Monday 20 July 2015

The end of the Messinian Peninsula: Koroni and Petalidi

Greece, 6th June – 10th June 2015

Finikounda and Koroni

From Methoni, we continued to head anti-clockwise around the Messinian peninsula to the next main village on the list, Finikounda.  Our guidebook says very little on the fishing village other than it having a collection of campsites that are popular with backpackers and windsurfers, but we had read about a potential overnighting spot in the harbour, albeit down a few tight roads.  We arrived, parked up the van on the outskirts of town to investigate, and quickly decided that a
combination of the size of our van and the time of year (meaning that the roads were covered in tables for the tavernas) made it implausible for us, but the village itself was still a nice place to look around, with block paved effect roads lined with tavernas and shops on either side.

The next town along was Koroni, where there was a campsite that had been recommended to us by Dennis and Kate.  We still needed to spend a day on site so Matt could finish his thesis work, but as it was fairly late in the day, we didn’t want to spend money on a campsite when we weren’t going to get the full day’s use out of it.  Instead we headed to a point on Koroni seafront by the harbour.  We had what you could call a slight disagreement with Daisy the Sat Nav, in which it took us down an array of narrow roads that looked less and less promising the further we got.  We eventually found a place where we could turn around, but a woman waved us through, so we assumed it would be fine and continued.  It wasn’t fine.  We went down a long, single lane width road between rows of houses, and ended up encountering three cars who had to reverse back to let us through.  We found a T-junction where the road widened, so we pulled to one side to figure out how best to turn around before things got any worse, and in the process managed to annoy one of the locals who couldn’t quite get around the corner in one fell swoop.  When he pulled up alongside to berate us we explained we were waiting to turn around, and he said that the road ahead was fine after this point and widens out.

The seafront at Koroni (at night it gets a lot busier with cars coming into town for an evening meal)
We finally got down to the dock (N36.79744 E21.95968), and went for a walk around Koroni to check the town out and figure out the route as well as see if there was a better place to park, but we couldn’t see a better alternative so stayed where we were and sat for a while on the dockside, where I did some reading and Matt updated our logbook.  At night we could hear a group of small children playing outside until well after we went to bed; perhaps the Greek culture has a slightly more relaxed attitude about this than back in the UK, because I know if I had been out in the dark after 10 when I was their age my parents would have been having kittens!

Speaking of kittens, Koroni appears to be inundated with stray cats.  In the evening we’d spotted a couple around the harbour, including one cat who was sheltering her kitten under a car.  When morning hit, we realised this was not the only kitten in the vicinity.  Behind the nearby taverna, we spotted two more from another litter.  One appeared to be doing quite well and was getting curious about trying to climb the closest furniture, but the other looked like it had had a bad encounter with an adult cat or some other larger animal that had left it with facial injuries and eyes closed.  It was very upsetting for me to see because I just wanted to take them all home and nurse them back to health.

Camping Koroni

We made our way to Camping Koroni (GPS N36.79931, E21.95054, €16/night with an ACSI discount), and got ourselves checked in.  The lady at reception told us that 1/2 nights were fine, but after that she’d have to figure out where to put us as she was expecting a large group of 25ish campers.  We’d be gone by then, but a quick glance at the reservation signs for NKC confirmed that the group of Dutch campers were ominously dogging our tail.  We got set up on a spacious pitch, and had a look around the facilities (namely the pool).  The WiFi was free, site wide and with a decent connection speed; probably one of the best WiFi setups we have come across whilst in Greece.  Matt got his work laptop connected up and prepared himself for work, but conveniently found the internet to be a place full of distractions and convenient deterrents that delayed his work for a couple of hours.  I got myself stationed outside with a camping chair, a Kindle, and a fierce determination to not get too attached to any of the local strays that were wandering the campsite.  My determination was enough to prevent me feeding or fussing any of them, but not enough to convince me to drive them away.

Our pitch at Camping Koroni
The campsite's pool
Matt getting ready to help me tackle my starter!

We stayed at Camping Koroni for two nights whilst Matt worked on his PhD (as well as making some time for the swimming pool on the second day), and on the second night we walked down into Koroni itself for our first meal out in Greece, opting for a taverna on the seafront named Zorbas grill.  Matt didn’t seem that interested in any of the Greek starters on the menu, but I had a hankering for stuffed vineleaves so ordered them alone.  Luckily for him, he discovered he quite liked the taste of my generous portion, so we shared them between us with some very nice bread (toasted and seasoned with salt, herbs and oil).  After our mains (souvlaki and moussaka) we asked for the bill, and were given a complementary dessert that may possibly have been made with ground rice.  One particular cat with a limp hung around our table waiting very patiently, and my willpower dissolved to the point where a couple of pieces of pork may have very discreetly and accidentally slipped off the table.

We took the route back to the campsite, which meant walking along the now dark beach and up a path of stairs, guided only by the light of our phones.  As you may be able to gather from the fact I am writing this, no bogeymen jumped out to murder us in the dark and we did in fact make it back to the campsite safely.


It seems to be becoming a recurring habit of ours that, no matter how early or late the checkout time, we will always have a last minute rush to get away from the campsite in time.  In this case, the checkout time was a generous 1pm, but we still managed to find a surprisingly large amount of tasks to do before we left the site.  The water tank needed a good clean, Matt’s hair needed a cut, and there were still more tasks to do with regards to Matt’s PhD.   As we left right at the end of the checkout period, the rain started to come down heavily for a good portion of our drive time.  We saw a large parking area by the waterfront in a small town a couple of hours along, and pulled in for some lunch while we planned our next move.  We checked our Camperstop book as well as some blog entries, and found that the place we were currently parked at (N36.95915 E21.92870) was a tolerated point for overnighting, and the town name was Petalidi.  However, we had the coordinates for another spot in the same town (N36.95850 E21.93450), so we went to investigate it and found this one to be more out of the way near the marina, so opted to stay here.

Our overnight spot at Petalidi 

Some shots of Petalidi itself (click to enlarge)

Whilst here, another motorhome parked up behind us, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover they were British.  This was the first time we’d seen any other Brits who were freecamping; the two other British registered vans we’d seen up to this point were on campsites.  We said hello to them as we were on our way past for a walk into town, and got chatting to Barbara and Terry, who were on a trip around Greece travelling in the opposite direction to us.  As they were going in the direction we had already travelled in, when we returned to the van I prepared a list of some of our favourite overnighting spots, which we gave to them the following day.  Whilst we were chatting with them and exchanging notes, Barbara kindly offered us some tomato soup she’d been making to take with us, which was very tasty (thank you again Barbara if you read this).

Our food stocks were getting low (six days without a Lidl – it’s a wonder we’ve not started having withdrawal symptoms), so we headed north to Messini, the next main town along, and stocked up at the Lidl before heading over the road to pick up a couple more bits at a Carrefour.  There were several beaches near here, but access was through tight villages or by narrow access roads, so we didn’t get very far in trying to park up at one.  Instead, we went back to our previous overnight spot at Petalidi, setting an early morning alarm in preparation for the long drive to our next destination: the ancient hilltop town of Mystra.

- Jo

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