Dave the motorhome’s feeling the occasional drop of an early green olive rolling off on his roof and awning, sat still in the sun at Camping Sikia, Pelion, Greece (N39.309174 E23.109355). The sun’s just about to dip down behind the hill to my left, plummeting us into the mid 20 degrees C. No need to get out a jumper!
Yeah, about those olives. They’re undersized, hard little things at the moment and unsurprisingly, they’re olive green. All of last night there’d be the occasional thud-roll of one as it hit the roof and scuttled off somewhere, waking us up and having us wonder what on Earth was after getting in here with us. This morning a couple fell on us as we ate breakfast looking out over a mixed vista of leaves, branches, sea and white wall of motorhome.
Camping Sikia’s a beautiful little site, rolling off down a gentle slop through the olive grove into the sea. The facilities are spotless. The thick cluster of trees makes manoeuvring difficult, but also means we can’t see much past our neighbours, so the fact the site’s rather busy is quite lost on us. Talking of manoeuvring, we had an odd experience earlier. A motorhome arrived to slot into the space next to us, but couldn’t get in. Picture it: man driving, wife outside. Much forwarding and reversing, much shouting, much waving of arms, not much progress. I half stepped in to help, wary of stepping on anyone’s ego, and within a minute they were in. The driver was unperturbed, uber chilled, despite the fact his wife was berating him apace. “He listens to you, he doesn’t listen to me, all he wants to do is go straight”. We’ve seen loads of this, it must be one of the most stressful parts of a journey, trying to get into a space under scrutiny of a crowd of fellow motorhome drivers, after a long trip. We’ve not perfected this, let me not mislead you, but with a boatload of practice we’re getting there. The key for us is not to communicate through speech at this point: Ju’s built up a set of firm, unambiguous arm movements and guides like someone bringing in an aircraft to a stand. I watch her, and ignore all else, works for us.
Anyway, we’ve nailed some jobs today. Dave’s had half a tonne of dog fur removed, mixed in with a good layer of Saharan sand. The bathroom and fridge are whiter than they were yesterday and half the terrace behind us has fluttered with our washing for a couple of days, it now stands empty again awaiting a Greek tent or two. A little venture I’ve been working on how moved a bit further forwards. Charlie’s been walked to the adjacent beach. We’ve topped up our 3G Internet (much confusion at the kiosk – ‘you want a card?’ ‘no, internet top-up’. ‘A card’. Ju quickly sussed the bit of paper they give you with a code on is called a card, but for whatever reason they couldn’t give us €15 so we had to get €20). And the 3 FIX beer bottles I sank last night have been returned (more confusion: ‘you want 3 more beers?’ ‘no, I just want the deposit back’ ‘huh?’. Turns out you only get a credit for returns, and you have to spend it there and then, so we got a box of milk. I’m working on the other FIX beers as I type this.
Quick FIX beer detour: would you know it, this unassuming lager’s got a part of play in Greek history. The beer was first brewed in Greece back in 1864 by one Johann Karl Fuchs. In Greek, his last name became Φιξ, or Fix. The beer came to Greece with this guy’s father, who came from Bavaria (south east Germany) with King Otto. Eh? A German King of Greece? (I’m overlooking any Germanic influence on the British royal line at this point). When the war-like Maniots murdered the first president of Greece after it had won independence from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey these days) the Great Powers of France, Russia and Britain decided that a German king was required here to keep order. King Otto wanted some decent beer when he turned up, brought over Johann Fuch’s father and voila, I’m drinking FIX over 150 years later.
I’m just no longer cut out for campsites. After the grand total of a day and a half, I’m more than ready to be off. I was jealous when I saw the motorhomes free-camping yesterday, and found another spot today which looked a great spot to be, for free, and with loads of space and access to a law-less deserted beach. Although this is a great campsite, and we really needed to get a massive load of washing done, there’s not much here to do but chill out, and I’ve too much energy for that. I’ve gotta be doing stuff, seeing things, I’m finding that the road’s a drug, a highly addictive one, always promising something which might lift you up with joy, just around the next corner, over the next mountain, through the next town, over the next border.
Just along the path from us Jurgen, who we met on a ferry recently and had met before that in Tunisia, is parked up with his wife and a couple they know. We had a good chat, praised the wonderful ADAC, and acquired an English newspaper. The couple is English-German, both speak perfect English, both have lived in Germany and the UK. National stereotypes are meaningless, we’ve long discovered, and when you meet people who cross boundaries like this it just brings it home that you can form no opinion about someone simply from seeing where their motorhome or car is registered.
Anyway, I will get my fix tomorrow, another dose of road. We’re off to the iconic monasteries at Meteora, one of Greece’s biggest attractions and from the photos I’ve seen, deservingly so. Bring it on man, bring it on.