1309-1315: Plopping Back In The Peloponnese

1308-1309:  Delighted to be back in the Plops

Friday 4th cont. – Saturday 5th October 2019

We did not disembark until nearly 6.00 pm on Friday and getting too late to drive far.  We only drove 20 mins (after a slight detour and poor navigation – K) to get fuel to N of Patras.  Driving through Patras we were reminded about the double, and occasional triple, parking, Service stations where the attendant fills up for you as standard.  Some remembered shop brands.  All feeling warmly comfortable.

I’d had a slow cooker chicken and Remoska braised fennel on the go on board, using that ‘free’ electricity, so we ate with Jenni and David.

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Camping on Board – view from our hab door.  The route hugs the Italian, then Albanian coasts, past Corfu, docking at Igoumenitsa, before wending its way between mainland Greece and islands.  Under cover was good, as it did rain in the night.

IMG 3632A stoney beach, but great views across to the Rio Antirrio bridge; this , a ferry and across the Corinth canal are the two connection points for the Peloponnese and the mainland.

On Saturday we had a leisurely start and then went wine sniffing!  I know, most people go wine tasting, but we are on Go Sober for October.    

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 Achaia Clauss winery, we enjoyed the tour even though we’d done it before.  Same tour guide.  The winery is the second oldest business in Greece, A bank, this winery and then a chocolate manufacturer!  Some very old valuable carved barrels.  Originally they were made from Russian wood, now wood comes from France.  Jenni and I were caught by a worker with our heads through the window of the more modern production rooms, inhaling the fumes.  James and I couldn’t sample now but we bought a case of Mavro Daphne, a 15% fortified wine that is good with Christmas pudding (sister Clare recognised it as a recommendation by Jilly Goolden) and for cooking … and of course, drinking … but next month!!

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Achaia Clauss.

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And a baby resident bat.

 Jenni and David headed east and we went south to Elea/Elia – so many Greek spellings before you even start on the Greek alphabet.

1310:  El-aundry

Sunday 6th October 

We had stayed at Elea before and knew of a tap, that is not on the map, so not too busy around there.  We hogged the tap and once I finally got out of bed … (that 10cm memory foam topper is truly comfy!), we got down to jobs.  A blind fix, laundry, a bit of admin and an Oscar prune … he struggles with the heat.  

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And some dog walks.

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Before  … shaggy and hot …

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 … cool, slim Jim

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Our peace was disturbed by a trials bike churning up the sand dunes for a little while, but it returned with a lovely sunset.

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1311:  Gotta Gia-lova Lagoon

Monday 7th October 

We stayed at another favourite site … Gialova Lagoon.  A stunning location.  Great walk up to the castle and sitting on the beach with my knitting until the rain started.

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The Maps.Me image shows the lagoon, horseshoe bay and protected harbour.

1312-13:  Nothing Naf in Nafplio

Tuesday 8th – Wednesday 9th October 

We headed across to Nafplio – another re-visit.  Jenni and David met up with us there and cooked us supper.  The second night we ate out … We’d not planned to stay two nights, but a smart town to wander around, good company and sunshine  … and inertia set in.  And my first sloooow run in months!  

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A grey day when we arrived, but the sun came out in force on day 2.  This cruise ship behind us kept its engines running till it thankfully buggered off about 10.00 p.m.

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The fort island and dredging.  

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4th attempt by the waiter to take a shot of us without camera shake … we’ve come across this before where younger than us don’t know how to use a camera … as against a phone!  Please note J is on 0% beer and I’m on water!  


1314: A Non-acquisition in Acorinth

Thursday 10th October 

We headed off to Corinth, leaving Jenni and David with more inertia in Nafplio.  Destination – the vet that did Corrie’s blood tests, neutering and Pet Passport etc when we found her up the hill at Acorinth Feb 2018.  Oscar was due a Kenel Cough vaccination.  Our normal vet was operating – through an open doorway, but waved.  The young vet remembered us and even Corrie’s name!  Vaccination done, general health inspection and a new passport for O, as we’ve run out of vaccination pages … total bill EUR35.  Later that evening, I realised that it seems Corrie had never had a KC and Oscar was due a Lepto and the triple 3 yearly vaccinations.  Quick email to our Farnham vet to have this confirmed.  

We headed up to Acorinth, the ancient fortress to over night, which is exactly where we found Corrie.  She seemed to not have any recollection and no-one came banging on our door claiming we’d stolen their dog!  However, we did not expect to find one of her relatives up there all alone.  A tiny pup, with some physical similarities to our Corrie.  Too skinny and wet from the recent downpour.  Other visitors to the site were feeding and making a big fuss of her.  CO2, surprisingly seemed to not be very interested in her …  James kept making puppy dog eyes at  me.  My Mum suggested James go and put his head in a bucket of water!  2 dogs in a van is ENOUGH!  On top of which, a hard Brexit would make getting all the jabs, tests and paperwork done impossible, especially given her young age.  James saw her the next morning, fortunately I didn’t, so I was not put in the position of making the decision to leave her behind.

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1315:  Busy Busy Busy

Friday 11th October 

An ancient site, vet, motorhome repair, lunch and a ferry.  Surely that’s far too much activity for folk that are supposed to be oozing their way around?

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So we actually made it inside the the fortress this time.

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Looking back down to the parking.

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After a bit of a climb up part of the fortress (not much standing other than walls, but you really get a sense of the size of the place) and coffee, we headed back down to Corinth to the vet.  Both had their jabs and the vet asked how old Oscar was.  Nearly 6 … “OK we check his prostate”.  So poor lamb had a finger up his bum and when the vet squeezed, I had to watch Oscar’s face for any signs of pain.  Relieved I didn’t have to do this for James’ prostate examinations!  EUR40 for all the injections – so much cheaper than home.   The vet called us ‘nice people’ … I think he really meant soft!  We told him we had been tempted to bring him another stray … he was pleased we hadn’t for our sakes, I think, and said about how many un-homed dogs there are.

Our kitchen tap had sprung a leak along the arm and was still leaking despite the application of glue.  Given how long we plan to be away this trip, we headed off to the motorhome repair place who fitted the rear air suspension early April 2018.  The mechanic found an Adria tap at EUR110, before labour.  We gasped and would have put up with the leak, but he found one at EUR55 plus 20 for labour.  Still more expensive that we’d expected … but ho hum.  It would have been “a lot more money’ had I paid by card and asked for a receipt.  I watched the owner fold the notes into his top pocket.  

We dropped down to a beach location just past all the oil refineries and petrochemical smells … lunch right by the beach.  It would have been a great place to sleep, but I rang Anek ferries.  Yes, they could move our crossing forward from tomorrow to tonight.  Yay … we’re off to Crete.

J rested and I dog walked and knitted in the sun until it was time to set off.  A quick stop at the entrance to the port to swap our paper tickets over and then straight onto the ferry.   At reception our cabin was assigned and a pale blue and white stripe waist coated porter took us to our cabin – it was ready despite being 2.5 hours before the ferry was due to leave.  No camping on board in Greece … Lin told me the Greek government likes the revenue of additional cabin sales.  

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Not pooping on the poop deck … crossed legs for Corrie.

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CO2 are NOT allowed on the beds or chairs in Jez … but they hopped up pretty pronto.  Not sure where I was supposed to sleep!  Curled up around them … 

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The cabin newspaper had 3 pages all about Brexit and a double page spread about BoJo.  would have loved to have been able to read it and see what their take on it is … although given the conversations we’ve had with all nationalities, it is not good.  This is the first time we’ve been away since the referendum where people are asking us what on earth is going on.  As if we have any idea either!  


 

1300-1308: Greece and East – Heading Off

1300-1308:  And We’re Off!

Thursday 26th  September – Friday 4th October 2019

We finished loading Jez on Wednesday and struck off for the Tunnel for our 0123 hrs crossing.  We parked up planning to eat nearby.  However … the mackerel I’d bought had not been gutted.  Not feeling like tackling the fish, I lobbed it in the bin.  Now. I am usually the one that snaffles any left overs for soup.  But in my defence, my Lud, I was tired.  It was late.  I would had to gut them outside – in the rain.  And I’d already had to give Corrie a washing up bowl bath as she’d rolled in poop. Lots of it.  We ended up in a very nice country pub chatting to locals.  Ho hum.

Tunnel all fine with no delays.  Perhaps something to do with being the small hours, but straight through.  And onto Bergues aire, which we’ve used number of times before.  Good for walking CO2.  

We followed a route down to Ancona suggested by our friends Lin and Bo, who’ve been coming this way for decades.  It was pretty much all free motorway, and straight A roads, other than the Heavy Goods Pass for Switzerland EUR32.50 and then we paid on the Italian motorways … £31.  We tried to bring the crossing forward from October the 8th, but the earliest we could be accommodated for camping on board was the 3rd.  We had plenty of time to ooze our way down with not very long driving days.

I’ve started plotting our sleep spots with coordinates on PolarSteps/Katherine Clune … download the app and search for it…. 

 

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By a fishing lake in France, all the locals were very friendly and one in excellent English told me where to walk CO2.
 

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Italy or Switzerland?  Actually a small Italian enclave in Switzerland.  Only 0.6msq.  A mix of administration:  vehicles and currency Swiss, but Police Italian.  A fantastic spot right on Lake Lugano.  The car park was free and had been for a now bankrupt casino … apparently it had been the largest in Europe, but looked more like a power station.

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Apperatif in the little town of Camplione.

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We stayed one night at a campertstop with full services in Parma EUR20.  A EUR2 per person and per dog all day bus ticket into town.  Fortunately I’d been warned that CO2 may have to wear muzzles, and we were allowed on with 2 dogs, although the official line is 1 per bus.  A great wander around the town and we even spotted the restaurant we’d eaten in with Maddy about 9 years ago.  Unfortunately it was shut on a Monday, or we’d have revisited.  Instead we visited a couple of bars … had a good chat with an Aussie couple, who refuse to drive in Europe so travel by train :(.  Then bumped into another Aussie couple from the Camper Stop … more wine and supper together.  A good evening.

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A rather bemused member of staff looking at me re-enacting my falling asleep on the steps of the Basilica from 9 years ago.  Pix duly sent to Maddy.

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Not allowed to sleep long… face licking time!

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Overnight stop just S of Ravenna.  Lovely sandy beach for walking CO2 … and actually very warm so the shorts came out.  We are just starting the Go Sober for October wagon – see below!

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Not a glass of wine in sight … aperitif is now coffee!

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We spent the last night in Italy in the aire and Auchan just outside Ancona.  We’d received an email that our crossing was put back from 1.30 pm to 4.00 pm, but on arrival at the port, were advised that there was further delay … the ship didn’t actual sail until just before 8.00 pm.  A regular told me that the ship had been swapped for a faster one and we are due at Patras at about 5.00 pm  All very chilled.  Once parked dockside, I walked CO2 up into Ancona … an old city with Roman remains, tall buildings and small alleys.  Pleasant.  This above is the cathedral.

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Lions guarding the cathedral steps.

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One of the prettier squares.

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Made us chuckle, especially as it was on a Fix It Again Tomorrow! 

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Empty dock as we’re all on the ship.  We are Camping on Board, so we can live in Jez for the 21hr crossing.  I wandered around helplessly with our electric cable wondering where to plug it in.  Not needed!  A loooong pole pulls an electric cable down from the roof.  And it ain’t no 3 amp rubbish … we’ve had the Remoska and electric hob going, whilst charging anything that vaguely needed it.  Excellent showers and toilets.    We’ve been on deck just to walk CO2, but Corrie ‘saved’ herself for this morning … she really only does like going in discreet places and on grass.  Oscar, however, wants to mark anything he can cock his leg at and has no inhibitions.  


Go Sober October by James

Does anyone have their best ideas whilst sitting on the toilet?  Leopold Bloom (Ulysses) did…..  Well readers, I was thus encamped on the loo at our wilding – Lago di Lugano – when I remembered that MacMillan nurses are encouraging people to shun alcohol for the entire month of October!  I climbed back into Jez as we were leaving and unleashed the bombshell on Katherine – she didn’t bat an eyeIlidl (or an Aldi)!  Talk about St Paul throwing himself off his horse on the way to Damascus!!!  It was bad enough giving up the drink for Lent years ago…  I really must avoid toilets!!!   We are now committed – as I write we’re on day 4 – and no problems so far – no shakes or twitchessssssssss.   It’s a hugely deserving cause (and close to our hearts….   Rally round troops – and think of the widow’s mite!  We’re a mite nonplussed!  “We’re all going on an alcoholiday……

If anyone would like to donate the price of a coffee …. here’s the link.

 

We don’t normally do politics on here, but this made me chuckle:

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1055-1067: The BIG Drive Home

1055 – Thursday 26th April 2018:  Birthday 2 and  Still Rear Air Suspension

We spent the night outside the Adria Athens compound, as the fearsome Rottweiler roamed inside at night.  We had an electric cable thrown over the wall, but the Austrians waiting to have some work done weren’t offered that … were we receiving special treatment?.  It took the best part of this second day to complete the work.    As it was J’s birthday, he had wine in the local cafe.  We also caught the tail end of the local market where I bought a huge plastic washing up bowl for EUR1.50 and lots of olive oil to bring home.

In the afternoon we drove to just west of Patras – Diakopto on the harbour side.  We walked to a restaurant … not as smart as I’d hoped for a birthday, one of those where you’re taken into the kitchen to choose your meal from trays.  Tasty but no starters other than baked cheese.

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Birthday wine for one … all of EUR1.5 🙂

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Marco, our lovely mechanic who was rather taken with Oscar.

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Birthday boy in a birthdays T-shirt.

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Great spot in Diakopto.

1056 – Friday 27th April:  Back to Italy

We had a leisurely start and then to Patras for our overnight crossing to Ancona in Italy.  We did do a small detour to a winery to pick up a case of MavroDaphne … not for drinking, of course, but used in a pork and prunes dish.

We’d been warned to expect serious security checks leaving Greece … but they checked the inside of the van with a cursory glance.  There were a LOT of security guards all around the car parks before entering the port, and there were about 20 or so youths who were lurking in the hope of being stowaways.  We did watch one lad being chased by 3 security cars as he tried to leg it, having climbed the fence. Sad.

It is a small world, we bumped into a German couple who we’d met on the campsite when we first arrived in Crete.  They were amazed how much Corrie had grown … we knew she had a bit, but not really clocked it until they said.  She’s obviously younger than we thought.  Wonder how much more growing she has to do?!

The dogs got to poop the poop deck again … eventually.  For some reason they are quite hesitant about not doing their business on earth.

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Cabin japes!

1057 – Saturday 28th April:  Driving

A calm, if long crossing … 18 hours.  I stocked up on some Italian food, and mostly booze items, at the big Auchan and then it was on the road.  Overnight was a quiet aire in Forlimpopoli … it may be an interesting place, but we arrived late and set off early … I just like the name.

1058 – Sunday 29th April:  Big Drive to Tende

A very long day behind the wheel, especially as were were avoiding toll roads.  But we made it across to France.  Just over the border we stopped at a place called Tende.  I recognised it and realised we had caught a train up here on a Nice visit.  We wandered the town of lovely narrow streets, but I don’t remember this part … I think it was so cold when we were here before we fell into a bar.

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Tende.

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This isn’t, but it could be Corrie.  Not quite like the English Setters, but this pic is from a Greek breeder.  OK, so now we know Corrie is a large part Setter.

1059 – Monday 30th April:  Over the Hill to Biot

The drive down the mountain was ‘interesting’.  Fine for us in our big motorhome, except for all the other buggers!  We encountered the following, all coming up the pass, but on our side of the road … bikes, lorries, BMW group and Porsche convoy … throw in tight bends and being really low on fuel!  Coming down hills, I was free wheeling to conserve the diesel.  At a town, a local told us where to refill … thank goodness I asked, as it was not quite on our route and would have missed it.

We got parked up at the campsite we’ve used before, Parc des Maurettes and showered.  We met Sarah, Jade, Cian and S’s mum-in-law, Eileen in the nearby park … lovely for dog walking and hide and seek.  Later J and I cycled, towing CO2, up to Biot for supper and Jade was allowed to stay up for the BIG SURPRISE.  Such a big surprise, that she’d told James about his birthday cake at least 3 times … ssh, it’s a surprise!

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1060-1063 – Tuesday 1st May – Friday 4th May:  Up Through France

Farewell to Sarah & Co at the campsite … she had to pop over to pick up some of Cian’s clothes that were in my washing loads… what’s the point of having family, it you don’t abuse their machines!

Just 3 big driving days with stops in Chirens and Chamouilley … again we saw very little of either town, other than dog walks…. Chamouilley was a super pitch right beside a canal.  Wednesday evening saw us back at Bergues … an aire with no services that we’ve used a few times.

Having done the drive from the south of France in 3 days, we had a day in hand before our tunnel crossing.  So it was a late start, a run and a lunch out.

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Chamouilley.

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1064-1067 – Saturday 5th to Tuesday 9th May:  Back to Blighty

For once the sun shone on the M25 and there were only a few minor hold ups.  We are always struck by how congested, inhabited and just plain busy the S of England is.  Another thing we’ve found is that the consideration of other drivers is no better than France or Greece … Italy is another matter!  It doesn’t seem to matter if we are in the van or the car, other road users drive far too close and overtake when really they shouldn’t!  And I do not drive that slowly … honest!

Maddy popped over for supper on Saturday.

On Sunday, Sinead joined us for soup and a dog walk.  I watched the end of neice Zozo’s cricket match … for her to bowled out in minutes with 1 run … but they won by that very single run.  As an aside … cricket really IS dull to watch.  Then roast chicken supper with the Aged Ps, Zozo and Louis.

Monday saw us at sister Clare’s for a BBQ.  And in between, we’ve been making good use the Aged P’s washing machine, attic and shed!

On the medical front, J had scans 1 and 2 (MRI and CT).  With results and the consultant appointment not until 18th May, we decided to do a mini trip up to Scotland.

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Zozo modelling her prom dress …. wow!

1048-1054: Munchkin Visit and a Change of Direction

1048 – Thursday 19th April: Munchkin Arrives

We set off for Iraklio at 8.30, what an early start for us.  The hire car process was extremely simple … hand over EUR30, no hard sell or any sell for additional insurances and no walk around to note dents and scratches.  I didn’t worry about additional insurance as we have an annual hire car policy.  For that we had a 4 door Nissan Micra 52,000km on clock and suspension on the way out … but perfect for a day for us.

Being in a car, I was able to park in the airport carpark, see James to Departures (he was off back to Blighty for 2 nights) on the plane that brought Maddy Munchkin out to me.  We stopped for a late lunch in Sives, and then had and ice cream in Kalamaki, making good use of the car.  We deposited the car and ate again in the town.  This was a recommendation by one of the cave men, Jeremy, we’d met … he offered us a tour of his cave, but it felt a bit voyeuristic … anyway, the restaurant was un-prepossesing, but the food super.

1049 – Friday 20th April:  A Beach Day

Being a working girl, Maddy wanted a beach day … so we did.  Jeremy came to find us on the campsite and volunteered to join us for supper … we went back to the same place. And I paid 🤨

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1050 – Saturday 21st April:  James Returns

We had planned another beach day, but the wind was up.  Seriously up, every time we went near the beach, we were shot blasted, making it very uncomfortable.  We tidied up and left our free campsite in Matala.  With time on our hands we went to a ‘fake’ Cretan village which was really a hotel and then up to a small seaside village for coffees … not up to much.  Maddy had said she would like to stand in an olive grove … anyone that knows Crete, or Greece will know the landscape is predominantly olive groves!  I chucked and pointed out a few olive trees!  As J’s flight was due after 11.00 p.m., we headed out to supper.  Took a recommendation from a pharmacist and it was really good … Maddy raved about the pork belly.

 

1051-1052 – Sunday 22nd to Monday 23rd April: Chania/Hania

We had forgotten how the Greeks really do got out en famille en masse on Sunday … no chance of getting parked in Hania, so we headed for a campsite just west of the town, by a couple of sandy beaches.  The afternoon saw us basking again!

If you are ever in Crete, avoid Camping Hania!  It was built in the days of small tents only, so they planted lots of low olive trees for shade.  Great in principle, but hopeless for getting caravans or motorhomes in.  A few smaller vehicles managed to swing into a couple of pitches, but no way could we.  So we ended up parked up on the central road.  One water point only, right by the reception which meant we blocked the entrance.    And don’t expect a good night’s sleep … not one, but at least two cockerels from about 4.00 a.m.  I was not happy to pay EUR36 for the 3 of us per night anyway … and certainly not with rubbish sleep.  Decision to leave … We had to reverse all the way out :(, brushing the olive branches.  The owner was somewhat elderly … as I followed him into the reception to pay, he let rip a minor parp …. surely not?  Yes, it was as it was followed by a major long one!  He couldn’t get the card machine to work either!

We parked up by one of the beaches and slept, dozed … late p.m. M showered and we headed into Hania.  Our first choice carpark was unobtainable as two cars had had an ‘incident’ and were not moving their cars, as I guess they were waiting for the police.  We re-routed to choice number 2, but one of the access roads looked a little narrow, so choice Number 3 … a fee paying carpark, which was perfect, as no crowing cockerels overnight and walking distance into the old town and harbour.

Hania definitely has the wow factor.  Pretty narrow streets, a massive waterfront with restaurants and a harbour.  We had coffee, wine and supper … oooh and a super ice cream.  Seems strange to have a pizza on the last night in Crete, but that’s what M and J both wanted, and it was yummy, as was my chicken soup.

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Maddy seems to think that Corrie is hers!!  She became known as the accessory dog when M was wearing black and white.

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And no, she does NOT look like me … M takes after her father.

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1053 – Tuesday 24th:  All Aboard

Maddy caught her lunchtime flight back to Gatwick and we headed for the beach (again) for dog walking and demanding the van.  Our overnight Anek ferry left at 9.20 p.m. and the dogs got to poop in the poop deck again. Comfortable beds and a good strong and hot shower in our cabin. But all too early up, as it arrived at 6.00 a.m.

1054 – Wednesday 25th:  Birthday 1 and Rear Air Suspension

Happy Birthday Maddy Munchkin.  I am no longer the mother of a teen!

Off the ferry and into West Athens … back to Adria Athens to fit the rear air suspension … their second attempt … but we’ve booked the ferry from Patras to Ancona for Friday afternoon, just in case!

*** There is change of plan, cutting short this extended trip.  James needs to be back in the UK for tests and treatment.  We will keep blogging our trip home and when we do anything of interest whilst in the UK.

1041-1048: Oozing along the South East Coast

 1041 – Tuesday 10th April 2018:  Ierapetra

Vet needed for Corrie’s booster injections and rabies blood tests – so straight to Lerapetra to vet Michael and his team…..3.5 hours later all done and the vet missed his lunch, for the first time ever apparently!  But such a thorough examination: ears, teeth, paws skin etc.  Huge thanks to Michael and his team. 

