We were very happy with the site at Iria Beach. Whilst the area was a little run down and lacking in love with everything closed for the winter, the site itself was busy with 20 or so units and it was reasonably warm – once the snow melted both mornings. Our decision to move on was pretty much hastened by those creepy little caterpillar critters. Iain went and asked the owner what we should do with the first one, ‘not much really as they don’t bother anyone but you can kill it if you want’ was the response! Next day there was another one but on the next but one pitch. Our Austrian neighbour obviously feels a relationship with Arnie, he was out with a gas canister, a flame thrower and then torched the whole thing until it was just dust, that’s one that wont be bothering anyone again.
The cotton wool ball like nests are pretty much everywhere right now so I guess its hard for the sites to deal with. After a third one was torched we decided we didn’t feel comfortable and we were a bit concerned at the advice that they ‘aren’t a problem’ when we know from reading up on them in Spain just how dangerous they can be. We packed up and within an hour were back to Triton II campsite, on arrival we did a double-check and the only nests were outside the site so we booked on for a couple of nights.
Friday morning view from the beach
On both Thursday and Friday mornings we woke to a white world, it may have only been a dusting but all the same it had snowed at sea level (the campsite owner told us it was the first snow since he had been there in 16 years). By mid morning the sun was warm enough to melt any signs of winter but the wind had an arctic feel to it. In the sun it was glorious, enough for a couple of days of sunbathing and we both have a good red glow now. Everywhere we go the main topic of conversation between motorhomers is the snow, our Norwegian neighbours were out doing mountain passes yesterday, they say it’s just like being at home for them – long drive though from Norway to Greece to feel like you are still at home! The campsite went from nearly empty to pretty much full in a few hours, it’s a Greek bank holiday called ‘Clean Monday’. We were a little worried when our next door neighbour strung up an outside light in the trees, luckily for us they do not party as hard, long or loud as the Italians and Spanish.
Saturday we decided it was time to go into Nafplio, we had resisted so far purely out of a mixture of laziness or being on our way somewhere else as we passed through. The sun was shinning so we dusted down the bikes and took a gentle cycle into town. The roads were quiet and easy to cycle on, plenty wide enough for a car and a bike and just 10 miles later we arrived in town. Wow, where did all these people appear from? It was so busy we had to push our bikes along the road into the centre as there wasn’t room to cycle. We later discovered everyone was there for the annual kite festival, we saw quite a few kites that looked a bit home made on the roadsides for sale but not a one in the air, maybe it was the wrong type of breeze?
Nafplio is a lovely town, very trendy and cool, the sort of place you need the right handbag and sunglasses and then you can just see and be seen. People were busy doing nothing much except wandering along the promenades or sitting in the pavement cafes. The town itself is fairly posh and very lovely but the harbour area outdid it for us, it was incredibly beautiful. From there you can see the three castles that Nafplio can boast to owning. There is one on top of the hill on the edge of the old town, another mid way down just above town but the true star has to be the one plonked out in the harbour. Similar to the one we saw at Methoni that was some sort of jail it is quite simply a breath taking scene.
Nafplio was once the capital of Greece, it was pronounced as such by the first Greek Head of State following independence in 1829, for his trouble he was assassinated on the church steps in Nafplio just 18 months later by some very ungrateful independent Greeks. By 1834 the new king had decided Athens was going to be the capitals so Nafplio settled down to becoming a rather swish and stylish holiday resort that took off in the late 1960’s, predominantly for the Athenians who kept that coveted capital title.
From the harbour towards Palamidi castle
We cycled to the end of the harbour where there was a footpath around the cliff, the sign saying “no pedestrians” had been moved and anyway we were cyclists so we carried on. As we rounded the corner the path stretched out to the next bay, another postcard view. As we are in Greece there were fairly steep drops straight into the sea off the path, the Greeks are tough and don’t do handrails or really any type of safety. After a brief and confusing conversation with a Greek lady we understood we had to turn back as we couldn’t follow the path as far as we need to go.
A beautiful path to cycle – but the drops were scary
We crossed over to the other side of town and followed the road out of town looking for a good picnic spot, not the best route as the road doesn’t touch the coast and was fairly busy. As we dodged the cars we saw the Wanderlings chugging towards us, we waved – they didn’t. We gave up on the picnic spot and turned back to town which if anything it was busier, so it was time to head back towards Drepano. As we cycled along we saw the Wanderlings again, we waved – they drove off! Not wanting to labour a point but a couple of miles later we spotted a certain Dethleffs coming out of Carrefour – as we said ‘oh look who it is’ they were gone, again.
The monastery of Metamorfosis Sotiros has intrigued since we were here last week, its so high on the hill you can only just see it. Out of our league in terms of climbing up there but I did try and research something about it on the internet, a little disappointed that the first thing I found was a web site where I could make an online donation! Looks like the Greek monasteries have well and truly embraced the powers of money making on the internet.
The monastery is the tiny blip at the top of the rock next to a tree
Back at campsite after 21 miles we sunk down for a rest and noticed a calling card on our door. Yay! Roland and Claire were on the same site, an afternoon in the sun discussing the merits of various tourist attractions, campsites, feral dogs and snow. They assured us they hadn’t seen us on any of the occasions when they had passed us during the day. Well Claire said she saw a bloke in a yellow jacket on a bike waving at her but she couldn’t think why he kept waving so she ignored him, fair enough :). We left them this morning heading for the carnival in Tolo but we are fairly confident we will run into them again over the next few weeks, hope so as it’s always lovely to see them.
At long last we have made the move and off, well nearly off, the Peloponnese. We took the main road directly North, a very quiet run up with some glorious views over to the mountains. We are stopped at the Camperstop Aphrodite just a few miles before the Corinth Canal. As we approached we passed the entrance to Ancient Corinth, we had said no more ruins for a few weeks but it looks fairly interesting so will head back there in the morning before having a look at the famous canal.
This is our kind of Camperstop, it does what it says on the tin, there is everything you could need for €10 (well we hope it is because we forgot to confirm the price). The owner is a wonderful gentleman who explained everything in a mixture of Greek, French and English with the biggest smile you could wish for. By the time we had parked up and plugged in he was back with a tray containing complimentary bowls of currants soaked in honey and a couple of glasses of water. The site is a work in progress but then so is a lot of Greece!
Our plan now is to get a real plan and stick to it a bit more, so we will be here a couple of days then head onto mainland Greece. The new / real plan is now bypassing Athens (too busy), probably seeing Delphi (it’s been highly recommended) then out to Volos (another break on the beach). A quick stop at Meteor (top of our must see list) and then we will then be driving East and stopping just before Turkey (Iain has vetoed Turkey) and crossing the border into Bulgaria, from where its North all the way to Finland. This is all subject to no better plans coming up in the meantime but we are pretty confident its the way to go.