There’s something undeniably romantic about sleeping in your motorhome, in the great outdoors and waking up to gentle waves lapping on the beach. Finding your own wild camping spot and listening to dawn chorus as the sun gently rises in the clear blue skies. For us, this is when motorhome life is at its best and Greece is the perfect place to maximise on secluded coastal spots.
We arrived in Greece over a week ago after covering 12,659 kilometres in just 5 months…we are ready to put our feet up and relax. Its only after winding down for a few days that you actually realise how shattered you really are. In the last month, we pushed ourselves a little too hard with long days, bumpy roads and lots of driving but we really wanted to spend the last of the sunshine days on a beach. Mac n Tosh love the beach and its coming up to their 1st birthday, so where better to celebrate than on the beach! And now we are here, it was well worth it, it is absolutely glorious.
The initial plan was to update the blog ever few days or so but we got in to the swing of Greek life all too quickly. The Greek love for life, slow pace and just relax took over, so apologies for the lack of posts folks (especially to my dad, who I know reads daily x x x) but we are enjoying feet up!
Our Greek plan – is to hug the coast and bumble along at a very slow pace stopping at each bay that takes our fancy. If we like it we may stay for a few days, a week, two weeks, we have no set plan except soak up the atmosphere and enjoy. Whether that be wild or on a campsite we don’t really mind. The main thing is we have a bit of down time, a bit of us time and time to reflect on our journey so far.
Where about’s are we? We left Bulgaria and made a bee line straight to the coast. Talking of bees, I got stung the other day and it hurt! Sorry, back to where we are…We popped out on the eastern side of Greece about 300 kilometres from the Turkish border at a place called Amfipoli. We are travelling west on to what we call ‘The Squid’, better known as Halkidiki. A body of land with 3 tentacles sticking out hence the name. We intend to wiggle around on the squid and its tentacles for a bit before we carry on hugging the coast and just generally heading west. We’ve marked out a few highlights along the way but other than that we have no specific plans.
So what’s it like? Just like our previous Greek holidays, great coast line, shingly beaches, turquoise waters and tranquil sunsets. The only real difference is the rubbish, lots of it! The weather is wonderful, hovering between 25-32 (80-94) during the day and dipping to around 19 (68) in the evenings. Although today its hit a high of 34 (98) and its well toasty. Fresh water for the motorhome is easy to find whether in villages, fuel stations or on the beach, taps are plentiful. Lots of fuel stations offering LPG, so doesn’t seem like gas will be an issue.
Have we been to a Lidl? Next question please, of course we have. We nipped in to a brand new Lidl store just for a loaf and tried to take note of the prices. Overall, they didn’t seem too bad and a lot cheaper than we expected. In fact, we spotted a few things that were cheaper than Bulgaria, which really did surprise us. But the highlight of the visit, next week they have an offer on ouzo, Craig’s favourite drink, so no doubt we will be venturing off to a Lidl to stock up.
In the main, the villages are quiet with the tourists season coming to an end. Most of the Greek beach bars are already shut for the winter with just the odd few hanging on. Most of the small beaches with a closed beach bar seem to have a lot of rubbish. Almost all the beach bins are full to over flowing with litter, which is attracting a lot of stray cats and dogs. A few of the bars that have closed for the season look like they have people sleeping inside.
For us, Greece offers some of the most amazing wild camping spots and right on the beach. It is heaven and everyday we wake to an amazing sunrise and then go to bed with an equally amazing sunset. We play all day on the beach with the dogs, go snorkelling, a gentle stroll or cool swim. The sea is like a mill pond most days and teaming with fish. We eat all our meals outside and end the day with a nice glass of wine or ouzo. What more can we ask for.
Mac n Tosh are definitely beach dudes. In a morning, they wake up all giddy in anticipation of a morning surf and swim. Gone are the morning walks and in are the morning paddle. Our little boogie board is now their latest play toy. When they are not in the water, they spend hours digging in the sand for pebbles and anything that looks tasty. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stray dogs around and Mac is becoming more and more protective, so he constantly yaps at them. We keep them on the lead for their own safety but when its a safe beach we let them have a good run and play. So far, we have not seen any signs saying dogs not allowed.
