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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Corinth-onwards


Day 30 Camperstop Afrodites Waters, Corinth
I thought it would be really tricky getting out of Athens but we seemed to hit a lull in the traffic so it was okay. Driving along the road to Corinth we saw a big black pig dead in the middle of the road.
Pete’s memory played tricks with him- he wanted to go over the bridge over the Corinth canal and he thought it was at the top of the canal so I directed him that way and we ended up in Loutraki. 
We stopped where a waterfall comes out of the hillside under some trees, had a walk into the town for a coffee by the sea and wondered if we’d come to Greece’s answer to Eastbourne- there were so many old ladies walking about. The café had the most fantastic loos- automatic lighting, spotlessly clean, flowers and all high tech stuff but when I was on the loo the lights went out – I had to open the door a little to get them on and the same thing happened to Pete. After getting some lovely fruit and veg, we drove back the way we’d come and found the bridge. The canal is  an amazing feat of engineering and I was overwhelmed by the size of it. Clearly  other people aren’t as when we sitting having a souvlaki next to the bridge , a couple came over, asked if we spoke English, then said ‘ Is that all there is to the canal?’ I wasn’t really sure what to answer if they were so underwhelmed by the amazing achievement that saved 131 nautical miles for ships, the sheer size of it, the beauty of the colour of the water……so I went back to my wonderful souvlaki.
We went back to the Camperstop and Vassilis came over straight away with a bunch of grapes and they were so pleased to see us again. We talked to a Spanish family who’d been to Scotland and later to two young Greek girls who turned up with a tent. Fotini and Vassilis had gone out and they  had no transport and there was nowhere to put a tent up. I asked if I could help but then the family came back and they put their tent up on the drive under a tree and gave the girls some chairs. We went up into the village for souvla and the waiter was an American Greek who lives not far from my cousins in Mission Viejo in California, who comes to Corinth every summer. When we  got back to the camperstop , Spyros, Vassilis’ son invited us over to eat some fruit but I declined as we weer too full of dinner and watermelon to eat any thing else- we should have gone though as it’s so kind of them to take us into the family and I regretted it afterwards.

Day 31 Camperstop Corinth
We decided to stay another night, it’s so comfortable and we could spend more time looking round Ancient Corinth. It’s an amazing place too- so much to see. We went in the museum and saw the archaeologists at work and when Pete went on his usual exploration, I sat under a tree and watched a hoopoe. This bird is about the size of a jay and I’d never seen one sit still for so long. When we got back to the camp, Fotini brought us some courgettes, aubergines and peppers that she’d picked in her garden that morning- so kind. We did internet stuff and jobs and had a sit about. We noticed the girls were still there but their tent was now under the front porch of the house. We went to Marino’s for dinner and had lovely food on a balcony where we could see the sea and the lights round the bay. I saw a Skops owl sitting on an ancient building but for a  change didn’t have my camera …I’m sure it laughed at me!

Day 32 Camping Lido Tolo
Acro Corinth
We got up early and took some English beer and biscuits over for the family and the children gave us a stone painted with Ancient Corinth on that they’d done to remind us of our stay. Such hospitality! We drove up the mountain to Acro Corinth passing two cyclists who had paused on the way up. It was a twisty road and we were surprised to see the cyclists arrive not long after us so we had a chat- they were  Swiss and had electric bikes! The site was free to get in and we had a chat with the guy on the gate about Greece, the economy, politics- it took me all my time to prise Pete away. It was rocky , uneven and steep to go up but the views are absolutely stunning. It’s almost unbelievable that people could build such a place at such a height. 


I wandered around on my own while Pete did mountain goating round the walls taking photos.  I was concerned about getting down so made my way slowly down resting often and as I was sitting under a tree, a party of teenagers arrived – I couldn’t work out the nationality but eastern European- they all headed off eagerly except two who sat next to me, one got his ipad out and the other got his mobile phone out and didn’t even look at the view! Oh well, I hope they don’t regret missing it later.
From there we drove to Mykines where it was really busy and the car park was packed. My hips were hurting a lot after Corinth but I managed to go the museum which was fascinating and then go slowly round the site while Pete did a quick  look round on his own. I couldn’t believe I was seeing the Lion gate that I’d only seen pictures of before . There were so many incredible Mycenaean artefacts in the museum – too much to take in at once I felt. Pete couldn’t help exclaiming over the size of the stones they used to build the walls there…..once again, he was so happy. I think he ought to take an archaeology course.
 We drove to Tolo to stay for a few days, pulled into Camping Sunset but reversed out as the trees looked too low and went into Camping Lido. We didn’t really like the site but parked up and went across to the beach. Our hearts sank. I don’t know what we’d expected but serried rows of brollies and sunbeds and loads of people on a narrow strip of  beach  wasn’t what we had in mind for a quiet few days. We had a swim, then went off on the bikes in search of another campsite. We looked at Triton 11 at Drepano and the sites alongside it but again there were loads of people and we didn’t like the feel of the place. We went down another lane to Assini Beach and the campsite guy there showed us a pitch we could have. It looked okay so we had a drink at the bar and thought we’d go there the next day. As we set off, Pete found he had a flat tyre and no pump so I cycled back to get the pump and noticed signs for Camping Kastraki that I hadn’t seen the first time. We got the tyre blown up and called in at the  campsite and had a look around. This was much more like us- tall pine trees, an airy feel and good facilities. We booked a space to return to and cycled back.  We needed some tomatoes and beer so I cycled into Tolo and went to a shop. I’d done 11 miles- quite enough for me so we had something to eat and had an early night after I got bitten twice in a few minutes sitting outside.

