monastic City of Rocks, Holy Meteora, Sacred Grounds, Unchangeable and Unviolated.' The site is also recognised as a protected Monument for Humanity by UNESCO and other international organisations and is part of World Heritage. The entrance to the church was very small; most of the visitors were waiting to light candles and people were trying to get in a out through one small entrance! It was just pleasant to sit, contemplate and watch what went on in this church. No sure about all the kissing of the icons, must generate a lot of germs amongst people, most of whom, went out and lit up the proverbial fag!

I did find out what the long wooden planks were; to summon the inhabitants to prayer. I took a picture of a notice which thoughtfully explained it. There were fantastic views over the Thessaly plain and the town below, a bit hazy, but vast and impressive nevertheless. The car park again was full; coaches were parked along the roadside, and me! As I wound my way down I found an entrance going down to the monastery Rousanou. Apparently there were 270 steps to gain access here. Further round the bend a parking place to walk up, not so far to the monastery this way, well may be. The St Nikolaos Church was situated on the road, however, there were still 170 steps to gain access. The rock formations going down were fantastic, hadn't seen anything like this before on my journeys. Apparently the Thessaly plains were once a sea and when it receded the erosion took place, washed away the soil; earthquakes eventually split the rocks from each other and the resulting phenomenon was left. No wonder the monks (Greek for alone) felt this was the right place to be nearer to God.

I got back to the campsite about 1.30pm, had some lunch and decided it was time for a swim. A lot of young travellers mainly in the tent complex were around the pool, either playing cards or taking the sun, which left the pool entirely to me. Had a shower afterwards and returned for a nap in the shade of my van. Decided that I could do the rest of the churches tomorrow.
The Meteora Garden Campsite

 

16th, 17th, 18th week Greek East Coast to Rafina Docks, Andros

Monday 15th August 2011 One of the residents had a flock of white ducks some others ducks which had very funny red frills on their necks and heads! You can tell I don't know anything about ducks. However they had shelter and lots of corn, someone had thrown them a water melon. Lots of people were swimming off this beach and there was the usual taverna linked into another beach just a bit up the coast. That night a café not far from where I had parked drew in a lot of customers and the parking space became quite full. There were now 3 motorhomes here, 2 Italians and me. The outlook to sea was wonderful being a bay, surrounded by the mountains of the coast around me and islands out to sea, shame about the slight haze not sure whether it was pollution or sea fret.

Put in more diesel at 38071 80€, (N38°21'27” E23°19'15” don't know why I took this GPS must have been a good spot!) Tried to follow the coast road as much as I could, it was so hot I decided to stop for a swim at Eriksson Pemptis Martiou between Kbardi and Koraliou N38°20'07” E23°42'58”, debated whether to stay here but the parking was right on the road. Stayed until sunset and then drove further south to what looked like a good spot, other people were camped there. I noticed that this area was inhabited by an abundance of seiks with their turbans, obviously they had migrated here and found a living. It was a very large space, a pizza restaurant to the south and a low building opposite the beach called Atlantis.
Atlantis, open air disco

The Restaurant next to the carpark camping spot


The Borganvillia Balcony at Sara's 
Only later at about 10.30 pm did I find out it was an open air disco! Got out the ear plugs, music at least didn't thump to my very bones, slept quite well, until I woke and there was silence. (Leoforas Athion 38102 miles N38°19'21” E23°46'-59”) (157km from Sara including ferry.) At Kalamos (N38°17'52” E23°54'10”) I stopped at a small fruit and veg market in the town. Only bought 70c worth of green apples but because I had waited quite a long time for a couple of Greek ladies to decide on their purchases, the young stall holder gave me four over ripe bananas for being patient. From here, I took a road that I thought would take me along the coast, but just a dead end. I stopped by a café, Katherine the owner invited me in for coffee, I declined because, I said I had to get to Rafina by 2pm. She was fascinated because I was on my own and this was the first of the Greek feminine “Bravo's” I had along the route. Got lots of others on arrival at Andros, in Sara's village when she explained where I had been etc., to the Greeks in their own language. I did eventually find my way to Rafina, drove straight into a very empty port, and waited for Sara to arrive from the airport from the UK. She had been to look after her mother who had recently broken her femur and had had convalescence, eventually returning home for her other sister Jenny to take over the caring. I hadn't seen Sara since 2007 so we had a lot to talk about. We bought the ferry ticket, bit steep 106€ just one way, cheated a bit on the length of the van too! When we finally got around to boarding, the official did look a long time at the van's length and I began to feel quite guilty. We boarded early as the boat didn't leave until 5.30pm we sat in the lounge and drank very good cups of tea, whilst the boat filled up with Athenians taking their August vacation on Andros. On arrival, we could see John waiting on the quayside. He was there to pick up some other Brits, a lady who had had a car accident and had had to go to Athens in order to have her wrist put in plaster overnight! I learn later that John had a funny turn one night, whilst Sara was away and a friend was called, whose driving wasn't the best! She said John certainly wasn't that ill because he was able to have a go at her about her driving to the Clinic at 3am in the morning! He also had a retired theatre sister in attendance explaining what the Greek medical staff were doing! Other neighbourly ladies looked after their animals during John's brief absence in order to decide whether or not he had had a heart attack. Fortunately not, but overwork on some satellite dishes, dehydration, too many carbohydrates had given him a warning shock to make certain life changes!

