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…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1681-1692: Sunshine Camping in Crete … Mostly

12th to 23rd October 2020

Woohooo … we made it to our happy place.  This is seriously the only place we’ve come back to in our 5+ years of travelling.  And this is our 3rd trip.  And very happy to be here with the expectations of further lockdowns.

Having set off over a week earlier than planned, we knew the landlady would be in residence of the house we’ve rented for 6 months.  In the event, it was longer than anticipated.  They left on Saturday 24th and we moved in the same evening!  So we had 12 nights to find a bed …. we looked at AirBnB, but they were proving more expensive than we wanted to pay … the weather was great, so the tent on a campsite it was.  We thought about moving site mid stay, but we had such a fabulous pitch and felt too lazy to strike camp only to erect the tent again, so we stayed put.

Since we were going to based in the north of Crete for the Winter, we chose to base ourselves in the South.  There were 3 campsites we could have chosen from, one in Agia Gallini and two in Paleochora … we opted for the latter, as the last time we were there our exploring had been limited by extreme weather, which saw us moving the van twice in in one night.  Camping Paleochora was small, but walking distance to the town, BUT you couldn’t park your car next to your tent.  Camping Grammeno had replied to emails and given us a good price … a super site.  Large and spacious, beach front, hot showers and a shared fridge freezer.  Charming Chris, from England, is the Winter guardian.  He has been resident there for 7 years … his motorhome is never going to be driven away … it is held captive by a wrap around decking, steel roof canopy and fencing to contain his 6 dogs and numerous cats!  He was super helpful, loaning us a hookup adapter and suggested we go on a metre for power … we paid about EUR5 for the whole stay, compared to the flat rate of EUR4 per day!  Pretty good given all our cooking is on electric (hob, instant pot, remoska and the Dometic camping fridge).  We also followed up on his restaurant recommendations … although we were about 5 km from Paleochora, there were 2 good restaurants within walking distance.

Chris did warn us that our pitch could become a mini lake in extreme weather … and it did drop copious amounts of the wet stuff on us for a few days.  J drew a line in the sand to measure the rising water level behind us.  The water came close,  but we did  not have to evacuate.  The tent has now had the best (worst!) that Derbyshire and Crete can throw at it … pleased with our purchase. 

20201012 172136

When we arrived the beach was covered in Sea Daffodils.

20201013 122458

Beachside tent pitch = Beachside office  yay.

20201016 114207

And Beachside knicker line! 

IMG 5348

Many fabulous sunsets  we weren’t up in time for the sunrises!

20201022 122600

It was warm enough for Oscar to need a fur prune.

Generally the weather was full on sun … so we did a bit of walking and recommenced running.  The road to Paleochora was undergoing long term (i.e. taking a long time!) renovation, so was closed from 9.00-1.00, then 2.00-4.00, so unless we wanted to get up with the crows, it rather limited where we went. 

We had two attempts on the Anidri Gorge which we had climbed some of last winter.  Once from the bottom and then from the top … so we have effectively done the whole of it now … and it really aint that long … the lower part does involve a fair amount of clambering, bottom shuffling and hoisting of CO2.

Gillian and Steve from one of the FaceBook motorhome forums joined us for a few days and gloated about having not had to run through hoops for their beige Residency Permit.  We hoped ours would prove as easy … we have come with just about every document we could think they may need.

20201017 151232

Paleochora from the castle  we ventured in here several time for coffee, ice cream, shopping and .

20201018 192415

. a veggie meal.  Absolutely delicious.  These starters were corn crips, avocado with a beetroot confit.  The other was sweet potato with a cashew paste and caponata.  

20201018 114500

Walking up the Anidri (Anidhri) Gorge, which we started last winter until rain made it too slippery … this time it was super hot, so we still didn’t complete it.  Corrie had to be on the lead for most of it … she would like to chase the mountain goats … and yes, she would be able to climb up there.

20201018 130957

Anidri George:  James and I are not mountain goats .. a bottom slide was employed here.

20201020 142036

Corrie off lead and wondering if she should leg it off after goats that MUST be around.

