We had been saying for a long time that we really needed to be in the far east of Turkey by late September, before the cold, snow and ice descended, but after such long mechanical hold ups with the bike in Germany and Switzerland, and still not able to move till the first week in September, it was not looking very promising. We were only just near Italy with a lot of miles to cover, and its not all fun if you are just on the bike for hours and hours, day after day, just trying to get the distance covered, and not having time to enjoy the surroundings. So we’d been digesting our road maps, and looking for a good route which would give us some days for rest whilst also taking us where we needed to be. Oh, don’t get me wrong – its great being on the road; most times if we stop in one place too many days, we just get itchy feet and want to get on the bike again. I suppose its the balance that keeps it being rewarding and enjoyable. But we are also driven by the season (weather) – its definitely not fun, riding in bad or even poor weather conditions, and we knew things would be turning bad in east Turkey pretty soon.
More importantly we were still in need of Iranian visas, IF we were going to be able to continue the road journey east, and that would most likely need a week stop over in Ankara. There was still so much uncertain in what we were going to be able to achieve. None the less, we moved on optimistically forwards, knowing we were doing as much as we could to reach our goals.
It felt so good to be on the road again, and the drive out of Switzerland was scenic as ever
Getting onto the plains of Italy was something else. Milano was only 70 km away, and the traffic and air quality deteriorated in good measure as we got closer. It wasn’t long before we were in heavy congestion, but thankfully moving slowly. It took us 2.5 hrs to cover the first 100 miles, and then getting passed the Milano ring road we pulled into the next service. Off again and always concentrating on the heavy traffic, zipping along at well over 100 kph. We got into another slow crawl around Bologna, not sure why – as there was a road accident in the other direction. A lorry had jack-knifed, a car was squashed on the rear, and another smaller truck was loaded on a recovery vehicle. The motorway was backed up at least 15 km beyond, with so many people stationary, doors open and standing by their vehicles.
Another 60 km and we were on the coast near Rimmi, so took the turning for Riccone. found the Via Dante all good, not far from the oceanfront, and drove slowly along. And then I spotted one of the hotel names ‘Jolie’. Stew pulled on round the corner, and I went to enquire. It was 44.5 Eu for one night, with breakfast (of some sorts) from 8am – it would do. We got everything unloaded, and taken up to the first floor room – small, but it did have all the usual, and even a nice little balcony. The bike parking was just across the road, and a hedge kept the bike out of view. We’d just got everything sorted, when the rolling thunder and rain started; how lucky was that.
The rain had cooled things quite a bit, so we both put on our jumpers and took the brolly. It was nice to walk around for a while, and see the sea…but it was nothing like a holiday place we’d like to go to in high season. Thankfully with the rain the beach packed with loungers and brollys was pretty much deserted. It was a nice walk, and we found our way to a supermarket. Neither of us were up for a big meal, or even eating out. So we just got a few basic supplies to take back to our room. It started raining again so we enjoyed our evening, listening to the storm, and getting some into online information for ferries to Greece.
We woke to a dull, grey morning, a bit cool and windy outside too – we just hoped we’d get to Ancona dry. We’d got everything strapped on the bike, and were ready to have breakfast as soon as it opened. We were shown to quite a decent buffet, plenty to choose from, but really it was mostly very sweet; so we headed for the main savoury options; some decent ‘dunkel brot’, cheese, ham, and some yoghurt, museli and fruit. The coffee and tea were passable (though the tea on the cold side). We were finished and ready for off around 8.30am, and paying up we got a few comments from the staff on the bike and where we were heading – but sending us off with ‘bon viaggio’.
It was a bit of a labyrinth to get out of town, with the one way system and some road closures, so we had to back track to get over the railway. But it didn’t take long, and we were soon on the ‘autopista’, having picked up a toll ticket. The rain was holding off but the wind was really blustery, so Stew was mainly keeping to the nearside lane and a slower speed, as we didn’t have far to go. The traffic was flowing pretty well and not too busy, and by 9.45am I’d already seen a sign for Ancona Port at the next exit, so we pulled in for some petrol, and then got off the motorway. The route was well signposted to the port and car ferries, and we were soon following the coast road into town. The sea was quite grey and white capped waves were crashing over the shore – we could be in for a bumpy passage today! So by 10am we had parked up by the terminal.