Looking out from the balcony

The journey to their house was beautiful, up a very winding road. We by passed the short cut as it was very steep and the van would have bottomed out and then past the local church to their road, which I thought was OK as I drove down, did bottom out a couple of times until I parked in front of their house, on quite a steep drive. Turned round, put on chocks and sorted myself out whilst Sara cooked dinner on the BBQ. Well, we still didn't stop talking, it was 11pm before I went to bed! Late for me.
The Toad on the balcony
All tired the next morning, catching up on events, phone calls coming by the dozen to welcome Sara home. We did eventually go back into Batsi to the supermarket for supplies and I noticed the road that I had driven down. Well, my head was on a different planet. If I'd been normal I don't think I would have driven down their road. But I have to go up it. At the rear of my van there is a bundle of wires very inconveniently coming outside one of the main metal struts at the back, very bad design, and the outside protective cable was no longer protecting the wires. Not good, probably worse on the way up! There go the lights again. Well have to think of something to protect them before venturing out onto the main roads again! The next few days went by meeting the local Brit population and many of the Greeks from the village. We went to a Church day on Tuesday 23rd August. The service started at 7.30am, we got there around 10am. The church was full, people outside in their Sunday best, although it was a Tuesday. Many came because they had been born in this village, but subsequently lived in Athens or elsewhere. The Papa got increasingly cross with all the talking going on and he seemed to make the service last even longer, till 11.45am. Many people were getting quite fed up. There was breaking of the bread, huge loaves with aniseed, yummy, small cakes in aluminium trays. You were invited to have a sprinkle of lemon and oil to freshen your hands by the Church warden. We had been invited to Christos and Zoe's house for Tsipouro, nibbles, which then turned into a full blown meal! Lovely leek and cheese flaky pastry flan, moussaka, Greek salad; then pasta and tomato sauce, then bread and cheese and finally water melon! I'd had some kind of heavy spirit earlier which I decided not to replenish, just stuck to water. We were all quite stuffed, returned home and slept for quite a while. We had visits from neighbours who wanted to meet this woman who had been travelling by herself across Europe. Although quite an achievement, I just do it.
The Caretaker of the small monastery along the coast
Can't say that I'm not nervous at times, you have to keep vigilant always, but it has been lovely to just sit back and not have all the responsibility for living for a few weeks! Unfortunately Sara's mum had a set back, serious pain, contemplation by surgeons as to whether they would have to re-operate, so life with long distance phone calls was quite stressful for a number of days. Added to which my cousin's sister was about to visit on the 31st August and there was lots of talk about her previous eventful visit!

On Thursday 25th August we went to Angelos and Christina's house for a Greek supper. Apparently he's quite well known in Greece and he appreciated the fact that Sara and John didn't know about him, and appreciated their acceptance of him as just a normal person! He produced music records/CD's in Athens and we were welcomed to Beatles music quite loudly from inside the house, then modern jazz and finally Adele 21. Again the welcome was marvellous, the food very varied, break sticks,bread, mushroom/garlic dip, very strong local cheese, aubergine/garlic dip and what ever you wanted to drink. Being on antibiotics, I declined, so Sprite was the drink for me. The second course was mushroom flan, rice and vegetables with a lovely dressing and of course another very tasty vegetable salad and some meat balls for the non-vegetarians. Desert consisted of a lovely chocolate/orange biscuit mouse and a walnut cake with honey drizzle. Explosion of tastes, but being eaten gone 10pm with nearly all the ladies smoking in between courses. Which, sorry didn't go down very well with my digestion! I think we left, with others around 12 o'clock having had a really good meal, mostly Greek conversation, but fascinating to listen and watch their facial expressions, hand gestures and speed at which their language came out! Don't know whether I ever could learn this language; not good at any language, including my own!
Local Government Building in capital Hora
On Saturday 27th August we went into Batsi for the 75th Birthday dinner for Sheila, the local Anglican vicar. There were a good 15 people attending, seated at a long table. Talking went on for some time and we didn't get our dinner till about 9.30pm which obviously made it very late before eating! Don't think I'll ever get used to that. However, the portions were very large and it was beautiful, although overfull we had a good evening surrounded by the last of the Athenian visitors to the island for the August holiday. That night we walked along the sea front to the car park only to find Greek parking at its worst. John's car was surrounded on all sides by cars! We couldn't get out. The air was getting quite colourful. Knowing Greek habits John knew it was hopeless to move these cars, it could be hours. However, in true Luke fashion, and being an ex-cop, he manoeuvred his car gently until he was in front of a gap probably as wide as his narrow Hyundai 4x4 car.

