Sunday 19 July 2015

Tholo Beach and Methoni

Greece, 2nd – 5th June 2015

A cruise ship arrived in Katakolo in the morning so there were quite a few people about although most will have gone off to Olympia on coaches. We had a walk through the town which consists of one main street full of tourist souvenir shops, and a row of bars and restaurants facing over the port. There was a ‘Beer Bike’ waiting for some punters, a large 4-wheeled bike that seats about 12 people who pedal it whilst sat facing a bar in the middle and beer is served!

One of the cruise ships come in to dock, flooding the town
with life
The main street at Katakolo

The Beer Bike!
An old ship left to rust away in Katakolo harbour - if there was
 no-one about we'd have loved to explore the inside

Tholo Beach

Late morning we set off to a camper stop next to the beach near Zacharo but arrived to find it had closed down. As we
wanted to be somewhere to have Jo’s birthday BBQ and Prosecco we went onto the nearby Tholo Beach campsite (N37.41160 E21.66830, €18 inc electric and WiFi). Before we got parked on a pitch I spotted a British number plate and the owners had just returned from the beach so we said hello and got talking to Dennis and Kate, the first Brits we’d met in Greece. They are veteran motorhomers and had been on the road for a few months on this trip having visited Norway and travelled down through Poland, Bulgaria and Romania to Greece, and were touring around the Peloponnese in the opposite direction to us. We got pitched next to them and spent most of the afternoon talking to them on and off about recommendations for places to stay down here that each of us had been to, and hearing about the roads in Bulgaria that we have ahead. We had a black and yellow insect to deal with that kept flying in and out going into a cubby hole above the cab. Looking afterwards it seems it was starting to form a nest out of what looked like mud on the side of our first aid kit.

Our setup at Camping Tholo Beach
We went to the beach which is a short walk from the site (about 100m away) for a swim in the sea. After some more chatting to Dennis and Kate and showing them our van, Jo eventually got some burgers made and I cooked them on the Cadac. We had them with the nicer bottle of Prosecco we’d bought for Jo’s birthday while we were in Italy. I invited Dennis and Kate around to join us for a drink, and as we’d finished the Prosecco we got our last bottle of Lidl’s special Italian Spumante out. We got through it sat out under our awning talking, hearing some of their motorhome related stories and having a laugh until we ran out of drink and called it a night at 10:45pm. It was a very pleasant evening and enjoyable to have some company to celebrate Jo’s birthday, particularly such friendly great people as Dennis and Kate.

The abandoned train station at Tholo (in case you haven't noticed by now we love abandoned stuff)

Kalo Nero and Voidhokilia Bay

In the morning we had a swim in the sea then said goodbye to Dennis and Kate who were leaving for Olympia, promising to send our blog link when we’d set it up to keep in touch. We got ourselves organised and did all our services, leaving just after 2pm we travelled the short distance to Kalo Nero beach (N37.29756 E21.69534). It’s a nice spot to park right next to the part stoney and part sandy turtle nesting beach. There were a lot of pieces of bamboo or similar laid in piles which I found out from a French lady in another motorhome the next morning were for them to nest in. There were three other vans here so we selected a spot amongst them and had a short walk along the beach before doing some jobs in the van, including Jo getting our accounts updated.

Kalo Nero beach
Our overnight parking spot at Kalo Nero
As I hadn’t spoken to my parents since we were in Venice I started drafting an email on where we’d been etc which ended up taking all morning. After a short dip to cool off and some lunch we set off to move on to another location. We looked at a possible overnight spot at Romanos which was a very nice on a patch of earth and grass facing over the sea but had No Camping/No overnight accomodation in vehicles signs with "serious penalties", whatever they are! We decided to carry on to Voidhokilia Bay, which is meant to be one of the most idyllic bays in Greece, but is tricky to access along narrow lanes with badly overhanging olive trees leaving just enough room to squeeze through in places. We had a walk along the beach but I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I’d be. There are No overnight parking/camping signs here too highlighting the law and this time a €146.73 pp fine (an odd amount!) but there was a Globecar van parked up so we thought we’d give it a go, although it left a bit later. I made dinner and while eating noticed a Police car approach slowly with its lights flashing then turned around just before the car park and left. I wasn’t sure if this was a warning or a sign that they weren’t bothered as they didn’t come over and say anything so we decided not to risk it and left.

Voidhokilia Bay

We had been on the fuel light for a while so pulled into a fuel station on a country road that happened to be the cheapest we’d seen, not knowing if it would be open as it was 9:15pm. Whilst I was trying to figure out if it was self-service a lady came out from the house on the site to serve us (you don’t fill your fuel up yourself here, an attendant does it for you), and a small naked boy came running onto the forecourt whilst we were being refuelled! Then two dogs came out and stood barking near the front of the van and moved with us as we set off making it difficult to drive out, but we managed to avoid them and continue on.

Pylos and Methoni

Our spot at Pylos
We headed to Pylos where there is parking on the port (N36.91633 E21.69524), joining a French Hymer that was already there. We had a walk around the port to decide which side to park on before retiring for the night. We thought it might be noisy being in the main parking area and near the portside bars and restaurants but it was silent during the night. Just as we were leaving in the morning six Dutch vans arrived and we passed four more coming the opposite way whilst on the road out to Methoni. They must’ve been part of the group of about twenty vans that Kate had mentioned that they’d seen a few days before.

At the harbour in Pylos we found more abandoned boats - the interior shot is of the inside of the old lifeboat pictured above, right

We’d only had two nights since we were last on a site but were passing Camping Methoni (N36.81777 E21.71489, €15 inc electric (€12 without), WiFi & washing machine) which Dennis & Kate had given us the GPS for and said had a free washing machine which we were in need of, plus I needed to get online and do some work to prepare my final thesis for submission. We parked under a sun shade near to reception for the best chance of a good WiFi signal and I got on with my jobs while Jo dealt with the laundry and sat out reading. We had some rain on and off, at one point which was quite heavy for a while so put our washing line under the awning. We managed to get all of our dirty clothes and the bedding washed in two loads, fitting it in around other people using the machine as there was only one. In the afternoon when it had brightened up we had a walk along the road and beach around the bay past the old castle walls. After dinner Jo skyped her parents while I did some updating of our log.

- Matt
Camping Methoni
Methoni Beach outside the campsite

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