There were ticket office booths for all the ferries departing from here, and it really wasn’t too busy at all (not high season). We found the Minoan Lines, and the assistant spoke English, so that was great. He asked where we were heading for, Patras, and checked out passports, and noted we also had a moto (the clothes being a give-away). He looked online, and gave us a special offer including the bike, and a junior suite cabin – with big bed, tv, minifridge and window, for 295 Eu. The guy was really friendly and helpful, telling us we should wait in the terminal till 11.30pm, then go to gate 15, for boarding. The ship was on time and would depart at 2pm. There was free wifi in the port, so we sat with our valuables, and both went on line for the hour wait. It passed really quickly, and we were soon back on the bike, now following the road signs to board the ferries. The Minoan Lines vessel was the largest moored up, with white and red livery. It was already loading and after a quick passport and ticket check, we were ushered inside, and up a large ramp to the upper car deck on 7. The staff inside was tucking the motorbikes into small spaces, and we were pointed to put ours behind an Italian Ducati that was also going to Patras.
We already had our cabin card key, so we took the camp kitchen leather saddle bags, and the tank bag with valuables up on deck. It didn’t take us long to navigate the labyrinth to the correct cabin number, though it did take a few attempts to get the door open. Pushing inside we were very pleasantly surprised to find a very spacious cabin, with a large window, large double bed, and also set to accommodate 4, with a bench seat, that dropped down a bunk too. It was more spacious than the room we had been in last night. We got out of our riding gear, organised our food supplies, putting perishables, water and wine in the fridge and then set off walk about.
It was a pretty big ship, a cruising vessel really; there were shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, all with some neo-classical ‘Greco’ touches – marble floors, mirrors, and the odd Greek statue here and there. We found a Casino, a wellness gym center, games rooms and an internet area, and top deck where we wandered around outside taking a few photos; there was even a pool and Lido cafe snack bar. The weather was really inclement, and not being high season, the pool was empty. It would have been a nice treat otherwise. There were loungers around the pool, and already a number of them taken – travellers on much smaller budgets, staking their places for sleeping on deck through the night (that was us on our earlier expedition)
The ship sailed pretty much on time, around 2.30pm Italian time, but we were now running on ships time (Greek), so an hour in front. It was a 22 hr sailing, and maybe a bit longer with the weather, but we should be docking in Patras around 1pm tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully I’d be able to catch up a bit with reading Felix’s experimental paper, some blog writing, and forward travel planning too. So we spent a few hours back in the cabin, till we were feeling like a change of scene. We took our books up to one of the bars, easily finding a nice window seat; the boat was pretty quiet, with really only a sprinkling of passengers dotted around the vast open area spaces. We were the only customers at the huge bar, looking for what to chose for a drink, and in the end we decided on ‘Mythos’ the local Greek option. We chinked bottles, ‘cheers’, amazing that we’d actually made it this far, finally getting a bit further east towards home. We read over an hour, intermittently gazing outside, watching the mass of grey sea and sky going by, our books were far more interesting. Well, we’d splashed out on the cabin, but could look after ourselves a bit with food and drink supplies. We made dinner of a mixed salad; boiled egg, tuna, japaleno and fresh tomato in mayo, with some nice fresh bread and the chilled wine out of the fridge. Then settled down for a very comfy night in the cabin.
Despite the very stormy weather when we had embarked yesterday, the passage down the Adriatic was pretty calm and flat, and knowing we wouldn’t be arriving till after midday, I’d suggested keeping the heavy curtains drawn so we could sleep as long as possible. Well that was the plan, until the ships announcements began around 6.30am alerting our arrival at Igumenista. This had Stew fully awake, wanting to check that we didn’t need to disembark, so I said we wouldn’t be in Patras till after midday. There was so much noise though, he just had to get up. I wanted to dose on, it was way too early. So Stew took himself off for a wander round the deck, getting a cuppa tea on the way, while I pulled the curtains back on, put more music over my headphones, and continued to half slumber, enjoying being cosily snuggled down (not knowing when I’d have the luxury again).