With wing mirrors pulled in, Sara on one side and me on the other, he worked his way with less than an inch on each side through the gap, without touching either car! Big star for John Luke for having the patience. He later said he was about to buffer the front of the car and push one of them out of the way! Really glad he didn't do that, but it's something you consider doing when the Greeks park the way they do, without any thought, except enjoying their night out! I think this was the same in Turkey too!
Hora along the coast, beautiful
On Monday night Sam the local vet, her boyfriend Yanni, and Irenei, a veterinary nurse and also an American Greek, arrived for a discussion on the annual donkey charity event. This is being organised again with a the local veterinarian Sam, John Luke (farrier) and a visiting vet, equine dentist and a farrier all from Thessoloniki attending for 4 days towards the end of September. There is a film advertising the charity on YouTube namely http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtxUTCVUJTg we've delivered a lot of advertising sheets for further distribution. Sara and John make their home available for the visiting veterinarians for the duration.
Old Dove Cote
18th week; Andros

We were also waiting for another lady to appear, but she didn't and we couldn't get hold of her. The conversation got round to the Greek state of affairs and we heard Sam and Yanni giving their opinions, which were totally opposite to the American and British opinions about their country. We did feel there was a lot of heads in the sand. Instead of trying to stamp out the corruption in the political field and bringing in new honest people, preferably not people already involved in 'family' politics they just didn't want to be involved, which obviously isn't going to solve their country's problems. They didn't like suggestions that they sell off some of the country's assets, or their own in order to raise taxes, they felt they shouldn't have to do that. Who was going to pull Greece out of the mire. The conversation just had to end there as it was really late, after 12.

My cousin and her husband arrived on Wednesday 31st August. Life changed somewhat over the next few days.  The weather having been very windy last week, then a few very grey days, has perked up again and is quite hot. We visited another restaurant last night down on the beach owned by Yannis and Sally, Sara's long term English friend. It was a grand meal. We had taramasalata, only white soft row, not a colouring in sight, cheese puff balls (hand made), something I'd never had before and reminded me of my mothers' Welsh Rabbit. Afterwards, along with some red wine, we each had different courses, Sara and I had chicken kebab, some salad and small portion of chips, John and Desna had pork braised in brandy and Ouzo and Peter had goat casserole. We had water melon and figs to finish and the others had Raki, I didn't indulge. Again we ate very late and got home after 11. Slept in very late next morning 8.50am, latest but I was exhausted when I got up! No nap yesterday! Revived after a long sleep at midday.
Following John back down to the carpark

Saturday, 3rd September 2011. Didn't do a lot today, mainly recovering after a long day yesterday. Now it's got a bit cooler I'm going down to sort out my battery, which had lost a lot of it's charge. Mended the wiring loom yesterday, re-insulating the wire damaged on the journey down the drive here! Van started better next time. Feel that the battery needs topping up. Have found that the alarm can be put in Valet mode so that you can disconnect the battery, and actually fill up the battery with distilled water.

Well that didn't happen, we decided that the battery was actually getting old and wasn't keeping its charge. Although the transparent indicator on the battery didn't show white, it was just black, no green at all, and according to the instructions that meant the battery was nearing its end! Screwed everything back up, plugged in the battery charger, will keep my fingers crossed till I got home. It really was good having John there, I could bounce information and knowledge off him.



15th week Halkidiki, Katerina Kamping, Thessoloniki down east coast of Greece

Monday, 8th August 2011. No word from George. I emailed him to say that I'd been on the internet and knew a lot more about the strike and what the Government was trying to do. His licence fee would be wiped out if they let more people have licences and therefore his little nest egg might be entirely wiped out. No wonder he was feeling stressed, he really shouldn't have spent all that money on me, especially when he wasn't earning any. In a few days the strike was suspended until September when the Government had issued their revised legislation. Several days at Camping Katerina, and I feel very tired, probably relaxed! Have managed to spring clean garage, found that the bed motor isn't working, nor is the light! So I'll have to fix that sooner or later. Got the tar off the wheels today and also most of the rest of the body. Did use some polish on the scratches and they may well come out. Been on www and received a reply from Swinton and now have my motorhome renewal price. Had been sent without the name of Swinton in title and probably went straight to spam, as it did today. So will phone tomorrow and sort that out. Been trying to get passage on ferry too, but I still can't get into the web link, it keeps throwing me out. Emailed Fiat for the part number and someone on Fiat Forum came back and said they would try and source it, if I got the part number. Might have to try another Fiat in the area. Looks as if it is something that occurs quite regularly in Fiats. I decided to have a go at taking the dash board apart. Got a link from the Fiat forum; a man had taken out his switch, so I was able to copy what he said and I thought I would have a go. Did get some part numbers, sent them to Christ at Soul Garages, but that didn't mean a thing to him. Eventually he sent me a catalogue page of the heater/fan switch and there it was, part number as well. Would I confirm it was the right one. Yes, it looked like it. He then took a picture the next day of the actual part, which he asked me to confirm. Just like me, I'd put most of the screws back in, so had to undue them to take a picture. Sent it to Chris. Within minutes he'd emailed back to say that was the right one. He would airmail it and get me the price asap.

