Vin the motorhome roars into a lower gear, and up we go, following the road as it twists and winds up a colossal standing rock and dusty earth. We look behind, the white fringed coastline with aqua marine waters in contrast to up here, baron, arid and dusty. Northern Halkidiki falls away behind us and in front, the sun kissed peninsula of Sithonía awaits. Sunlight flares, Craig gives me a cheeky grin and off we bumble. The tops of the craggy hills light up in their true colours – olive green, pine green, vine green and any other kinda green the eye can see. We reach the peak and in front, the slender peninsula provides a glimpse of our week ahead… endless drop dead gorgeous beach coves separated by dense green valleys and roller coaster roads.
It was love at first sight
Sithonia may be small and compact but it certainly packs a punch with views. You pass through an diverse landscape stitched together with escarpments and rolling hills. Under the dense carpet of trees a hidden interior that feel natural and unspoilt. Some of it looks like its been mined, some like it’s being excavated and some the archaeologists clearly forgot to finish. It all looks inviting and damn right pretty. But most of all, it is awe-inspiring.
Beyond the peninsula and across the sea, Mount Athos rears high. You can’t see the peak for cloud cover, but you still feel its size and presence. No matter where you are Mount Athos is close behind you. The road from Nikiti hugs the west coast before turning inland to tread alongside the ancient vines of Macedonia. The peaks and valleys of the east coast offer a glimpse into rural life with goat herd and bee boxes on every bend. Vin took ahis time exploring.
Welcome to the Sithoni, Greece
Is there anything better than a breakfast on the beach with freshly squeezed orange juice, Greek yogurt drizzled in honey and topped with a few juicy cranberries. Aqua blue waters, just enough ocean breeze to keep us cool and warm sun rays to glisten on the morning waves. We are still on the squid bit of Halkidiki, struggling to find a reason to leave and finding many a reason to stay (here is our first post of Greece if you missed it)
After several glorious days at Livrochio we headed over land to the other side of the peninsula. The good thing about a slender peninsula is the fact you can hop over in a jiffy and when you fancy a change, you can hop back. About half way through our ten minute journey we spotted a Lidl and a Greek supermarket, so time for some serious shopping. Wallets in the back pocket and hessian shopping bags in hand, we set off. We managed to restock the freezer, fill up the fridge, purchase a stash of ‘on offer’ ouzo and find some of Silvia’s Greek wine. Oh and bought a treat or two for Mac n Tosh’s up and coming birthday.
Happy bunnies we continued five minutes down the road and parked up on Nikiti marina. As soon as we parked up we closed the blinds and blocked out the sunlight to keep Vin nice and cool. Today, it is cracking the flags at 34 (98) degrees and the sea is like a millpond…what month is it?
We took a walk in and around Nikiti. A well stocked high street with mini markets, beach shops, chemists and lots of local one man band set ups. Very pleasant in deed and supporting what appears to be a mixture of holiday apartments and private villas. At the start of the beach promenade, a small stone church dating back to 1867. The promenade runs for quite some distance and aptly splitting the beach bar from the seating area making it more inviting for strollers to wandering in and sit down.
We walked for several hours in and around Nikiti whilst Mac n Tosh did their best to trot along in the shade…until they spotted an alley cat and then they were off! The beach at Nikiti is very narrow but pretty non the less. At the marina end plenty large boats, yachts and sail boats to wander around and admire.
In the evening, a date night! Whoa. With best holiday bib and tucker we walked hand in hand along the promenade until we found a seafront restaurant that took our fancy. We plonked down, ordered some scram and then sipped wine as we watched the sun dip behind the mountains. Another fine end to a fab day.
Wild Camping GPS position Nikiti, N040.218714, E023.661807
Nikiti is a lovely place but the boys wanted to find a beach and go surfing. Literally a few kilometres down the road is a beautiful double bay – Kalogrias to the north and Spatheis to the south. Initially we parked on the dirt track road but later on we parked right in the middle of Kalogrias double bay. A superb spot and if we park any closer to the sea, Vin will need a pair of swimming trunks. But have no fear folks, we are parked on solid ground, so no sinking in to the sand moments.
With flat calm sea and sweltering sunshine the bay attracted a fair number of tourists but not huge in the scheme of things. The bay is also a great spot for newbie scuba divers and we took great pleasure in watching the new divers and students get ready for their dive. Craig is a scuba instructor and I am an assistant instructor, so we watched how the Greek do their PADI training with interest.
We stayed on the beach for a couple of days. It was perfect place and great to celebrate Mac n Tosh turning 1. They chased their ball, went surfing, swimming, sniffing trees, rolling in the sand and generally just enjoying time on the beach. During down time, Mac snoozed under the deckchair dreaming of food whilst Tosh dug a race track for his tennis ball. He dug and dug, so much so his blinking paws are now the size of shovels. No birthday would be complete without a few tasty treats…a fine selection of home made sushi for lunch and for dinner, a few sardines in with their dog biscuits closely followed by a crunchy piggies ear. Lick your lips boys!