Ready for a morning cuppa around 9am (which was still only actually 8am on our body time!). We now opened up the curtains, put on the lights and put some water on to boil. It was pretty gloomy and grey outside, with some small patches of blue in the sky, and only dark patches of island crossed the window view. The waves began to increase, and we could see white tops from the window, as the boat began to pitch and roll. Hopefully it would improve before we got to Patras. So we settled to a few hours reading and writing, and just enjoying the relaxed surroundings. We were called to vacate the cabin around 12.45pm, and so packed all our gear and headed up to one of the loungers. Arrival was a bit late probably because of the weather. There was a right storm brewing when we docked, and we’d soon made our way back to the car deck. A few other bikers were around, though not a load, and we ended up chatting with another German guy also on and ‘airhead’ – a 1987 R80 Dakar model, upgeared to 1000cc. He was just doing a small tour of Greece, and heading over to Crete on another ferry. The unloading was pretty quick, with no document checks anywhere, just straight out onto the road.
It was immediately clear that we were not in the same ‘class’ off Europe that we had been for the past month; the construction and infrastructure just doesn’t look as substantial or well maintained. We knew we just had to head towards Athens, and we had thought we might drive an hour or so and look for something away from the busy port town of Patras but really the weather was against us. The sky was black and pretty angry looking, there was lightening and rolling thunder, huge blasts of wind. It wasn’t comfortable on the bike at all, and then there were big splatters of rain too. The road signs were pretty hopeless (And I was struggling reading the Greek too), but the port town was pretty big, and we just wanted to get a few kilometers away – so we headed for the motorway.
Stew was fighting the wind gusts trying to keep us away from the lorries, and thankfully there wasn’t too much on the road. The road took us through a series of tunnels and across a couple of valleys before there was a turn off – it was Patras-A, so we took it and followed our nose down towards the centre and waterfront. From checking the internet yesterday, we knew there were some hotels dotted along the seafront. The road conditions and weather worsened, as we ended up in a pretty residential area. But we were heading for the water, and doing a few dog legs, and under a small railway bridge, we spotted a sign for a hotel and followed. Turning the last corner, the hotel loomed much larger than we expected – BUT hey, the weather was deteriorating by the minute, so it was worth a try. Stew pulled into the carpark, and I climbed off to go ask.
Even getting the door open against the strong wind was a struggle. The hotel was a huge block white building, looking rather sparsley decorated (by design, I think). The lady manning the white reception did speak English (I felt so bad not really knowing any Greek), and I asked for an econo room. The best they could do was 68 Euro with breakfast. More than we really wanted to pay, but I reckoned it was OK. It was fine for the night, and we quickly took the valuable bags off the bike and hurried back into reception. The wind was so strong it felt like it would even blow over the bike. We were soon checked in to a room on the 3rd floor.
Well, we weren’t expecting a sea view, but the room was delightful, with quite a big balcony over looking what we could see of the bay. Oh, and quite a huge pool on in the front garden, just behind the beach. Needles to say the beach and pool were deserted. We’d no sooner got out of our bike gear when a mighty thunder clap rumbled and there were more streaks of lightning over the bay. The mountains were hardly visible, and to the south side there was a long bridge spanning and connecting the Pelopenese to the Mainland.
It looked definitely dodgy to be driving over there right now. The sky blackened again and the rain started to lash down – how lucky had we been to hole up here before the onslaught began. We were just enjoying the view ! The rain pounded all the while we made some coffee (there was a kettle and minibar), so we settled on the bed to read a while. It was more than an hour before it finally baited, and then we went back to the bike to get all the other gear off the bike. Now reception was a hive of activity, as a couple of coach loads of guests had just arrived (They sounded German).
