Wednesday 10th June. Mezzapos 36.54221 22.39084.
Everybody thinks they have the prettiest wife at home, as Arsene said a few years ago as a rebuke to Sir Alex. Well, I guess most Motorhomers would say the same if folk starting suggesting they had the best, or better van. I'm sure there are bigger and better vans out there but we're really happy with what we've got. We've had a few problems (who hasn't?) but, touch wood, she's really done us proud so far. Especially today when we've driven around the Mani peninsular and got to places where folk with longer and higher vehicles would struggle. Tonight we are at the tiniest of fishing ports at Mezzapos, arriving at the small car park above the harbour after squeezing through the narrow, winding roads and avoiding the overhanging balconies. But it was worth it. We came here last year but only stopped a couple of hours and the disappointment on the face of the taverna owner when we drove off stuck with us. This afternoon, as we drove past, he gave us a cheery wave. We parked up and gingerly walked down the steep hill to the tiny natural harbour where the sea colour changes from blue to green with the light and you can see the tiniest of fish clearly through the clean water. The local dog of indeterminate pedigree adopted us, the fishermen mending their nets smiled and waved at us and the travelling shop/van sold me a bag of stale, sweet biscuits which I didn't really want for three euros. The dog has a sweet tooth and is now our best friend.
Back to the taverna for a bite to eat and I ordered an Ouzo, they must be hard around these parts as it came neat. I asked for some ice and water, I got the ice but no water. No menu, "I have fresh fish, Greek salad, bread and wine"said the owner. The fish, which we couldn't identify, was delicious. Everything was fresh and tasty for about £18 for the two of us and the view from the terrace overlooking the beach as the sun set was magnificent.
After leaving Kotronas this morning we saw a sign leading to a fortified settlement at Flomohori so diverted to have a look around. There were a few scattered towers, mostly in a state of disrepair but the welcome from the elderly lady in the taverna when we stopped for coffee was outstanding. She pulled tables and chairs into the shade for us, shook our hands and gave us the best cracked toothed smile we've had for ages. The old guys at the next table were tucking into pickled fish, feta, tomatoes and bread with bottles of Tsipouro. It was 11am.
We carried on down the road to the tip of the peninsular past Porto Kagio but the promised ruins (oracle, cave, burial site) were a 4km hike. The car park was adorned with "no camping" signs and the folk in the taverna weren't particularly welcoming so we pushed on again to where we are now.
Some pics we took on today's journey.
The tiny harbour at Mezzapos
The harbour at sunset
Thursday 11th June. Diros Cave 36.64076 22.38299
We are parked up this evening on the beach opposite the Diros Cave. And we have company! Tony and Cheryl, who we got to know through the wildcamping forum have been in Greece for a few weeks now and we have been emailing each hoping we could arrange to meet up. Yesterday they were just a few miles behind us and just an hour or so after we parked up today they arrived out of the blue. It's good to meet folk from home and we spent a few hours today swapping tales and suggesting places to visit.
Before their arrival we had visited the Diros Caves which are believed to extend some 14km inland from the entrance on the beach. Public access is limited to about 1.2km comprising of a 30 minute boat ride, with a guide and a 300m walk. The boat ride through the winding caverns which suddenly open into huge cathedral like caves with stalactites and stalagmites is amazing, the water remains at a constant temperature of 12deg C, is crystal clear, generally shallow although in some parts is 30m deep. The caves were occupied in Neolithic times but abandoned after an earthquake in 4 BC. They weren't rediscovered until 1895 and systematic exploration began in 1949. Considering these natural formations grow at a rate of 1cm every thousand years (I think) it's awe inspiring.
They take H&S seriously before they let you on the boat in the caves.
We had hoped to explore more of the Mani over the next week or so but unfortunately the temporary repair to our leaking shower tray has failed so we now have to go back to Thessalonika in order that the Zampetas brothers can effect a permanent repair. We'll set off tomorrow and get there by the middle of next week which was not really part of our plans. Ideally the temporary fix would have lasted and we would have called in a few days before we left Greece on the ferry. But there's not much else we can do under the circumstances so we'll just spend more time exploring northern Greece. The Mani will still be here for us next year.
Friday 12th June. Blue Dolphin Campsite 37.93560 22.86585
One day, probably in about 10,000 years, the beach here near ancient Corinth will be all sand but for now it's just that bit too pebbly for my delicate feet so I have to abandon the idea of a refreshing dip in the sea. I could shuffle in on my backside but there are other folk here and I would look a right numpty. Then again, I'll never see them again so maybe that's an option?
We drove here today on the first leg of our return trip to Thessalonika. We are both a bit sad that we couldn't have continued our tour of the Mani and the Pelleponese but that's the way the cookie crumbles and it's no good worrying about it. Motorhoming teaches you patience and a "no worry, no problem" outlook. It's not like we have to be anywhere in particular over the next two and a half weeks and northern Greece has a lot to offer.
The campsite here only has a half dozen caravans and motorhomes on site at the moment and I feel sad for the family that own the place. There are the elderly grandma and grandad who look after reception, their son and his wife who look after the kitchen and they employ a cook and an elderly guy who tidies up and carries out other non-specific duties. I doubt they are breaking even with so few visitors and I hope things pick up for them later in the summer. They say they have plenty of Greek folk here during July and August but they rarely patronise the restaurant and even walk up to town to collect their daily bread to save 10cents. This is the third time we've stopped here on this trip and each time we leave we all shake hands and I say "see you next year". It's becoming a standard joke now discussing how quickly a year passes!