20201018 132919

It definitely was not flip flop walking … don’t know how long these have rested here.  Not our size!

20201021 151234

The Grammeno Peninsula was perfect from walking CO2 from the campsite and even better with a full rainbow.

803ab0ba 50c5 498a b38d 5c468dc6d707

Last winter James had bought (expensive) hearing aids and they had stopped working soon after we left Crete.  Then with lockdown, getting them sorted was delayed.  He tried in Hungary, but was told there was a glued in connection between the battery and hearing aid so they couldn’t fix them.  Specsavers in the UK had also had a look at them ….  So we had 2 trips to Chania to the hearing aid shop.  No great hardship as it is a stunning 1.5 hrs route over the mountains.  On visit number 1, Vera (stunning and slim hearing aid lady) kept the hearing aids and then on visit 2, she had replaced the cable and they now worked … for a while!  Slight issue where one kept falling out.  

Whilst on the north of the island we also went over to Drapanos to meet our landlady and see the house. Carole has bent over backwards to assist us with doing a proper rental agreement, which we will need for the residency permit application.  We met her on our 2nd trip to Chania to sign the residency agreement, which the accountant then processed / ratified.

20201021 115320

We drove twice up to Chania to the hearing aid shop.

1663-1681: A Quick Flit!

1663-1681: Packing Up and Goodbye to Jez

Thursday 24th September –  12th October 2020

Back at Coxbridge Farm we proceeded to completely empty Jez … he was going back to his factory of birth in Slovenia.  We had always had issues with opening and shutting the habitation door … sometimes even having to take our boot to it.  This had never been correctly repaired whilst under warranty:  incorrect parts or non-delivery of parts, .  With the constant slamming shut, we had consequential damage to the side wall … a crease!  Adria agreed to repair this … actually not a repair, but a whole new side wall.  But who could be trusted to do this major surgery?  Don’t worry … they will collect the motorhome and take it back to the factory in Slovenia.  Having been warned that we would be without our home for at least 6 weeks, we had formed a plan!

To be fair, we already had a plan to spend the winter in Crete … wanting to be in our Happy Place for another expected Covid lockdown.  We had agreed to rent a house just east of Chania from a friend of a friend.  With no van, we would drive the car over.  It would also mean we would save the expense of hiring a car whilst there.

Once Jez was empty … again abusing my Aged P’s goodwill, attic, garage and shed, we drove down to N Devon, via an over night on a friend’s driveway in Bristol.  Jez was left with a motorhome dealer there and within a week was collected on a closed lorry to be transported back to Slovenia.  We were able to track his progress on the Tracker.  Part of the planning was again to buy and wrap all our Christmas gifts … Mum was unimpressed the first year of our travels when I left all the wrapping for her to do!

20201003 160203

Costa iced caramel latte … my go to packing drink!  Not sure how many I managed.

The packing the car was a challenge.  We planned to camp en route, so had the tent and kit we had trialled in Derbyshire.  Summer-ish and winter clothes, dogs and their kit, cooking kit, Christmas gifts from family etc etc … all to fit into the car.  The day before departure, it was all at the front of the house ready to be packed … in the persistent rain!  Bear in mind, I may not have many skills, but packing is one of them … taught by Dad on our family camping holidays … Mum and Clare sorted bedding, Tim sat in the car reading and I passed dad things to pack or helped erect the tent.   It was quickly obvious it would not all fit.  Maddy and I did an emergency trip to Halfords to buy roof legs, bars and the biggest roof box they had … a snip at >£600 NOT!.  And slightly annoying as we already have legs and bars that fit the car in the shed in N Devon, but hey ho … after a few tricky attempts to close the roof box, we got it all in.

20201005 175007

CO2 lying on top of pilates mats, duvet, pillows etc.  A bit of a leap up!