With all our gear up in the room, we went walk about just to see what we could find in the local area. There were even a few people swimming now, even though the skies were still very grey and promising more rain. There were only a couple of deserted beach cafe bars, and even walking up to the road by the railway we couldn’t find any mini-markets for supplies. Stew was getting a bit hungry, but it was too early to eat – and I fancied a swim, so suggested he have a beer and some nuts, while I had a swim, all good. I’d soon got changed and left Stew to enjoy his beer on the bed. I had the whole pool to myself, and though it was a bit cool to get in, the temperature was fine for swimming. And it was pretty big too, definitely more than 25 m.
I did 30 laps, and not wanting to be too long headed back upstairs to get a shower and changed again. We were now both ready for something to eat. So we headed to reception to see what the hotel had. All the coach guests were on an ‘all inclusive’ with buffet dinner (and breakfast). And at 17 Eu each, neither of us fancied it. We thought we’d head round to one of the beach bars and see what we could get there, and ended up right next door at ‘Kostelo’s’. The main outside area towards the beach was so saturated from all the rain, but there was a veranda and indoors, and with daylight fading a few lights on and a few customers it really looked quite cozy. We had a lovely evening, the menu and prices were great – 6 Eu for a carafe of wine, and even though Stew said he wanted Greek salad and chips, he ended up ordering the mixed grill, and I just fancied some pasta. We also ordered a fetta and chilli dip with bread to start with too. We relaxed and chatted over the next plans, as we’d been able to get online for a while in the hotel room too.
It really looked like we couldn’t get to Turkey from Kos, and would have to take another ferry route from Chios (GR) to Cesme (TR). But finding the ferries for the next couple of days, also meant that we would really need to get to Piraeas for the Hellenic Seaways sailing at 2pm tomorrow. Its at least 200 km drive, and Piraeas is a big port, so we would need to make a reasonably early start too, no probs. So we had a plan, and now we just enjoyed the evening and the dinner. With the food and wine done, we headed back to the room and we were both ready for bed. After checking with Stew on setting the alarm we were soon sleeping with music over the headphones again.
The next morning drawing back the curtains, we could see the storm had passed, and even though the sky was still cloudy it was much brighter and calmer. There were even a couple of people already swimming in the sea. We found the coach loads had been up for early breakfast at 7am, and the place was crowded as they were all checking out and getting loaded back onto the coaches, as we set about packing up the bike. So by the time we got into breakfast it was pretty much deserted. It was quite a decent buffet spread, with cold meats, cheese (feta of course), and even some cooked bacon, sausage, eggs, quiche and mushrooms. The bread was nice and fresh, and after a bit of bacon and cheese, I had some yummy Greek yoghurt and fruit too. We both took a boiled egg, and made a sandwich to have later in the day.
We couldn’t lounge around too long and made it on the road by 9am; still enough time to get to Piraeas. The road conditions were so much more pleasant this morning, and not too much traffic. But then as we got further along it soon became apparent that the Greek toll motorway was a work in progress, and it looked like we were going to be driving roadworks for the whole 200 km – so we might not get to Piraeas in time for the ferry!
Fortunately after about 100 km, the roadworks finished and we headed onto much better road. We had thought to stop at the Korinth canal, but it just whizzed by; a small straight ribbon of water carrying one vessel, as we were speeding along the motorway above. We had a couple of tolls to pay, and after the last one the road turned into the old highway into Athens. The air quality was attrocious – passing refineries on the waterfront, actually stank so much, if we weren’t going so quick, I’d have got quite nauseus. The road signs totally dissappeared, as we were expecting some pretty clear signage to get to the huge port. We knew we were heading in towards Athens, and I think in the polluted haze, I could see the Acropolis on a hill in the distance. So we pulled over at a garage to ask directions – all good, we were doing OK, and just needed to turn right at a big ‘Media-Market’ – which we did spot as we went along. It didn’t help that the spellings changed too, but the turning was right and we were soon heading towards to port. It was nearly 12 noon, so we were doing OK for time, but we did need to find where we needed to be.
