05.22: Mini Road Trip East Crete 2

Chiona And Xerokambos

4th & 5th May 2022

We started the day with a run. Fab views over the Chiona Bay.  Set off on a walk up to the Peak Sanctuary associated with the Minoan site of Palaikastro, but it was super steep and full of loose stones.  We aborted, but still skidded our way down.  James landed heavily, which for a diminishing man (loosing weight … I’m not!), is quite a feat.  He has the bottom bruise to show for it.

IMG 6930

Views from our aborted walk, the Peak required peak fitness!

IMG 6932

Relocated to Xerkambos.  3 sandy beaches but only inhabited by a Dutch man being shot blasted by the sand.  I chatted with his wife about the treasures of Crete.  They are here for 2 months, will leave the car and return in September by plane to save the ferry expenses.  It is sunny still but the winds are at 37kmph and gusting at over 60.  The van is facing the wind and the hab door tied back.  We are passing the time with walks to the beaches and  the salt lake and coffee / wine in one of the 2 tavernas.  I dont much fancy driving Jez in these winds so were are here another night.  

IMG 6933

The cafe yesterday brought us a tasty advert  … lemon chicken and potatoes. We shall eat here on night 2.

IMG 6934

IMG 6936

Our Xerkambos parking for 2 nights.

IMG 6938

The salt lake.  

IMG 6939

IMG 6941

Even the taverna staff were bringing in the tables and chairs due to the winds.

Voila, but with a Greek accent, Kapsa Monastery and Gorge

6th May 2022

A stunning drive up over the hills.  We had been this way before, but in a hurry.  We had been headed for Ierapetra to get new acquired Corrie her booster injections and have no memory of how remarkable the scenery was.  We tend to think the west of Crete has the best scenery, but this area is special.  

IMG 6943 2

Up in the hills it was a short detour to an abandoned Medieval village with a Venetian fountain, called Voila.  Wondered if it had a French connection.  Chatted to a lovely Greek dog walker who explained that one property had been pretty much restored so people could see what the interior looked like.  She was a geologist who worked in hotels. Time again we find people with degrees as Doctors, teachers etc who cannot get work in their field or it is better paid to work in tourism.  

IMG 6952 2

IMG 6956 2

IMG 6959 2

IMG 6965 2

Then the day didn’t quite go to plan.  We parked up by the Kapsa Monastery.  Incredible location, hanging in rocks.  Got chatting to two lovely Canadian couples who had flown their bikes in.  Needless to say they looked super fit and lean.  But whilst chewing the fat (ours not theirs!), we watched a chap arrive by car … as we were about to go into to the monastery and chapel, he came out and told us it was now closed.  10 minutes early too!  

IMG 6966

Kapsa Monastary.

Lunch back in the van.  J nanny napped and then we walked back along the road to the Pervolakia Gorge.  We managed to scrabble up quite a few boulders before calling a halt.  Corrie being a Greek mountain goat, bounds up and over, stopping periodically to check we are still coming.  Oscar, our solid plodder, however, was struggling to find purchase with his claws.  And after a a bit of a slide down a large rock, I called a halt.  It’s quite handy being able to blame the dog for our not completing a 9km there and back gorge walk.  I did read after that this gorse is considered challenging.  Note to self, do thorough research first!

IMG 6968

Pervolakia Gorge … looks easy at the mouth!

IMG 6970

IMG 6972

Cave Dog.  Otherwise known as Hanibel Lecter!!!  

The muzzle is to stop him eating everything … bones, poop etc.  We can’t seem to get through to him that he wouldn’t have to wear it if he refrained from making himself ill.

IMG 6974

We bimbled further west along the south coast looking for a remote spot to stay.  All the turnings looked too rough of narrow, so we ended up in Makrigiolos.  Our hearts dropped on arrival as it was wall to wall hotel complex.  But we knew there was a car park along side the beach.  And it was right on the beach.  And the original, much more charming,  part of the village was from here on.  An ice cream and a glass of wine helped us forget the horrors of hotel complexes.  But the wine wasn’t sufficient to knock us out so we didn’t hear the 2.00 a.m. revellers walking past.  Why is it drunk people have not quiet button?

 

Pefka Gorge

7th May 2022

Just a little way back into the modern part of Makrigiolos is the start of the Pefka Gorge.  Billed as being much more accessible.  We knew we wouldn’t make it all the way to the top as it was over 6 km each way.  And today was warm.  Now I’m going to blame Oscar again!!!  Corrie being Greek, sun bathes in direct heat at 32C.  Oscar melts at 20C.  I prune his fur but he still pants.  And we had an incident a few weeks back where he had a mini fit from over heating.  So we are careful of him.  So we made it a little way up the gorge before deciding O had had enough!  Lunch was back in the old part of Makrigiolos.  

