The start to 2018 has been a good one. We tootled around the coast from Náfplio to Tolo on New Year’s Day in bright sunshine finding a great little spot to park up for the night where we were able to pick up some free wifi from the closed campsite nearby.
Tolo town is set within a beautiful sheltered bay overlooking the islands of Koronisi, Romvi and Platia. The sun was shining on all the fishing boats and the water in the bay was like a millpond.
I think it is the first place we have been to in Greece where the sand is fine and golden and even though there isn’t much of a beach, as the town is built practically on the water, it is a pleasant walk around the bay. The town itself behind the seafront though isn’t anything to write home about and was mostly closed up for the winter bar a few tavernas and a bakery.
We felt very fortunate to be walking along the beach in the sunshine from our parking spot on 2nd January instead of joining others returning to work after the Christmas holiday period.
The roads on this peninsular are slow but generally not single track and with little traffic which keeps my stress levels down even though I’m not the one driving. A beautiful drive inland was the shortest way over to an overnight spot at Salanti. Up and up it went twisting and turning with sheer drop offs to one side to reach a peak at the tiny village of Kanapitsa before winding down and around back to where the oxygen was thicker.
Fortunately it was exceedingly quiet with us passing only two pick up trucks on the whole sixteen or so kilometre stretch before we reached a major road again. I wished I’d been on the bike as the views were spectacular.
Salanti proved to be an excellent stopover and we stayed a couple of nights. If it wasn’t for the huge abandoned hotel behind the beach it would be the perfect get away from it all location.
We had a nose around the hotel which is now derelict but must have been quite some investment to build.
The swimming pool was of Olympic sized proportions, now home to rubble and plastic chairs, whilst the hotel had about nine floors.
It’s sad to see that such an investment has now gone to seed and I’m sure the local people are none too pleased with it.
I suppose demolishing it costs money and then what would be done with all that rubble?
We walked around the coast to take a look at Franchthi Cave which was occupied from the Paleolithic period through to Neolithic times. It was used by the same family from the neighbouring village of Fourni in the 20th Century to house their flocks of sheep and goats from October to May.
Feeling like I needed some proper exercise I took the bike out on the road to the west of Salanti climbing up for views across the bay to Kilada then down the other side to several fisheries. A few lorries slowly negotiate the tortuous single track road from Salanti to the fisheries and I watched as a lorry and trailer gingerly drove over the many potholes lining the road.
It’s a one way in, one way out road so they have to do it all over again on the way back.
The following morning after moving around the coast to Porto Heli our water pump decided to die. Tim hasn’t had the tools out for quite a while so this gave him the opportunity to have a tinker about and diagnose the problem. After much rootling about in and under the van with me keeping out of it sitting on the sidelines the diagnosis is that the water pump is no more and we need a new one. Until we can get a new one we have no running water and we can’t use the boiler for heating. Meh, meh and double meh. So, it’s back to boiling the kettle for hot water. We had plenty of practice last year when the boiler died so it’s not the end of the world and fortunately it’s been really mild at night so I can’t say we are suffering.
We found a marine service centre in Ermioni who ordered us a new water pump which would take a few days to arrive. As we were going to be in Ermioni for a couple of days I thought it was about time I braved another haircut. After four months without one I was starting to look a bit like a yeti. Whilst sitting in the chair a priest burst in holding a cross and a basil branch. He flailed the basil branch around the room blessing all four corners before leaving. It was the eve before epiphany and the priest was out and about blessing homes and businesses all around the village. That was a first for me and an interesting experience. It seemed to work too as I was very pleased with how the haircut turned out. Maybe I should have asked him to bless the water pump too!
The following day we watched as hundreds of people gathered around the harbour facing two decorated boats on which a dozen or so young men were singing their hearts out.
Then followed a procession of priests, VIP’s and children for the big sanctification of epiphany.
After the ceremony of much speaking and chanting the priest threw a golden cross into the water to bless it (the water not the cross). The young men on the boats then dived into the water in a race to retrieve the cross.
The lucky winner is said to be blessed with good luck for the entire year. We finished up the day with a didgeridoo lesson from our lovely French neighbours who had been parked next to us. They’d been travelling for a couple of years with their two young children and were off later this year to do South America in their van. Much more adventurous than us!
After a trip round the coast to Galatas and a ferry to have a mooch about Poros island we had a mixture of Mezes at the bustling taverna just a short walk from our parking spot. The rosé wine we had smelt like calor gas but at €2 for half a kilo (that’s what it said on the menu) we weren’t complaining! Nine eyes fixed their steely gaze on us from below the table (the little black one had just the one eye) forcing us to feed them. They were welcome to the whitebait but also managed to make us part with some of the sausage, cheese and pork bits too. What can I say, Greek cats are very persuasive!
Anyway it’s back to Ermioni today to see if the water pump has arrived and for Tim to get the tools out again to fit it. If that doesn’t work then it’s on to plan B. Whatever that may be.