Saturday 16th of November – Hotel somewhere on the road in Bulgaria
We left Nessebar early. Before that, we went back to a taverna for a bit of breakfast and use of the facilities!
There was nowhere to camp for a while both in Bulgaria and Greece. We decided to treat ourselves to a hotel by the road side, as the following night would also be wild camping again. One needs a shower occasionally!
We checked out one hotel but, despite the fact it was supposed to be Pet Friendly in booking.com they did not seems keen. Also the hotel was in a dreadful town and I was not keen to spent time in this place. Another candidate was on the road to Greece. It was nice although they put us at the far end and in a room that had clearly not been used for a while! Nevertheless it was clean.
Sunday 17th November, Fanari ( northern Greece)
After a mediocre breakfast we drove off and made it to the border early afternoon.
Just before crossing Alistair decided to buy diesel as it is significantly cheaper in Bulgaria than Greece. There were several cars parked around with a lots of local Bulgarians gypsies buying hundreds if not thousands of cigarettes. Obviously cigarettes are much cheaper in Bulgaria than Greece, so good business. After filling, Alistair queued for a while to pay.
Eventually it was his turn when just before putting his card pin he noticed the price was much higher than the one expected. No way to explain in Bulgarian, so he came back to take a photo of the display at the pump. Then bAck to the shop, while a queue formed behind us. The fuel assistants then came, along with people queuing behind us, asking us to move! I shouted at everyone. No way we would move, as then, the pump display would be reset and it would be our word against the fuel people!
Eventually we were charged the correct amount. Clearly someone had made a runner not paying and they were trying to charge that on us! Scammers. I was not impressed.
Bulgaria was ok, it is cheap, has beautiful towns despite still looking like a developing country. But for me the severe food poisoning and that fuel story did not endear me to the country. Like Albania, I am glad I visited but I won’t rush to come back. It is however very popular with the Brits who retire there as the cost of living s very cheap, and healthcare, with insurance, is good.
Crossing back into Greece was fast. Customs had a quick look at our van, smiled at the dog sitting there, looking all shivering and pathetic in his bench, and waved us through.
We then drove a long way down south to the coast, near the national park of Nestos Delta and lakes. The little fishing village of Fanari was very busy. It was Sunday and after a week of bad weather it was sunny, so lots of people were down there enjoying Sunday afternoon sun, filling the cafes and restaurants.
We had a walk into town. By sunset, people went back to their towns and the village emptied. We decided to move the van as we were parked in a very isolated place now that everyone was gone. So we parked in a square near a hotel, still overlooking the sea.
We went to have a small drink at a nearby taverna and use of the facilities ( there is a trend forming here!). After that we had dinner in the van and it was an early night.
Monday 18th November, near Abdera
We were up early and, after breakfast in the van, we went to have a coffee at a coffee shop close by ( and use the clean facilities and WiFi).
Then we drove the short distance to the village of Abdera. The weather was back to horrid with torrential rain.
We have a Greek friend back in London. We have known her for about 20 years. Her family is from Abdera. She told us we had to visit her parents, so we did. We arrived late morning expecting a quick coffee. Her parents speak only Greeks, we don’t!
Anyway, as it happen we had cake, coffee then lunch. My friend’s sister, Eleni, her husband and son came for lunch. They spoke good English. Eleni has a hair dressing salon so Alistair booked her for the evening to get his hair done.
We had booked a room in what appeared in booking.com lie a small private holiday village. Online it was open and had rooms. So we booked for two days. It had excellent reviews!
So we drove there. The place was deserted. It was in a small village, two streets, farmers by the smell. We phoned to the number provided by booking.com confirmation email. We waited 15 minutes inside the van to escape the extremely strong smell of cattle! Eventually a guy arrived and got us a room then left.
The room was spartan ( no pun intended!). Not particularly very clean bathroom ( hand basin, toilet and just a shower head over the toilet, for shower), a rock hard bed and a small fridge. The Tv had only Greek channels. Greek Tv is as bad as French TV!
I suppose for 25 euro per night we had to expect it. Still, I don’t understand the 8/10 rating! The stink from the cows was horrendous, it was like sleeping in a barn on cows’ poo!
Alistair went to get his hair cut and highlights sorted.