This was our last activity before heading back home.  Dropping and emptying the van at the secure airport parking.  Picking up the car and heading back to Almyrida.  We’d had a great trip and it totally reminded us of why a) we love touring in Jez and b) how wonderfully diverse Crete is and c) how Oscar can be blamed for everything!

IMG 6976

 View of Makrigiolos from the Pefka Gorge.  The walk was more along the top of it than in it.

IMG 6975

Bonus pic … not every day you get to see James’ bottom!  His bruise from where he slid coming down a mountain is developing nicely!

 

 

 


04.22: Mini Road Trip East Crete 1

Heading East

Friday 19th April

Kalimera readers – James here blogging after a long gap – for all kinds of reasons…..   We Jazzed to the east of Kriti – via Heraklion for a new Jez key – we seem to misplace keys – occasionally…  (K:  What he kindly doesn’t say is that I hid two sets of Jez keys somewhere safe.  Along with the roof box keys.  News sets all round required!) We wild camped overnight in exactly the same spot as 4 years ago – big Spinalonga.

20220429 194532

A repeat overnight … just over onto Big Spinalonga

20220429 192112

K walked up to a chapel and later when looked oat our blog from 4 years ago saw I’d taken the exact same photo.

Pachia Ammos

Saturday 30th April 2020

While wrestling with the roof box on our Suzuki car, I strained my wrist – painful – so Nurse Clune bandaged (not banjaxed) me up. No running and an easy day and Lidl shopping… 

20220430 152859

Nurse Katherine LOL!  A tea towel was sacrificed to make a bandage and dog lead used as a sling.  K wasn’t a Girl Guide for nothing, even if they did ask her to leave!

Tholos Beach

Sunday 1st May 2020

Another lovely beach overnight – hair pruning – moi and big O…In the morning, I ran and K did Pilates of the Caribbean – or Aegean…I’ve got up to 5Km walking and running – keeping my pulse rate below 106/120 max. We’ll run/walk a half marathon in October – to accompany Maddy and Jordan – virtually – raising money for MacMillan nurses…

We liked Tholos.  One close Taverna and a few bodies (alive).  Only the Brits were sunbathing with a needed wind break. Walked to the end of the beach and spotted a chemical loo  (which we used: not us but our cassette). 

20220501 122258

Tholos Granary was used in Roman times.  Goods were shipped in and stored until they were sent by pack horse to a port on the South.  The question has to be, why didn’t the ship just sail to the next port?

20220501 122316

Tholos Beach and some geezer taken from the granary.

20220501 125638

 Corrie STOP!

20220501 152711

Oscar post pruning.  J had his head sheared too! 

20220502 082251

We do not have a choice.  Too many so called friends have spoilt CO2 and now they expect to have a bed snuggle every morning.  Corrie goes to extremes and lays her head on a pillow and is often under the duvet!

Mochlos

Monday 2nd May 2020

Parked at Mochlos – as 4 years ago…  Am – drove to the town – it rained – sought refuge in a taverna – for local lunch – aubergine salad, fava and moussaka (K:  You forgot about your side order of fries James!) – noshtimo! 

Overnight was near Sitia … a turtle hatching beach.  Again a spot revisited.  K checked when turtles come up to lay eggs on the beach (May-to September is the answer) and did a recconnaisance walk before releasing our beasts.  Locals smiled and waved at us or even came and had a CO2 cuddle.  Nowhere have we found people to be as friendly as in Greece.

20220502 123328

Looking back to Tholos Beach.  

20220502 135851

Mochlos.  When it rains  what to do but have lunch.  Last time we were here we sat outside and watched a cat try to climb a pole to reach a squid hung out to dry.  Today we watched rivulets of water come under the restaurant awning.

20220502 143603

Fortunately the sun came out as we walked back to Jez.

Sitia and onto Chiona

Tuesday 3rd May 2020

City of Sitia  – walk – seeking a phone case, cable – no luck so will order online. Lovely city Sitia.  Proper working town. Obligatory coffee… 

IMG 6887

Yep, cold and windy.  May in Crete!

IMG 6893

Roman Fisheries.

IMG 6897

Coffee stop.

Drove to Toplou Monastery – famous building – and scene of defences against Ottomans and Germans…..Well worth the Euro 8 for entrance. Ecclesiastical vestments and altar bits – reminded me of being an altor boy in Glasthule St Joseph’s…

IMG 6903

Toplou Mnastery.  It’s wealthy as they own tracts of land on this this western point.

IMG 6906

And it does look like a fortress.  Part of the museum was guns from the Ottoman resistance and WW2.  It seems incongruous but most Greek priests and monks took up arms.

On to our overnight stay at Chiona.  We chose a different restaurant to last time we we were here, just to shake it up a bit!

20220502 195017 2

So far it has been too cold, wet and windy to get the stand up paddle board out.  It is travelling strapped into CO2’s sofa …. they have to take turns and occasionally they both manage to get up there.

IMG 6916

Chiona Beach Wetlands.

IMG 6919

Chiona Beach.