We were starving by now – so where to go?  The answer was obvious – right across the street – “G-spot bar” with ‘playzone’!!! Not a “G spot” in sight and the plays were cards and board games ……  

An evening wander – buzzing town – and wild parking on a town street with a not noisy fairground nearby. 

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Ierapetra.

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Any Greek coastal town of any import has one of these …  A Venetian Fort.

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Napoleon spent one night here … according to the map and vague direction of the rusting sign … this is it!

1042 – Wednesday 11th April: Mirtos

Morning – I ran on a real running track for the first time in 2 years. Repetitions x6 – a 250 metre short track. If I put my fast laps together – it would be 4 minutes for a kilometre!  Quickest for several years…..  K shopped – lamb and sea bass – and wine from a shop/local vineyard.  K:  I had to send for reinforcements to carry it all back to Jez .. J deployed the trusty shopping trolley.

We kept meeting a ‘interesting’ Dutch/Norwegian lady whose Greek finance had died – she seemed very concerned that he’d died in the street with one show off.  She’d seen the police photos  She’s buying a house in nearby Mithi, uphill from here.

 

 

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Pyrgos Ancient mini site looking down to Mirtos.

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Mirtos:  very pretty but too twee.

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 Gourmet supper:  Parchment backed sea bass, with spinach drizzled with oil and garlic and Fava (a puree of split peas).

1043 – Thursday 12th April: Sarakinas Gorge & Gortys

In the afternoon, we drove to the Sarakinas Gorge for our overnight – completely secluded…… Early-ish morning, we set off to walk the Gorge – but after 20 minutes the way became too difficult for our doggos so we aborted. But we had a real flavour of the steep sides – a bit like the Syq in Petra…..

En route to our next destination (monuments to WW2 fallen), we encountered a small mountain town. The streets were narrow – ok, we’ve done this before – easily….the got more narrow – and cars blocked our way, completely. To make matters worse, 2 cars came towards us – more blockages. We had mistakenly drive the wrong way into a one-way street!  (K: to be fair, when I was shown the no entry sign it was flat against the wall so fairly invisible!) We scraped one side of Jez on foliage … hearing the nails on black board sound as we passed – and on the other side we broke a cars wing mirror!  Guess who was driving?  Moi!  K leaped out to spot – the people didn’t speak any English – and one man shouted at her – unusual in Crete….. others were very helpful.  20 minutes later, the 2 cars reversed – which they could have done much earlier and saved a lot of bother.  We scraped through and out of the town – huge sighs of relief – this was Castelbellissimo in Sicilia all over but just as stressful!!!  The joys of motor homing, indeed.

Quiet afternoon (K walked) and overnight parking in the car park of an ancient site at Gortys……much needed relaxing glass of vino or two …    

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Windscreen passenger.

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Start of Sarakinas Gorge walk.  Only possible when little or no rain.

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Really impressive high and narrow gorge.

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This is where we aborted as we’ve not taught the dogs to climb steps.  Oscar had already been scrabbling to get this far.

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A monument to one of the villages where men and boys were killed by the Germans in September 1943 as reprisals for resistance activities.  

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This monument was just outside Ano Viannos.  A huge number of names.  Very moving.

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Gortys:  A 1600 year old Olive tree; surreal as growing around Roman pillars.

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Gortys:  The Roman Temple of Apollo.  A lot of the rambling site is fenced but easy to wander around for free.  Gortys was a major city by 8BC and later co-operate with the invading Romans, so the city was not destroyed, but developed.  At one point it had a population of 300,000 and the provincial capital.

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My walk … The neighbouring village is Ayii Dheka, which means Holy Ten.  Ten Christians were martyred here in AD250, this is the tomb of 6 of them underneath a much newer church.  Christianity first reached Crete at Gortys.