The docks were huge, and I was trying to read signs…..the big waterfront opened up, and we could see ferries of all shapes and sizes, including one that was listing quite badly!! We headed into the dock area and found Hellenic Seaways at No.2 gate. There was a small kiosk outside selling tickets. We’d soon got organised, but there was no cabin space available, so had to just take a recliner seat. It was a long crossing 16 hrs, and we’d get to Chios at 6am tomorrow morning. It seemed we were doing a cruise of the Islands, as we’d be stopping off at five of them before we’d get to Chios. Stopping at Paxos, Naxos, Patmos, Ikaria, and Samos, before our final destination. We were directed to board straight away, and after securing the bike, we took some gear with us. We thought it would be a good idea to take the sleeping bags, as we just weren’t sure where we would be sleeping overnight.
There were two passenger decks, with the usual offerings of cafes, bars and eateries, a TV lounge and games room, as well as some outside seating. We were shown to our reclining window seats (totally recycled airplane seats – with the trays in the back that you couldn’t even use). Nothing like the comfort we’d had on the ferry from Italy, but it would have to do for one night.
So we dropped all our bags, got out of our hot sweaty riding gear, and settled down for the long haul. Stew went to get us some hot tea (which was really good), and he ate a sandwich and boiled egg too, that we had managed to pilfer from the breakfast buffet this morning. I first got the diary up to date, just about running down the battery, and then got my nose back into my book. Stew was swapping between reading, walking about, and listening to music. And so the day passed. The weather was so much better than the storm we’d come through in Italy, and stopping off at the various Islands, we did get some really good views and a gorgeous sunset too. The boat was busy, but not too crowded, but there didn’t seem to be too many Western tourists on board – more Greek locals, and we even got a group behind us singing (quite loudly).
The food offerings weren’t too enticing and on the expensive side. The main cafeteria was inundated with a couple of coach loads of Chinese tourists, and they were turning other travelers away. So we settled for a bottle of wine and Stew got a pastie for dinner, while I was happy with the sandwich and an apple I hadn’t yet eaten. And we finished off the last of the Swiss chocolate too. Then it was noses back in our books – so good to be reading more of the last volume of the ‘dragon tattoo’, and Stew was getting well through another Jack Reacher novel. It didn’t look like the lighting would be turned down/off, so around 9.30pm we got ourselves as comfy as possible for the night. We used our bike pants, rather than getting out the sleeping bags (which I then used as a pillow), and Stew had his eye-shades too, while I used my head scarf. With music from our iPod’s over the headphones, we were soon dozing and half asleep.
With disturbances calling at port every few hours, people coming and going, we surprisingly did manage to dose/sleep well enough for a few hours, though we both got up at some stage through the night. At each port there was a barely discernable announcement, in Greek and then English, which Island we were at. It was disembarking with immediate ongoing – I’ve never seen ferries dock and depart again so quickly. I half heard ‘Samos’ in one of the announcements, and from looking at the route, I thought our destination, Chios, was next. So I got up and went to ask at the reception, just to be sure. They said we’d arrive at Chios around 6.30am. It was still pitch black outside, and walking about, most of the seats were occupied with slumbering bodies, some looking far more comfortable than others. I was feeling very sleepy, so just put my alarm on for 1.5 hrs ahead, just in case I slept too much, and snuggled down again. I woke again and peered behind the curtains, daylight was just breaking and I could see lights on land, so it wouldn’t be too long now. Once the annoucement was made, there was quite a movement of bodies, looking like there were a lot of people getting off here. We ended up in quite a queue getting down to the garage deck. Fritz was all good, and we soon got everything strapped on again, and joining the queue to exit. Outside there were equally big queues of passengers and cars waiting to board. We had no idea where we were going, just following our noses and the coast, trying to get a feel for the place. The town was really quiet, with only a couple of dockside cafes open. And as we headed out of town the quintessential aromas of Greece assailed our senses, taking us right back to more than 30 years ago.
When we arrived in Patras in the storm the smells were of the storm, but here now we got the full bouquet of the pines and eucalypts as a big red sun was rising over the Aegean Sea. The town was a band of white/grey low buildings along the coastline, backed by rising rocky hills. What vegetation there was was sparse and sun bleached from a hot summer, with only a smattering of green spiky bushes, figs and olives. The place seemed quite a mix of old and new; as we passed quite a few old stone buildings, some in dereliction and some in various states of repair. As we wound our way through the town there was quite an impressive old fort and there were old stone windmills too, along the waterfront making quite a view. We ended driving north along the coast for about 20 mins, climbing quite high over the hills, and seeing some gorgeous little bays with clear blue waters. There didn’t seem to be anything much coming up, and driving through town we’d both been looking for accommodation, and really only seen a couple of places.
