Friday, 22 July 2011

Penistone to the Peloponnese - again 2

Day 7 On Board the Anek ferry  ‘Hellenic Spirit’

We set off quite early back down the autostrada to Ancona ( it takes ages going along the coast road though it’s an interesting drive). We emptied waste at the services before the Ancona Nord turn. I got checked in really quickly at the Superfast desk and was given a camping on board notice for Anek ferries – seems that Superfast have been taken over by Anek. We we down on the dockside well before eleven but so were lots of others. It was very hot on the docks and the loading took ages so we didn’t leave Ancona- on the Anek ferry Hellenic Spirit- till quarter to three. We followed a caravan on which had to reverse into a space at the edge of the camping deck and we thought we’d have no chance of a seaview but we were sent forward and got a nice spot one row in from the ‘window’. The boat was packed tightly with vehicles. We had a walk round the ferry decks but we’ve been on the ferry before and the only thing of interest to Pete was the price of spirits in the shop ( expensive) and for me, the places people choose to set up their sleeping arrangements. Those in the know seem to manage to find floor space in air conditioned quiet areas whilst others sleep out on the hot , sticky deck area. We retreated to the peace and quiet of the van, had salmon salad for tea and played backgammon.

 Hellenic Spirit in Ancona


Day 8  Arrival in Greece and Aginara Beach Camping

We were woken by the early calls for people to go back to their cars for arrival in Igoumenitsa but didn’t hear much engine noise as most people left the ferry. We had showers and waited for the boat to get to Patras watching Kefalonia and Ithaca slip past in the hazy morning light. We got a surprise in Patras though- we arrived at a brand new port! It is south of where the old congested port area is and had only just opened. It has designated parking ( unheard of!) an entrance gate with security and high fences. We followed lorries out of a guarded gate along the usual road where police stopped traffic to let ferry traffic out. We went straight up a new bit of road onto the New National Road when we realised that coming out of the new port meant that  we had missed our shopping spot at Lidl. We came off the National Road at junction 4 and went back down towards the coast and found the Lidl we usually shop at. We did a ‘big shop’ and then it didn’t seem so far to Gastouni where we turn off for Glyfa and Aginara beach. We filled up in Gastouni at a cost of 1.42 per litre- as cheap as we’d seen it. There were at least five petrol stations along the road that had closed down since last   year.
Angeliki greeted us smiling at the flowery gate ( an arch covered in bouganvillea). It’s always tricky to choose a place to camp here as there are so many nice spots but access to some is restricted by our three metre height and the overhanging trees. We found one with good shade, set up quickly and headed to the beach- all of a minute’s walk- for a swim but after the first delightful long awaited dip in warm clear water, Pete went back to get the brolly, lie beds and the new Swimways springfloat . We broke the other one after three years of sterling service and I’m not sure that it was meant to have two sturdy adults on it! It’s like a lilo but with netting in the middle so you only blow up the pillow part and the edge. It folds into a circle too so it doesn’t take up much space or require much ‘puff’ to inflate it. One of our best spends ever! We floated about on it eating nectarines- saves getting juice all over you. We stayed at the beach till well after six then pottered about putting up washing lines etc before showering and going to the restaurant. There was much hand shaking with the staff and smiley greetings there. Pete’s beef stifado was excellent, my pork chop was succulent and the rose wine tasted faintly  of strawberries.Two ouzos on the house rounded off a lovely meal.

Day 9 Aginara

We slept till 9am. We took the memory foam overlay off the bed and put it under the mattress as it seemed to be holding our body heat and making it too warm in the night. We also put the quilt away!
We had an early swim in flat calm water. The new dive masks are wonderful- they don’t fog and are really clear but in my haste to get them from the internet, I read reviews but didn’t check that they had nose pieces so I can’t manage with mine at all L. We had salad , brie and stilton for lunch. I had an internet session but couldn’t upload my blog as it was blocked as being a ‘social networking’ site. No rush_ I’ll do it later. We tried the new outdoor cooker today ( £20 from Asda) and it works a treat so we had spaghetti bolognaise ( very Greek). It saves me getting hot cooking indoors. I read about the new ferry port at Patras on

what a lovely swimming pool! Aginara beach.

Day 10 Aginara  
For the second morning running, a large bird had left it’s calling card on the bonnet. Pete was not amused. It was such a big sh*t that Pete decided it was an Elephant Albatross! We cycled into the village of Arkoudi and it was very pleasant to have coffee in the square  at Café Mambo . We went to the nice bread shop and I bought a cheap dive mask. The afternoon passed quickly with swims, trying the new mask and Pete collecting driftwood sticks to make three mirrors this year. I made a mirror last year with drifwood and it looks so nice, Pete thought he’d do some more. We had grilled sweetcorn, celeriac remoulade, salad and pork cutlets for tea. We got to three- three playing backgammon...tense!

Day 11 Aginara

Chemoutsi Castle - and me in the perfect cycling gear.

We set off for Chlemoutsi Castle- or Kastro as it’s known- a castle on a hilltop which can be seen for miles around. We’ve driven past it but never been in it. Angeliki at the gate couldn’t believe we were mad enough to set off uphill in such hot weather……….but ‘mad dogs and Englishmen’ and all that. We got up the hill to Loggia and stopped for coffee. It was really pleasant sitting under the deep shade of trees that had been formed into a canopy, listening to locals chattering whilst being assailed by swallows who have two nests under the eaves. Somewhat reluctantly on my part, we turned left towards Killini , admiring the views, listening to the chirruping of crickets and smelling the wonderful herby smell of Greece. We took a right towards Kastro then the right fork up the hill, then a left fork in the village up the last big pull to the castle. I’m  lucky- I’ve got an electric bike so on went the electric to get me up hills. We sat in the shade a while as six miles uphill had taken its toll on Pete. We paid our three euros each to go in to the amazing castle currently being renovated with European funding. The museum is small but has wonderful pieces of pottery with almost original colours. We watched workmen putting up timbers to retain the arched roof. We were so glad we came after  all those years of not bothering. We cycled into the village and stopped for lunch at Taverna Klodi  which has a pretty garden. We had salad and souvlaki pitas and fantastic cold beer served in big ceramic pots. We were offered melon too and we couldn’t refuse the dark pink cold chunks though trying to eat it without dribbling was a hard job- so I dribbled!

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