IMG 6921

Nearby Palaikastro Minoan site.  It was second in size to Knossos but not fully excavated.  Free to wander as no warden or box for the EUR3 fee.

IMG 6925

Local sausages for J.

IMG 6926

Possibly the best shrimp saganaki I’ve had.


Another Catch Up!

Update … Another One!

Feb to April 2022

We parted the UK shores with Jez fully laden with more stuff destined for our Crete house.  Still had to leave some things behind, but we’ve been ‘allowed’ a storage unit in the Aged P’s new house car barn.  You can imagine our excitement after having had to remove everything down to a toothbrush as the Aged p’s downsized.  The storage unit is currently is home to a heavy combination microwave cooker and various items of camping kit.  Plus some things we will use when we are back in the UK in the motorhome.

We travelled to Crete via Antibes to spend 2 days with James’ daughter Sarah and family.  Quite a compliment that 5 year old Jade wanted to spend a few hours with us alone whilst Sarah was at a party with Cian.  Jade was amazed at our strange home on wheels.  A bed that comes down from the roof.  A wardrobe under the bed.  Cupboards under the floor.  She was determined to use our strange toilet and so did!

Back on Crete we spent a few nights in Jez in the Kalives carpark, near our house.  We needed to clean (or so we thought, but our lovely gardener who had been checking on the house had cleaned for us!) and unpack.  We picked up a hire car, another Andy Pandy Car (Fiat Panda).  Small but serviceable, but it took several loads to get our stuff up to our house.  And the house needed a lot of sorting to accommodate our new stuff.

We had ordered a new car, a Suzuki Vitara back in November.  We knew ETAs were sliding with supply issues so we popped into the Suzuki dealership to ascertain a realistic date.  Yep, not March, more likely May/June.  Ooh er … we are paying for a hire car.  Do you have anything else available?  An, XXX but another EUR2000.  The charming Mathew said I’ll check the computer but I really don’t think so.  Then his eyebrows waggled and we held our breath.  Yes, exactly the same spec as ours due in 3 weeks.  Destined for a lease company but they wouldn’t know / mind if they had ours many months later.  And it came with a better media panel (basically and android tablet).  Under 3 weeks later, it was ours.  Any names suggestions welcome … it’s grey and reg is XNY3632?  After the debacle with Zorba, which was such a great name, we’ve not thought of anything suitable.  So we now have a hopefully reliable car with a 5 year warranty, after all the car and van costs of last summer!

20220223 122859

Nameless car.

I was back to the UK for a few days in March for the Aged p’s 60th birthday celebration and Mum’s birthday a few days before … no diet then!

20220312 215136

Jez has been stored at an airport car park with CCTV, gates and security 24/7.  A great rate of EUR180 for 5 months.  We’ve taken him out twice now, leaving the car in his place.  Robyn came over in March and we headed off around the main sights of the west.  The weather was bloody awful  The first night was sooo windy, only James slept.  Must be the sleep of the innocent!  I lay there thinking that I couldn’t wake Robyn in the bed over the cab to move the van to a more sheltered spot.  And Robyn lay there thinking, if this were my van I’d move it.  We made sure we found more sheltered spots after!  Our trip included Stavros (Zorba’s famous dance was filmed here), Falsarna, Elephonisi, Paleochora and Matala.  There is no road along the south coast, so twice we headed north only to come south again.  On one such drive, we had snow piled 2ft high either side of us, hail, snow, rain and wind!  We were wearing all our clothes and using the van heating … in March in Crete!  The worst March weather Crete has had in 35 years!

20220320 144959

Got a stick happy dance from Oscar on Elaphonisi.

20220321 095051

Sheltered overnight at a monastery.

The Aged P’s came over for 11 days.  We rented an AirBnB house near Agious Nikolas.  An ice cream in Ag Nik, Big Spinalonga walk and a meal in Plaka and a drive around the Lasithi Plateau.  Great mini trip, but again cold and windy.  Given the Aged P’s are wine connoisseurs (alcoholics!), we did a wine tasting and compared wines from another tasting J and I had done.  You wouldn’t come to Crete for the wine … it’s expensive for the quality compared to other EU countries … as the Aged P’s have told me after their Bulgarian wine tasting 2 days ago!

20220406 114650

Chill time on our patio.

20220407 120517

Navigating a steep down, up and a ford at the Botanical Gardens.  A good lunch was at the reward.

20220411 105308

The Ag Nik Glutton.  A rare species 

20220413 123451

View finally of the Lasithi Plateau a bendy drive up.

20220414 123030

The wine snob.  To be fair, it was rank.

20220414 180544

A chicken diner delivery on our balcony, after a couple of mojitos!

Maddy arrived for 6 days.  She’s in the last throes of her MA so did a few hours most days essay writing, sleeping and chilling.  She and Jordan are back in June for 2 weeks.

Otherwise, we’ve met up with good friends who live near us, had a few walks, and done admin.  Amazing how the time flies!  We finally got to meet our lovely landlady, who was over staying with her partner’s family.  She has assured us that she’s happy for us to continue renting long term, so we’re good to do a few things to the house.  Small world here.  I had admired a painting in one of our favourite restaurants.  Googled the artist and messaged her.  Lives not far and yes she has a studio / gallery near her home  I booked to view her work for a couple of weeks hence.  Half an hour later a message from our landlady … the artist is the mother of her partner!  The artist’s name is an unlikely Balsam Wood … how cool is that. And we now have a lovely painting hanging on our wall.

Screenshot 20220503 155813 Messenger

 


 

2011-2027: Zorba Repatriation And Unexpected Events

2011-12-: Preparation and Planning

Thursday 2nd & Friday 3rd September 2021

Another early start to drop Jez back into Abacus for more work to be done … we coffee’d and walked locally into an Andover Park as we didn’t have the car.  Late afternoon arrival back at our usual 5 pitch C&CC site, Woodlands Farm.  

20210902 154822

Replacement rear view and reversing camera …  the last one had fogged over.  Driving a nearly 5 ton vehicle with no rear view is not ideal!

20210902 181353

Lots of resident deer at the farm … mostly Roe and a few Fallow.

The background to this trip is that cars can only remain in the UK for 6 months or they have to be imported.  6 months would be up at the end of October and we also had a load of belongings to take across to the house in Crete.  J’s consultant had not argued about us going to Ireland for J’s daughter’s wedding, but had said no to him travelling to Greece.  So he was going to stay home (in Jez) with CO2, whilst I took Zorba and stuff to Crete.

Zorba the Greek car was collected from the Aged P’s.  Well, eventually.  He didn’t want to start.  A new battery in May, so not that.  Jump started off the Merc.  No power steering.  Googled and apparently it is usual for electronics to go haywire on jump starting.  Switched off and jump started again … power steering worked this time.  Back at the Farm, he was then emptied and all the boxes re-sorted to reflect the fact that James’ heart surgery would mean us staying in the UK IN WINTER.  Then reloaded.  All the PLF and transit rules done and understood.  Route plotted.

Maddy, my daughter co-driver was put on the insurance.   Plan well and truly sorted …. Maddy and I would catch the late afternoon overnight ferry on 6th Sept from Ancona to Patras.  4 hours to do a 2 hour drive to catch the next overnight ferry to Crete, arriving early on 8th. Maddy’s boyfriend, Jordan, flying in on 10th.  All to fly back on 17th.  Friends rate my planning.  They’ve not met my mother or sister, who are scary when it comes to planning, but what could possibly go wrong?!

20210903 134548

Fully laden … no room for you Oscar!

2013: Refusual at the First Hurdle

Saturday 4th September 2021

Final check of all paperwork and in the afternoon I set off to collect Maddy from Farnborough.  Zorba wouldn’t start again, so another jump start and I took the jump leads with me!  I got quite adept at accosting men in car parks to allow me to jump start from their cars! … Tesco as I collected a prescription for J and then Halfords to buy a lithium jump starter pack.  This will be fine, really, honestly, I told myself.  We can just jump start our way across Europe!  Then once there, I’ll take Zorba into the garage to have starter motor and alternator checked.  

Maddy drove back down to Chichester to get used to a left hand drive manual car on the wrong side of the road and parked nose out so we could jump start it again!  We had supper at the Aged P’s as our Tunnel crossing not until 0230.  We thought they’d probably put us on the next available train if we arrived early, so we got in the car to set off …. awful grinding and whining noise.  Then deathly silence.  A similar noise to the last time Zorba had to be low loadered to the garage for new injectors.  Zorba really wasn’t going anywhere.  The whole point of the trip was get Zorba back to Greece and was refusing!  I was on the verge of aborting, until I looked at Maddy’s face … she and Jordan were really looking forward to a holiday.  Decision … a fast decision.  I’d take the Merc.  At least our stuff would get over to Greece and I could bring back some winter clothes, not that we have many!

If you’ve never tried emptying a roof box, removing it … fixing it to another car and reloading it in PITCH DARK …. don’t!  It really isn’t the easiest thing to do.  But we managed it and it did stay on!  The Merc’s seats down, the inside was filled to the gunwales.  Interestingly it is less capacious that the Skoda Roomster – aptly named.  Excess boxes and bags were relocated to the Aged P’s garage … despite their downsizing house move and being told they didnt have room to store our stuff!  Ooops!

Slightly frazzled we made it to the Tunnel in plenty of time and did catch and earlier train at 12.45 p.m.

