30 May – 6 June
We enjoyed Gythion Bay campsite very much. The weather was mixed, always sunny in the morning but sometimes clouding over and becoming windy around lunchtime. When the sun was out the wind was welcome but on rare cloudy evenings the temperature dropped enough to drive us back to jeans and sweatshirts. We divided our time between the beach, the lovely pool and the town as well as getting in some serious reading.
In the evenings we watched the final series of Game of Thrones – the end of an era – and Kate is now eagerly awaiting the final 2 books.
We found that the small shop/petrol station opposite the campsite had about 4 small tables on the small area between the building and the road, frequented by the local men. One day we had a couple of beers with them – the owner in his 60’s who works 8am until 10pm in the shop would get up occasionally to put petrol in cars from his one roadside pump or to serve in the shop, and the other 2 who spoke English were a German who had lived there for 32 years doing tractor work and a local Greek who had worked in New York for 18 years then come home to look after his father. The Greek had lost his licence for drink drive so had to walk everywhere, but still came to this bar every day for his beers.
We were just under 4 miles from the town of Gythio which was developed as the port for ancient Sparta and now a really nice and unspoilt small harbour town with fishing boats and ferries to Crete. The hill in between the campsite and the port was steep enough to make us feel we had worked out a bit when we cycled in.
In Gythio we found a coffee shop on the square for early morning frappe where we could sit with the Greeks and watch the world go by. We visited Danny’s favourite kind of shop – a hardware store – to pick up some bits to repair one of our lockers, and visited the optician to get a repair to Kate’s glasses which hadn’t appreciated being sat on. Danny got a much-needed haircut and Kate took advantage and had a free fringe clip so help her to see.
Every morning we woke to the sound of the sea gently meeting the shore and bees humming loudly as they fed on the nectar of the eucalyptus in flower above the van. Which was beautiful but meant that the day before we left, Kate had to get up on the roof and clean the solar panel and roof windows which were misted over with pollen!
The last evening we went into Gythio where we had booked a seafront table at the “best restaurant in Gythio” – according to Trip Advisor and more importantly, the site receptionist. We shared tender octopus and followed with Sea Bream & red mullet with delicious home-cooked chips of the type you only seem to get in Greece. While we ate we had a ringside table to watch a group of local young men – mid-20’s – gathering by the sea wall fishing to chat, fish with lines and drink white wine.
But we will always remember Gythio for another reason. It was the place we got a call from home to tell us that our friend – and Danny’s mentor – had died all-too-young in his sleep. A terrible shock to us, a tragedy to his family. A loss that is deeply felt.