Greece, a coastline that spoilt us forever. It’s been over three decades since we came to know the beaches of Greece. Back then we visited the islands and now the mainland but no matter which coastline we visit, its all idyllic. From the picture postcard sunsets, coral beaches, forest backed coves and the lullaby of the rippling waves to the sting of salt and sand on sun kissed skin, it really is a beautiful part of the world.
Sadly, after a couple of wonderful days in Kalamitsi it was time to say good bye to the peninsula of Sithonia. Ever heard of a meteorological phenomenon called Rex Blocking? Nope, neither had we until we experienced a massive change i the weather. One day 30+ and now a cold blustery 10, so time to head away from the winds. The weather reports all vary but apparently for the next week or so we will be stuck in a strange weather pattern with plenty storms, wind and rain spells. Time to go and find out about Alexander the Great then!
In Bumble fashion we tootled up the easterly coast line of Sithonia chatting about Greece. Since our first visit to Kos in the late 1980s, we have returned to Greece many times. Always to a new island with each one offering something slightly different and unique to the last. Whether quad biking in Corfu, night clubbing in Rhodes or unwinding on Thassos there is one thing that remains unchanged, Greece is simple, authentic with a beautiful coastline.
We bounced along the bumpy headland until we reached the top of the peninsula and swung a left. The bouncing continued to the far west side coast of Halkidiki, to a remote stretch of beach just outside the fishing village called Kallikrateia.
After a long paddle in the rough but warm sea, a couple of beers, played ball with Mac n Tosh, had some more beers, cooked dinner, had some more beers, told stories and fell in love, again.
Wild Camping GPS position Kallikrateia, N040.247410, E023.257158
Onward to Thessaloniki
We woke bright as buttons and spent the morning doing cleaning and washing chores. Normally this mundane task lasts a couple of hours with both of us scrubbing at warped speed until the job is done. But today, the chore turned out to be a challenge with a twist. We pegged out the washing to dry in the gentle ocean breeze and cracked on with cleaning our motorhome. About half an hour later the breeze turned in a gale force wind within a nano second. Gosh this weather pattern is well weird. Bedding, clothes and towels flapping everywhere. The force of the wind ripping the washing off the pegs, throwing it in the air. Talk about an au natural tumble drier, snatching and grabbing as sheets they sailed by. Frantically chasing bedding sheets down the beach like something out of a comedy sketch.
By lunchtime we were done and ready to hit the road and by early afternoon we were parked up at a free parking spot about 10 miles out of Thessaloniki. Zampetas the caravan dealers allows caravans and motorhomes to park up on their grounds and use their service facilities free of charge including free electric and wifi. How decent is that? The owner Bibas is so friendly and he showed us around their facilities with a welcoming smile. As you would expect, space is limited but as we were the only one’s there we had the choice of several spots. The dealers is only open during business hours, so if you want to stay on their premises you are locked in overnight. This wasn’t a problem for us.
Willy the guard dog (black lab cross) took an instant shine to Mac’s arse to which Mac was none too pleased. You could tell on his face giving Willy a look of…go sniff some other butt! Willy was actually a lovely dog and very well natured and thanked us no end for the amount of treats and a dry pad (under Vin) for the night.
By mid afternoon, it pickled it down, so we turned to a bit of reading and finding out about our chap Alexander the Great. The rain never backed off and by early evening, Vin was soaked and the dealership grounds resembled a mud bath.
With free wifi we checked out a few things on the website. For the last few weeks we’ve been noticing a problem with website subscriptions and email notifications. A few people have contacted us saying they have tried to subscribe but struggled and then others saying no emails coming through. We are not sure what happening but we are trying to sort it, so apologies if you’re having issues. We checked all the setting and technical stuff that we know about and everything looks fine as far as we can see. We sent off an email to Jetpack and WordPress and fingers crossed we find a solution in the next few days.