Good news from our motorhome friend Louise Traecy, she is one of the seven contestants on the new Painting the Nation show. We have fingers and toes crossed for Louise as the winner gets to display their painting in the national art collection at the Office of Public Works. How cool is that! If anyone fancies tuning in, its rte.ie (Ireland) or follow #paintingthenation and Louise is the 3rd from the right in the contestant picture.
A quick run down of the places and our trip since we arrived…
Good location straight off the main highway and straight on the beach. Quite a few fresh water points along the stretch of beach but equally, quite a few groups of caravan and people with tents on the beach. Not sure if they were just on holiday or set up camp, so we found a place where the locals come to fish and great views out to sea. Craig found a little puppy limping along the beach and upon closer inspection it had a sticky bob in its paw. He carefully removed it and the little puppy instantly took a shine to him, closely followed by mum. We shared our evening BBQ with them and in return they slept outside our door and kept us safe.
Wild Camping GPS position Amfipoli, Greece N040.775702, E023.805293
Woke to glorious sunrise and breakfast table set up outside. Craig prepared a wonderful breakfast on the beach to the sound of waves lapping on the beach, it was beautiful. Later, we moved a few kilometres down the shore to a small fishing harbour just outside Agios Georgios. Other than the fishermen and odd beach stroller, no one around. With sunshine and intermittent sun showers we spent most of the day watching the boats and the fishermen sort through the muscles. By evening, heavy rains arrived and time to take shelter with a Tesco curry. The much longed for curry turned out to have an usual taste and loaded with gloopy msg, yuk. Think we will stick to the motor-homemade curries from now on.
Wild Camping GPS position Agios Georgios, Greece N040.757012, E023.756207
The rain clouds still lurked, so we headed in to the nearby town of Agios Georgios to stretch our legs. Here we bumped in to the German couple we met in Sofia and after a catch up chat we both tootled around the town checking out our first Greek town. A nice promenade with handful of bars and restaurants on the sea front and then shops and cafes on the main road.
By mid afternoon the sun was breaking through the clouds and time for us to find a good spot for the day. As we drove down the shore line we spotted loads of places to stay, the northern section of Chalkidiki is a quiet and a delightful hilly stretch often overlooked by tourists.
We headed to the fishing village of Olympiada and parked on the harbour along with 2 other Bulgarian motorhomes. The village is closed for the winter but the little orthodox church, the fishing boats and the shrine to the birthplace of Aristotle provide a good nosey an hour or two before we plop in to the sun loungers and crash out.
Wild Camping GPS position Olympiada, Greece N040.591258, E023.787905
Glorious sunshine, so we headed to the beach. We drove up the steep hilltop just outside the village, passed the huge white marble statue of the Aristotle and down in to Olympiada bay.
With sweeping views out to turquoise blue water and golden sand, parked up and spent the day on the beach. Here Mac n Tosh experienced the boogie board and played for hours in the surf. Truly wonderful day.
The beach bar has closed for the season but as they are still packing up the chairs and furnishing for winter the main gate to the bay is open. We decided to stop for the night and as we moved to more sheltered part, you guessed it, we got stuck in the sand. Vin’s fat arse got wedged in a soft part of the sinky stuff and it took over an hour with the help of many hands to get us out. Once out we made sure we moved to the solid stuff. Yip, we should know better but that life.
A wonderful sunset and evening with the twinkly stars
Wild Camping GPS position Olympiada, Greece N040.585632, E023.796140
Another day on beach enjoying splish, splash and splosh with Mac n Tosh.
Tonight, the gates to the bay will be locked, so we moved about 30 kilometres down the coast. The drive was excellent through one of the Halkidiki’s most beautiful and unspoilt stretches of coastline at the beginning of the tentacle that leads you to Mount Athos.