2014: Tyre Pressure but not Tired

Sunday 5th September 2021

One of the benefits of travelling across the EU on Sunday is that most countries ban trucks unless they are refrigerated goods, so the roads are relatively empty.  Our route was toll free through Belgium and Luxemberg, re fill with cheap diesel, and then toll free through France to Basel.  Bought a vignette for Switzerland and used the free Gotthard tunnel during Sunday night.  As Maddy had not been put on the insurance for the Merc, I was driving overnight.  Once offices opened, we tried to get her on my insurance … no, my ex pat insurance will not cover anyone under 25.  No go with her insurance either as they won’t cover 3rd party on other vehicles if under 25.  We ended up paying for expensive day insurance that ran for 24 hours so she did a couple of good stints behind the wheel.

20210905 144405

20210905 122051

 It got warmer as we moved south … layers were peeled off….

20210905 143649

… and hair tied back … the air con doesn’t work, so windows had to be opened.  I found another use for a mask to keep my hair from blowing in my face.

A few weeks ago we’d had a tyre warning light come on … nail … tyre repaired.  However, having inflated the tyres for a heavy load, the warning light came on again.  Every time we stopped, I was having to check and re-inflate.  Could anything else go wrong?

Having made good time with only a few nanny naps, we stopped in Como and had a proper restaurant supper.  Well deserved.  We had made such good time we had some big nanny nap stops that later that night.

20210905 204923

Maddy had pizza, but my swordfish with caponata was lovely.

2015-2116: Killing Time and Missing the Next Ferry

Monday 6th & Tuesday 7th September 2021

We had made such good time, having allowed for holdups …. but we even managed to get past Milan before the rush hour and so arrived in Ancona at 9.00 a.m.  We parked up at a Motorhome stop that J and I have used a number of times … formerly Auchan, but a few other shops and cafes.  Breakfast and lunch … Maddy clothes shopped, of course!

We drove down to the port mid afternoon.  Paid for our tickets … only to be told the online office had incorrectly used previously bought tickets, but it did mean we paid less than we thought.

20210906 165258

The ship was late in … they didnt send the the text offering me alternative dates until after we had sailed!

20210906 182342

All these trucks did eventually make it on board….

20210906 184648

… meanwhile, I consumed a few of these.  It was Cretan wine, after all.

20210906 202029

We treated ourselves to serviced dining … if you can call it that!  Linen table napery, but rubbish food and service and very expensive.  J and I have never eaten on board before as we’ve the dogs, but never again.  And the cabin stank of ammonia … obviously the toilet tanks needed cleaning out!  The food was almost enough to make you gag, but the cabin stink certainly was!

20210907 132820

Fortunately we’d brough our own brunch.

20210907 171014

With time to kill on the 22 hour crossing, we dyed our eyebrows!

The ship was 4 hours late into Patras so no hope of catching the next overnight ferry.  Oops … my carefully laid plan!  Before we docked, Maddy was onto a booking site and found us a beach hotel for about £50.  We had a lovely supper at a neighbouring restaurant.  A fraction of the price compared to onboard too.  Before we left the port, we found the Minoan office and rebooked our Pireas – Chania ferry for the following evening.

2017: Tourist Day

Wednesday 8th September 2021

The ferry from Pireas was less than 2 hours away and didn’t depart until evening, so we had all day to kill.  We thought about sunbathing …. but it was grey with showers.  Tourists, it was to be.  We drove up the mountains to Kalavryta to a holocaust museum.  I’d been before with J and the Aged P’s but had found it very moving.

20210908 130050

Video recordings of some of the now grown up survivors and girls told of their first hand experiences, making it very real.  Descriptions of how the women and children tried to identify their family and then dig graves with bare hands in the frozen soil, as all the tools had been destroyed when the Germans burnt the all the houses.  Just as moving as the first visit.

20210908 131237

View from the hill were the men and boys were mown down and now where many still lay.

 Maddy is rather fond of Corrie (Oscar too sometimes!) and wanted to see where we had found her.  I think she rather hoped we would see a close relative of Corrie that she could adopt … don’t know who she thought would look after it with her about to go off to Kings to do her Masters!  Fortunately, this time, Accorinth was bare of strays.

20210908 145716

James and I have stayed here twice later in the year so never seen it so dry.  It was about to close, so we only had a quick wander.

This ferry left on time AND the cabin did not stink.  And we’d taken our own picnic, so altogether a better and shorter crossing.

2018: Cleaning Day

Thursday 9th September 2021

We were up in plenty of time to have a coffee on deck and watch the approach into Chania port.  And with no more set backs, we were straight off and within 20 minutes we parked by our house.  Before we unpacked the car, we had to clean.  It had been empty since end April, but unwelcome residents had moved in!  Yep, stink worms and cockroaches again, especially in the basement where Maddy was to sleep.  So debugging and bleaching started at 0630!  Once Maddy’s bed was made, she climbed into it and I continued the clean moving up the house … she gave me a hand for the last bit and then we unloaded the car and roof box.

With the house pretty much in order, we had supper Almyrida with Gillian … lovely to try a restaurant that has been shut whilst we have been in residence during the winter.