We are really lucky people.  We had brought our departure forward by 8 days, concerned that borders would start closing again.  Just before we left, Switzerland closed to Brits (that was OK, we planned to go via Austria anyway) and the day after we arrived, Italy also closed.  Although in reality, we heard of folk crossing between countries with no checks.  Another major piece of luck was that the DVLA returned James’ C1 (to drive over 3.5 tons post 70 years old) application form wanting further information and a new photo.  This was a major piece of good fortune, as without a physical licence, James would not have been able to drive abroad.  If stopped by police and unable to produce the licence, they would have deemed the vehicle uninsured!  Quick as flash, J said, right, we will keep it and post it all back from Greece so he could share the driving.  It expired on 12.10.20 … the day we arrived in Patras, mainland Greece.   It would have been a real struggle for me to drive that distance for 5 days solidly.

With poor weather initially and then tiredness, we abandoned the camping idea and about 4.00 o’clock each day, I messaged AirBnB owners to get a good price for an overnight.  I had tried a campsite cabin initially, but it was more expensive than an apartment, and thankfully there were quite a few that allowed dogs.  Out of the 5 AirBnB that we used, all were <£65 (cheapest was £19!) and all, bar one, were very comfortable.  

So our route was 1180 miles from home to Ancona.  Overnights in Belgium, with Kerstin in Reutlingen, Verona and close to Ancona.  An 18 hour ferry from Ancona to Patras, an overnight near Patras and then another overnight ferry to Chania, Crete.  The journey took us exactly 7 days with only a 30 minute difference door to door (Ash Vale to Chania).

20201005 103547

A very quiet Tunnel. 

20201005 182857

Our first AirBnB was a stones throw from a free aire … missing Jez!

20201005 193759

First overnight apartment.  I was expecting really uncomfortable beds, but they were all OK … gone is the day of lumpy rental mattresses.

20201006 101706

Leaving, after packing the car, in teaming rain.

20201006 102658

We really cannot get lost … ancient Garmin, Co-Pilot, Dash Cam and old iPhone for audio.  Console of the Enterprise?

20201006 111056

£10 for 3 giant bars … just had to.

20201006 214319

Overnight stop, walk and supper, with my old mucker Kerstin in Reutlingen, Germany.

20201006 193730

Similar to the chicken parmesan I ate in the NE … this was equally delicious … chicken in a paprika cheese sauce.

20201005 175740 2

A lucky rainbow.

20201007 140223

Rain eased as we crossed from Austria to Italy over the Brenner Pass … and scenery got interesting.

20201008 204114

 The grotty Italian AirBnB – something out of the 1950’s.  And by no means the cheapest.

20201008 102138

Yes, we cruised to Love in Italy, where else!

20201011 141943

Spotted near Ancona … the future of cruise ships?

20201008 142039

Time for and Italian lunch before Ferry No.1.

20201009 185743

I know my dinner is up there, surely it IS time for it NOW?

20201010 183321

Dog walk near Patras after the long (18hrs) crossing … they have to poop the poop deck on board and Corrie is Miss reluctant.

20201011 150021

20201011 151353

Time for first lunch in Greece; shared Dukos and Shrimp Saganaki … nostimos.

20201011 181307

Waiting dockside to load for Ferry No. 2 … we had to turn around on board … so much easier in a car.

20201012 085254

Coming into Chania, Crete port in the morning … somewhere there is Kalives, not far from our rental house, which is more up in the hills.

 

 

 




1467-1470: No Chaos/Chios in Turkey

1467:  In Search of Oil!

Monday 9th March 2020

The engine oil light had come on on 28th February … just as we were leaving Crete and all our contacts who could have helped us to find a suitable garage.  We’d had our eyes open whilst at Itea etc, but not seen suitable garages and google was not helping.  J had not managed to find anywhere that could do an oil change in Porto Rafti whilst I was away … not commercial enough,  So we decided to move to another spot we’d used 2 years ago, Varkiza, Ag. Marina, nearer Athens and more built up … we really wanted to find somewhere before arriving in Turkey.  On the way, we did a Lidl shop, which included a little pork!  Just before our destination, I spotted a Castrol sign, but it was now closed for the evening … we’d head back early next morning.

