Decisions and a sleepless night in Halkidiki, Greece

My boys climbing rocks!

Dave the motorhome is sitting in the shade at Camping Melissi, near Sikia on the Sithonia peninsula of Halkadiki (N40.045709 E23.984155). We needed somewhere to empty Dave’s loo, but we also wanted to fully relax and have time to think – we’ve got a lot of decisions to make.

A beautiful sunset to end yesterday
A beautiful sunset to end yesterday

Yesterday evening I realised that if we were in our old lives and looking for jobs, to start when we plan to get back in October, we’d need to be attending interviews now. Of course we won’t have a three month notice period to serve, but it made me realise how close we are to being home. We hit the t’interweb and started looking to see what jobs were going back home, and it really started to get me down. Reading the job descriptions I wasn’t sure if I wanted to return to ‘driving new business’, ‘synergising communications’ or ‘being part of a customer-centric organisation’ – the language all seemed as foreign as the Bulgarian alphabet is looking at the moment. For the last twenty months everything has been straight-forward; simple language, spoken slowly and clearly with the occasional use of mime, no politics or hidden agendas.

Last nights moon in a perfectly clear sky.
Last night’s moon in a perfectly clear sky.

In the early hours of this morning we were both wide awake. The prospect of going home, getting jobs, of leaving Greece, going to a new country and of needing to find Jay a dentist as he has toothache all came together to have us both lying there with our minds going over a million and one things. This was an all too common occurrence, it used to happen a lot in our old lives, so much so that it was quite common for one of us to sneak downstairs, let Charlie out of his bedroom (well the utility room, he’s not that pampered) and curl up on the sofa with him in the hope his soothing snores will send us off to the land of nod. Charlie used to love this as he loved to sleep on the sofa, last night when Jay went to join him on his bench he wasn’t so pleased. It’s one thing to be let out of your bedroom, but quite another for someone to join you in it.

By this morning I was shattered so we decided that we would retreat to a campsite and laze around for the day – I know it’s not like that’s any different to all the other days, but doing it on a campsite makes it feel different, more relaxing. As we prepared Dave for the off our Bulgarian neighbours asked if we were leaving because their little girl was chattering away playing in the sand near to us, we assured them it wasn’t but were surprised as we thought it was only us Brits that worried about stuff like that. Soon we were winding our way over the bottom of the peninsular, past Porto Koufo, a deep inlet which was used in WWII by the Allied submarines as a base, and over pine covered hills to the east coast. Across the Toronean Gulf we could see the looming hulk of Mount Athos, the third peninsula of Halkidiki and home to 20 monasteries which I would never get to see because I’m female and females of all species have been banned from there for a thousand years (excluding cats as they catch mice!).

Mount Athos across the gulf
Mount Athos across the gulf

 

Mount Athos - we looked with binoculars but couldn't spot any monks - or monasteries!
Mount Athos – we looked with binoculars but couldn’t spot any monks – or monasteries!

 

Melissi bay
Melissi bay

We found ourselves a campsite, had a quick tour, and decided to stay. First stop was to empty Dave’s loo and fill up with water, then we parked under the shady trees, got the camping chairs out and relaxed. The site is pretty empty right now, Demitrius, our guide around the site, told us that the summer season doesn’t start until mid-July, but since the crisis there are only really two weeks of the year when the site is at 90% capacity, during this time they have to make as much money as possible as the rest of the time the place runs at a loss. We thought about the signs we had seen of the economic crisis, they aren’t what we expected. There aren’t any riots, protests, people starving and begging in the streets (well one of two of those, but most of them don’t look Greek), what we do see are cars without registration plates sitting at the side of the road as the owners can’t afford to run them any more, the concrete skeletons of unfinished building projects, bins tipped on their side to reduce collections, badly maintained roads and few people on these wonderful campsites.

Jay found this little chap by the water hose today - I made sure he kept it well clear of Dave!
Jay found this little chap by the water hose today – I made sure he kept it well clear of Dave!
Campsite Dave becomes drying and airing Dave too
Campsite Dave becomes drying and airing Dave too

Settling in we read for most of the afternoon, I finished the third book in the Twilight Saga and Jay started to reread Balkan Ghosts as we’re heading back that way now. We lost Charlie for about ten minutes at one point as the naughty pooch snuck off from his snoozing spot under the van, after a worried search around the campsite and on the beach we found him happily chomping on a bone by a neighbour’s caravan.

Just so you don't need to take your mobile to the beach for important calls!
Just so you don’t need to take your mobile to the beach for important calls!
When we leave Greece I won't miss the sheer volume of stuff jumping around my feet as I walk, including this fella!
When we leave Greece I won’t miss the sheer volume of stuff jumping around my feet as I walk, including this fella!