It was so nice we stayed 2 nights and did the same the following day…swim, surf and snooze all topped off with amazing sunsets.
Wild Camping GPS position Kalogrias, N040.176544, E023.715636
A leisurely breakfast before we moved a few kilometres to Marmaras. We had planned on travelling to the end of the peninsula but we got stuck in another beautiful location. This time the resort of Marmaras.
Driving along the elevated coastal road we spotted a road sign saying Port Entrance A. As we looked down to the coast we could see a rather large spread of typical Greek holiday villas and resorts. It didn’t look appealing at all, we carried on. Then another sign but this time for Port Entrance B. Once again, we ignored. By the time Port D sign appeared we were intrigued if nothing else by the strange naming convention for a resort.
Our curiosity paid off, it was really nice resort with a very interesting past. In 1925 the refugees of Parthenona village on Marmara Island settled here. As well as tourism the village is known for its olives, wine and honey. Situated on three shoreline hills, below the two mountains, Itamos and Tragoudeli also known as the singing mountain.
At the heart of Marmaras resort a myriad of tiny alleys and cobbled streets with extremely steep roads. Not fit for a camper and so glad we parked Vin near the beach. It was so nice, in the evening we ventured back in for an extremely tasty gyros.
Wild Camping GPS position Marmaras, N040.087284, E023.792410
We waved good bye Mamaras and to the tiny offshore rock aptly named Turtle Island. Once a strategic hiding point during the ancient Greeks and now a tactical hiding point for tourists.
Our plan today, drive to the end, park up and enjoy. But before we go anywhere, first stop a local supermarket for some lemonade, yogurt and snorkel fins. A quick in and out. Mac n Tosh were so pleased with our brief visit as today, the temperature is a cracking 34 degrees and keen to get back to some serious surfing. Aircon on high and off we set…for all of 5 minutes.
We got slightly distracted by a drop dead gorgeous beach. Once more no one around. We parked up, set our stall out and enjoyed our own little beach pad. Guess what we did? Yip, you got it…surf, swim and snorkel with the odd dig and with no one around we let the dogs off the leash.
Wild Camping GPS position Toroni, N040.015270, E023.838271
After a few days at the Toroni headland we moved down the coast passing through Toroni village. Toroni was wife to Proteus, son of Poseidon wasn’t that impressive in comparison to some of the other villages and resorts but non the less a beautiful beach and calm waters. We tried to fill up with fresh water but all the water taps were switched off, so we tootled on down to Porto Koufo.
By the time we reach the port the sun was in hiding. As it turns out we both fancied a good walk and what better place than in the sleep fishing port. This is Greece’s deepest natural harbour, so plenty boats bobbling around by the harbour wall. We wandered around the port having a right good toot as the fishermen’s boats and watching them patiently repair their nets. Once out the harbour a long stretch of golden sand inviting you to follow the waters edge. The harbour is surrounded by a spine of towering rock creating an almost lagoon feel to the pale blue waters. A slit in the rocks allows the boats in to the bay and in to the open ocean.
Once Mac n Tosh were completely pooped we popped them in Vin for a snooze whilst we headed in to the hills on Eor. Wow, what a drive. It was fab through unspoilt landscape with tremendous elevated views of the coastline. As we headed towards the very tip of Salonica peninsula we noticed a complex road network set in the middle of barron rocky countryside. Our curiosity got the best of us and off we went for scoot.
We have never been on a road system so complex and confusing yet highly fascinating and weirdly beautiful. It was like an unfinished maze through a chunk of Sithocia countryside that no one seems to visit. Wild heathers, bridges, rock gardens and coastal flowers all added to it beauty. As we stopped to admire the view Craig heard a wee grunt. Down by the stream wild hogs enjoying a roll in the river. The little one squealed roll over and the next minute a full scale hog scrap. What a din! Guess the little one was hogging too much of the best scratch bits.
We drove around and around the abandoned maze until we popped out on the headland to another big wow. The end of Salonica. The most beautiful beach with tremendous views across the sea to the mighty Mount Athos. It was stunning. The peak surrounded in cloud but a the steep cliffs swept to the sea you could see little dots. We squinted for more detail. As we scoured the dramatic cliffs we could see the monasteries clinging to face of the mountain. Captivating.
The whole place was rather wonderful and we got rather giddy at the thought of spending a few days here with such a marvellous view. The dudes could play on the beach all day and evennhave a go at proper surfing if the sea calms down. But, on the way back we decided the unpaved access to both the beach and the road maze was too much for Vin. We headed back and not long after we made our way to the lovely little cove of Kalamitsi.
Wild Camping GPS position Kalamitsi, N039.990259, E023.989677
Well that’s it for this week folks but before we shoot, here is a little taster of our how we celebrated our 1st video