Mmm, well it was still very early and nothing had really struck us as the place to go, and we were both in need to a cuppa, so we turned back round and headed back into town. We drove right along the port front, which was pretty much wall to wall restaurants and cafe bars, with seating right up to the roadside (and pretty much deserted at this early hour). I spotted a place selling ferry tickets to Turkey, and saw a couple of the buildings above the cafes advertising rooms. We struggled finding a spot to park the bike, so ended up round the back street opposite the town central park, and more local cafes opposite; typical Greek, frequented by only the elderly Greek men. There was a good spot to park the bike where we could see it while we sat at the cafe opposite. It was only 8am, but we were already getting really hot in our riding gear, and glad to peel off our jackets for a while. The cafe was fully in the shade, with several tables occupied by old men. They all seemed to have some local produce with them, knew each other from their exchange of greetings, and gave friendly smiles as we sat at a table (I was the only female). We weren’t sure how we’d get on with our none existent Greek, but the older gent who came out to serve us did speak quite good English. So we were soon sat down with delicious mugs of hot tea, with a dash of milk – the best. It certainly refreshed us, and really just what I needed to really wake up. It was so much fun watching the locals getting about their morning business. We saw all shapes and sizes on the little motorbikes, still used a lot as transport – and mostly riding without helmets! Local tired old buses emptied a few passengers out on the pavement in front of us, and even more old men being delivered to their usual morning haunt for a drink and catch up with friends. We chatted over what to do from here.
Well, it was now nearly 9am, and out of everything that we’d seen so far, I reckoned we should try to ‘Seafront suites’ on the waterfront a few kilometers north of the town beyond the hospital. The day was warming up rapidly and we really didn’t want to drive too much further, without a map or knowing what was on the island. We were soon back at the seafront, and pulling in to the car park, we were lucky to find the establishment just opening the reception. A tall, slim, olive skinned gent came out to greet us; Giorgio the owner. He had thinning short black hair and was smartly dressed in almost naval appearance; white long shorts and blue polo shirt. He was very friendly and helpful, and even with the early hour he booted up the computer to check on the room bookings (apparently there would be a lot of Turkish over this weekend, as it was the eid holiday for them).
Giorgio offered us a double for 50 Eu cash a night (normal price 65 Eu), we were happy to take that for 2 days, and at this stage not sure if we should make it 3 (But there may not be room available – we’ll have too see). But we couldn’t get the room right now, check out was not till noon, and it would have to be cleaned. No problem though, there was a lovely big comfy lounge area, and we could unload the bike and wait there. Giorgio also had a load of tourist info, and gave us a map, as well as some info on the local sights around the island. I asked it there was any camping on the island, and he said not (there used to be one, but it was now closed). The lounge was all bright white (even the furniture), the ceiling hung with colourful world flags, and the walls decorated with some gorgeous large photo images around the island, as well as smaller A4 pictures of all the guests who had passed through the establishment. Oh, there was wifi too, so we settled ourselves on one of the comfy sofas and got online for a couple of hours.There were other staff around, and other guests arriving and departing too. We were shown to our room by 11am which was so good. The floors were wet, as the cleaner had just finished mopping, but in this heat they’d dry pretty quick. It was a large high ceiling white room, with private patio that actually overlooked the sea.
