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Returning to the EU

March 9th, 2023

After getting to bed around 12:30 am last night after our flight from Vegas, Fran awoke Thursday morning just before 8:30 and realized the time; the fellow wanting the batteries was coming at 9 so we had to get up.  We had slept very well.  The buyer did show up more or less and time and we got them sold.  The owner of the parking lot showed up shortly after that, Doug paid the remainder of our bill and we then finished unpacking and getting things organized.  We left around 11:30 and made out way to a grocery store to stock up and begin the drive back north, this time to the northern coast of Greece where we’ll catch a ferry to Italy on Tuesday night.  We have five and half days to get there with a few stops enroute.

We made it to a wild camp on the coast less than 100 km \ 60 mi up the coast line back towards Peloponnese.  It was a small parking area just up above the beach with park benches and garbage cans in what seemed to be an area of summer homes.

The weather was very pleasant in the low 20’sC / low 70’s F with a mostly cloudy sky – this was much appreciated after Reno!

We had the place to ourselves and had an undisturbed night although we did not sleep as well as the night before; jetlag was setting in.  We ended up getting out of bed at nearly 10!  We’d both had some awake time during the night and then on and off sleep trying to catch up.

After tea time, we left and continued our drive towards Patra.  Enroute we crossed over the Corinth canal and stopped to check it out (we’d seen it in December).

After we drove about another half hour, we saw a self-service car wash with a bay large enough for Minou and she gave her a much needed shower.  It was mostly the roof that needed cleaning as we had been wedged in so close to other RV’s, the sides didn’t get very dirty.  Somehow washing the back of Minou the rearview camera was knocked.  This was not really a bad thing as this gave Doug the opportunity not only to put in back in its place properly but also to angle it better.  He was very happy as he could never see down the road behind us before.

We continued on the non-toll route so as to travel along the beautiful coastline:

We stopped just outside Psathopyrgos at a beach area with a large gravel lot for the night. We took a short walk along the gravel beach and roadway before settling in.   The jet lag fight was real and we were fighting it hard by trying to stay up until at least 9:30 and made it till ten that night.  That night, naturally because we’d washed Minou, it rained and it rained hard – complete with thunder and lightning but stopped before morning.

We went through two tunnels today.

Saturday, we took the ferry off Peloponese back into Northern Greece and then the toll road northwest to Asatkos.  We paid a €7.50 toll for this privilege (we did it because it was much shorter and we knew there were public toilets where we could dump our cassette.

In Asatkos, we found a large parking area just before the town behind some tennis courts where we could spend the night.  We arrived around noon, so we took a walk into the town and had some lunch on the boardwalk back a bit from the water so as to be out of the wind.  It was very pleasant.  Since returning to Europe we have both decided to quit drinking alcohol every night at happy hour.  We had returned to drinking diet coke again in the US (bad, bad we were!) and have quit that too but will treat ourselves once in a while to both.  So seeing as we were in a restaurant, in the sunshine and warmth with an amazing view, we each had an Alfa beer – man, was it good!  And best of all: the price for lunch – it was cheaper to have a decent size lunch with two beers than brekkie at McDonald’s back in the US!

Today it was a total of five tunnels

We had a quiet night with decent sleep.  We think we’re beginning to win the fight! Before leaving the US, we’d booked passage on a ferry to Italy and since we are ahead of schedule, Fran reached out to see if we could move the reservation up a day and was told they’d get back to us (we’d booked through an agent and she had to check with the operator).  Within two hours, we had a changed reservation and it cost €27 less!  So we catch the “boat” at 1AM on Tuesday.  During high season you are allowed “to camp” in your rig but it says we can’t do that in March but we are going to try so that we can at least sleep.  Booking a berth is nearly €200 and it seemed outrageous so we just took the free “deck loungers” that came with the general price.  Maybe they lie flat…..

Sunday morning it was a bit overcast and we drove to Lefkada island to check out this famous surf beach; while it was quite nice, the surf was disappointing – must be a different time of year.

There were ruins of windmills dotting the coast here

and a nearby castle from the 13th century which was said to be quite dilapidated inside.

We drove outside the town of Lefkada and made our way to the only undersea tunnel in Greece to the holiday town of Preveza.  The tunnel had a toll of another €7.50.

In Preveza, we parked near the port and took a walk around the boardwalk and a few of the pedestrian streets.

After several days of wild camping, we felt it was time for a campground and Fran found a good one up the coast on park4night that we weren’t sure would be open this early in the year but although technically closed, there were two rigs parked.  After some back and forth and phone passing with the old fellow looking after the place, we parked and the owner showed up and got us power and we settled in.  We are parked in an olive grove at Camping Nissos, next the sea and it’s quite lovely.

The weather turned out better than predicted as we are further up the coast and we enjoyed some time sitting on the beach reading.

We spent a bit of time planning our next few weeks in Italy with a trip into Malta.  After comparing ferry vs flying, we decided to fly to the latter from Sicily and spent some time booking flights and trying to get a rental car.

Fran’s dog bite wounds are healing well albeit slower than she’d like.

Today we only passed through the undersea tunnel.

