1377-1381: Munchkin’s Visit

1377: Munchkin Arrives and Christmas Begins

Wednesday 11th December 2019

We coffee’d with Brian and kept in touch with Maddy … she had 1hr and 10 mins from when her plane was due to land at Athens to catch her flight to Chania; bear in mind the gate shut 30 mins before the flight departure.  And her incoming fight was a bit late.  But she made it!  Lots of benefits of hand luggage only and a small airport.

We drove in convoy to Kissamos and parked along the beach.  Maddy and I had a short beach walk with CO2 and then she and J napped … she had been awake since 3.30 am!  Supper in a family beach side restaurant … yummy pork with celery and greens.  

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Beach front pitch.  The puddle grew with lots of heavy rain.

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Kissamos Bay is 3 sides of a square.

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Maddy (reluctantly) brought medicines, green card, keys, phone case, hooks etc no room for toiletries and few clothes …

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… so she worked her way through my tops and jumpers.

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But she did bring us matching festive pyjamas … 🙂

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And for the third (out of four) Christmases that weve been away, she and I put up the decorations.

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1378: Polyrrhenia

Thursday 12th December 

We bought coffees from the shack next door to us … Greek coffee or Nescafe?  And headed off in the AndyPandyCar into the hills to Polyrrhina.  The road stops and you walk up through the ‘new’ village to the site of the old.  Great views, but Lin (who is my All Things Crete Guru) told me had we gone all the way to the top, we would have seen both N and S coasts.  However, my fellows were not keen (point blank refusal on the part of one!) to climb further.  

Back at Jez, Maddy worked on a Uni assignment … her approach started with a message to one of the other students … what are we supposed to cover????  Why investigate yourself, if you can get someone to tell you!?
A wander around the centre of Kissamos and supper on the main square.  
Cave dwellings from the Roman era in the newer village.
Another cave Church.

You can just make out the walls of the fortress to the left of the church .. such a long way (!!!) so this is where we stopped.
But still fabulous views.

1379: Falassarna and Balos Beaches

Friday 13th December 

Coffee and pastry in town and then we set off for Falassarna Beach, billed as one of the most impressive beaches in Crete.  Lunch and then Maddy and J nanny napped whilst I took the AndyPandyCar up to Balos with CO2.
An 8km each way, mostly 1st gear drive up to the Balos Beach carpark.  Most of it was firm, but the recent rains had brought down some scree and there were divots from the water run offs, so a little hairy in places.  But worth every slow full concentration kilometre.  I was very conscious that the last long dirt track we’d driven in the car had resulted in a shredded tyre and I didn’t have James with me to do the change over!  The views down to the beaches were just stunning … and the rain held off!
By late afternoon, the winds started and we sure felt them as we were right in the middle of a large flat car park!  We moved after supper to shelter behind one of the restaurants.
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Looking down to Falassarna Beach.
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1380: Sideways Hail and Sand and Kalyves

Saturday 14th December 

A very slow start … one member of our party … and it wasn’t James or I, had stayed up till 0330hrs tracking the election results.  Before we set off I took CO2 for a longer beach walk.  Coming back, the wind got really up and then the hail started.  The wind driving the hail and sand into Oscar and I.  He started off red and white and became a lighter ginger all over from the sand, as he plodded stoically by my side.  Corrie, meanwhile, had bolted back to the van.  I must teach her how to knock at the door … she was still sat patiently waiting for admittance when we finally caught up with her.  Thank goodness for doggy dry bags … the sand fell off the dogs into these as against the floor.  And kept them warm as they dried.  If in doubt about the efficiency of these bags, their heads were still sodden when released 30 minutes later, but their bodies dry.
Back at Kalyves, Maddy completed her assignment and ate at Eleanore’s in Drapanos with Brian … this has to be our favourite place near here.  Yummy starters followed by chicken in raki and feta .. delicious and far too large portions, so doggy bags for all (but no sand in these bags and certainly not to be fed to CO2!).  We watched the Strictly final … my fav was crowned champion.