1468:  Oil and a Ferry

Tuesday 10th March 

The Castrol chap spoke good English … couldn’t do a van our size, but up the road, was a lorry garage, opposite the toy store, try there.  Google translate was our friend here … no, he made lorries, could not do an oil change and sent us back down the street to opposite Eko Petrol station.  Feeling slightly despondent, I ran across the dual carriageway … the young lad spoke good school English … yes they had the right oil and could do a change.  J was beckoned, drove and did a U turn …

As well as the oil change, the mechanic checked the oil filters, topped up the coolant and changed the remaining old windscreen wiper, which the young lad had to run down the road to buy.  He also jet washed the engine.  And where our bumper is hanging off slightly, courtesy of the recovery / tow in Corsica, he drilled 2 holes and neatly cable tied it together.  The bill was £163, and bear in mind the oil was EUR65 for each of 2 5 ltr containers and we’ve brough about 2 litres away with us.  So pretty good for a mini service, I think.

A coffee and pastry to celebrate for lunch.  Our ferry to Chios was not until 8.00 p.m., and en route, another quick shop for wine, as Lidl had only bottles …  I cleared out the shelf of bag in box, only 5 x 5 ltr of white.  Will we cope?  That’s only 45 litres on board, as we’ve read that Turkish wine is not up to much.  Interestingly, all the wine we have is from Crete, although some was bought on the mainland.

Ferry was typical Greek … it seems like chaos boarding, but they know exactly how to organise it.  We and one car were the ONLY non commercial vehicles, in fact there were hardly any vehicles, just container trailers expertly reversed on.  We were shown to our cabin by staff and Result!  It was a 4 berth with bunks.  I was able to sleep in a top bunk without CO2 joining me!  They had their own bunk underneath … J, who was on the other low bunk, did say that they tried to join him during the night … but I didn’t know anything about it … zzzz’s.  Supper was chicken I’d previously cooked with salad … must prepare more salad meals now the weather is improving.

IMG 5094

CO2 waiting for the oil change to be finished.

IMG 5096

The overnight ferry route from Pireaus to Chios

1469:  The Resin Island – Chios (Hios)

Wednesday 11th March 

We were woken not by a discrete tap on our cabin door, but by someone actually opening it an poking his head in.  We later spotted him doing the rounds again … a thankless task of checking all the cabins had been vacated.

IMG 5097

We had to wait for all the trailers in front of Jez to be hauled off before we could get to Jez.  Then we were told to hurry up and get off  foot passengers for the return leg were already on board!

Arrival in Chios was at 0500 hours and it was still dark.  We drove though the super quiet and narrow streets out of Chios, grateful not to meet any other traffic.  We parked up at the Mastic Museum

IMG 5100

A huge car park that was out of sight and we had it all to ourselves.

IMG 5113

From the parking, CO2 and I climbed up to the viewing platform; CO2 were tied to the base of the rickety and rusty spiral stair case.

IMG 5114

View from the top.  

After a solid sleep for a couple of hours we went into the Museum.  One of the first places for a while where J was given a 50% discount. Good value at EUR6 total.  My guide book (eBay, of course) was published 2006, and hadn’t mentioned this museum, as it was opened in 2016.  It was a gem and we thank David and Karen, thegreygappers.co.uk, for telling us about it.      When petroleum products replaced a lot of the uses for mastic, the locals organised a cooperative and started manufacturing chewing gum.  We’d come across mastic as a flavouring on Crete, when there was a limited ice cream flavour choice … I’ll stick with vanilla.

P1180785

As well as the usual static exhibits, there were short films about the mastic trees, growing, and harvesting, the production processes and the arichecture of the mastic villages.

P1180786

Chios is the only place in the world where mastic is grown, due to its climatic conditions.

P1180792

The resin is the product of the tree sterilising the wound cut into its bark.  It is harvested during night time as the sun turns it to a useless honey.

P1180794

Even in the modern chewing gum factory, one process is still the hand cleaning of the resin.  Growers are paid according to weight and a laser examination as to the cleanliness of the mastic.

IMG 5109

The brand Elma stand for Greek (Elinka) and Mastic.  The museum stated that it the only gum made with natural products.