2019-2024: A Holiday

Thursday 9th – Thursday16th September 2021

Jordan arrived the next day, so he and Maddy spent a few days sunbathing.  He is very fair (strawberry blond!) and used more than a tube of factor 50.  We went into Chania, I collected a ring a jeweller friend of a friend had replaced the stone.  I hired a car for Maddy for 2 days and they had an overnight in Rethmyno and visited Knossos Palace.  We ate out a lot … with friends, including a Sunday tea party in aid of animal charities: we ate our body weight in cake!  I also spent some time visiting car dealerships … after a summer forking our thousands on cars, we had decided we really do need a reliable car.  It needs to be Greek as we will be in Greece for more than 6 months each year and big enough to transport us and CO2 to and fro to the UK.  Short list of a Hyundai Kona and Suzuki Vitara … need to test drive and J to look at them in the UK.

On his own in the UK, J dog walked and waded through a pile of admin and jobs.  He had use of my sister’s car for a week and ate in a few pubs and at my parents … just as well as he’s a can’t cook won’t cook man.  I’d left him a few frozen soups and casseroles …. honest!

20210909 090632

 Almyrida with all the sun umbrellas out. 

20210912 093912

I got to walk and run one of our favourite local walks … Plaka head.

20210914 191829

On the way to one of my favourite restaurants, we stopped for a sundowner overlooking Almyrida.

IMG 20210917 WA0034

Chania.

IMG 20210910 WA0002

One of our meals in Eleanora’s.

IMG 20210917 WA0055

IMG 20210917 WA0058

Maddy and Jordan flew out lunchtime on Thursday.  Think they had a good time, as they spent most of the previous day trying to work out how they could stay!  Having cleaned their room, I dined back up the hill with friends …. it really was fabulous to see friends after 5 months.

2025: The Return Journey Commences

Friday 17th September 2021

With the ‘children gone I completed the cleaning and got all my paperwork in order.  Rather hoping for an incident free trip as I was doing the return leg solo.

20210917 172528

I treated myself to a good late lunch in Chania at Salis restaurant which has been recommended by Ann … wonderful fish followed by two flavours of ice cream  Didn’t realise each was an entire pudding … I was offered two spoons lol!  Dill ice cream with strawberry jam and watermelon with pickled rind … both delicious.

20210917 193838

To save a little money, I’d booked an airplane reclining chair instead of a cabin … only an overnight crossing … medicine to help me sleep!

2026: Patras Tourism

Saturday 18th September 2021

Arrival in Pireas early morning and I drove to Corinth … I’d booked an antigen test there at 10.00.  I had a walk and beachside coffee beforehand.  Test was only EUR10, so a bargain compared the Kalives ones that Maddy and Jordan had had at EUR25 each.

Still with lots of time to kill, I drove to Patras.  Despite sailing in and out, we’ve never actually gone into the town centre.  I walked up a massive flight of steps to Patras castle … arriving as a sweaty puddle.  The first thing I did once on board was shower!  Fortunately I’d a cabin for this 22 hour crossing to Ancona.  Very few tourists, no British again and mostly truck drivers.  At Pireas the lorry loads were being clambered all over by a private security firm looking for immigrants.  I’d had to open the rear doors and boot.

20210918 131514

Patras Castle steps were right at the end of this boulevard.

20210918 133733

View from Patras Castle. 

2027: Mostly Bored On-Board

Sunday 19th September 2021

Straight off the boat in Ancona and I’d not had to show my double tax cert or even my passport.  More docs had to be presented from Crete to the mainland.  Being Sunday afternoon, I knew to expect traffic heading up to Milan and Como, but there were quite a few road works too.  I got my head down for a bit and then it was plain sailing back through the Gotthard Tunnel at just after midnight and Switzerland.

 

2028: A Good Run and a 3rd Ferry

Monday 20th September 2021

A pretty straight run up to Calais, with another cheap fuel stop in Luxemberg.  On one morning stop, I booked my day 2 Covid test, did the Gov PLF and booked the ferry.  Not used a Channel ferry in years as a) I remember lots of times where I felt sea sick (funnily enough don’t on the Greek ferries), and b) you have to leave the dogs in the car.  This time, I booked DFDS as it was a lot cheaper than the Tunnel at short notice and with a Flexi ticket I could turn up 72 hours either side of my booked crossing and be put on the next available ferry.

I arrived a day earlier than I’d booked and caught the 5.30 ferry. Again largely empty other than trucks.  The hour and a half passed really quickly as part of the Flexi ticket bonus is that I had a meal voucher.

20210920 172516

DFDS chicken curry free … as part of my ticket.  OK it was too … better than Minoan / Grimaldi!

20210920 172514

A meal with a view.

20210920 174456

Before I knew it, Dover in sight.

I got hauled over in Dover … why and where had I been.  Was this my car? etc.  I handed over V5, passport, Greek residency, Greek Tax number, Greek rental agreement and explained why and where I’d been.  He conferred with colleagues and checked my boot and I was allowed to leave.  