1381: Airport Run and Sunday Lunch

Sunday 25th December

Coffee and then I ran Maddy to Chania airport.  I was in trouble as she could have caught later flight, which would have reduced her wait at Athens from 5 to 3 hours … but I’d not checked that any airline other than Agean did this route!  And now her flight is running late … she must be loosing the will to live!

Back at Kalyves, Brian kindly treated us to lunch at Icarus restaurant.  Full bellies again!  And and easy evening.


1222-1229: Oh For Air Con!

1222-1223:  An Our Next Visitor Arrives!

Wednesday 10th – Thursday 11th July 2019 

We are getting to know Olbia airport rather well, and the nearby Auchan supermarket.  We’ve collected and returned the Aged P’s and a hire car.  Today, it was collecting my daughter, Maddy Munchkin. We slid by the supermarket to stop up on things she likes to eat … but no ice cream given the freezer is struggling and my recent unpleasant experience, necessitating not moving far from the facilities!

Knowing Maddy would not be acclimatised (and we are still not), I’d booked a campsite on the east coast with a pool and adjacent to a beach.  We did manage to walk to the local hamlet of Santa Lucia for a coffee, and then that evening, for a fish supper.  Sadly dinner was the worst meal we have had in Sardinia … poor service, badly filleted fish, watery sauce, chewy calamari and poor service … and this was supposedly the best in town!  None had good reviews on TripAdvisor, which I do only use as a loose guide, but the website is good to be able to pass on our own experience / get revenge!!!

Maddy and I basked and swam by turns, mostly leaving J with the dogs, his book and some peace and quiet.

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The trip across Sardinia to the airport … hay harvested and hills.

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In search of caffeine … and the beach.

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Santa Lucia really was not much more than a few restaurants and a tower, but every coastal Sardinian town has one of those.

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We’d bought hand held fans … this is the hands free version.

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 how much wine should we drink before they take our food order? 

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My over cooked fish being mascerated; never before have I been served it with full skin, bones and a few fins for good measure!

1224-1225:  Air Con Calling

 Friday 12th – Saturday 13th July

We drove south, coffee stop at Orosei, which had nothing to remark on, despite its entry in the guide book!  But we accomplished coffee, and ATM and pharmacy for moszzie cream and after sun lotion.  The main reason for driving south was to travel the scenic Orientale Sarda road – hewn out by Piedmontese coal merchants in the mid 1800s.  Obviously it has been much improved since then, but both my passengers did not enjoy the scenery … the twists and turns had them both groaning despite my low speeds. 

Our two night stay was a beachside parking at a Camper Stop in Santa Maria Navarrese, with full facilities for only EUR18 per night.  Despite being in the lap of luxury (!), the heat and the road bends had got to Maddy … she booked air con!  Well a nearby hotel room with air con for the next two nights.  She appeared later that night and the next morning as fresh as a daisy!  

Similar formula to the last stop, beach and swimming, whilst J read with CO2.  We all had an amazing pizza … thinnest base ever … at the restaurant next door and J had a big Gaelic Football win for Dublin.  Up the Dubs!

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Orsei church … just to prove we were there.



The Gorroppu Ravine … one of the deepest in S Europe, in places the side are 200m.  You could walk down 5km and get a lift back up, but my poorly passengers weren’t up for it.

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The beach was this close.

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And we had shade :).

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Shared seafood salad … is that bit octopus, cuttlefish etc?  Who cares, tasted good.

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Know what this is!


Should have brought the fan with you … the thin crisp of bread kept snapping.

 1226:  Airport Run

 Sunday 14th July

We dropped Maddy back at Olbia airport, via another stop at the Auchan shopping mall.  4 nights but over so quickly … but will see her in only a few weeks.  J and I drove onto the North Coast (Porto Pozzi – a harbour and small beach) with the intension of hunkering down due to the heat.  But it was a cooler evening and the forecast for the next few days was a mere 29/30C.  A decision made to resume Sightseeing … yay!