From the museum we drove to Pyrgi, one of the mastic villages.  Knowing that villages have notoriously narrow Jez-unfriendly streets, I’d identified a car park next to the village stadium … my assumption that coaches can drive there is usually correct …  It was a little tight, but the car park had a big closed gate across its entrance, next to a house.  On the balcony of this house were some very friendly ladies with no English.  They indicated we could park across the entrance, applauded J’s reversing and laughed at Oscar’s over excited barking.  More lovely Greek people …

P1180802

Geometric patterns are cut into white washed walls to reveal a layer of black volcanic sand underneath. Even on the underside of balconies.

P1180805

Wise decision to park Jez outside  this was relatively wide!

IMG 5118

The central square and coffee stop.

IMG 5119

Corrie trying to blend in with the houses.

We attempted to go to a beach car park for our overnight, but it was seriously sloping and there were no restaurants open there.  We about turned and stopped roadside at a restaurant we’d passed.  Then back to the Museum carpark over night … moonlight and stars … no orange light pollution.

IMG 5123IMG 5124

True to form, we ordered too much food … baked aubergine with feta, baked local cheese and a hock of slow cooked pork.  Then the excellent salesmanship of the owner / cook persuaded us to have her slow cooked beans … all really delicious.  Only beans made it home to form the basis of the next nights dinner.

1470:  Mesta and Chaos Ferry

 Thursday 12th March 

We read that Mesta is considered one of the finest examples of mastic village architecture.  A central tower, single storey houses, later built upward, then a protecting village wall.  Really narrow alleyways and passages, often with arches, where houses extended sideways.  Indifferent coffee in the square, quickly joined by a vocal tour group.  We later realised they were Turkish as they were on the ferry that evening with us.

We drove the non direct route back to Chios town, filling our tanks at a water station on the outskirts of town.  Loads of locals were using it, some with bringing a pickup flat bed full of containers.  Why, I have no idea.

IMG 5136

Very barren landscape, the mastic trees are low growing.  Other trees were destroyed in fires or used for boat building.

Onto a disused harbour, 1.5km out of town, but quiet for J to nap.  I walked into town to collect our boarding passes.  A slight moment of concern as the lady declared she had just printed the passes, but none with our name.  After about 5 mins, she realised that all the agency tickets were in a drawer …. duh!  Oh and by the way, the ferry leaves half and hour earlier than advertised!  J received a phone call from me to make Jez ready and picked me up roadside.  At the dock, it was all minor chaos.  A few trucks with police (riot gear inside the busses) as there were about 150 immigrants on the dock.  Only about a third were families; most being young men.  I don’t know how long they had been there, but they’d set up a washing line.  Chios and Lesbos have both been in the news as they are so close to Turkey and have had more than their share of migrants and locals have just about had enough.

IMG 5138

On the walk into Chios town.

At the harbour it was really unclear how to proceed and where to go.  We headed through Passport control, down a tiny gap in fencing, then onto the vehicle control.  We reversed ourselves back out, whilst foot passengers went forward.  The vehicle registration lady would open the gate  so we could load Jez … but a truck and police car had to be moved first!

IMG 5143

Jez on the ferry to Turkey.

On arrival in Cesme, Turkey, a friendly dog handler spoke excellent English and he told us to park up, and go though passport and vehicle control … the latter took a while as the lady ended up needing help working out what to enter from the V5 and insurance.  Then it was 300m back into the port and up onto a ramp for Jez to be X-ray’d.  He only just fit and it was a bit of a clonk as he descended.

At the final gate, all the documentation was checked again and I was asked if we had anything to declare.  Magically our bag in box wine shrunk to about 15 litres. And whilst waiting I learned how to say Thank you.

We pulled over in Cesme town, almost immediately to identify a cash point.  I tried to withdraw 2500 Turkish Lira and was told I’d exceeded my car limit.  A slight concern s it had not been used.  I then tried with 2000 TL … and it worked.  I received a huge wad of TL50 notes.  The exchange rate is just under TL8 to £1.

About 8km further south in the now dark and down a dirt track to a lovely wild spot, tarmac but right on the beach.

 

1462-66: Special Birthday Home

1462-66:  80th Birthday Trip

Wednesday 4th-8th March 2020

I had a special reason to fly home … Mum’s 80th birthday celebration.  

