Animals, just like people take others into instant aversion. I remember Nicky telling me in my youth that my face clearly declared I did not like the new girlfriend of a friend … it became known as my Nadine face. I’ve learnt to look more impassive since. Oscar has no such sensibilities … he’s extremely growly and snappy at Feck. Feck is still very reactive and grumbly, even at little Stella when she wants to play with him. Poor Feck, don’t think he was ever allowed to play. We had to re-think how we manage the situation after a particular nasty incident where I was about to walk Feck on the lead with the 3 other loose. Oscar attacked F resulting in J having received another warning nip (and small bruise) from Feck. And Feck slipping his collar. Really concerned we would not be able to catch him, I dived into the van to fetch his food bowl with biscuits. Talking and moving calmly, i followed him around for a bit … he sniffed always several paces ahead and I rattled his bowl. Eventually food got his attention and he was captured. Just call me the dog whisperer!
J and I agreed our stress levels were too high and we needed a better routine. So now O and F are tied opposite ends of the van. A dog is held back as the other enters or leaves the van. Not ideal for either, but it works. CO2+S are walked separately to F, and if all out together J follows with F behind so O can ignore him! We did contemplate bolting for the UK to offload poor F, but we calculated it was only 19 days … and we could manage. We brought 2 large dogs back in April last year, whilst a handful, worked. We have said 4 dogs never again. Oscar is too unpredictable with whom he will accept. Oh, I’ve just heard that I’ve 2 dogs to bring back when I fetch the Greek car at the beginning of August! It’ll be fine, she says hopefully… I won’t have Oscar with me!
A Mini Mainland Holiday
02/07/22: Departing Crete
Having collected Hercules / Feck and our very expensive fully comprehensive insurance from our broker ( €1891 with discount, and excess of €1650, and only 3rd party for the U.K.), we finished cleaning the house and loaded the car. Good friends are arriving with 3 boys to use the house on 17th so I even managed to work out how to pull out the sofa bed without getting frustrated and therefore asking James to step in! Friends of friends are using the house in September and when empty, the fabulous Spiros, our cut-it-all-back-hard gardener, checks on the house and the water metre. This latter is important … water is fed along overground black pipes along side roads etc to properties. At least it is for agricultural water. Traffic and age means the pipes spring leaks. Our landlady had a leak racking up a several hundred euro bill one summer. We’ve already had a small leak, which was, of course €70 to fix. Again proof of my trades standard price theory, Spiros messaged … he’s upgraded and reset the irrigation system …. €70!!!
At the airport parking we swapped and unloaded into Jez, leaving the Suzuki for Ian, Mel and 3 boys. We paid for the parking up to when I collect the car on 28th July from 7th February. Thrown in 3 car washes at €10 each, the total bill was under €200! Bloody marvellous, really. CCTV, gated and 24 hr surveillance and it met our insurers terms.
We sailed from Heraklion at 2100hrs just over 2 hours drive away. Not our choice given Chania port is on our doorstep. But our choice to have an overnight crossing with a cabin on this date. Didn’t have time to eat on the way or to pick up cabin fodder, so we took it in terms to stay with the dogs or go and eat. J didn’t stray far from the cabin and had pizza in the bar. I wandered further and found myself in the waiter service restaurant… no surprises there then! I was tempted, but given J’s lack of exciting meal, I compromised with the self service restaurant!
With carrying a bag containing wine (we had managed to organise that!) and hanging onto 4 dogs, we couldn’t manage dog beds. Approaching a flight of stairs and an escalator, we had to do th manual climb, but a member of staff took the heavy bag from me, placing it moving escalator and another chap at the top lifted it back onto my shoulder. Clever! I shall remember that. It was also good to shower after a busy sweaty day!
I didn’t get much sleep as COS bunked up with me and they’re narrow bunks! I finally got around to doing some planning for our 9 days on the mainland.
03/07/22: We’ve Been Here Before
6.30 a.m. disembarkation. It feels early. It is early. I did have to pull over for a 20 minute nanny nap after a while. Our destination was UNESCO Osios Loukas monastery. It had a full page spread in one guide book so I was surprised we had not visited it. However, we had!. It was one of those ‘we’ve been here before’ moments. I’d just not marked it off in the book. But we’ll worth the €4 to spend nearly a couple of hours wandering around. Rather than stay in the car park, we drove for 15 mins to a chapel. It had trees (shade) and a few benches, if rather hard. Perfect with the dogs as I could let 3 off the lead and walk in various directions. A much needed easy afternoon.
Just look at the quality of the road on the mainland … where are the potholes and Oleander growing over?
Osios Loukas monastery. When we were here in Feb 2020 when the almond blossom was out.
COS walking with Mount Parnassos in the distance.
Our afternoon and night stay.
04/07/22: Not Leaves, but Wild Fires De-rail Planning
We both exercised under the shade. Well, I stopped when I was completely fed up with the wind wrapping my Pilates mat around me!
Our plan was to explore parts of the mainland new. We set off up towards Thermopylae. But our best laid plan was thwarted by a wild fire. J said there is smoke. No a cloud surely? You just don’t recognise clouds as we’ve not seen one for ages. But as we past a couple of farmers on tractors with large water containers, who were diverted off the road along a shortcut, and the cloud looked blacker, I conceded to J. Needless to say our route was blocked and we were now heading South towards Itea. We’d stayed here for a couple of nights in early 2020 just before setting off for Turkey, so didn’t really fancy it. A busy large car park with 4 barking dogs, err no thank you.