32 Camping Kastraki , Ancient Assini near Tolo
I paid the 29 euros for the site and we left after asking where there was a cycle repair shop. Luckily there’s one in Drepano. We couldn’t go on the pitch we’d looked at as it was soft sand but we found another. I did a big wash and after fresh bread and coffee, we got online and I chatted to our Tom in Korea. We went to the pebble beach which had the cliffs and walls of Ancient Assini ( and Cyclopean stones) at the end of it, a rocky bar in the sea which makes the shallows safe for children, a jetty so you can jump off and warm clear water. We then tried to set off for the bike shop but the tyre wouldn’t hold air at all so Pete did a puncture repair. He cooked chicken with the courgettes and aubergines we’d been given and it was a lovely meal. He wan’t really impressed that you needed 20 lepta to put in to get a shower though. It was a cool quiet night and I like it.

33 Camping Kastraki Ancient Assini
We went to Drepano and found the bike shop where 13 euros got Pete a new tyre, inner tube and his saddle fixed- a bargain. We sat in the square with the old guys and had coffee. Pete was so pleased with his bike repair , he went to the bakery and bought a huge spanakopita – a whirly one and it was gorgeous. We bought local sausage at the butcher’s and narrowly avoided getting soaked by the butcher’s children squirting water pistols outside- they were having good fun! When we got back we walked round Ancient Assini- Pete again going as high as he could and marvelling once again at the size of the ancient stones. I got a bit glum wandering round the bottom thinking how nice it would be to go with him and went back intot he camp to read. Pete cooked the meat and I made briam with the rest of the vegetables. We finished a set of backgammon and I won! I have to write this down as it’s happened only twice in 20 years!
Tolo from Ancient Assini

Camping Kastraki in the trees

34 Camping Kastraki
We went for a very long swim in sea was like an undisturbed swimming pool and about the same colour- wonderful. We then cycled into Tolo  for a look around and stopped for coffee at a café with a lovely view . We had another swim- in the afternoon the wind gets up and the sea is very bouncy and then it came…….you never know when it’s going to come but the Decision came…we’re going to move tomorrow. We had a nice veggie tea and Pete watched football on a very iffy internet
Connection that kept cutting out .

35 Glyfada Taverna, Shipwreck beach between Skala and Gythio
Elonas Monastery above left.

Glyfada Taverna near Skal
The drive through Mili  to Leonidio was really scenic along the coast road, winding up and down past little seaside towns and coves which looked beautiful. We stopped for coffee above a cove and the sea looked fantastic- so calm and blue. Leonidio was interesting to negotiate, i.e. pick the most unlikely looking  narrow road between two houses and yes, that’s the main road. Once out, the scenery was dramatic- we went up a gorge where the mountains rose up steeply. We stopped at a pull in next to a dried up river bed and looking up we saw Elonas monastery clinging to the mountainside- how did they ever build it? We carried on up the steeply winding road to Kosmas where we had to go round to the right in the village square where the whole town ‘s inhabitants appeared to be having coffee under a huge plane tree. Of course we couldn’t quite get round the corner so a bit of reversing was required. Further up round a narrow bend we met  a French campervan coming the other way. We’d nowhere to go and Pete pulled in as close as he could to a tree and the French guy’s son and a driver behind us helped direct operations but it was a matter of millimetres to spare to get past. The road went up and up and the scenery was stunning but it was quite a relief to get down to Skala at the other side of the mountains. We turned left down  into Glyfada taverna before Gythio  where we parked on hard packed sand with four other campers for the night. We had dinner in the taverna and it was lovely but a mozzie undetected under the table ate my ankle for it’s dinner too….ouch!

36  Monemvassia,  Elefonnisos and back- ferry beach
We had a quiet night and drove past Skala to Lidl to shop and got blocked in by a woman who Pete asked not to park there- she gave him a look and said ‘ a few minutes’ in Greek and scarpered! She was ages and we managed to get out when a van moved. Pete was not impressed. We had a lovel drive to Monemvassia where we parked by the sea and walked to the town across the causeway. We hadn’t realised there was a bus up to it till it passed us, neither did we realise it was quite so far to walk. It was very hot but so worth the walk when you get there. I wasn’t prepared for the magnificence of the place or quite how upmarket it is…..very chic shops and cafes. It’s wonderful and much bigger than I thought. The tiny streets have bevelled corners on the houses to allow pack animals to pass easily. It’s a paradise for hide and seek players- as I found out trying to find the central square in the lower town where I said I’d meet Pete after he’d scampered round. We did find each other  and walked back down the hill for a well earned beer. 

We then went looking for Camping Paradise and didn’t find it so we headed  for Neapoli and the ferry to Elefonissos. So many people had told us about how wonderful it is the ( the Greek Maldives as it’s been called) I had bad feelings about going as I thought I was bound to be disappointed. We got to the ferry just in time as one was leaving. It cost 23.50 euros to cross for a 15 min ride over turquoise water. We went to small Simos first but couldn’t find anywhere to park- it was so busy. Then we tried big Simos but there’s a campsite there that we didn’t like the look of and again nowhere to park. We went to the other side of the island but again, nowhere to park. I had a headache and was feeling a bit anxious so we parked by the side of the road and I had a sleep and Pete had a swim. We decided to go back to the ferry and Pete had to reverse on! 
ferry to Elafonnisos


towards Simos beach

He did so well with the boat guy getting his left and right mixed up and me screaming ‘Stop!’ from the back of the van as we got so close to other vehicles under his direction. As we were crossing we saw several campervans parked on a beach near the ferry so we took the second right and came to it. We had a sunset swim and it was lovely. We had a peaceful night there .







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