Tuesday 17th May
We arrived at Gefyra this morning and parked up on the harbour (36.68627 23.03942) to await the arrival of our friends Margaret and Mick. Phil took the opportunity to have her hair cut and went to the same hairdresser that she went to a year ago. Then they gave her a kind of Cilla Black haircut and we were dreading a repeat but a different lass made a much better job of it this time and Phil had no complaints. We got a text from Margaret saying they would be delayed so we had lunch at one of the harbour side tavernas while we waited for them. Eventually they arrived after a long, long drive and after a couple of "catch up" beers we left them to enjoy a siesta. In the evening after a walk around the bay we found a restaurant that looked promising as it was full of Greek folk. It developed that they weren't all there for the food but to watch the Greek Cup Final between Olympiakos and AEK (1-2 as you ask). Bizarrely the game was played behind closed doors due to what can best be described as poor behaviour by some fans in the semi finals and there were only 300 invited guests at the stadium which led to an eerie atmosphere during the game. From the silence which greeted the AEK goals it was apparent who most of the guys in the restaurant were supporting. I asked a group of young lads why there were no supporters in the stadium and one of them explained the situation to me, he said that after Olympiakos he supported Liverpool and who did I support. I told him and he commented ruefully on the fact that we had beaten them 0-3 in the Champions League this season. " Things could be worse though" he said "I could be a Spurs supporter". Top lad.
View from our restaurant in Gefyra:
Wednesday 18th May.
We bade Margaret and Mick farewell this morning. They are heading south for the beaches on the island of Elafonisos whilst we were heading north. We had a last walk around Gefyra, bought some bread and set off for Kyparissi. The road hugs the coast for a while before climbing up and offering dramatic views over the Myrtoo sea. A few miles after setting off we saw a great looking spot to stop for coffee and pulled off the road - into sand!! Within seconds the front wheels were axle deep. I emptied the boot and dug out the sand mats I had just for this purpose; dug out behind the wheels, put the mats down selected reverse and - out came the mats and the wheels sunk further. Whilst we were calmly surveying the situation a car drew up and a guy gets out, shakes his head and remarks that we are in trouble. A somewhat unnecessary comment I thought but the guy had a "can do" attitude and was soon gathering large stones to put under the wheels to give some traction. After a bit more digging and a few more stones I selected reverse gear again but the van wouldn't move. More stones, more digging - same result. "You need someone to tow you out" said my new best friend Taz. He phoned the local BP garage but they had no idea, he phoned the police and they reminded him that the hotel a half mile away had a "bulldozer". Taz jumps in his car, drives off and comes back a few minutes later and tells me the guys with the machine can pull me out but they want €20. No problem, so Taz speeds off again to tell them, wishes us the best of luck and gives me a card for his taverna in Geraka. Five minutes later we hear a rumbling and a JCB comes round the corner with a couple of guys on board. I explained I had no towing point on the rear and they said they would tow me out in a big circle from the front but "It's going to be rough!" In fact they had me out in a couple of minutes without any drama. Apparently they do this about a dozen times a year when mugs like me mistake sand for gravel.
The tracks of my tears:
We repacked the van and set off again and after a few miles started seeing hand painted signs on the rocks advertising Taz's taverna "To Remetzo". We followed them and arrived at Geraka Port - the windless harbour, a unique fjord in Greece. As we entered the village it dawned on us that we came here last year but didn't stop as the weather was not too good and there is little to do here. But the scenery is stunning and as we drove along the harbour squeezing between the whitewashed buildings and the taverna's table and chairs we found Taz. We parked up on the end of the harbour, (36.78563 23.08677) walked back to the taverna where we were greeted like old friends by Taz and his few customers as though we were now part of the exclusive "stuck in the sand" club.
Well, of course we couldn't just stop for a beer, we had to have lunch and what delicious food it was. Taz's taverna was apparently featured in one of Rick Stein's programmes a while ago. Phil had fried "little fish" and I had grilled Dorado. Both were fresh and cooked to perfection. There were a group of English folk lunching there together with a Swiss and a Greek guy so the wine and conversation flowed. Three hours later and we were ready for a siesta but not before we had a conversation with a guy from Amble who had just arrived in his sailing yacht. He invited us for a cup of tea but we declined saying we would see him on board later.
Thursday 19th May.
Yesterday at Geraka Port somebody told us that we must visit the beach at Vychlada (36.85862 23.03832) a few miles further up the coast so after breakfast and a tidy up we set off. We had planned to stop at Kyparissi tonight and it was on our way. After the village of Richea we didn't see another soul as we drove up into the mountains looking down into a long twisting gorge before descending via a series of hairpins to the beach. It was stunning scenery all the way:
Our descent to the beach:
This was, by far, the remotest beach we had been to, there's nothing there apart from a beach cafe which is open in the summer. One single track road strewn with rocks on one side and crumbling away on the other takes you down from 400 metres to sea level over about 4 kilometres. Not the kind of place you find by accident and we were glad of the recommendation to seek it out. Back to Richea and we squeezed through the village with inches to spare on either side of the van and then on to a decent bit of Tarmac. We climbed up gradually to over 900 metres and slowed down to let these guys cross the road:
We drove through some stunning scenery again as the olive trees firstly gave way to small vineyards and then cypress and fir trees. Onwards and upwards we drove to 950 metres and then........... no more tarmac! The "road" turned into single track dirt and gravel and swept down quite steeply with another succession of hairpins. We commented that this was just like a road we had driven last year although on that occasion we were travelling uphill. Finally we entered a small village and we realised that we had taken the road last year. Things look different when you travel anti-clockwise! Before we dropped down again to the coast we drove through a site of special scientific interest, although we're not quite sure why because there's a lack of information signs but at the highest point there is a small lay by with a water supply:
We had decided to give Kyparissi a miss and push on to Plaka and Camping Semeli where we have stopped for the last two years (37.14961 22.89208). We were amongst the first visitors when the two cousins here opened the site in 2014 and they remembered us and gave us a warm welcome. It's a beautiful site amongst olive and lime trees and bougainvillea and oleander bushes. Twenty metres from the beach and a five minute walk to a tiny harbour with a few tavernas, it really is idyllic.
Over the last few years we have some great journeys but today's was one of the best. If ever you're in this part of the world we can highly recommend the back roads from Geraka Port to Plaka.