Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week 3

Mon. April 16 Vranji to Yefira
Miles 196
Sunshine at last! The run to Skopje (capitol of Macedonia) was very enjoyable. Clouds rolled away & sun came out. Off went sweaters & on went sunglasses. Hit a calf in Titov Veles - its fault. Got chased by an irate soldier for photographing a bridge in a gorge, a no-no that close to a frontier.
Figure 1.24a: Titov Vales. Photo: John Ireland
Just to be on the safe side, I squandered the remaining 6 shots on the roll & took the film out and set the counter to 16. So that if they confiscated the film, all they would get would be blank film.
At the frontier, just down the road, we were waved through, but a car with German plates that had passed the bridge at the same time as us was being dismantled by the roadside.
Greece was just as I had imagined it to be, bright sun, rolling hills & snow-covered hills in the background. Tonight we are camping about 15 miles outside Salonika. The sky is clear.
Weather - warm & sunny.

Figure 1.25: Macedonia

Figure 1.26: Macedonia

Figure 1.27: Macedonia.  Photo by John Ireland.
Tues. April 17 Yefira to Stavros
Miles 76
Drove in leisurely fashion to Salonika and spent the morning wandering around the town. It is really good to be in the sun. Decided to load up with fuel & food, and find somewhere to camp for a couple of days.
Drove for about 50 miles until we hit the coast & then turned off the main road to a little village called Stavros.
Found what must be one of the best camp-sites in the world. Not far from the road but out of sight from it and right on the shore with a small clearing for the tents and a fast flowing stream of fresh water. We will be here for at least one day.
Did all our washing, had a swim in the Aegean - our first swim this trip. Had a first-rate meal this evening. Went into shorts today. We like Greece. Yugoslavia already seems like a bad dream!!
Put our watches one hour forward today.
Weather - hot & sunny. 
Figure 1.26: Salonika

Figure 1.27: Salonika
Figure 1.28: Chaos at Stavros
Wed. April 18 Stavros
Miles 10
A day of lotus eating in the best tradition. Up early & down to the sea for a swim, then lay on our camp stretchers for the rest of the morning, just reading and absorbing ultra violet rays.
John & Dereck worked on the land rover; adjusted brakes, reset tappets, checked tyre pressures, topped up the battery and cleaned out the front & back of the vehicle.

Figure 1.29: Maintenance
Spent the early afternoon washing and sorting kit. About 4pm, John & I went into the village for food. People were very friendly. Took pics of a group of kids splitting mussels. A man brought us a couple, split them, cut the flesh from the shell, squeezed lemon juice over them and bade us eat. They were very nice, too.
Figure 1.30: Washing

Figure 1.31: Shellfish lesson, Stavros
We are getting a bit sick of being taken for Germans. The people are much more friendly once they know we are English.
Watched some of the fishermen at work today. They set their nets between 2 or 3 oil drums & then drive the fish into them from a boat. One man rows while the other stands in the stern flailing the water with a long pole. Greece is all that I had heard + a bit more besides. The beauty of the coastline has to be seen to be believed. The sea is not too hot at this time of the year, just cold enough to make getting in a bit of a struggle but once in it is lovely.
Figure 1.31: Stavros. Photo: John Ireland
Figure 1.32: Camp at Stavros

Figure 1.33: Stavros. Photo: John Ireland

Figure 1.34: Stavros. Photo: John Ireland
We are having difficulty making ourselves understood because they even use a different alphabet. We got a police escort out of Salonika yesterday as the officer thought it would be easier to show us the right road than to try to tell us!! We made a curry tonight; everything was going perfectly until we got to the part about putting in the curry powder. We had no curry powder.
Weather - hot & sunny.

Thurs. April 19 Stavros
Miles nil
Another day of lotus eating, if anything, even lazier than yesterday. We spent the day lying on our stretchers in the sun, reading, occasionally swimming, then into the tents for a siesta this afternoon. Read 'The Green Man' by Marcel Ayme.
Weather - hot & sunny.
Figure 1.35: Stavros. Photo: John Ireland

Figure 1.36: View of Stavros. Photo: John Ireland
Fri. April 20 Stavros to Xanthi
Miles 106
Another dream of a day. Idled along the coast to the next big town, Kavala. We came upon it rather suddenly, over the top of a hill and we just had to stop. The view was breathtaking.
Figure 1.36: Kavala. Photo: John Ireland
The town was in 2 parts, the old port nearest the sea and dominated by a Byzantine castle, linked to the more modern part by a Roman aqueduct in perfect repair. 
Figure 1.37: Roman aqueduct, Kavala. Photo: John Ireland
Spent a happy couple of hours just browsing around and shopping. Left Kavala in the afternoon and drove slowly on to Xanthi, another beautiful town, but more Eastern than anything we had seen before.
Figure 1.38: Market in Xanthi

Figure 1.39: Xanthi
Turned off the main road and are camped by a river up in the hills.
Met some English people in Kavala who are working in Ankara, Turkey. They gave us their address & invited us to eat with them on the way through.
Had a visit from some soldiers just before we turned in. Apparently we are in the middle of a military zone, but they did not seem to think we were a threat to military security!
Weather - hot & sunny.

Sat. April 21 Xanthi to Dicella
Miles 82
Words are beginning to fail a bit now. I have never seen anywhere to match Greece before. Up early, as is our custom now, and drove the land rover into the river for a wash, then packed up and away.
Figure 1.40: Bath time
Had an interested and sceptical audience while we drove out of the river and up a steep sandbank, but she never faltered.
Spent the morning wandering around Xanthi until the heat got a bit much for us. Drove out to Porto Lago, brewed up and lay in the sun for a while.
Figure 1.41: Camp at Dicella
Drove on almost to Alexandropoulos, turned off along the coast to just short of Dicella. Made camp on a little headland opposite the island of Samothrace. Had a really good spaghetti Bolognese tonight. Drove into Alex, walked around for a while, then back to camp.
Weather - hot & sunny.

Sun. April 22 Dicella
Miles 0
Decided to have another rest day. Spent the morning lying in the sun and reading, then decided to go for a walk to photograph a church I had seen yesterday.

Figure 1.42: Church, Dicella
 When I got there, there was a group of Greek students playing ball on the grass outside the church, almost right on the beach. They asked me to join in and I did.
Figure 1.43: Greek students and Tony Stead, Dicella
Later, they produced a picnic lunch that they also asked me to partake of. Hamburgers, cheese, bread, hard-boiled eggs, & wine, all spread out on a couple of blankets in one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen.
Had another excellent meal tonight.
One could have quite a cheap holiday camping here. Food is cheap, as is fuel - and the sunshine is free. We have all decided to come back here for our honeymoons! If & when.
Weather - hot & sunny.

1 comment:

Barbara Watt said...

this is my very first comment on my very first blog! You are doing a fantastic job for history and it reads very well. Congratulations! barbara