Friday 8th May Chorefto 39.45474 23.12080.
This is where we are today, next to the beach and 25 yards from a taverna with free WiFi. It doesn't get much better than this.
We arrived here yesterday after driving over Mt Pelion having stayed the previous night at Nea Anchialos in the car park next to the harbour. 39.27646 22.82099. We stayed there last year on a Saturday night and shared the car park with two wedding parties holding their receptions in the hotel next door which was great fun. This year we had the car park to ourselves and the only entertainment was supplied by the local dogs. We have never been anywhere with the number of stray and semi-stray dogs as there are in Greece. I have no doubt that other countries may have more but Greece is tops for us. The dogs aren't vicious or aggressive, in fact they are mostly quite nervous, but friendly enough once you pet them and introduce yourselves. The entertainment comes from their car chasing antics. The dogs will lie or trot along by the side of the road (sometimes in the middle of the road) and numerous cars and motorbikes will pass by and the dogs will take no notice. Then suddenly a vehicle will go past and whether it's the colour or the engine pitch or whatever but something causes the dog to chase the vehicle, barking and snapping at the tyres. We've never seen a dog hit by a vehicle yet although we do see plenty of dogs that have been run over by the side of the roads; I suspect it's not the "chasers" that get run over but those dogs that haven't yet learnt any road skills. Anyway, it's good fun watching the dogs chase the vehicle for 25 yards or so and then trot back and lie down again.
I think in my last post I mentioned that we were going to visit Thrace for a week or so while Zampetas got a part to carry out the repair on our leaking shower however they have made a temporary repair and we'll have a full repair carried out on our way home around the middle of June. So, on Wednesday morning we set off in a southerly direction and as we felt we had "lost" a couple of days, despite the fact that we don't have a schedule to keep, we used the toll roads to make up for lost time. The charges on Greek motorways are a mystery to me. We would seem to travel quite long distances for just a few euros and then a short section of motorway would cost €10, very odd. In total we paid just over €30 for 150 or so miles. We have now set the Sat Navs back to "avoid tolls".
Yesterday we were up bright and early to visit the city of Volos which, as I'm sure you all know, is where Jason and his fifty mates set off from aboard the Argo to find the Golden Fleece. Our hero returned some time later with the Fleece after a few adventures but unfortunately lost a few pals during his search. We were told that parking in Volos would be a nightmare but we were a bit sneaky and parked in the passenger ferry terminal probably in the same place that Jason parked his chariot all those years ago. We didn't get clamped or towed away and I'm guessing he didn't either. One of the reasons I wanted to visit Volos was because it has a Brick and Tileworks Museum (which made a change from an archeological museum) so our first stop was the tourist information office to ask where the Museum was and to enquire what else we might look out for in Volos. We followed the signs to the information office which had a sign on the door saying they had moved with directions to their new premises. Not very good directions and after wandering about for twenty minutes or so in circles a guy shouted out "It's over there!" and pointed in the general direction. How he knew what we were looking for is still a mystery but his directions were most helpful.
Many years ago I worked for a company that manufactured clay products near Burton-on-Trent so I was eager to visit a clay Tileworks in Greece. The nice young couple in the info office were pleased to see us, gave us lots of leaflets, a map and directions to the Tileworks. Unfortunately the young girl had problems differentiating between left and right so a bit more time wasted but eventually we found it. Although Phil wasn't as keen as me to visit the Museum she perked up when the guy on the gate told us admission was free to us as pensioners and apart from a group of six or seven year old school kids we had the place to ourselves for a couple of hours. The brickworks was founded by the Tsalapatas brothers in the mid 1920's and operated for some fifty years. At its peak it employed over 250 people, it's three coal boilers had an output of 300hp and between 8-9 million assorted pieces were produced annually. Of course you all know how the Hoffman kiln revolutionised clay product firing from the middle of the nineteenth century and the one in Volos was preserved in its original condition. What was remarkable about the museum was not just the way the place had been preserved but the conversion into a cultural centre,complete with conference rooms,demonstrating the role of the factory within the industrial traditions of the area. Even Phil was impressed by the end of our visit.
After the museum we visited the Greek Orthodox Cathedral which had one of the largest chandaliers I've ever seen.
Volos was a busy, vibrant city and well worth a visit. We didn't stay too long as we were a bit worried about the van's location and early afternoon we set off to cross Mt Pelion, home to the Centaurs. We didn't see any, they must have been hibernating or resting or maybe busy somewhere deflowering virgins which, apparently, is their forte. We climbed the western side of the mountain through a series of hairpins passing a few villages but with nowhere to park and up to about 1200 metres. The road was good and the journey was pleasant and afforded some great views back down to Volos.
Unfortunately the descent down the eastern side was a little more dramatic, the road is much narrower with plenty of potholes, subsidence and an unexpected amount of traffic. But we squeezed down and were relieved when we arrived here and rewarded ourselves with a cold Mythos and received a warm welcome from the Taverna staff.