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Ayii Dheka is really authentic … slightly tumble down with odd Roman pillars and stones lying around or having been used in more recent buildings.  The church is where the martyrs met their fate … sadly it was closed, so I could see the actual stone where they were decapitated with their knee imprints.

 

1044 – Friday 13th April:  Blimey It’s Hot … Sea Breeze Needed

We both ran in the morning 2k and 6k – excellent…  K visited the Gortys ancient site, while I cogitated.

It was so hot that we decided to head for the sea and shoot the breeze – at Matala. An unmanned and unmaintained campsite, but with electric, toilets and water – free!!!  A regular hippy colony with many pony tails – K suggested I grow one. Well, I remember 1968, flower power and Haight Ashbury – “If you’re going to San Francisco….wear some flowers in your hair”, etc. 

We were not the only Brits … We met Diane and John – fellow motorhomers from Nottingham. What happens when motorhomers meet?  Drinkypoos, of course! They’d come to Matala for 2 nights … 6 weeks ago!  This is something like their 18th trip to Greece.

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Flowers along K’s running route.

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Some fine Roman statues …

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Gortys ancient site – Ayios Titos Church 6AC: fenced off, but still remarkable.  It was Crete’s main church.

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The Odeion: the structure at the back houses the law code, dating from around 500BC.  

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The Law Code is an ancient Doric Cretan dialect and is written left to right and then right to left, so eyes can continuously follow the script.  The code is a series of rulings on specific cases.  For instance 5 witnesses were needed to convince a free man, but only one to sentence a slave.  The law covered rape, trade, children of mixed marriages and property & inheritance rights … giving historians a clear insight into the Gortys society.  

1044-1046 – Saturday 14th to Monday 16th April: 

K walked to Red Beach – whilst watching nakedbuttocksbathing – a nuddy beach!   K:  I was chatting to the parents of an ex-student in the cafe, when I suspended my train of thought … pert buttocks do that to one!   The campsite bins overflowing due to some campers being silly?  Solution?  A complete site community project to sort it!!!   We supplied the rubber gloves.  Diane and John admired our twin tub, so K Diane went into full laundrification mode… Meal in Jez – and first swim of the year – sans K9s… 

Matala was a hippy town, but the caves on one side have all been fenced off and people are charged to wander around them.  However, there are still occupied caves around the other side, plus a number camped pretty permanently with us.  One such cave dweller is Jeremy … adopted from the USA, public school educated, agricultural collage, chef trained etc etc … he has an opinion on EVERYTHING, but is well informed.

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Looking down onto Matala.  Many caves in the rock.

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Red beach.

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Matala is nothing but a tourist resort with tat shops and restaurants.  Great beach though. 

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John and Jeremy, who just happened to pass as we were hitting the gin.  He stayed to supper.  No prizes for which is the cave resident.

1047 – Tuesday 17th April: The Bikes Came Out

Running again…  Then for Corrie’s first bike ride – a total success – but we decided not to harness them in the Os-car OscarCorrie buggy as Corrie nearly strangled herself!   Kommos beach walk and lunch nearby – ice cream and more vino in Kalamaki… 

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Kommos:  we parked the bikes and walked the beach with the dogs.  Surprisingly busy given none of the 3 tavernas were open.

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Lunch in Pitsidhia:  Supposed to be a dry day! 

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Fine bone china coffee cups 🙂

 

1048 – Wednesday 18th April: Bike Ride Number 2

Cycle to Ayia Triadha and Festos. Entrances were free saving €18 – worth a good lunch – lamb for moi and chicken for K –  ‘nostimo’ – delicious in Greek.  Rental car booked as Maddy will arrive tomorrow – and I will depart on her Squeezyjetplane…..  Maddy will love Matala – shops, beach, restaurants – and Hippydom…..

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Ayia Triadha:  some of the best finds were vases, now in the Iraklio museum.  Another site where you could wander at will.

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Festos:  Busier and larger than Ayia Triadha.  The original palace was used as a foundation for a later one.  The central court had amazing views.

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