We took another long hard look at our map and came to a decision, we’re going to skip Poland. Sorry to any Polish readers or anyone who has recommended it, but we fancy ending our adventure on a bit of a high, and what better place to do that than driving across the Alps? So our new route back (which is still vague and in the planning stages) is through Bulgaria and Romania, then maybe a bit of Slovakia, a quick nip into the Czech Republic for some cheap tasty beer then through Austria and Switzerland to the South of France. All of this is open to change at any given moment, especially if the weather gets too hot!

Charlie wanders off for a chat during our family portrait with Mount Athos - charming!
Charlie wanders off for a chat during our family portrait with Mount Athos – charming!
Charlie and his new best beach buddy hang out in the water
Charlie and his new best beach buddy hang out in the water

We now have a plan on how to get back, and what to do when we get there was the topic for discussion on our late afternoon walk along the beach. The answer still eludes us and will no doubt cause some more sleepless nights before we reach Dover. Another year touring is on the back burner for now, we could do with restocking our ailing bank balance and feels like now might be the right time to head back to doing some work – after all we’re spending increasing amounts of time working on this blog and other projects, so we must be feeling the draw a bit. But what do we do? Back to our old jobs, or something similar? Do contract work which is more flexible? Or go way out there and try something totally different? We’ve still got all of that to mull over.

My boys climbing rocks!
My boys climbing rocks!
Guess who is off for a cool down in the sea? Poor pooch!
Guess who is off for a cool down in the sea? Poor pooch!

After long, hot showers and a BBQ we’re chilling out this evening (for a change), tomorrow we’re off to find Jay a Greek dentist as he thinks he might have chipped a tooth a few weeks ago and is now getting ear and jaw ache. Hopefully it will be straightforward to sort, but if he needs antibiotics and a couple of appointments we know a couple of places that we can hang out in for a few days for free – I can think of worse places to be between dentist appointments!

Amazing rock formations around here and a creative use of spray paint!
Amazing rock formations around here and a creative use of spray paint!
Macedonia is Greek! Not quite as creative as the lizard stone, but gets the point across
Macedonia is Greek! Not quite as creative as the lizard stone, but gets the point across

Ju x

Bonus video – rock fun in Halkidiki!

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6 Comments

  1. Don’t envy you having to make your minds up what to do. I have been reading your blog for quite a while & feel as though its about time to make some comment. I am quite envious of your adventures. Reading about what you have done has certainly made me feel a bit easier about travelling to some of the countries – we get such scare stories from the press. It is a shame that you can’t hit the south of Poland. The Tatra mountains are beautiful & Zakopane is a bit like Hansel & Gretal land. Krakow is also a lovely old city. I had not realised that Auschwitz is so far south in Poland. We travelled there last year & thoroughly enjoyed it – my father was Polish, and never went back to his homeland after he escaped just before the war started.
    Good luck with the decision making – hmm sunshine/freedom home/drab & dreary hmm decisions, decisions – what an awful one to have to make.

  2. Looks like you will be following our route back. Hope you come to terms with what the future has in store but make sure it is something you enjoy. xx

  3. Sounds like you’ve got a great route home planned, can’t wait to see you. Remember, work isn’t half so bad if you’re doing it for a good reason like saving enough to go away again! You’ll be fine. Hope jay’s toothache is better xx

  4. Hi Ju Jay and Charlie,

    Have read your blog from virtual cover to cover. Love your writing and hearing all your ‘mundane’ daily adventures in exotic locations.

    We came back from a 4 year adventure about seven years ago, and I ended up going back to corporatedome. I did suffer from culture shock for the first 6 months or so but then settled back in. My problem was it never sat right with me inside. After what seems like a very long 6 years I’ve just quit my job and now going through a similar process to you about deciding what to do to earn some spondooliks and live our life to the full.

    Good luck with whatever you decide – bet its only a matter of time before the next adventure calls though. Once bitten…….:)

    Cheers

    Carl

  5. “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight” – Benjamin Franklin

    Like you we left our ‘safe’ jobs in the UK last year to travel through Europe for a year. We only know you through your blog and emails but I’m sure you will settle down OK – you seem to be great characters. If you need to work straight away then maybe do some temporary or fixed-term contract work until you decide which ‘direction’ you want to go in – keeping your options open.

    Whatever you do – take some of the ‘sunlight’ home with you – they need it!!

  6. We love the blog, only been following for last 6 months, it’s the last thing we read before sleep, we go to sleep with happy thoughts. We feel your pain about going back to work, we had 3 years traveling around the UK and some of Southern Europe before the ever decreasing bank account started gasping for the sniff of money.
    This will proberly sound ungratefull but the day I went back to work i was on a real low, I am a warden on a campsite now and Emma is a full time artist. Totally different to our previous lives. so we get a big fix from meeting plenty of people and chatting about there travels and living in a beautiful location., keep looking forward and don’t look back. Try to think of the qualities of what you love now and how you can incorporate them into your working life.
    We are on a three year contract which gives us a goal for our next trip.

    Best of luck

    Shawn & Emma

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