We found a lovely peaceful spot past Itea on the water’s edge. We watched the sea planes come in low, lower and touch down on the water, to collect a belly full to douse the fire. I’d expected big suspended sacks of water.
Another easy afternoon, although not what planned. I started the blog post on my MacBook. Low battery warning. No problem, I’ll plug in my new charging cable …. No, it won’t work with my 3amp EU to 3 pin plug adaptor. One dead MacBook! Grr.
Stella and Oscar came for a swim …
Yep, definitely looks like smoke from here.
Tractor with water diverted directly to fire.
Smoke in the distance all afternoon and the next morning.
05/07/22: Left at Lefkada
The sea planes were back at it by breakfast so we surmised the road would still be blocked. Forget Thermopylae … we will follow the main road along the south and the up the west coast Lefkada … an island joined by a causeway. Motorhoming friends regularly stay there out of season, so we thought we’d take a gander. The guide book implied the west coast was quieter, so wither we headed. Yes quieter … due to the roads … narrow and bendy. Had to reverse a few times to let SBR, RO, BG, NO and A cars past. We didn’t like the look of the busy parking spots I had identified … all far too touristy and not great for 4xK9. Let’s just get off the island! We stopped and looked at the map. Unless we went back exactly the was we had come (err, no thank you), we had to carry on heading S to pick up the main road (and we knew it would be a better road as it is orange on the map!) to return north to the causeway. It had been a long driving day for all of us and was going to be another couple of hours! About half way back up, we were coming down a mountain and and spotted a sports field adjacent to the water at Vlycho … they usually have parking and it did.
3 of the dogs played in the stagnant, smelly and brown water by us, so I had to walk them along the road to a fresh water area and chuck them in one by one! I was rather smelly and wet too by this point. J decided that after all my driving, I should not have to cook. We were also feeling rather frazzled as Oscar has made it clear he WILL NOT accept Feck. The grumbling and growling continues and twice now, O has had F by the scruff of the neck and shook him. We are rather shocked by this behaviour in our boy! Despite us repeatedly telling him that it is only for 3 weeks, O is not reading the Memo.
The local taverna owner was shut as he was getting ready for a big name day celebration tomorrow. Busy laying out tables and chairs for an anticipated influx of 2000 people. It would be an all night party. And the following night! We love a good party, but not when you don’t know anyone and you’ve 4 waring dogs, so we decided to move on the next day. Helpfully, the taverna owner suggested the yacht club. It was small and staffed by two lasses from Cork working their summer Uni vacation. Most customers were faded yachty types. But it was a typical English pub menu and actually a welcome change from Greek cuisine, much as we love it. My chicken fajitas (no wrap or rice) were so yummy, I walked back with a very full tummy.
We’ve seen a lot more campers and Motorhomes on the mainland than Crete, as you would expect given the ferry crossing €€€s. But even more on Lefkada. None of them wave back … is it us? But a Hungarian pulled in next to us late. I warned them that we had 4xK9 thinking that would be a good deterrent. But no, they repositioned their motorhome even closer! WHY??? We didn’t see them in the morning when Oscar enthusiastically barked his morning chorus!
Some of the bigger boats … met some of the crew in the yacht club last night.
At dinner, Stella assisted oscar by removing fur burrs from his tail.
Driving off Lefkada, we agreed it is pretty but not for us in the silly season. We drove up past Arte not stopping for the Roman Walls etc … seen on a previous visit and headed up to a beach in the middle of a lagoon area near Koronisia. We have been here before, but it was so stinky sweltering hot, we just needed to be able to lie in the water, even if it were the temperature of tepid bath water. A popular spot with a German and two French vans, all with awnings and chairs out. Knowing our awning is ‘difficult’ to retract, we took the moral NO CAMPING stance and just got chairs out!
So another lazy afternoon where we alternately dozed and swam. Feck even came in for a paddle and let me pour water over him. What we had not anticipated was the scale of the mossie invasion … we have a system … bedroom sprayed and door closed. As we go to bed, we spray the living area and shut the connecting door. Than when J gets up in the night, as he does, he leaves the door open. We’d also not anticipated the humidity. We reckon it as up at over 80%. Fortunately the 12v fan over the bed doesn’t draw down the leisure batteries unduly, as it was on all night.
Heading north to the Pindos Mountains, uncharted territory for us, we stopped of at Ioannina. This had been our first ever stop in Greece in our motorhome Dec 2017. This time we parked south of the city and walked along the lake, past the castle. A peaceful coffee lakeside and then wandered the old town. We were stopped a number of times with people cooing over 4xK9. Well, specifically over CO2 and Stella, who are tied as a trio to my waist. J is behind with Feck, who pulls randomly in every direction, so actually I think I’ve the easier job with 3 of them.
We commented that Ioannina would be a fab place to base yourself for exploring the area or, indeed, just a weekend break. One lady who stopped to pet COS, said she loved living here … lovely city and easy to get to mountains and coast.
Leaving Ioannina we drove the other side of the lake, where we’ve stayed before and found a large cleaning with views of the city through the trees. And most importantly, some shade! Sadly previous folk stopping here had left a carpet of wet wipes, toilet paper, water bottles, fag packets and the odd condom. Nice. So with our disposable gloves that we use for dying my hair, we filled a black sack. The other downside of this parking was the flies. So another spray of one section of the van and then the other.
Ali Pasha’s castle in ioannina.
Ioannina old town.