Saturday 18 July 2015

Killinis Beach and Olympia

Greece, 29th May – 1st June 2015

In Italy, the abundance of Aires meant that we never really struggled for a constant water supply in the van.  We knew that in Greece the number of camper stops was in smaller supply and we wanted to spend some more time freecamping to keep our costs down, so before leaving Kalogria Camperstop we made sure we were prepared to stay off site for as long as possible (full tank of water, empty waste tank and WC, freshly showered).  Matt went to pay up as well as to check up on
our little kitty friend (who was fine), and then we were off on our way.

We stopped at a supermarket to stock up on a few items, but found that the fruit and veg section was of the type that required weighing and stickering with a price, and given that our knowledge of the Greek language is limited to the use of Greek letters in scientific formulas, we didn’t have the slightest idea what any of the buttons on the weight machine meant, and so ended up being the awkward customers who hold up the queue as the cashier sends another employee to get our food priced for us.

Killinis Beach

The next free overnighting spot we knew of was at Killini harbour (N37.93460 E21.14664), but when we arrived the harbour was busy with cars and work vehicles and we couldn’t see any other campers about.  It didn’t look like there was a great deal at Killini other than the harbour, so we carried on and ended up at Killinis Beach near Kasto (N37.87413 E21.10748)

The parking area full of vans at Killinis beach
The walkway down to the beach
Here there was a parking area behind the sand dunes which was busy with half a dozen or so German motorhomes.  On the road approaching the beach there was a ‘No Camping’ sign, but in the car park itself there was no sign of it, so we decided we’d give it a go and stay the night seeing as the other vans seemed to have been parked a while with no problem.  The beach itself was great; it is several km long and sandy, and there is a beach shower near the dunes.  Half a mile or so along the beach near one of the more developed ends of the beach is a windsurfing and dinghy hire place, and a few beachgoers were pottering about in the waves on beginner’s kit.  The wind conditions were good, but it was getting on and if we got Matt’s kit out, there probably wouldn’t have been enough time/heat to get it dried off before nightfall.  Instead we spent some time swimming and sunbathing.

One joy of being on the west coast is the views of the sun setting, unobstructed spare for the outlines of hills on nearby islands.

On the second day, Matt had the bright idea of not wearing any sun cream for a couple of hours in order to ‘even out’ his tan.  Well, if his idea of evening out is to turn the whole lot a matching shade of pink, he certainly succeeded, and I shall keep my I-told-you-so remarks to myself.  He certainly seemed to have decided that his tan was even enough by the next time he attempted sunbathing where, I noticed, he decided that maybe a little Factor 30 was a good idea after all.

On the third day, we worried about the possibility of starting to stagnate, so we set the sat nav to investigate a few spots between our current location and Pyrgos.  It seems that this area of Greece had similar rubbish problems to what we had seen in southern Italy, and there were areas where the bin had long since been filled and the piles of excess waste spilled out onto the surrounding road area.  We did see one rubbish lorry attempting to tackle one of the roadside tips, so I don’t know whether we caught the place at a bad time when they were just in the progress of trying to get things cleared up, or whether the rubbish is a regular issue for them.

None of the three stopover points we looked at seemed suitable (two were small, car-laden parking areas and the other appeared to be being developed into something of a campsite), so we decided we’d go back to Killinis for one more night, arriving just in the middle of some great wind conditions.  We got Matt’s windsurf kit rigged up and he suited up, right in time for the wind to completely drop off.  After a few unsuccessful attempts at getting some movement on the water, he gave up and we set the board and sail out on the beach to dry off.  Back at the van that evening, we got chatting to a French man who was staying in a van not too far from ours.  He’d heard rumours that the police might be coming along in the morning to move vans along; we got up a little earlier just in case they did come along, but we saw no sign of them when we left at 10am.

One of the side effects of being away from home without a fixed routine is that you start to lose track of dates; I realised this as I looked at the motorhome control panel to check the temperature in the night and realised that it was in fact my birthday.  I decided it was important enough to wake Matt up and inform him; I believe he wished me a happy birthday and then fell asleep again.

On leaving Killinis beach, we chose to celebrate my birthday by raiding the Lidl in Pyrgos to stock up on bakery items (including muffins and doughnuts) and wine.  It occurs to me that this is probably a bit of a sad way to celebrate a birthday, and we might be growing attachment issues to Lidl.  It’s a good job that Lidl take Mastercard, as we were down to our last few notes—a problem promptly remedied by driving through Pyrgos until we happened to find the magic combination of a parking space in close vicinity to a cashpoint.

A cheeky lap of the stadium!

Ancient Olympia

Our next destination was to visit Ancient Olympia, which is the ruins where the Olympic games were held for centuries until the site was destroyed in an earthquake.  Whilst not quite on the same scale as the last archaeological site we visited—Pompeii—it is still a site worth visiting and very interesting.  At the area that was used as the stadium, we watched in amusement a couple conversing in English (the woman had a slight American accent but the man sounded European, so no idea where they were really from) as the man directed the woman to make various silly poses at the finish line to make it look like she’d ran the length of the stadium, before finally admitting he’d been filming the whole thing rather than take pictures.  We also saw our first live snake whilst visiting the site; we’d seen a couple of snakes whilst driving through Greece, but this was the first we’d seen that hadn’t been reduced to roadkill.  I have no idea if the snakes in Greece are poisonous; I opted to give it a wide berth just in case.

Hermes and the Infant Dionysos - a well preserved sculpture discovered in the 19th century in the Temple of Hera, Olympia.  Now on display in the museum.

More shots of Olympia at the end!

We keep seeing these little ice-cream mascots all over Greece;
this one was in Katakolo
From Olympia we travelled to the town of Katakolo, which is a port town used as a docking point for cruise ships coming to visit Olympia.  Depending on whether a cruise ship is around, the town is either bustling or empty, and all of the shops are heavily geared towards getting the custom of cruise ship tourists.  The marina is far enough from the main town and the cruise docking point to be fairly quiet, and we joined five other French vans for the evening (N37.64933 E21.32043).  There is water available at the harbour, but one of the blogs that we read (Europe by Camper) had said that when they filled up the water was a murky brown colour, so we opted to give it a miss and fill up our tanks elsewhere.

Parking at Katakolo harbour
The view out from our van, with the main town in the background
For my birthday treat, I got to be a lady of leisure and sit around drinking my wine whilst Matt cooked dinner for a change!

- Jo

More shots of Olympia:

I didn't know they had breeze blocks back then ;)

Some slightly concerning proportions going on here...

These sculptures would have lined the archway beneath the roof of one of the buildings in Olympia, hence the triangular shape

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