1227:  Back to Sightseeing – Alghero

Monday 15th July

We parked up about a 15 min walk along the front form the historic centre.  We both really like Alghero … enough buildings of interest and nooky streets.  It was busy, but we forced down ice creams.

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Looking along to one of the many towers and the Bastione.

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The building that looks like a London theatre is the cathedral.

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The main piazza.

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Local coral everywhere.  With so much of it on sale, one would think the prices would be low!  Try EUR70 for ear rings!

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Our sunset view.


1228:  Ancient Site Sightseeing & Stintino

 Tuesday 16th July

To max the sightseeing, we drove to Fertilia, another Fascist created town on reclaimed land, not to stop but to see the Roman bridge that is now only used by fishermen.  Then onto the Necropolis Anghelu Ruju.  I went in … J is a bit ancient sited out and it is a rest opportunity.  It is the largest pre-nuraghic burial place in Sardinia.  The tombs are called Domus de Janus … Fairy Houses, which they could well be as they have steps, door lintels and carvings.  Only discovered in1903 and some damaged by quarrying, but a magic place, where the dead were revered from 3300BC.

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Construction was a main entrance and chambers off, although the actual layout varied.  Several people were usually buried in each chamber.

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A column in this chamber.

From here we drove onto Stintino, which is up the NW finger.  A bit unattractive as you drive past petrochemical industries and solar and wind farms, and the coast has more recently been discovered by hotel chains.  Stintino itself was only established about 100 years ago – built between two natural harbours for people moved off an island that was to house a prison.  An attractive place for a drink and an ice cream … or a boat ride to the prison island.

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Odd bits of modern sculpture about.

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Melon and pistacchio.

Our overnight was a further 7km up to the Capo Falcone … a moonscape over cliffs.



We were joined overnight by two small campers, but they kept their distance.



Quite a few came for the sunset, but left soon after.


A group of hippies with their instruments, not a broomstick poking up, they left in a Fait.

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And the moon rose 180 degrees behind us.

1229:  Porto Torres

 Wednesday 17th July

Back across the top of Sardinia in the direction of our ferry tomorrow.  A coffee and wander stop at Porto Torres  Now Porto Torres is a major port with boats to Marseilles and Toulon.  It had the standard tower and a beautiful church, but little else.  It was once a Roman colony, but the extensive site was closed …. a number of French bods off a cruise ship were trying to find their way in.  

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San Gavino Basilica – Pisan style from 1111.

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The Crypt with a lower crypt to 3 martyrs.  Early Christian burial sites C4th have also been excavated here.

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The Roman bridge … what’s left of it and not worth walking to.

Our overnight is close to our ferry from Santa Teresa at Baia Santa Reparata … a lovely rocky coastal path, but a TUI flag on the small beach … say no more.

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We leave Sardinia tomorrow and back to Corsica for 4 nights.  Our initial thoughts of Sardinia have not altered.  Not as stunning as Corsica, with less wild flowers … Oleanders line most roads.   We do like the Italians and their relaxed attitude. Cheaper than Corsica and eating out (other than one experience) has been good quality and leisurely.  We like the wine, especially the Vermentino … flavoursome.  Of course gelato!  Great beaches and ancient sites from 3000BC.  Wild camping is fine all year around, although less places by beaches in the high season.  We’ve only used campsites this trip due to the temperature.  Sassari and Alghero are definitely worth an explore, as are some fo the smaller towns.  But would we come back?  Probably not, I think we’ve seen the best of it … despite the heat…

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Our Ladies in Havana

Maddy will soon be 21, so her birthday gift was a trip to Cuba for a week.  Actually it is the Christmas and birthday presents for the next 10 years.  3 nights in a room with an en suite in old town Havana and 4 nights in an all incl. resort.

No apologies, we were total tourists.

I have warned James that I spotted 3 hired motorhomes …. one day when we are dog free.


The Capitol, copied from the States, of all places!  We timed it wrong to go inside, but apparently it houses one of the worlds largest indoor statues.


We estimated that every 6th car in the city was an old American 1050’s.  A lot of Lada too from the post revolution close ties with the USSR.


It is true … you are told to walk down the centre to avoid balconies falling on your head.


Colour everywhere.  Most bars had live bands.


I jumped halfway to Jamaica when this chap moved.


More local colour.


Cars waiting for the visitors off the cruise massive ship, which was moored up for the whole of our stay.


Our 1950’s 2.5 hour car ride.  We’d booked seats, but as no-one else had booked, we had the driver and guide to ourselves.  The young female guide and Maddy bonded … she really liked M’s eyebrow makeup!  She told us that in Cuba you could only get the State branded makeup, which was rubbish, so you needed a friend to bring other brands in for you.  She had wanted to share a house with 3 other female friends whilst at Uni.  3 of the mothers forbade it, as the community would gossip and assume they were all gay!



Revolution Square where major events still take place.  Our guide said that here really was NOT the place to criticise the government, as you wouldn’t be seen again.


John Lennon in Lennon Park, not that the Beetles ever went to Cuba.


Such a strong Dacquiri, the Mama had to help out!


Open top tour bus; we both suffered sun burn despite, the sun lotion (unused) in my bag!


A huge, and I mean vast, cemetery.


View from the top of the Hotel d’Ingles, where we couldn’t get the blinking waiter to serve us, so we went elsewhere.  The super posh hotel on the left exchanged some money later on and they were super pleasant and efficient.



At the Cuban Rum Museum, they had a model of a sugar planation.  The guide explained how rum was a by product of sugar, but most of the raw mush is now brought in, as the sugar plantations have mostly gone.


The older run is matured in whisky barrels, so neither M nor I liked it.  Later on I won a half bottle of 10 year old, but it is still at Maddy’s!  And she doesn’t even like it!


At Hemmingway’s fav Daiquiri bar El Floridita.  You can just spot the big man himself behind the 2 bods, who would not move!


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I managed to run a few times along the sea front, dodging the water crashing over.

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And dodging the drops straight into the sea underneath where man holes were missing.  Most of the infrastructure was needing attention.

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I told you to wear comfy shoes, and now we’ve had to swap.

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Strawberry Daiquiri, just to ring the changes.  We did manage a fair few Mohoitos too.

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 Our balcony view from our hotel in Varadero.  Included in our stay was one night in the a la carte waiter served restaurant.  They had really made an effort, by covering the chairs with fabric and bows and giving us a welcome glass of fizz … think sparkling apple juice … Oh that would be cider then.  But the food was not good.  Italian night, Maddy had mushroom risotto as the starter … long grain rice with cheese sprinkled on top and few tinned mushrooms!  A number of people left their food and headed back to the buffet with its massive choice.

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.

965-975: Athens Antics

965 – Wednesday 24th January:  A Long Drive

First longish drive for ages…….should recharge the leisure batteries – given the lack of constant sunshine…..From Glythio to Marathonas beach wilding – €39 in m’way tolls but it was a good idea to shorten the journey. 
A lovely remote overnight parking on the beach near closed restaurants that may open at weekends……  About 2km of sand and sea.
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  Snow en route and snow ploughs were out along the m’way through the centre of the Peloponnese.   

967 – Thursday 25th January:  Marathonas

Into Marathonas town and – we passed the Marathon museum!  I had to visit (K and O stayed in Jez). Huge empathy from my 4 marathons (long time ago – last in 1988).  The photo is Dorado Pietri (Italian) finishing the 1908  London Olympic Marathon. He fell several times within sight of the finishing line and was helped across by stewards – promptly disqualified!  For his bravery, Queen Alexandra presented him with a special cup – he’s now world famous as the runner who did not properly complete the course!  
We headed to Nea Kifisia campsite NE of Athens – better for me to stay while K is in Blighty to see Maddy…only 2 days.  Not much to do except walk Oscar, visit the local mini market – and read……and chill.
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Dorando Pietri.

968 – Friday 26th January:  K Brighton Bound

I drove K to the Athens airport in the afternoon – and navigated back to campsite successfully – with my co pilot Oscar!
K Here:
Being 2 hours ahead, I landed at 10.15 p.m. UK time, but it was midnight for my body clock.   We went to Maddy’s flat in Brighton via a super supermarket … I bought mostly herbs and spices that I can’t easily find over here.  And Saturday’s supper request was that I cook a roast chicken!  By the time we chatted and had a glass … my body was in free fall.
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Met at Gatwick 🙂  A wonderful welcome by my Munchkin.
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Got to pick up my birthday and Christmas pressie … love ‘em.

969 – Saturday 27th January:  Brighton Day

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Maddy drove me along the coast to her workplace.  Steel comes in by boat, off loaded by use of magnets.  Into the sheds for drilling and cutting and out on the left onto trucks.
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We went on the Pier … the Shove TwoPenny is sooooo additive.  Had a giggle on the House of Horrors.  This is Maddy’s new date!

We had lunch in Brighton and then shopped till we dropped … trousers for Maddy, new waterproof for me and deodorant for J (he has a special one!).  Chicken back at Maddy’s and movie night.  Hagen Daas and chocolate, of course!

970 – Sunday 28th January:  Breakfast and Back to Greece

Up in time to dive into the centre for breakfast.  Banana milk shake was followed by pancakes for someone. I had a green smoothie … aren’t I sanctimonious!  I’d bought M a super cheap slow cooker (all of £10 with a 2 year warranty … how do they do that!?, so we headed to the supermarket to fill Maddy’s fridge with food for the week and for the slow cooker.  We were cutting it just OK for my flight, but then hit a motorway closure … oops… I arrived at the airport with only an hour to spare.  Not only was I scanned, but my ruck sack was pulled for inspection.  I had electric cables and plugs for the motorhome, as well as all those food items.  I’m trying to keep cool and not tell the chap hurry up, as he pulled out cornflower and icing sugar … fortunately for me, he was off on his break in 3 mins so he did not even use his drug/explosive dust swab.  A fast walk through the airport and I made the gate, just with time to buy a bottle of water and a coffee.
At Athens airport I picked up a hire car, which we had booked as we had anticipated our Friend Alison coming to see us tomorrow.  Sadly she has had to postpone her trip to us as she is awaiting a heart procedure.  
Being with Maddy was very emotional … whilst we talk and text a lot, it is not the same as a good hug and hanging out with her.  I will see her next in May.
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971- Monday 29th January:  Checking Out Sleep Spots 

Laundry day – well part of… we drove our hire car (an Astra diesel and nice to drive) to Porto Rafina to check out wild parking spots – met some lovely Transcendental Meditation ladies from Athens and USA.  Nice seaside lunch and then to Porto Rafti for more wildspeccing – including for K when I go to Nice to see my daughter in March and for moi whilst K is in UK in May – well travelled us?  a lot of flights booked!  Then – to Glifda and Pireas for researching our proposed trip to Crete!  Did we mention this?  A few people, especially on a forum that K is is on, have raved about it, various motorhome bloggers have said it is the best place to motorhome … and K bought the guide book whilst in Brighton … looks like we’re going then! 
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Mezze lunch in Rafina.

972- Tuesday 30th January:  Athens Walking Tour

Car driving in central Athens is – “interesting”…… nobody bothers about lanes or speed restrictions – and the motorbikes/scooters come from all sides!!!  But, as we have driven our previous motorhome in central Palermo in the rush hour – Athens by car is a doddle… We even managed to find free on road parking each day we drove in.  As we’d given ourselves lots of time I ingested an omelette special in a restaurant next to where we parked the car.  The owner gave us his business card so we could find our way back … kind.  Actually K spicks a Save on our location in maps.me so we can route our way back, but it would have been ungracious to explain that.  
Our guided walking tour – with Michael (Masters degree in Classics) was a lovely 2 hours – with excellent local information and anecdotes.  If any local politician or leader took too much power – he was ‘ostracised’ – hence the origin of the word. Only the true born Athenians (6,000) could vote – the other 40,000 were lesser citizens!  If that applied in UK, not many people would have the franchise!  When we later met Carol and Mike their tour was over 3 hours and so much more informative … ho hum.  
The photos below tell the story… 
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Tower of the Winds in the Roman Forum 2BC.  Combined weather vane and water clock.  The external friezes depict the 8 winds.

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Byzantine Church 1000AD

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The area where the Greek nobility attended to vote.  6000 men were entitled to vote and at one point were enticed with silver to attend.  Votes were taken on every and any issue daily.

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Herodes Theatre AD161, restored in 1955 and used for concerts.

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We couldn’t eat it all … Tzatziki, Moussaka, baked Feta with peppers, salad and wine … set price EUR25 for two.  And the sun shone.

973- Wednesday 31st January:  Acropolis

Our motorhome convoy moved to a wild S of Athens.  Soupful lunch in Jez – and off to Athens again – I walked around the Acropolis Museum and then the actual site itself.  Very impressive – but we have been truly spoiled by the Greco-Roman remains in Sicily and Italy…   Then – a K-phone app guided walking tour to see more local sites.
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Views from Areopagus, where youths hang out with a beer at night.  
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There is the Acropolis, a couple of other hills and a massive urban sprawl … thankfully very few high rises.
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Acropolis Museum:  Alexander the Great.

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James came out of the museum and caught me red handed … oreo and milk chocolate flavour.  Yummy.  Note the new Maddy boots.

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View up to the Acropolis.  Only the Temple of Athena Nike 426bc has been restored fully so far.
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Propylaia – the enormous entrance.

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The Parthenon was covered in scaffolding and plastic sheets when I visited it 30+ years ago … got to see a bit more this time.  They have only just replaced the crane inside that had been in service all this time.

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J mastering a selfie 🙂

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Hadrian’s Arch AD131 – positioned to deliberately mark the boundary between the ancient Greek city and the new Athens of Hadrian.  Two inscriptions read “This is the ancient city of Theseus” and on the other side, “This is the city of Hadrian, not of Theseus”, just in case Athenians were not sure!

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The Temple of Olympian Zeus. Was the largest in Greece.  It started in 6BC, but not completed for 650 years .. a bit like the slow Acropolis rebuilding programme!

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Panathaenic (Olympic) Stadium in the site of the original stadium  330BC.  It was reconstructed for  gladiatorial contests in Hadrian’s time, then in AD144.  In 1896 it had a major reconstruction in time for the first modern Olympic Games.  It seats 60,000.  In 2004 it was used for Archery and the end of the Marathon.

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The Royal Palace was completed in 1842, destroyed by fire in 1909 and used as the Parliament building since 1935 … very plain compared to the English Houses of Parliament, about to undergo it’s own £40b (+) renovation.  I tried to stand next to the elite guard for my pic … he stamped his gun on the ground and an ordinary army officer came and told me to move off the step.  Carol was told on her walking tour that they only stamp their guns if they are threatened … was he concerned about me or Oscar?  The tomb of the unknown soldier is behind me.

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And without me.
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Byron being crowned by Greece.  Carol and Mike were told Byron was having his hair combed!
 974- Thursday 1st January:  Agora and Meeting Up

Athens Camping was our next stop – to hook up again with Carol and Mike (we met them at Ionian Camping at Christmas). Athens centre again – so far we’ve managed free on street parking – lucky…  K walked around the Agora – and then later we walked through the old town – narrow market streets and very touristy.  We had a date with Mike and Carol for an early supper – walked it off back to our Astra and back up the A8 to the campsite.  
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Walk through the park and stumbled on Socrates Prison.  The holes in the wall were where wooden building were attached to the rock.  During WW2, the caves were cemented up concealing museum artefacts.

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The Agora … the Greek Forum equivalent, where all the business took place.  This is the Stoa … shops now a timeline museum.

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Pan … just amazing quality.

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A Kleroteria – an allotment machine to see who was to be called for jury duty.  People inserted their bronze name tags into the slots, into the top were poured black or white balls.  By means of a crank handle the balls were released selecting an entire row for jury service.
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Ostracism – intende to protect the city from aspirants to despotic power.  Voters scribbled ‘candidates’ names on pottery shards and these were then counted.  The ‘winner’ was then ostracised from the city for 10 years.

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Ancient Athens Weights and Measures.  Financial transactions were supervised by the Agora (Greek Council).  These are official vessels for dry goods.

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Lead tokens for issuing pieces of armour.  The images are representations for helmets, breastplate, shields etc.  Middle 3BC.

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These vessels have a hole in the top to measure the water and one at the bottom … when the water has emptied, the orator has to stop speaking.  I think some teachers could have done with this!

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View from the Temple Hephaisteion of the Stoa and the Acropolis.

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Temple Hephaisteion 449BC and the best preserved in all Greece … it’s roof is still intact, but you can’t go in.

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The security at the Temple took this … nice chap.
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Tourist tat in lots of the old streets.

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Late lunch/early supper with Carol and Mike.

975- Friday 2nd February:  Acropolis 2, Benaki Museum and Central Market 

We had planned to high tail out of Athens, but felt we ought to give it another shot.  Oscar is an impediment.  Being 21kgs, he is too heavy to go in a bag (not that he would entertain this), so the Metro is out.  Our only option for visiting the metropolis is to drive in.  Given the traffic and erratic parking, a motorhome is a no go.  So it sort of made sense to do another day whilst we had the car.  There is free camper parking S of the Acropolis, but we worry about being a newish van in a city … we were broken into in Copenhagen.  So … another day it was.
Drove in with C and M – they wandered through the Acropolis – Oscar and I sat and braved the wild dogs.  Note: most of the wild dogs in Greece have been quite friendly … these were NOT.  One attacked our boy.  Bastard.  The nice man in the cafe came out to call the dogs off.  Almost forgave him his prices … €7.00 for a coffee and Twix – extortionate but – tourist prices – I wonder how much it would be in high summer?  
Separately, we went into the Benaki Museum – we’re close to being ‘museumed’ out…..and ‘cityfied’ out…   Choice over Archaeological Museum as would take 3-5 hours each and we’ve had enough of being in a city.  Central Market for meat and veg … stagger back to car with a good load in our back pack and shopping bag.  
Earlier back to the campsite than planned as early start next day … our Bristol based Adria dealer has sadly gone bust (we really liked the people that ran it and worked there, so we are very sad for them), so we booked the only Greek Adria dealer to look at front seat at 10.00 tomorrow.  It ‘complains’ and grinds when we swivel it.  Not sure if it is a warranty issue or not, but since UK Adria dealers will not take on warranty work for another dealer … we may have to pay and labour rates are cheaper here.
K made more haute cuisine soup and prepped a beef stew for the next day.
Evening drinkies at chez M and C – and early abed…..
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Theatre of Herodes.

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From the Acropolis you can see the Olympic Stadium, Hardian’s Arch and Temple of Olympian Zeus.

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And now inside the Benaki Museum … a private collection.
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Marble Cycladic female figures 2300-2200BC.  Inspired later artist such as Van Gogh.

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Bronze folding mirror showing Aphrodite and Eros.  280BC.  Perhaps a bit heavy for a handbag, but amazingly constructed.

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Lord Byron’s portable desk, pistols and portrait.

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The table where King Othon signed the Greek Constitution in 1844.  The actual manuscript and Othon’s pen.

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Part of the university.  Strangely a statue of Gladstone in front.  Wonder if some wag of a student was posing a maths sum?
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The Central Market … great food and great prices … I had to buy some meat from this chap since he’d obligingly posed.  We just had to lug it 1.8km back to the car!