I arrived late on Wednesday and left Sunday lunchtime … the days were packed.  As was the bag that I had checked into the hold with EasyJet.  I returned home with some thick woolies, Crete guide and walking books, Christmas decorations etc. On the return leg, I had to ring EasyJet to up the checked bag from 15-23kgs … I’d been a busy eBayer before I arrived and then had a day in Swindon outlet shopping centre and a mop up shopping session in Guildford. Plus various items I routed out from one of our storage places … the Aged P’s attic.  On the return leg, my bag weighed in at 22.7kgs (phew!) … my hand luggage rucksack was pretty heavy too!  And amazingly they did not charge me for increasing the booked weight.  They were, however, having to deal with quite a number of travellers whose hand luggage would not fit in the test frame … solution by one young man … wear and carry 3 fleeces so the bag would fit.  Other people were having luggage removed from their grasp … not sure if they had to pay.  

In fact the return flight was ‘interesting’ altogether.  Various people changed seats and were told off by the steward.  He was also unamused by the gloves worn by two elderly Greeks as he tried to explain that these would spread infection.  Someone else got into trouble for standing up to retrieve a bag from the overhead locker … just as we were coming into land.  But the piece de resistance was the departure from the plane (almost said the exiting the aircraft … but Dad would take issue with the Americanism!).  The loading bridge / walkway malfunctioned and the pilot informed us that despite 50 Greeks trying to get it to move to the plane doors, it would not budge.  We were all going to have to exit via the rear door and steps … BUT only in rows of 10 at a time to prevent all the passengers rushing to the back OR the plane would tip up!!!  They then decided to off load the luggage first.  

Maddy is on a new fitness regime and ran a 3 day bootcamp at her gym.  I did 3 days of arms, legs and HIIT, which I now know is High Intensity Interval Training.  I ache in lots of new places.  We both ‘acquired’ new fitness clothing in Swindon!

IMG 5132

I know why I was smiling.  I was on baby weights compare to Maddy.

I got to watch the England Wales rugby game in Twickenham.  Not at the stadium where the game was played, but at Gill’s house.  My best oldest friends (Poly days), Gill, Bron and Al met up and watched the game and then stuffed our faces … we’d all contributed a course.  Bron is a vocal Welsh lass, Gill, Al and I are English BUT the shame of it, Gordon, Gill’s husband, is a Scott and was very much supporting Wales!  Even James, who normally sides with the Celts, has finally realised that if he is married to an English lady and lived much of his life there, he ought to support England.  Much as we all appreciate each other’s husbands and offspring, it was really good to have an evening without them!

IMG 5073

An uninvited guest  he flies in daily for his supper. at Gill and Gordons.

On Sunday morning, before Maddy drove me to Gatwick, Dayna (Maddy’s bestie) and Mum Caroline (good friend of mine) came for a cooked breakfast .. we had 1.5 hours!  I really was packing it in.

Covid-19 … A few people were wearing face masks in the airport and on the flight, but they were noticeable for being in the absolute minority.  The UK has experienced supermarket shelves being emptied of toilet roll, pasta and hand sanitiser.  Not so in Greece, although on our return I did a minor stock up of tomatoes, frozen veg and a spare bag of toilet paper … you never know!  We can easily self isolate should the need arise.  

The main event was Mum’s 80th.  Maddy drove the Aged P’s and I up to Grosvenor Square to Tim’s London house, where we all met.  He, or rather wife Sarah, did us proud … champagne and canapés and they’d ordered 2 large cars to take us around the corner to the restaurant … the Boudin Blanc. We had a private room with a round table, so we could yell across it to each other without disturbing other tables.  Excellent food, efficient staff who seamlessly re-filled wine glasses … I slept in the back on the return.  A really lovely evening, with only one of Gran’s grandchildren missing (skiing).

IMG 5126

Im the middle generation. before the comments start that Mum looks younger than I!

IMG 8588

B-i-l Chris, Niecey, Mum, Tim and Zozo.

IMG 8591

Dad, Louis and Ellie.

IMG 8595

IMG 8597


And James?  Someone had to hold the fort back in Porto Rasti … he looked after CO2.