It’s a shame that we already used up the headline “Greece lightning” on an earlier blog post, as I am writing this in thunder louder than a sonic boom while the lightning crackles all around us and rain hammers down on the roof of the caravan.
Our last few days in Gythio were somewhat cloudy, our first dull weather so far in Greece. Still it made the sightseeing a bit more bearable, with a couple of cracking day trips in the car. We have now moved on to Stoupa, near Kalamata, where the weather pattern is glorious in the morning switching to thunderstorms in late afternoon. Dot would say that’s the perfect arrangement, as she gets to swim in the sea in the morning and watch movies on the sofa in the evening. Weather like this really makes us appreciate the extra space in the caravan - while I type this, Dot and Ali are finishing the day’s lessons at the other end of the caravan. Something which would definitely not be possible in a classic VW camper!
(There are lots of Europeans touring this part of Greece, but almost everyone is in a campervan. Caravans are probably only 1 in 20. We often talk about whether we made the right decision to tow a caravan, I guess we will never know. The big plus is that we can leave the caravan and drive off in the car, something we have been doing a lot of over the last week or two, so no regrets really)
We are in part of Greece that our friends Sarah and Davide had given us a few tips on, and the hand-drawn map compiled over a boozy Sunday lunch back in January has paid dividends.
Firstly, the island of Elafonisos, where the beaches rival the Maldives and the Seychelles. The pictures speak for themselves. We swithered over whether we should take the caravan, as although the road was supposed to be ok, we would need to reverse onto the small ferry. In the end we decided to just do a day trip in the car, which was probably the right decision, as the island’s only campsite looked a bit grim.
After making the most of the stunning beaches, we returned to the town for a cracking Greek meal. When we get good wine Ali always asks for a takeaway, which everywhere seems happy to do. This comes decanted from the barrel into in a one and a half litre bottle, and is charged at 4 or 5 euros. The restaurant in Elafonisos went one step better, giving it to us on the house as we had ordered a big meal. Result!
Our second big trip was “round the Mani” which has to be one of the world’s most scenic drives. We were relieved to be in our car and not a large campervan as we swooped round the mountain corners, taking in the incredible views. On this narrow peninsula the Greek authorities only seem to allow new building if it is done in the traditional style, and the steep slopes are peppered with handsome new and restored ‘Mani towers’.
We have moved on again and are now in the town of Stoupa, which has much more of a holiday resort feel. This seems to stem from it’s proximity to Kalamata and its airport, which has flights from various British airports. It’s a bit unsettling to hear “I like squid but it’s a bit rubbery” in a thick Northern accent as you push your trolley round the local supermarket. Still, the restaurants are excellent and the beaches are wonderful, even if I did manage to smash my knee into a sea urchin yesterday and am still picking the splinters out!
From here we begin to retrace our steps as we head back to Patras to catch the ferry in 12 days, and we have started to plan our first couple of weeks in Italy.