We are ending the week exactly where we started it, still at Camping Finikes. We have talked a few times about moving on but so far that hasn’t happened. The days have passed very quickly considering we have done very little. It is amazing that a few days sunshine has turned our heads away from all the traveling and culture plans and straight towards sitting in the sun and baking to a shade of salmon pink. We make the effort to stroll onto the beach each morning and check out the water temperature (still a tad chilly) and just spend half an hour looking at the amazing views of sand, sea and snow covered Taygetos mountains – then we really do thank our lucky stars that we here.
It is very easy to understand how people spend the whole winter somewhere like this and just amble their days away, we could do it. Entertainment each day consists of watching fellow campers, most of whom are here from November through to April, going about their days. The danger doing this being that most campers here have some great ‘boy toys’ and Iain is thinking we need to invest in some of the gadgets ourselves. The large kayak owned by our German neighbours has been launched a few times (we need one?), Pierre has what we both consider to be one of the best tow-cars we have seen, every time he starts it up Iain has the wistful ‘could I have one of those faces’ (and he has priced one on the internet). To be fair its very hilly here and there are a few electric bikes on site (on our list). We will probably need to be thinking about moving on from this site soon before we consider a 5th Wheel to tow around too as that is catching Iain’s eye daily!
The ultimate tow-car?
Whilst it is out of season her right now there are still plenty of campsites open, just along this stretch of road there are four open within 2 km, but as we have said before there is a distinct lack of motorhomes. Campsite prices vary across the Peloponnese from €11 per night up to €22 but the facilities offered are pretty similar. We have emailed some sites to check if they are open and some come back with great offers, whilst others quote a top dollar rate which is double the price of another site five minutes down the road. Not sure why this site has more people on than any of the others, we have had a wander around them all and there isn’t a difference we can find other than people on a site seem to attract more people.
We haven’t strayed too far this week, we did walk into nearby village of Finikounda, only 2km along the beach, although we did have to cross a river by means on a fallen cork tree at the end of the beach to get there, not the best route but we made it. The village was quiet with a few bars open but as we are finding everywhere the Greek people were very welcoming. We were looking for an ATM to draw out some cash, but someone told us that’s only possible between April and October! Most of the ATM’s are closed down for the winter so we need to go to the next town where there is a bank which will have a working ATM. The Greek people seem to us quite akin to the Italians (bet that is a very un-PC thing to say), they are loud, happy and slightly manic, everything involves big arm waving and gestures; but most of all we have found Greek people to be incredibly friendly and accommodating, nothing is too much trouble.
By this morning we were feeling like a couple of tourist slugs, just sitting around, So the bikes were dusted off and we stretched ourselves with a ride in the opposite direction of the village to Methoni, no cycle path so we took the main road but hardly any traffic so it was fine. The only concern we had was the falling rocks on the road, all the way along the road was strewn with rocks. The council here do not clear them up, so unless a motorist or farmer clears falls away the roads can be a very hazardous. What was worse than rocks for us was the hills! we do fairly flat cycling, this isn’t flat at all and I was coming round to the electric bike idea by the time we got there.
Methoni was worth every single second of effort, the view as we came around the corner to the village was breath taking. The village is set around the bay and the castle, one of the largest in the Mediterranean, spreads out along a rocky promontory. It’s not just one castle, its more like two – the main one set along the sea edge and connected to village by a bridge which crosses a vast moat. Then at the far end there is a causeway onto another fortified building – the Bourtzi, which was a prison and place of executions during the Turkish Occupation. Built in 1500 the causeway is actually paved and is like a small roadway which connects the Bourtzi to the massive sea gate of the castle. Being Greece we were allowed to wander around everywhere, climb the castle steps and walls and generally take our lives into our own hands, there is nothing stopping you falling to a certain death from the tops of the walls except your own common sense and it seems the Greeks use this rather than fences and ropes – we like their style.
Methoni Castle – first views from the National Road
the sea gate
Looking back over the causeway from the fortified prison to the sea gate
the Bourtzi – prison
One of the reasons for cycling in into Methoni was my concern that it might be difficult to park the van. I couldn’t have been more wrong with that worry, we could have parked anywhere we wanted as there were two or three tourist cars and a few cyclists and pretty much enough parking left over for a fleet of motorhomes. We treated ourselves to lunch in Methoni village square, making the basic error of not really looking at where we had chosen to eat – it was an Austrian restaurant! ok not the most authentic Greek lunch but never mind, it was all good and Iain treated himself to his first Metaxa to fortify himself for the cycle (mountain) ride home. As we left the village we spotted a small electrical shop, we have been looking for one for weeks as our kettle is on its last legs. I was prepared in advance with a translation which I gave to Iain, whilst I waited outside with the bikes. I heard Iain dutifully ask for a ‘katsarola’, then a big discussion and much opening of boxes. Turns out that I sent him him in for a ‘fish kettle’, ah well he sorted it our eventually and we are now the proud owners of something that looks like the bridge of the SS Enterprise.
A well earned Metaxa
The other piece of equipment that has now met its demise is my Kindle 😦 This is sad as I have 40’ish new books loaded to read, it becomes even sadder when our kind neighbour passed over 100 new books to add on via a plug in. We have tried all the resets, removal of battery etc – its kaput. I have downloaded a reading app onto my mini lap top so will be testing that out until we find a supplier of Kindles somewhere on our travels. On the upside I was after a Kindle Voyage so that is now on the shopping list, back to downside they are not yet for sale in Greece.
After our first two weeks in Greece our overall impression is – loving it. The concerns of coming this far with a motorhome were always in the back of our minds, our rubbish research meant we were unsure on standard or prices of campsites, what to expect in terms of roads, shops, food, people etc; yes we know it was never going to be Outer Mongolia but it was well outside our usual comfort zone. Without a doubt the whole experience has been made really easy and enjoyable by the Greek people and their kindness to a couple of Brits with no real plans, an incredibly limited Greek vocabulary and no map! We would have to give the roads a half tick but for everything else Greece in a motorhome is so far a fabulous idea, one of those we wish we had thought of earlier :).