On the dental front the news is both good and ongoing, three appointments down and another one to go on Monday morning. The dentist is the lady of many hats, she doesn’t have a receptionist or a hygienist or even someone to just sweep around. She does the lot all on her own, which we assume is why its taking four appointments as doing the whole thing in one go would be difficult with popping out to answer the door or phone when she is mid filling. Iain says its like stepping back in time and visiting a dentist 40 years ago – all a bit 1970’s and not too modern but still well able for a bit of teeth pulling. We do think that she is fairly free and easy with the anesthetic, it’s at least four or five hours before it wears off after each visit, by the time he can eat again it’s nearly time to go back.
The big question of cost has been resolved, €200 all in, we think that is an absolute bargain as the last time I had a root canal done at home it was over £400. Our insurance will pay for €50 (after the excess) so it could have all been a whole lot worse. Before we came away we actually did hum and hah as to what the contingency fund should be and whether we would need one at all. After new windscreen wiper motor, a Kindle and a fairly heft dental bill it was a good call to have one and seems madness we considered not keeping the money separate and including it in the weekly spends. It seems relatively fair now that as I spent a good chunk of it on an electronic book and Iain has now spent a similar amount on keeping his teeth, that’s us even.
As our movements had been curtailed for the latter part of the week due to above it was lucky for us then the weather had been pretty well tip top on Thursday and Friday. The only way to describe it was it was like being in Greece! No, like you expect Greece to be all blue skies, slightly foaming seas and a bit of a mountain haze. Up to now we have seen a fair bit of rain but with good blue skies in between. For the latter part of this week it was actually warm too and we have been sitting outside for a few hours in the afternoons. There were still some cloudy patches but overall things have been on the up. Then we read a certain blog that said there is a forecast of snow this coming week in the Peloponnese! We did not sign up for snow in Greece, we came for sunshine so someone in charge of the weather needs to be taking a look at themselves and sorting it out as soon as.
Surely this isn’t a prelude to snow?
Gythio has become very familiar to us over the last couple of weeks, we have our regular shops and even our own parking spots on the edge of the promenade which is very handy for town. Our favourite bakers is a charming little shop where said baker employs his mother at front of house. I am sure she is just as charming as her son but she evidently hides it so much better. A request for bread is met with a look that says – can you not see I am busy talking, when I have the cheek to ask for a cake too she slides into meltdown. Yesterday I offered a €5 and you would have thought it was a €500 – she waved it around shouting what I assume was to the effect who the hell has any change. Two customers emptied their pockets and began counting out coins, slight mayhem but worth it for the entertainment value.
There isn’t what you would call a great selection of shops in town, hardware shops are plentiful, as we have found everywhere in Greece. Clothing shops are at either end of the spectrum, there is a large ‘fashion house’ that sells clothes no one under the age of 120 would be seen dead in. Then there is a very modern and expensive chic little boutique a couple of doors away alongside a very nice shoe shop, that’s the end of any retail clothing therapy. And no matter what the shop and how expensive or cheap, and pretty much every cafe or bar there is someone in every one smoking a cigarette. They say its stereotyping to say all Greek men smoke, its not – they do and pretty much everywhere you go.
Saturday afternoon was a bit overcast so we headed back over to Dirou to see the caves we had missed earlier in the week. It was a choice of the long route around the Mani, a couple of hours, or the shorter new road over the mountains – less than 30 minutes. We took the mountain route, despite it being the newer and main road we hardly saw any traffic. The views over the Taygetos mountains are spectacular and make the journey worth it for those alone. Over the last week or so we are beginning to see the wild spring flowers carpeting the countryside. Whilst it is only February the wet weather means it is growing season for wild plants and flowers, the red anemones that are spreading over the mountains are truly a gorgeous sight.
Back ar Dirou and there are over 14 km of caves that have been charted over the last 50 years, usually a Venetian canal boat takes you on a 30 minute trip through the cave system and then you walk the final 10-15 minutes. It is even open all winter and the trips run throughout, well they usually do. For some reason the day we visited the boat wasn’t running but the lovely lady at the kiosk told us we could still go in and pay just €5 instead of €15. As this sounded a bargain we agreed, paid and were waved off around the cliff to enter at the normal exit. From there it was every one for themselves, no guides, no real idea of how far to go and no one giving out the hard hats and life jackets all neatly stored on the wall.
For me they were caves with stalagmites and stalactites and some fairly low level lighting, pretty much what you see at most caves type places. We walked about a kilometre and then it started to become very wet underfoot, there was nothing to say turnaround other than if you didn’t you were going to walk through six or seven inches depth of water, so we gave up and walked back. For us, worth €5 yes, not sure what you would see on the boat that would make it threes times better?
We cannot speak for the whole of Greece but the Peloponnese really is an amazing destination for motorhomes. For those that want to wild camp there are plenty of places tucked away and it seems at this time of year no one really minds, although it is illegal to wild camp we find that popping into a nearby cafe, buying a couple of coffees and asking if its okay is always met with a smile and a nod. Likewise people are happy to give access to their internet for the price of a cuppa. We have found a few places where local business have put signs up pointing motorhomes towards car-parks, to be fair that seems to be because some have parked outside hotels and restaurants and you can see that would annoy you if you had paid for a beautiful sea view to have it blocked by a great big white tin can. I guess that Greece is far enough way from Northern Europe that it is never going to be as accessible as Spain or Portugal so will never experience the mass migration of the winter grey nomads seeking out some sunshine, to that end the Greeks can afford to let people stop overnight here and there and know its not going to have a snowball effect.
This afternoon we were joined on site by the wonderful Roland and Claire (aka The Wanderlings), who are currently taking a longer break than us and travelling Europe without an end date. We follow their blog and usually try and avoid their routes as they tend to attract atrocious weather (totally honest – they parked opposite us and within an hour there was hail!!).
A really lovely afternoon / evening spent discussing campsites, top spots to visit, motorhomes and all the other stuff that would probably be totally boring for non motorhomers. It’s a very strange sensation to meet people who you have never met before but you know so much about them, and they so much about you. Thank you both, it was really good to finally meet up, and its been an absolute joy to get to know you both a little. We look forward to catching up again somewhere later in the year, obviously if you are still dragging poor weather around we may have to re-think but hopefully the sun will be with you by then :).
the very lovely Roland and Claire – they really do run in the rain all over Europe!