Had a good evening with the Serbians last night, looking at their pictures of the trip to the monastery on Mount Athos, the Serbian one. Hadn't read the text far enough would have found a little information. Getting itchy feet, yet again, can't really stay in one place very long.

OK so have done lots of forum words! Fiat forum, who put in touch with Chris@soulgarages.co.uk or partsmk@soulgarages.co.uk in Milton Keynes, must visit him on my return. Just hope the part he's sent out does the trick, if not oops! Also went on Out and About live and there is a fuse belonging to my bed motor and rear garage light. Reread the wiring diagram with a magnifying glass and found it! Saved myself a lot of money over the last two weeks. I've also found, after phoning Athens, that I don't have to book the ferry to Andros, the lady said there would be no problem. So will leave early on 15th, stay overnight somewhere and then roll up to ferry on 16th couple of hours before and probably meet up with Sara.

Saturday, 12th August, 2011 The Serbians have gone, sad to see them go. It was their first time camping and I think they had a great time. Good job there are some Austrians next door now, the Greek woman who told me off originally hasn't spoken since, nor me to her! May just go and get a pizza tomorrow evening on my bike now that I know it isn't far. All a bit of an anticlimax now. Had text from Simon all aboard the flight, probably home by now! Emailed Orange too, the money they are taking from me is horrendous. I want an explanation regarding their charges, I've not sent photos or anything. I'm keeping a log of each text now! Sally texted, all home safely, she was hungry went and got a Kebab! I played Spider Solitaire, got into it until inverter started whistling.

Saturday, 13th August, 2011 Got woken up by a very angry baby this morning, thought of moving up the other end and then realised I would be quite a way from the showers etc. So decided to stay put, only another 2 nights, can' believe that I can't stay put for more than a week! It will be 11 nights by the time I leave. Email from Sara this morning saying that John would be buying me some groceries, mountain spring water was OK to drink, I hope so. She also listed all the animals they have, I'm going to have a fun time. Really looking forward to it now. Heard from Orange saying that although they had phoned me yesterday, did I say I would not answer phone calls in my email! Orange had changed my rates! Did I know that! I had been receiving updates, which I apparently didn't know about and that it was costing me, I hadn't asked for that either. Would I please phone customer services , No, I wont, it was going to cost me. I would get back to UK in October and hopefully have a full explanation!

Sunday 14th August 2011 Woke up bright and early because I had decided to leave and go down to Sara's. I'd paid my 105€ for 10 nights without electric (€3.20 day) the previous evening, said my thanks and goodbyes. I left about 8am and headed back the way I'd come along the southern coast and passed wild camping spots which I didn't see on the way down; one particular one at Perimetriki, Sithonias, Eukea N39-57-47 E23-55-37 (between two beaches).

Several other places looked promising, especially when you saw a string of motorhomes along the beach! I was told that winter on Halkadiki, really wasn't on because sometimes they could have 3 feet of snow right down to the beach!

Journey to Andros. Retraced my route back towards Thessoloniki, I got diesel at 37631 miles (1.42€) 72€. and then took the motorway A1/E90 then E75/A1 and low and behold I came to my first motorway toll which was about 6€; it was busy at the toll booths, but absolutely no lorries because it was a national holiday and it made the route quiet. The road was good so I wandered down as far as Mount Olympos tried to get to the archaeological site, but there was far too much traffic, and of course a Sunday, so I got to the top of the hill in the town, round the roundabout and back again, deciding to turn right so I would go to the south of Mount Olympos and up into the mountains and further into the centre. The scenery was wonderful, I thoroughly enjoyed it, coming down to the town of Larisa, picked up the B road and made my way down to Volos and along the coast to Kala Nera where there was a camp site. However it looked very full and not suitable for motorhomes, so I stayed the night at and Volou Argalastis between Platanidiou – Milion/Stavrodromiou N39°18”56' E23°04'17”. There was a sign “Free Parking” next to a block of flats, opposite the coast road.
Mount Olympos I think!

 somewhere after Mount Olympus, or perhaps looking at a different angle

Herd of wild horses on route

Just opposite the parking space