Life at Camp Koroni remains very quiet, we still have the whole place to ourselves. Not sure what would keep the motorhomers at Finikes as opposed to here other than the beach being closer. In exchange for the beach the town is two minutes walk and its a much more lively, lived in affair than the Finikounda. The facilities in camp are very good, it’s all clean and the showers have hot water, for us that is good facilities. The showers are almost al fresco, a stable door with gaps at top and bottom and they open out directly onto the site (ensures plenty of fresh air whilst you shower), there is plenty of plant life vying for space at the top of the cubicle due to the lack of a ceiling which adds to the breeze :). The family who run the site are very accommodating, we did a full wash in the machine here and whilst it was a big machine I was a bit horrified when Pappous Campsite owner told me the cost was €45 for a wash!!! Even worse when he said it I just smiled and nodded, I kind of hope he meant €4.50, fingers crossed.
Koroni town has continued to hold our interest, there has been something new to find each day. Added to which we are enjoying being more in a village and therefore having some daily contact with Greek people. Whilst we enjoyed the contact with the other moho owners at Finikounda, we also felt a bit removed from village life due to the location of the site there. Here we see people all day on the roads, in town and the owners family wandering around the site. Pretty much every person we pass waves, smiles and says some form of greeting, we respond as best we can and hope we use the right words in the right instances.
Town square where it all happens
We must be doing something right, we waved and said our ‘kalimera’ to a lovely old chap we saw driving a cross between a moped and a trailer with a sewing machine engine attached (we think it’s maybe a Candia or a Mebea). He not only stopped, he motioned us to get in. I took the front seat and Iain climbed into the back, it was only as I sat down I realised this contraption was held together with spit and goodwill. Our driver didn’t ask where we were going, he just set off and we were on a mini tour around the streets. Not a word passed between us whilst he drove us around, he just seemed pleased to be able to do something for us. It was without doubt one of the best experiences and money didn’t buy it. Afterwards the thought came that we would never consider jumping in a car with someone we didn’t know if it were an everyday car or van, but get something a bit wacky and yup we can overlook a bit of common sense 🙂
Our new friend with the amazing cross bred vehicle
Front seat for me…
Iain had to climb in the back
Sunday morning there was a small market, very small by the time we got there as it was just closing. The local handmade pottery lady saw me coming, I was totally talked into a very cute little coffee cup for €1, I could have bought everything she owned except we don’t have enough space and I don’t have enough money to waste of souveneirs. We bought some fruit and vegetables from one stall, whilst everything was various € per kilo the guy just put it all in one bag and weighed it and came up with €1.50, no idea if we did well out of it but we paid up anyway. Pricing seems hit and miss, some things so cheap its unbelievable, and at the opposite end of the scale some stuff is really expensive – in both cases of course comparing to home. The general standard of living here seems good, house prices are very cheap (I read today on average 30% cheaper than at home). There must be a good size expat community out here, lots of German registrations on cars and the local supermarket sells German newspapers and also had several copies of the Daily Mail and Heinz baked beans – a sure signs of Brits in the area!
As the weather has become sunnier then the locals have been more out in force promenading up and down the main street and stopping for a few glasses of ouzo or wine and a plate of meze in the winter sun. What is with the worry beads? nearly every man we see has a set being twisted or swung around in one hand whilst the other hand grasps a cigarette or a coffee. There must be something in it or surely there wouldn’t be so many of them about. My theory is they have nothing to worry about anyway other than where there next coffee and cigarette are coming from. A less stressed group of people it must be harder to find: traffic delay – no worries, they all just chat; sheep in the road – oh well lets all just chat, a customer waiting – will just pop over for a chat with someone else first. If it is the worry beads than bring about this calmness we should be issuing them on the National Health at home.
On the olive front, we have taken matters into our own hands, literally. We went olive scrumping and picked a couple of kilos and are now doing a ‘brew your own’ experiment. We found some trees just off the site where the olives hadn’t been picked, they have now. We have started the soaking stage which will take 3-4 weeks, followed by a brining stage of 6-8 weeks, then a flavouring stage of 1-2 weeks. So it looks like we will have our own Baxter Koroni olives ready around the time we hit Estonia. Something to look forward to if it’s as bleak there are people are telling us.
We hadn’t so far visited the main beach area for the town which is on the other side of the headland, so we set out with rucksacks for a hike to walk the coast and see what the fuss was about. Called Zaga beach, it is a pretty ok beach, I wouldn’t say you would rave over it but that might be because we walked along it in a storm force wind and had our faces sand blasted? A few beach bars and plenty of sun loungers stored for the summer season so it must be a popular place in high summer. The whole beach bar left in winter undisturbed thing is something else we have noticed. They are all closed for the winter, by closed there is some thick polythene wrapped around the ‘window’ gaps and the doors are locked. Looking in windows we see all the bottles of alcohol on the shelves, the decorations, furniture, fittings etc. yet these bars are left as they are, no damage, no graffiti, nothing stolen – fairly remarkable in today’s society anywhere in the world,
Zaga beach – Koroni Monastery and the Taygetos mountains in the background
Back out on our walk to Zaga Beach we noticed a tree lined lane, which took us down to the stone built temple of Panagia Eleistria, which was built to celebrate the discovery of three statuettes, the Christ Crucified, the Virgin Mary holding the Holy Infant and another one that it is attributed to the Luke, the Evangelist, back in 1897. The temple was open to walk around, the priest was sat outside having a smoke and a flick of his beads. To the side of the church is a tomb and a small chapel built into the rock, we were unsure exactly who the tomb belongs to, but it may be the place the icons were found. From what we gathered a woman called Maria Statjaki saw visions for 15 years telling her there were icons in the rocks, she told the villagers but they didn’t believe her, Then a child, Magdalini, led the villagers to icons, after no one had believed poor old Maria for all those years. However she is buried right outside the door of the chapel so we guess they felt bad about it afterwards. As we have found in most places in Greece, there is very little in the way of information as to what you are seeing. Even when we Google it afterwards there is a lot of conflicting information. It really is amazing that there is so little tourist information of any kind here. There are so many things to see and so little information about any of it even existing let along telling you what it is. Even good old Wikipedia is letting me down and I am having to cobble together information from many conflicting Greek websites.
inside the temple
The crypt where the icons were found in the rock face
Our last major discovery here has been that they have Processionary Caterpillars, we spotted a couple of the hairy nests in the trees near to the temple. We first came across these in Spain where we were warned they are very harmful to humans but even more so to dogs as it can lead to their tongues swelling. The nests look very like a harmless candyfloss in the trees, we haven’t yet seen any of the dangerous little blighter’s on the ground but will be keeping our eyes peeled as they start their processions.
We have decided to move on tomorrow, there is that little bit of usual worry that this place is so good the next one cannot live up to it. We were aiming to go up into the mountains and visit Sparta and Mystras monastery but due to the weather forecast not being great we have decided to postpone that trip and do it in a few weeks. Instead we are heading for Kalamata, a big stock up of shopping in Lidl and maybe a stop outside the military airbase for some plane spotting, yes we know how to live it up. The next peninsular is where the sea turtle protection takes place on many of the beaches, think we may be too early for actual turtles but we are hoping something interesting about it all may be open. On the weather front, its been scorchio today, we have the same forecast for tomorrow, then rain for several days, this will be our first spell of bad weather since we left at the beginning of November, let’s get it over with – we have our waterproofs ready 🙂 My Dream car!!