We stayed put and that night, we slept in the front king sized bed for the first time since we bought it! Oh yes, and time to dig out the duvet, again. For ease, we have always stayed in the back bed because it is fixed and simple but for the next few weeks we gonna give the front bed a try. Must admit the bed did seem a lot bigger and a lot colder with this weird weather fronts…down to 7 tonight, chilly.
Camping GPS position Thessaloniki, N040.502606, E022.971196
A full storm broke out in the night. The rain never stopped and the pelting on Vin’s tin roof echo’d through the van. Its been a while since we experience such a down pour and needless to say our night’s kip wasn’t great. Craig managed to grab zero sleep and gave up trying at 3am. I stayed in bed tossing and turning in the hope I would finally nod off but nah, not a jot. By 6am we were up, showered and dress and ready to explore Thessaloniki.
Zampetas dealers is about 10 miles out of the city, so we travelled in on Eor the motorbike. Given the lack of sleep, Craig was bright as a daisy, I was as dopey at lemon. Once in Thessaloniki we did a mixture of zipping around on the bike, parking up and taking a stroll.
The city is the second largest in Greece and like many cities, it contains a large population of mixed characters with mixed lifestyles and a lot of Turkish influence. However, the charm of the old city, the long promenade walk along the sea front with views to Mount Olympus and the quantity on endearing churches makes Thessaloniki a fascinating place to meander around. Parking for a motorbike is simple but for a motorhome we would suggest stay well clear. Its one way streets, narrow lanes and confusing signs would make motorhome parking a nightmare.
Photo’s of Agia Sofia (click to enlarge)
Much of the city was destroyed by a fire in 1917 but walking around the tiny alley’s and streets you would never guess so. It all feels rather old, haphazard and ancient. Certain elements of the city felt a little deprived and run down with homeless people sleeping in and around abandoned buildings. In 1922,Thessaloniki experienced a huge wave of refugees from Asia resulting in an unorganised sprawl across the city. Today, the city experiences the same issue with refugees with hundreds of people seeking refuge. Families walking around aimlessly looking for a bed for the night or scurrying in bins to find food for their children. Heartbreaking…can’t go there!
Photo’s of in & around White Tower
So where did we go? Next question, please! We spent the day teetering around the ancient streets of Thessaloniki in a kind of sleepy but vivid daze. Our first Greek city provided an unfamiliar mixture of excitement but our lack of sleep meant our senses were numbed. As I look back everything seems so muted but vivid. It was all so different: the hustle and bustle, the scooters, the bread, the food, the parks, the people, the smells. From upmarket shopping streets with vibrant cafe’s and clubs to dingy looking kebab shops hidden down side streets. Square after square with ancient remains and ruins to get you thinking about what this city once looked like.
Ayios Dimitrios Church
The remain of the once great wall include the White Tower located by the harbour and then over to Aristotelous Square. The Roman Forum, the gate, numerous churches but our highlight of Thessaloniki has to be Ayios Dimitrios church. Wow, wow, wow. Inside was beautifully ornate with numerous tombs but most impressive the crypt. A labyrinth of archways with simple but decorative brickwork. Hidden coves with marble alters and intricately carved columns. It was truly a fascinating place.
Back at base we had a reply from Jetpack about the subscriptions…along with a load of emails in our inbox from new subscribers (which we assume were stuck in the problem?). We are not sure exactly what has changed apart from they asked us to un-tick a box on the jetpack settings. Hopefully, this solves the problem but something we will be keeping an eye on for the next few weeks. Once again, sorry if you’ve tried to register or failed to get email notifications but fingers crossed all sorted. However, if you think there is an issue please leave us a comment or get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After head scratching over technical website stuff we said cheerio to Babis and thanked him for letting us use his facilities. To be honest, we would have stayed another night but the dealership completely shuts shop from mid Saturday until Monday morning (like most businesses) and it would mean we would be locked inside the caravan compound.
So off we trot to continue our Alexander the Great Adventure with the strange Meteorological Phenomenon….!