Greece again. 2017
The plan this year was to head for Igoumenitsa and drive down the coast to Patras, meet with friends then carry on to the south.
Here's where we stayed on the journey:
Slate Hall Farm , Haverhill, Cambridge
Marine Parade, Dover
Aire de Camping Car, Stenay, France
Breisach am Rhein stelplatz, Germany
Brisighella, Italy 2 nights
Superfast X1 ferry overnight
Aginara Glyfa Greece 3 nights
Methoni , Greece
Camping Thines Finikounda Greece.....a long time!
Elia Beach Greece 3 nights
Kounoupelaki Beach Greece
Camping Tsolis north coast Greece 3 nights
Olympic Champion ferry overnight
Coldrerio services Switzerland
Plainfang, ( after Colmar) France
Slate Hall Farm Cl Haverhill
The trip started with a visit to see friends. Simon, Marion and Molly. We found the CL down a narrow road- a pretty site on a working farm. Our friends came to collect us and we went to the Fox and Hounds in Steeple Bumpstead for a lovely meal and a catch up.
We drove on B roads through Saffron Walden after calling for shopping. We made a stop at Maidstone services but the parking was awful- very narrow. We parked up at Capel le Ferne for a couple of hours before going into Dover and parking up. We went to Wetherspoons for too much Villa Maria and a curry for me after ringing DFDS to see if we could get an evening ferry without success.
We woke up with water dripping in from the skylight- it was raining hard. Pete contacted Brownhills as we shouldn't have water coming in. The ferry was straightforward but we had fun in the E Leclerc supermarket at junction 16 at Bergues because they have put height barriers. Never one to be defeated, I negotiated a route past McDonalds and through a clothes shop car park. We got the usual first French shopping but the strawberry tarts had soggy bottoms!
We decided not to go to Remich but stop at Stenay. It was a nice route as there had been some road improvements in Belgium and we took junction 28A and a straight wooded road to N89 Bouillon.
We had a 'get to know your new van' day- we had fantastic showers, it didn't rattle on the road, loads of room ...but I couldn't find the instructions for the mifi, or the van instruction book or open the skylight in the shower. The bedroom door jammed open . But....
I found the instructions for the mifi and got it working, I found the Adria book, I found the plastic locking switch on the shower roof light and found I had put some bags in a space that blocked the bedroom door from moving...yeah!
The van roof leak is bone dry so I think it may have been Pete's over enthusiastic washing of the roof.
Breisach am Rhein
I went to the loos in the aire and there was hot water- usually it's not very warm. We went left in Montmedy for a change then went right via Musson and Aubange to the Cactus supermarket and garage , Avenue de Luxembourg , Bascharage on the edge of Luxemburg where we fill up and get cheap gin ( 8 euros 30) and some of our favourite wine.We drove down to Metz in pouring rain but we were surprised to find that Jete de Pierre rest place where we usually stop, is now closed, what a pity. We stopped further on in Baccarat at Aire de Meurthe. We stopped for diesel in Vogelsheim ( France) but then found it was cheaper in Germany. We parked in the aire at Breisach where there is a new ticket machine and it costs six euros. We went for a walk and an ice cream but turned back as the skies went black and it poured down again.
Brisighella - a new stop.
We headed off but wasted half an hour going round the new road system and buying awful bread at the supermarket. We stopped for a break south of Basel at Tufengraben- a good spot. There was a 19 minute queue for Gotthard tunnel and we stopped again at the parking after Gotthard south services. It was E2.30 entry to Italy where for your money you get mad drivers, crazy driving and traffic jams but nothing much changes...expect the unexpected and all is well.
We got to Modena, Camping Club Mutina where we usually stay. I had sent an email without getting a reply and there were loads of people wearing yellow tee shirts buzzing around on bikes. One guy kindly told me that we couldn't stop there because they were full, there was a rock concert the next day ( Vasco?) and 200,000 people would be in Modena! They said they had sent an email and we could stay outside the camp but there was a chance that we wouldn't be able to get out of Modena in the morning because the roads would be closed. We were very tired by then so we had a cuppa and a biscuit and looked up somewhere else to stay. We found one but it was another hour and twenty minutes down the road. We got off at Faenza after struggling in rain and shitty traffic to get diesel. There were more jams round Bologna - it wasn't our night. It got dark, we were tired, the sat nav played up and we couldn't find the sosta. I told Pete to drive back to the railway station where I got out and spoke to a group of young people who were sitting on their Vespas. A couple of them went in front of us and found us the place to park. They were rewarded! We were so relieved. I faffed about in the dark trying to read the meter and instructions, made tuna sarnies then slept.......
We had a good sleep . We looked on the internet about this place and went for a gorgeous walk through tree lined streets to the town centre then up 380 steps to the Rocca Tower - three euros well spent. It is fabulous up there with amazing views. We read about the mining of gypsum and the Messinian salinity crisis....yes, a Greek connection.
We went into the town square and sat ages waiting for a coffee before I realised it was self service!. It wasn't very expensive and a good spot for people watching. There was a donkey track with a vaulted ceiling in the town and some of the biggest aspidistras ever. We saw a hoopoe flying through the trees in a park and got back to the lovely sosta with a cool breeze blowing through the van. A great place to stop.
We were the only ones staying overnight and we emptied the loo and water easily. We called at Lidl in Faenza for some shopping. We cruised happily on down to Fano where the sosta at Sassonia was busy as normal but the lady on the gate was very smiley ( Carla) and we parked in the second road. We didn't swim just lazed on the beach for a while. We went to the same restaurant as last year where the food was fine but the service isn't great ( Mel told us later that if you turn right, there's a better place)
A nice breeze kept the van cool.
Superfast X1 and the big decision change.
We got off early down to Mondolfo and onto the autostrada where I randomly said 'How about not going to Igoumenistsa and going straight to Patras?' and Pete readily agreed. We just felt we wanted to be settled. We got to the ticket office and changed tickets without cost or fuss. we got to the docks and pulled up behind David and Derwena and Maria and Stefan! We took pics and sent them to Theo at camping Thines. We had a very private spot- slight sea view and a really good sleep, helped by a glass or two of wine and a shared plate of gyros from the on deck snack bar supplemented with more salad and feeling glad that we didn't need to get up early and get off.