Our intention was to drive to the peak of Athos until we discovered we are not permitted on to the peninsula (Only males permitted with special permit). Mount Athos and the area is considered holy ground, an autonomous republic run by monks and untouched by the passing of time. The whole peninsula is dotted with monasteries, ancient sites and relics with peak after peak named after their saints. The living monument to Byzantine culture and raw natural landscape. Today, around 2,000 monks live on the peninsula growing their own fruit and vegetables and practicing their religious beliefs as they were done thousands of years ago.
Unable to visit the peninsula we parked on the beach at Aristotelis and admired to weird rock formations.
Wild Camping GPS position Aristotelis, N040.417747, E023.860468
Morning swim and surf with the dudes and guess what, they loved it. By mid afternoon the clouds hid the sunshine and the dudes sulked! Despite their yapping and cries for help the sun god did not listen and so we all hosed down, dry off and head inside.
We were a tad low on water (90% full) for Craig’s liking, so we drove a couple of kilometres to the town to fill up. In Greece, it is so easy to find fresh water points just head for the town square and sure enough you will find a water fountain and tap. Full to the brim means we can now do our weekly washing in the morning.
The town looked quite nice, so we parked up on a concrete jetty near the boatyard. The town of Aristotelis is quiet a big town with lots of bars and restaurants catering to Greek tourists. We had a lovely stroll along the front with the dogs but once we went in to the town things started to change. Every stray dog in the area came to sniff the dudes and it all got a wee bit much. With a couple of dozen large street dogs all trying to sniff two little ones it got frantic. Mac got snappy and Tosh got scared to the point he pickled himself, poor chap. We picked them up and took them home.
That evening we dined out at a local Greek taverna. Shock, I know but it had to be done. It was blinking fabulous with great food, great wine and great time! I think it is fair to say, Greece is suiting us perfectly.
Wild Camping GPS position Aristotelis, N040.398314, E023.883979
In the morning, we walked around the boat yard watching the guys rebuild the ships from locally sourced trees. Then a walk to the top of the hill to some ruin, to which we have no idea what its about but it does warranty a brown road sign of ‘archeological site’.
The stray dogs decided to sniff us out again, so we packed up and headed down coast. On route, we found a Lidl and stocked up before moving on to a very tiny fishing village of Ormos Panagias. Here the village offers boat rides around the Mount Athos Peninsula. During season several boats depart daily but out of season only one per week. At 5pm the weekly boat pulled in to the harbour and off jumped lots of day trippers. With the day trippers gone the village returned to sleepy mode.
The sun nipped behind the clouds, which gave us a welcomed break from the heat. Also a great time to do the weekly chores whilst Craig went on Eor for a wee bike ride. The bedding went on a weak wash, so it can soak overnight and hang out tomorrow. Oh and we also discovered our friend Sarah’s website, we follow Sarah on facebook and been in contact for sometime but never knew she had the site… kept that one quiet..until now lol.
Wild Camping GPS position Ormos Panagias, N040.235017, E023.732095
Just over the headland from Ormos Panagias we found the most idyllic beach. Here we spent several days and nights in paradise. A long stretch of white shingly beach with an intoxicating blend of blue and green waters of the Aegean Sea. Located on the east side of the second peninsula means Mount Athos provides a wonderful backdrop especially at sunrise.
We were joined by Ilias and Silvia from Cologne in Germany and for the next few nights we shared wine, stories and lots of laughs under an amazing night sky. Ilios originally from Greece and now their 3 sons have grown up and left home they are building a house not far from here. Silvia introduced me to a red Greek wine and rather nice it is!
Wild Camping GPS position Livrochio, N040.248152, E023.722898
It might sound like we have travelled a lot but in fact, we have travelled a very small distance about 80 miles. Each day we tootle a few miles to the next cove and right now we are on the east side, right at the top of the second peninsula. Halkidiki is a treat we never expected. Lush green forests that reach right down to the beach, white shingly beaches and turquoise waters. With a handful of traditional style fishing villages, a few large Greek tourist towns and endless beach coves. A wild campers paradise, I think we may be here for a while!