Most everything was white, except for a blue cushion on the bed, blue cushions on a small dining set, and a big blue photo collage of images around the island. There was a decent sized bathroom at the back, as well as a good kitchenette, sink, cooker, fridge – it was perfect for what we needed for the next couple of days. We soon got everything organised inside, and made a cuppa, planning what to do for the day. Well, it was Saturday, so we thought we’d better go shopping, as everything would be closed tomorrow. We headed to the Lidl store we’d seen on the other side of town on our drive about earlier. The place was really quite busy, but we managed a nice leisurely browse shop. We got pretty good supplies, and most importantly stuff to make a chicken curry for dinner later. We also stocked up on a few other things too. It was after 2pm before we got back to the studio, by which time we were both ready for a cuppa and sandwich. Then, with the disturbed night catching up with us, we both zonked out on the bed for a siesta. Feeling much better when we came round, the afternoon was getting on, so we decided to head onto the beach. The heat of the sun was passed its savage peak, and changing into our cossies and taking our books, we found a nice place to lounge by the waterside for a couple of hours. The waters looked good for swimming, though the pebbly beach was a bit hard to walk on, and there were quite a few people in the water already. Stew headed in first with the snorkel, and said there was quite a bit of sea grass and fishes. I read my book for a while first, but I did go in for a swim later – just not going very far out over the weed!
The sun was sinking behind the mountains, and by the time the beach was all in shade we gathered our gear and went for a wander round the nearby marina, looking for a place for a drink too. The place looked well passed its hey day; a large marina basin, with really only a few large yachts moored, along with smaller local fishing boats. We wandered round, finding quite a few big international yachts (French, Swiss and UK) while others had actually not been touched for years, there was even an old abandoned camper van with UK plates, and looking more closely, the pate was from Huddersfield! We passed the only beach fish tavern, but it looked like it was only just opening and getting decked out for a wedding party (We’d heard a noisy cavalcade passing along the street a couple of times), no matter we had enough supplies back at our place. So we wandered back, and spent a lovely relaxing evening eating, drinking and reading out on our patio. Stew made an excellent chicken and mushroom curry – we had both been suffering withdrawl symptoms with our diet over the past couple of week, and so really enjoyed the feast. I even did the dishes, and had a quick shower before turning in for the night.
It was a pretty quiet neighbourhood, and we slept till after 7.30am. Pulling back the curtains the sun was already high the sky, and looked like it was going to get hot. There was no rush to the day, so we began with a usual cuppa, and I did some diary writing, while Stew read his book. I really didn’t want any breakfast, but Stew wanted to eat before we headed out for the day. So we made coffee and Stew cooked himself some spam, mushrooms and fried eggs; we even had HP sauce (just missing some baked beans). We nattered a bit over what we should do. I really fancied staying another day; it was a nice place and we weren’t sure when we’d be able to spend some time on a breachfront again. I went to enquire and found out we could stay but would had to swap rooms after breakfast tomorrow. For today, we thought we’d go explore the island. We packed a bag of gear; and put swimming cossies on under our shorts and T-shirts. We took some fruit and water, a towel and the fishing gear, and out books, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. In the end we just put everything in the topbox. With the map in hand we thought we’d head across to Karies, in the centre of the island and then across to the west coast. It was a spectacular days drive, and so nice to be relaxing for a few hours. The drive was pretty steep, with plenty of switch backs as we climbed over the mountain range. Chios really is an unspoiled travelers delight.
It was so un-developed for the tourist trade, definitely more locals, eeking a living on the sparten rough terrain, with terraces of olives groves and citrus. We passed small medaeval villages precariously perched to the rockside. The most impressive of which was Anavatos, and really saw no other options for accommodation all day. As we traversed the highest point and could see the western shores, it was really impressive to see a chain of old protective battlements too. The small Elintas beach we could see in the distance, was just picture postcard stuff.
There were no facilities and only a few people about, and even a couple of tents. Had we had more time, I’m sure we’d have supplied up and camped up here for a few days, but time was against us. So we just made the most of a few hours on the beach. Swimming was better than yesterday, even though the pebbles were really hard underfoot. Stew went off snorkelling a couple of times, and I even managed a better swim too. It was hot on the beach, so we both cooled off a few times. We just had some fruit and water for scoobie snacks, and I was more than happy just to lay out and read my book a while. Stew was getting a bit bored and in the end took himself off with his fishing rod for a wander up the beach.
By 2pm we were ready to move on; a few more cars had arrived and it was feeling rather busy! We managed to drive a circuitous route back to the main town, and were surprised to cross a valley that was totally burnt out. It must have been some big wild fire. Fortunately there didn’t seem to be any houses around, but the olive groves had taken quite a beating.
