The Peloponnese (or 5 fingers) Adventure:
Amazing campsites in abandoned summer beach bars equalled “luxury” wild camping. This was interspersed with two stops in the cheapest offering from booking.com at 20 euros a night. These gems mapped our route around the five fingers and usually ended up with us binging on Petzina (cheap white wine with coke) and Gyros (Greek kebab). Lovely stuff.
1. First finger- visit Ancient Olympia after a lengthy discussion over the 6 euro entry fee. Gerard for and Rachel against (Rachel content with lunch in the car park but Gerard drags her in for a truly cultural but slightly boring experience).
2. Second finger- sacked it off.
3. Third finger- A rest in Ag Nik (as abbreviated by the ex pats we met on arrival) with the best visibility swim of the trip so far. Onwards and we reached the very tip hiking the last two km on foot and payed tribute to Neptune. The landscape was a reminder of Scotland (plus it was raining). The area was very remote and we found ourselves in a no food situation. A long hilly cycle in the rain to the next town ensued but we were rewarded with a big pizza and coke surprise by a warm fire.
4. Forth finger- The mountain stage. Our beloved Vango finally gives up the ghost when we wake up soaked in a rain storm. Its properties more sponge like than waterproof. At this point Gerard learns to ride his bike with no hands- Rach is lucky to have the coolest boyfriend in the world!
5. Fifth finger- The speed stage. 100km top to bottom of the finger in 3.45 hours. The first night camping here was outside an “abandoned” nightclub. Looks can be deceiving though. The Greek dance music started up at 10:30 and finished around 5am. A well needed rest followed the next day in Nafpilo with the first hotel of trip (dont worry complete with cockroachs we havnt gone that fancy) run by madman and coffee addict Dimitri (“very welcome very welcome”).
Got the ferry from Poros to Athens to collect our new tent and made a last minute decision to go to Crete (cheapest fare and island furthest South).
In Heraklion we hooked up with Dimitri (a friend of our Greek survey friend Aris) who recommended the best places to visit in Crete. A weeks cycle around this mountainous but very cool island we put our new tent through its paces, uming and ahhhing as we compared it to the Vango. We named it “The Bat Cave” due to its spacious rounded and sleek black inner. Making it to the south coast we swam in the Libyan sea, cycled through bannana plantations on dirt tracks and returned a good deed by helping an elderly man get his truck out of the ditch- we loaded our heavy bikes onto the back so his wheel could get a grip and he was away- he offered us a cigarette as thanks and then laughed when we refused pointing at the bikes and the hills!!
We returned to Heraklion to get our ferry to Rhodes and decided a bit of inner city wild camping would be a good idea. Fortunately we were met by a loaded bike enthusiast, Damien who invited us to stay. More luck was had at the bike shop as after a brief conversation a complete stranger bought us a new tyre and inner tube. Damien then introduced us to his cats and friends. Eating falafel in a co-op restaurant we partook in the strange yet oddly entertaining co-op board game. Damien, Francheska and Akos thank you! (N.B Neptune seems a decent and easily pleased sort of God . Make small offerings at any further shrines in order to scientifically affirm his existence).
Rhodes was the stepping stone to Turkey, where the kebab battle would commence. First though we quickly spun round this small island, round the coast and over the mountains. Thoughout Greece we have had truly epic camping sites and Rhodes provided more of note (including the garden of a health and wellness spa- lovely short kept lawn). Greece we salut you! Before leaving we feasted on our favourite tasty treats and snacks. These will forever be remembered, enshrined in our minds!
A ferry across the water from mountainous islands to mountainous Turkey. We were about to really test our legs again and in spectacular fashion. Up and down, up and down, up and down, up, up, up, up, up……up and DOWN we made it to Bodrum. This journey was a favourite. Coastal paths, gave way to cliff hugging roads and coastal bays, interspersed by tiny mountain villages each with its own fairy tale mosque tower, the sounds of the wailing Minaret calling the faithful to pray. We were really alone for most of it with 2 or 3 cars perhaps passing per day. Beautiful!