Back home to James and CO2 by 9.00 UK time.

So this return drive was just over 3 days door to door, with 3 ferries, 2 of which were overnight.  1125 miles door to door.  963 miles in 24 hours including nanny naps from Ancona to Calais.

Was it hard?  No, not really.  Audio books kill the journey.  More fun coming out with Maddy.

Would I do it again?  Yes, if need be.

Maddy and Jordan got a holiday.

We got most of our ‘stuff’ from the Aged P’s old house to Crete.

I saw some friends.

Failed on getting Zorba out of the UK  … Since our return the garage has established that the diesel pump must be disintegrating to cause the new injectors to fail and the battery was also not being charged …. so he is definitely for the scrap heap.  Not one of our better buys.

1693-1732: Into the Rental House and Into Lockdown 2

24th October – 2nd December 2020

A New Home!

Packing up from the campsite was made so much easier as Carole had let us leave some stuff in the spare room.  Just as well as I really don’t think I would have got it all back into the car!  And once we found the shed key, we managed to shove all the camping stuff in there.  Some of the crockery from the house is also there, as friends June and Karl gave us their old (as in unwanted) crockery set.  Having unloaded we wandered up the road to one of our favourite restaurants …. all of 200m away  Lovely that Eleanora recognised us from last year … think CO2 are more memorable than us.

20201203 162225

Leftheris Villa.

20201031 084154

View from the upstairs deck.  You can see across the bay to Akrotiri and the sea beyond.

20201031 084209

Looking the other way  no, weve not used the pool brr!  The farmer of this house has a raki still: using the grape must.

20201031 084218

I was doing daily exercise here until it got too cold.

20201031 084247

Kitchen, diner and lounge all in one … Carole has since upgraded the TV and so now we are binge watching The Crown on Netflix and rugby on Amazon.

There is no central heating, but Carole has left us enough heaters to have 2 per room!  Despite this, and having our bedroom window open, we have had nasty black mould in the bedroom.  The calor gas fire and damp air and clothes (we had a lot of rain) are the culprits, despite lots of ventilation.  Bleach, a permanent daytime heater and dehumidifier seem to be keeping it at bay.  

 

A Very Different Lockdown

Less than 2 weeks after moving in, the whole of Greece went into lockdown.  Last lockdown we were on a sunny Turkish campsite with old and new friends … best lockdown experience of anyone I know.  This time we are in a house and entering winter … this is what was planned for when electing to rent in our Happy Place.  The weekly announcement has declared that the lockdown will continue unto 14th December.  

There is a 9.00 p.m. curfew and you can only leave the house for 1 of 6 reasons.  You have to carry your passport and a dated & timed form (or text a code if you have a Greek sim) at all times.  In reality, it is only preventing us from traveling too far to explore / walk and restaurants and cafes can only offer a takeaway service.  We’ve been good patron’s of Eleanora’s takeaways!  

One of the attractions of returning here was knowing people.  James and I are very used to just each other’s company, but always good to have fun with other people.  I managed a bus trip out with Ann and others along the west coast just before the lockdown.  Fortunately some friends live really close by and we have a lovely part time neighbour … so we have been able to do a limited amount of socialising.  Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are all sorted … good to spend it with friends, when you can’t be with family.  I’ve read of a number of people with school age children who are deciding not to spend Christmas with the grandparents … so we are fortunate not to spend these festivities alone.

20201030 125034

Bus trip looking out over the far west coast.

20201030 153841

Bus trip:  Gorge that could be walked until rock falls a couple of years ago.

20201120 162216

We’ve been playing some games …  the travel Monopoly set proved difficult trying to recognise the names in the Greek alphabet, so I hand wrote, Park Lane, Old Kent Road etc.  Much more familiar.

20201105 090101 2

No shortages here.

High Maintenance Man!

We’ve had to drive into a very quiet Chania a number of times …. mostly for the hearing aid shop.  The lovely Vera had replaced the connecting wires between batteries and aid so they now worked …. but not much use when one keeps falling out.  She took a new mould and then we had to return to collect the replacement … so far this one stays in!  We are not convinced that the hearing aids will remain trouble free, but for the moment, they are working and J can hear / I don’t have to shout!!!

We have also had a saga with the DVLA to renew J’s C1 (3.5-7.5 ton) driving license.  As he is over 70, he has to have an eye sight test and medical.  On arriving in Crete we had posted the new form and photo’s back to the DVLA.  They then wrote asking for permission to contact his doctor and advising that he would need another eye test … different standard for C1.  They completely ignored J’s letter asking if he could take the test in Crete and sent him through the contact details to make an appointment with Specsavers.  Specsavers were able to email a blank form and we found an optometrist in Chania with the appropriate equipment.  Slightly stressful weekend wondering if J had passed the test. If he failed, we would be facing the decision to downsize the motorhome or I do all the driving.   He did pass … 100% with his glasses on.  A return visit to collect the DVLA form and test results … these were then scanned and emailed to our UK Admin Team (Mum and Dad) who printed and posted it immediately.  Just to cover ourselves, we have also posted the original copies.  Another waiting game now to see if the DVLA will accept the Greek test.