We were approaching the town an hour later, and decided we’d stop on the harbour front for refreshment (the stale tepid water in the plastic bottle we were carrying was hardly palatable). Most of the establishments were quite busy with the late lunchtime trade, and we chose one that wasn’t too busy. We were brought round glasses of iced water, which was nice, and after browsing the menu were both happy to have some hot tea. Stew got English breakfast, while I got glass of Turkish tea for a change. After that we returned to the studio, feeling a bit salt crusted. Stew was happy to read a while, but I fancied showering straight away – and I also did a small pile of washing we had accumulated since leaving Lugano. Time for afternoon tea, but today we had Nescafe, and Stew made up some vegemite on bread (a really nice change). I then set about some more blog writing, and Stew went of to shower. We were just heading out for a walk on the beach, when Stew picked up his iPad and saw we’d missed a facetime with Jason. He tired calling back, though it was after 9pm in the UK, but he picked up and we managed to chat a few mins, with a dodgy connection, while he was at some mates for the evening. He had tried to get us earlier in the day – as he’d been with grandad and grandma, and they had booked flights together for Perth for Christmas (amazing!). So they were leaving on 11 December and they had a 90 day visa. More amazing was when Jason talked to Liz, they were going to be on the same flight!!
By the time we’d signed off there was a balmy twilight, and tonight we headed in the opposite direction along the bay. We came across a couple of beach side restaurants, and soon decided we’d sit by the ocean side for dinner. We ended up nattering quite a while on what plans we could make, but at this stage there were far too many ‘ifs’, to be able to decide on anything concrete. Food was typical Greek fayre, so tonight Stew was happy to go with Greek salad and chips (patatas), while I just fancied some chicken souvlaki and pitta, and we ordered a couple of beers too. The setting was quite idyllic, not 20 feet from the shoreline, and looking across the calm waters to Turkey. Lights were twinkling on the mainland, and there were quite a few from the local small fishing boats too.
The meal was nothing fancy, but everything was fresh, and the portions were more than we really wanted. As we were leaving around 8.30pm the place was just getting busier (Our bodies are certainly not in tune with the locals yet!). We relaxed another hour back in the studio, Stew finishing off his book, while I was trying to set up a timetable spreadsheet again for travel planning, before adding a bit more on the ‘Muller’ blog installment, before turning in for the night.
It was a lovely quiet, comfy room, so we slept really well, and had leisurely morning tea and coffee, then had to move rooms around 10am. Later in the morning we went in town, found the Post office and managed to send off a package back home with some spare t-shirts. We had a nice walk round, seeing the old castle, and then called at supermarket on way back… We found a tin of Heinz beans, so we planned a dinner of eggs, spam, beans and mushrooms
Once back in the room, we made a brew and had late lunch – ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches. We did some online work – on forward travels into Turkey, and wrote some notes. We planned to take the ferry tomorrow morning, so we needed to go buy the tickets, and Stew had read that we should be able to get our Turkish visas across on the other side. So we headed back to town around 5pm, paid for tickets and left all our details…..The assistant thought our visas may be an issue, but she would email us later. From the ticket office we had walk round on the harbour wall and nice sunset beer on harbour front, before heading back to our digs.
I checked the emails and it ended up that we had to do our Turkish electronic application online tonight, which I took charge of after dinner! While Stew did cooking and washing up. We then did some packing before going to bed, and had a shower as we needed to be up early. But the holiday neighours were out and quite noisy, drinking and talking till all hours. So we didn’t sleep too well at all, waiting for the alarm too. We were up by 6am, a quick brew and the sun was just rising as we were setting off. Its so nice being up this time of day, everything is so quiet. It turned out to be quite a day, to say the least.
The little Sunrise Ferry service was quite an experience. A car ferry with only space for 2 bikes and 2 cars!! AND it was pretty full with passengers too. We had to go through customs and passport check, but nothing for the bike here, and then we were all loading up.
It was only an hour and a half crossing, seeing Chios receed behind us and mainland Turkey ahead, onto the next road that would take us futher east……..