Bodrum and the surrounding area is supposed to be a great swimming spot (we heard one of the top 35 in the World but who really knows). The area itself is busy, built up and typically touristic. However solitude and beauty can still be found here. Couch surfing with Xavier and Seda (thank you) we walked through the forest to the beaches we desired. We were lucky enough to meet Elis the Eel as she poked her head between the rocks. These guys introduced us to the concept of the Earthship (a self sufficient or off the grid home made from recycled materials) which we had previously thought was just a mad name for the house our next help ex host (Erdem) was building. The concept excited us and filled us with a desire to see this construction and work there. We sped north to Payamli near Izmir to begin, and arrived on the anniversary of our bike adventure. Rachel’s bike Jade Atalanta very nearly didn’t make it up the hill as we discovered a cracked wheel rim (maybe she is she trying to tell us something?!) We very fortunately stumbled across “Cycling Tr ” Turkey’s triathlon team advertising company 5km further down the road who called their bike technician and took us out for lunch whilst we waited for her to be fixed up. Thanks- you legends.
Two weeks have now flown by here in our little farmhouse complete with chickens, a worm farm and a wild dog guard pack (Clara the smiling dog, Mike, No-Ears, Blackie and Make-up). The Eathship itself is nestled amongst the mountains. A great place to work: dig holes, plant trees, prune grape vines, dig holes, plaster the inner walls with clay, learn Erdems style of roofing and dig holes. Great times have been had with the four other volunteers- Carlos, Fanny, Georgie and Simon.
Carlos you have mastered the element of Fire (pro at lighting the little wood burner and keeping us toasty at night). Fanny thank you for the truly amazing cooking- all vegetarian- Gerard was impressed. Georgie if we hear you singing Santa Claus is coming to town one more time you’ll send us over the edge. Simon you can scout out cheap bars for us anytime- great night in Izmir! We will always remember: Drinking tea and playing phase 10 in the tiny village cafe, football against the local kids on the astro turf, drunken mussels in Izmir (amazing!), fresh baked bread from the ladies cooking in the street oven and trying to protect “make-up” the slightly pathetic lap dog who has adopted us. Erdem thankyou and good luck with the rest of the Earthship and all who sail in her!
Abandoned summer beach bars make for great wild camps in the Peloponnese
Our new favourite- 1 litre of Petzina 1.50 euro mixed with coke- delicious. Makes Uno a lot more exciting
Best visibility swim of the trip in Ag Nik. Gerard reminded Rach of the baby from Nirvana Nevermind album cover swimming underwater with bubbles escaping from his mouth!
We reach the tip of the third finger and make an offering to Neptune- a rasta bracelet plus 4 cent
Hiking to the tip of the third finger
Na na na na na na na naaaaa BAT CAVE!!
A chilling swim in the Libyan Sea, Crete
The Libyan Sea, not the warmest day for a dip.
Coastal roads in Crete
Mountain roads in Crete
Headed through the Banana Plantations in Crete
Hmmmmm, delicious. Another gormet meal in the tent!
Our very own tiny island to explore off Crete. We spent two days here walking around and camping in the church garden with the goats.
It came complete with stone table. So will it be Red Tomato or Green Pepper today Ainsley Harriott?!
Rhode camping above a fishing harbour- this picture is for you Toady
We say goodbye to the cheese pies before getting on the ferry to Turkey
Not forgetting the cakes! (Pictured with mad knife wielding lunatic).
Camping spots easy to find in Turkey.
Hotel facilities. This is usually how we wash when on the road.
Offered our own shed at a family run petrol station to sleep for the night.
Building at the Earthship.
Erdem (left) and Georgie (right) at the Earthship.
Fanny making the bottle wall smooth and pretty.
Carlos fire master extraordinaire watched in admiration.
Chapati pizza lunch. Amazing!
Payamli astro (with probably the greatest view of any pitch in the world!). Warming up before the match with the local kids (may have lost ever so slightly………)
Rachel learns vegetarian skills in the kitchen. Homemade falafel feast.
Fanny and Carlos say a last goodbye to the Make-up dog.