With limited other distractions, we have both got back into exercise … mostly running and some Pilates for me.  J had been increasing his distance and frequency … but then had a really painful foot / ankle.  After 3 days resting it, I started to suspect a stress fracture.  A visit to the Doctor was encouraging as he thought it was not a break, but tendon / sprain.  Anti inflammatories, pain killers and rest.  Almost 2 weeks later and J is now able to walk short distances, but it will be a slow road back to running.  

20201025 120328

Views from the Plaka walk that I / we regularly do as it is not far.

20201115 142924

20201025 120851

There are generally 2 cruise ships sheltering in Souda  apparently up for sale.

20201028 132014

Huge Olive trunk … the harvest started early this year … partly so people could get some money into their coffers as the summer season had been so curtailed.  A good harvest this year.

20201028 143510

A walk near Kefalas, where a local creates these wonderful stone structures for others to sit and enjoy.

20201101 125036

We wondered why this path had a fence across it at the bottom … it was slightly over grown and slippery.

20201101 130416

Walk and view from Ebrosneros.

20201108 154038 2

 Walk near us Kokkino Chora …

20201108 160309 2

 Kokkino Chorio: Steps down to a deep cave …

20201108 160422

… last time we were here, it was safe to walk across. Wetied CO2 back up top so they couldn’t be washed away.

20201113 141815

A walk past the ancient site of Aptera to …

20201113 142541

 Aptera Castle with amazing 360 views.  That triangular lump is Drapanos hill  we live below it.

20201123 124730

Nearby beach walk.


Residency

We had prepared and brought a lot of documents with us believing we would need them for our Residency Permits.  In the event we were only asked for passports, Greek Tax numbers, EHIC cards electricity bill in the name of our landlady and the tenancy agreement.  A slightly anxious 3 week wait, but we got them.  We have the right to remain here indefinitely … we just need to stay in Greece for a minimum of 6 months for the next 5 years.  James is Irish and I could travel with him freely in the EU (no Brexit 90/180 days restriction), but Residency gives us the right to return here. 

20201118 105933

J’s is valid for 5 years, but mine will need to be replaced with the biometric one by 31.12 … but this has not been yet put in place.  

It was more difficult to open a local bank account.  They needed utility bills from the UK, pension statements, Tax Returns, phone contracts etc etc.  All the paperwork was done, but we had to wait for the Residency Cards before we could collect the pass book and cards.  We don’t actually need local accounts, but the ATMs generally charge EUR3 per withdrawal, and we are saving this fee.  

 

Corrie and Oscar D

Oscar here – her nibs – C – has graciously agreed that I can write this diary – with editorial rights!  It’s been a year (!) since we verbalised our thoughts…..November 2019 – pre-virus……  Since then we’ve been in lockdown Turkey with new friends, back to UK, left Jez for Slovenia repairs – and now back to Crete via our non-motorhome charabanc – Merc K100. I am now seven years young – a mere stripling – C we think will be 4 in February……. As for the owners, well – they are getting on too….  A place called Draftyhouse – no, Drapanos – is our base now – not too far from Kalyves – of a year ago.

Now then, reader(s) – we have this thing called – a house!  It looks ok – it doesn’t have 4 wheels and a steering thingy….you cannot drive it to the beach and park anywhere for the night – it stays in one place… well, for us it will be 6 months.  Inside, there’s a living room/kitchen – up a stairs a bedroom and bathroom. But – in the lounge – there’s a magic sofa that has ben designed for myself and Corrie – no adults allowed – unless Katherine is watching “Harlots” (something about women loose at night?) – or “The Crown” (loose people by day and night – talking posh).  Which means we have a telly – who would have thought it?  It keeps the owners quiet in the evening…

All 4 of us are now Greek residents – which means we can swear in the local lingo – and buy stuff. J is a resident for 5 years – and us until January next – something about a ‘Brexit’… sounds nasty. 

K has bought us special doggy collars – how kind of her – b***ocks!  Mine stops me from barking (after a little bark) – is a dog supposed to not bark?  European Convention of K9 Rights come to mind…  Now Corrie likes to chase and pretend play with sheep and goats – her collar gives a vibrate if she wanders too close to those lovely playthings…spoilsports. We think K and J should have collars – with emote controls we operate if they reach for the gin a second or third time!

Lockdown time again – in all of Greece – this dreadful virus is affecting everyone – we hope it goes away very soon.

We’re all learning Greek – so Kalamera, epharisto and parakola – for now.  Our teacher has promised a lesson in naughty words next week!

Back to the sofa, Corrie…..