Then we had dinner in the van and went to sleep.
We were woken up in the middle of the night by a local mosque call for prayer. Packs of dogs, that are everywhere in Greece, went berserk and started howling during the full prayer call! What a racket!
Tuesday 19th November, near Avdira
We went to visit the town of Xanthi, which was described as really nice with a beautiful old town. It was ok. Nothing to get excited about. It had a Lidl so that was good!
We had lunch in town. My 2 months quest finally ended there! I finally got my fresh grilled sardines and they were wonderful! In the UK, too often the “fresh” sardines have been on display at the fishmonger for far too long and taste bitter. I am talking about you Waitrose! These, in the other hand, were sweets and light flavoured, even Alistair had few.
We were instructed by my friend, back in England, via WhatsApp, that we would get some Slouvakis ( chicken or pork kebabs) in Abdira, with her sister and parents. Anyway, after a small change of plan we got to the place that was doing the famous Slouvakis ( and other grilled meats). Our friend’s dad joined us and then her mum. The grilled slouvakis and others grilled kebabs were extremely good and at 1 Euro a piece!
After that we made our final goodbyes to our friend’s very kind Mum and Dad and went back to our stinky abode.
Did I mentioned we did not leave empty handed! They gave us olive oil from their own olive trees, honey and local pasta. We also got a 25 or 30l tin of olive oil for my friend. I hope we don’t get searched at custom when going back to England! Are we allowed to smuggled so much olive oil for personal consumption?!
Wednesday 20th of November, parked in some street in a coastal town, Greece
The weather was still awful with heavy rain. With all campings either closed or too horrendous to consider, we would have to camp wild again. About 5 pm we drove to a parking spot described in Park4night. The place was a holiday resort and was deserted. A taverna was open but the prices were ridiculous. Alistair had a walk around, everything was closed.
We decided to move. We first drove south, near a castle, but once again all was deserted and dark.
So we drove north to a town with a train station. If there is a train there must be some life. The gps took us back and forth and into a deserted beach. By then, it was night and all was in complete darkness. We drove off and went back into town, the one with the train station.
We drove down the high street, few places were open. We parked and had a walk around and along the sea front, under, once again, torrential rain. We decided to park the van in the street along the seafront as there were plenty of spaces. We then had a small dinner at a coffee/taverna.
We had a peaceful night in front of the sea. No barking dogs, no call to prayer, just the sound of the waves ( and the rain).
Thursday 21st November – near Volos, Camping Hellas
After breakfast in the van we went back to the cafe restaurant for a coffee ( and use of facilities and WiFi).
We then drove to Volos. Once again the GPS tried to get us there by the most unlikely way over Mount Olympus! The Greek Gods must have been as annoyed as us and we had torrential rain and storms, again. We managed to navigate a better and more direct route using Maps.me. It has to be said that maps.me has been a saviour many times when the GPS has been trying to take us through crazy itinerary!
We arrived at our destination mid afternoon. The camping was being renovated but one section was still open. The lady owner was really nice and very friendly. We spent the evening in what is, in high season, the restaurant. We had a good chat about Greece, the camping, the business, the clients etc…
she had 3 dogs and more kept coming as well as cats.
There are many dogs in the streets all the time. Some belong to someone and may have a collar, many are just living in the streets. Same with cats. It is horrible to see.
We wanted to do some laundry but without a dryer it is not possible. Our wash will never dry in this weather.
Friday 22d November, Delphi
We had originally planned to spend two nights in camping Hellas but the weather was awful so we decided to continue driving south. Stopping on the way to visit Delphi.
The morning was once again very grey. As we drove south and through the mountains it got sunny again. There was one camping open all year round near Delphi so we stopped there.
Next to our site was another couple from the UK: a Scott with a South African wife. They were on their way to cross Africa all the way down to Cape Town on their Toyota Hilux and a big 4×4 trailer. We have sen many of those trailers in South Africa, fully kitted with kitchen, fridge, sink, water, huge tent etc…
We had a good chat with them. They were planning to ship the car and trailer from Athen to Egypt and drive south across Africa. A great adventure! No I am not jealous! Okay maybe a bit.
This is all for now. Our search for sunshine continue!