On Monday, our last morning in Greece it was gloriously sunny.  Doug went for a run, Fran exercised; we both showered and had a leisurely morning. We didn’t have more than 100 km / 60 mi to drive today to Igoumenitsa with one stop (this is where we catch the ferry after midnight tonight).    The drive north was gorgeous and was enhanced by the amazing weather. We stopped a few times to take pics of the scenery.

Sidebar: although daylight savings begins in North America today, here in Europe it’s still two weeks away.

We stopped for a peek at the resort town of Parga – known for its natural setting and many lovely beaches.  We parked a bit outside of the main part of town and walked in as the streets were narrow and windy.  The part we wanted to see was the pedestrian part enroute to the beach past the castle.

We wanted gyros for our final lunch in Greece and after a bit of wandering, a local directed us to a restaurant on the main drag (unfortunately not on the waterfront) which was worth it.  The gyros were delicious and not expensive (again cheaper than brekkie at McDonald’s).

We walked around the pedestrian part of town, the waterfront and past the castle to the Valtos Beach.  It was quite pretty: a large cove with a quiet beach, no one on it and all the resorts seemed closed.  The sand was pretty good, still a bit pebbly but very small ones, not hard to walk on.  We took a short stroll on the beach and it was getting quite warm.

We headed back up the steep trail back into town and back to Minou to drive the last 40 km / 25 mi to Igoumenitsa.  The drive here was glorious too.

Upon arriving in town, it was only midafternoon and we found a dirt parking lot to park in.  Doug was quite tired as he’d awoken at 3 this morning, unable to get back to sleep so he tried to nap and Fran went over to the ferry terminal to find out what time we can get over there to park – our ferry is not until 1 am but we’d rather get parked over there, make our dinner there and then decide if we want to try sleeping before the sailing or just hope we can manage to sleep onboard.  The sailing takes nearly 8 hours so it will not be fun trying to sleep in the lounge.

Fran came back after learning we could head over to the terminal any time after 5.  We read for a while and unfortunately Doug didn’t manage to sleep.  We went over to the terminal by 5:30; Fran had to go inside and get our tickets and boarding pass and walk through the terminal, and Doug (only one person can go in the vehicle) drove Minou into the parking area.

Pic of one of the vessels:

We got parked and then made dinner and watched something on the laptop.  Around 9 Doug got sleepy and went to bed.

Fran stayed up and while watching a show, kept an eye on the goings on in the terminal parking area.  Around 9:15 the ferry arrived and within about a half hour it began disembarking.

By 10:30 trucks began boarding and she got Doug up.  As soon as he got his pants back on, they were signaling him to get moving.  They had us drive on, go to the upper level, drive to the end, turn around and then park behind a car so that there was a large truck in front of him and one behind us.

By now Fran is tired too and we both decided we’ll chance just sleeping in Minou; we closed up all the blinds, closed the curtain across the back of the cab so no one could see us inside and went to bed (fully clothed in case they came a-knocking to tell us we couldn’t stay in our vehicle).

Well, we got away with it! Doug slept pretty well; Fran not so much; by 2 am she got into her jammies as trying to sleep in jeans was not comfy and then it was on and off sleep.  We waited till we could hear people around us, peeked out and saw them on the car deck, before getting into the front and no one was the wiser.  It was better than trying to sleep in a chair upstairs; downside was we didn’t get to see the ferry but we’ve seen hundreds so not a biggie.  We seemed to dock on time and by 9:15 we were off the ship.

In Greece we drove a total of 2,231 km / 1386 mi.

We loved Greece and will be back in September to explore the islands with friends when we return from our summer in North America.   We may have mentioned before that we do not intend to spend summers in Europe as it’s too crowded and too hot – Minou does not have AC in the coach so it can be quite uncomfortable inside at night when the temperatures don’t drop.  Yes we are “pussies” but we like to be comfortable!

Fun Facts about Greece:

  1. Greece is made up of 6,000 islands of which 227 are inhabited.
  2. Greece has 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. .
  3. 80% of Greece is made up of mountains.
  4. No part of Greece is more than 137 kilometres 85 mi away from the ocean.
  5. More tourists visit Greece every year than the entire Greek population.
  6. Athens has more theatres than any other city in the world
  7. They say the world’s a stage – and that’s certainly true in Athens! With 148 theatrical stages, the city has the most theatrical stages in the world, even beating out London’s West End and New York’s Broadway. It’s fitting for Athens to hold this title since it’s the place where the art of acting and theatre was born.
  8. There are more than 4,000 traditional dances in Greece.
  9. Greece has more archaeological museums than any country in the world.
  10. Greece has an impressive coastline… about 16,000 kilometer long .
  11. Democracy was born in Greece.
  12. This is a cool fact about Greece that I stumbled upon my research: the yo-yo was invented in Greece in 500 BC.
  13. Greek is the Oldest Language in the world that is still used.
  14. Blue Doors of Greece -The Blue Doors of Greece look beautiful, but they actually have a function. In ancient Greece, the Santorini shade of blue was used to keep evil spirits away.
  15. Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine -or 3,000 sunny hours a year.
  16. The island of Ikariais one of the five Blue Zones with one of the longest lifespans in the world. Around 30% live well into their 90s, which is on average 10 years longer than those in the rest of Europe and America.

Here’s an interesting video Doug took on one of his walks: