24 June – 1 July 2019
We had seven days at Ionion Beach, a really good site with spacious shaded pitches, a wonderful 25m pool and really good sanitaire as well as decent wi-fi (for Greece). On the down-side the beach has a lot of sharp rocks – Danny cut his toes to shreds the first day – so beach-shoes were a must plus the mini-market doesn’t sell meat, there is nowhere around to buy it and the restaurant was, surprisingly, just about adequate. But it was lovely.
The day we arrived was the hottest so far, 38C without a trace of a breeze and we dreaded the coming week given the continuing heatwave forecast for Europe, but a combination of lower temperatures (30-34C), a good breeze, and the abiity to dip into the pool at will to cool down made it bearable. And when it was too hot by the pool or in the shade by the van, the beach bar always had the best of any breeze and an inexhaustible supply of ice-cold Mythos. It’s so predictably English to chase the sun then complain about it being too hot!!
We bumped into an English couple there on their second stay here this year, just back from Kalamata airport – he had his wallet & passport stolen in Athens and they had to fly home for a day for new documents before heading off to Bulgaria and Romania with their caravan – respect! Generally though we were surrounded by Germans with a sprinkling of eastern Europeans, although an Isle of Man van passed through one night (you notice these things when travelling). We actually find it rather disconcerting to hear English-speaking people around us, we are so used to not talking to people!
Our biggest excitement of the week was when a cicada decided to land on Danny’s iPhone – we flicked it away and within seconds it had been taken out by a sparrow which spent 5 minutes demolishing it in front of us.
And surprisingly (for us) we loved watching the toddler pool, where a succession of little people of various nationalities kept us entertained for hours and showed just how well international relations could go without adults in the room!
Being settled for a week gave us time for on-going discussions with our insurers, and to get the site to get someone to come and look at our fridge which had gone on strike, maintaining an average temperature of 16C and refusing point-blank to make ice. The Greeks appear to have their own version Spanish ‘mañana’ as the guy didn’t turn up until Thursday, disappeared without a word, told reception he would return Saturday, failed to then said he would come on Tuesday – when we would be in Italy! Mañana. And just to finish the trip off in style, the fridge door broke the night before we left. Deep joy.
On the 1st July we completed our Greek Odyssey, returning to Patras for the ferry to Bari in Puglia, Italy. Boarding was interesting, reversing us into a tight spot then hemming us in tightly with lorries – sardines would have struggled to get closer – we could barely open the door far enough to get out. We sat on the deck, watched the sunset as we sailed away, past Zakynthos and Kefallonia into the dark of night in the Ionion Sea and reflected on out Greek Odyssey.
Our thoughts? Lovely in the spring, unexpectedly green with beautiful wildflowers alive with bees and butterflies. So much more varied than we imagined with large areas still wild and unspoiled. A land of pick-up trucks and tractors, of vines and olives, pine-trees and oaks, beehives and goats, small fishing boats, sleepy villages, seasonal produce.
Interesting roads with signs that made us glad Danny learned the Greek alphabet, no traffic, great views and a parade of shrines. Drivers who completely failed to live up to their reputation for road rage, being surprisingly considerate and forgiving of motorhomers. Criss-crossing the skeleton of the railway system, overgrown with wildflowers where it has been abandoned to austerity.
The insanity of Athens, the beauty of spectacular Delphi, overgrown Acrocorinth and wild Mani, and the grandeur of the theatre at Epidaurus. History on display.
Making Greek salads with huge tasty tomatoes and salty Feta, and eating huge pork chops and octopus tentacles straight from the grill.
Excellent campsites with friendly staff, and learning that we can survive without wi-fi and satellite TV. Heat that makes talking a chore and cooling aquamarine seas. We have only just left and look forward to returning – but never, ever, ever in full summer.