Friday, 13 September 2019

Maiden Voyage for a Neo. Italy France & Greece. Part 3

We made it safely to Mystra and were soon settled in at Castle View Camping. Just below the ancient city of Mystra. A nice site in the olive groves with a swimming pool and good restaurant.

Not a hugely busy site at this time of the year but it soon acquired a few more German and Dutch visitors mainly stopping for one night. We decided to stay two and visit Mystra again the next morning.

We enjoyed the pool, the restaurant and experienced our first Greek rainfall. A short sharp down pour which was quickly over. 

Having experienced Mystra before and knowing it was a long walk to the top of the hill, we got the site owner to get us a taxi.For the princely sum of 7 Euros we were soon whizzing up the hill to the top gate. Mystra is a very big, hot and dusty site and you really do need to be relatively fit to make the upper castle. Going up is hard work but coming down requires loads of concentration. We made it to the top and enjoyed the views it was well worth the hike.

One of the stony paths up hill.

At the top!

Fabulous views in every direction.

On the way up!

It was a very long day but we really enjoyed it. Although there were some coach parties it is such a big site you feel that you are on your own. Mystras is definitely a place to go for a brilliant day out. With wrinkly discount worth a princely 6 euros each.

We headed back into the village and found a very nice homely restaurant where we had a great meal.

Tomorrow. Back to the sea. Another coastal resort at Plaka near Leonidio.

Following an extremely challenging drive though the mountains, we eventually arrived on the coast. The drive from Sparta to Plaka on the coast took us literally over the mountains. How Den kept his nerve I don't know! It was extremely scary in places. The
tiny mountain villages we encountered were bad enough to drive through in a car, never mind a van! We should have switched the dash cam on!! We certainly put our auto gear box through it's paces and it coped well.

The cork screw road. We actually managed to get a picture of it. It looks as bad as it was.

Top of the mountain. We stopped for a breather after negotiating the mountain village of Kosmos. Not something we wanted to repeat. On the other side of the mountain we passed other campers and wondered how many people were actually stuck in a mountain villages for ever! If you managed to fit through the streets you then had to manoeuvre around tractors, people and parked cars.

By the time we had come down from the mountain to sea level we were relieved to find the campsite. We were soon set up and really deserved the cold beer.

Camping Semelie in the harbour village of Plaka by a pebbly beach.

Our very own ancient olive tree. Everything in Greece is "ancient".

Plaka harbour.Lots of boats come into moor at night and enjoy the restaurants and bars.

The campsite beach. Pretty deserted which was sad with temperatures in the thirties. No Brits! The campsite is excellent with good facilities and a lovely kitchen block for tenters with lots of individual little kitchens. We could have camped almost on the beach but with no shade, we went for the olive tree option instead.

Another lovely two days and off for a fish meal later. Lets hope the fish is fresh, but there seems to be loads in the sea so we should be OK. Lets hope his nets were full.

Our next destination Camping Kastraki in Ancient Asini near the town of Tolo just down from Nafplio. A good site well positioned by the sea. Almost empty when we arrived. The site facilities are basic but serviceable and the nearby town has loads of cafes, shops and restaurants.  We have had a great time trying out some local food and swimming in the sea which is beautifully warm but salty. The evening have had a lovely cooling sea breeze so it has been a good stop.

A nearly deserted campsite.

By the beach.

At he entrance to the site is the archaeological ruins of the old Asini castle. A fascinating place to look around with amazing views. You can climb right to the top of the mountain and there are a couple of exhibitions and information about the site.

There is also a pretty little church.

It has been incredibly hot here in Greece, so there are bans on any kind of BBQ as the winds are so strong. What a shame we will have to eat out again!

Our next stop will be Corinth and the chance to see a few more ruins. Can't wait! Then off to Delphi which we are really looking forward to.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Maiden Voyage for a Neo. France, Italy & Greece. Part 2

We finally made it to Ancona and after collecting our tickets for camping on board we were on the dock in the right queue.

The only van with a GB sticker!

It appeared chaotic at times but Anek Lines are Italian run so it was not as bad as the Minoan line which we had used on our last trip. The ferry was due out at 1.30 pm but actually left at 3.30 pm! Only a two hour delay then! The boat was actually quite empty with loads of spaces for cars and vans but pretty full for foot passengers.

We were a bit anxious about the loading process as a lot of the big lorries were going in backwards. As it turned out we drove straight on an were soon settled on board.

We were given an electronic key to access the car deck. There was an electric hook up available and good showers and loos. Once moving you could use all the ships facilities which we thought were quite good. It was very hot though, even with doors and roof lights open. We ate in the self service restaurant and spent some time on the ship, no worse than our cross channel ferries really. Prices about the same on board. We slept well in our own beds!

Watching the sun coming up! There was even a swimming pool on the ship for those who fancied a dip.

Patras harbour. We arrived at around 3.30 pm, so it was exactly 24 hours on board. The boat stopped at Igoumenitsa first, so lots of passengers got off there. Reassuringly boat announcements were also in English so we knew what was going on most of the time.

Disembarkation was relatively easy. We had to do a "u" turn but by then the car deck was quite empty, so not too bad! From Patras Port a short 30 minute drive and we had arrived at our first Greek campsite Kato Alessis.

Soon settled in under the olives again.  A basic site but good hot water, a small shop, friendly staff and a restaurant overlooking the sea under a massive olive tree.

A few camp dogs but of the friendly variety. There was also a youth group on site but they were all very quiet and well behaved.

Dinner under the olive tree. Spectacular setting. You feel you are really on holiday when you get here, a glass of wine and a view to die for. I think the only disappointing thing about this site is the beach. Very scruffy now and sadly gradually eroding into the sea with remnants of old rusty beach bars still in evidence. However, a very relaxing stop we stayed for two nights to chill out.

The next stop on this trip was Oympia. Camping Alphios. We had stayed there on our previous escorted tour so thought we would go for a few days and revisit the Olympia site and museum. We had a very warm welcome from the campsite owner and soon found a pitch over looking the valley towards Mount Kounis. A stunning view. We were pleased that there was extra shading.

View towards the Olympic valley from our pitch.

A fabulous pool at Alphios and very well maintained. There was also a very good restaurant and all the food was home made by the family that ran the site. We tucked into moussaka that night.

We walked down the very steep hill to Olympia. Easier going down than coming back up! The campsite owner told us to go in the afternoon, it was hotter but so much quieter! We had Olympia practically all to ourselves for the princely sum of 6 Euros each, with wrinkly discount ( take a passport or driving licence!) We wandered around the ruins.

The deserted running track!

We later went up to the museum ( included in the admission price) and introduced ourselves to Hermes and Nike! The museum was also deserted but very cool so we had a good look around.

Hadrian himself! I wonder if this was before or after the wall! 

After the museum we made for the town and enjoyed a nice cool drink before a very hot climb.

From Alphios we really had no plans but decided to make for a beach stop next. Straight down the Peloponnese towards Pylos. Camping Erodius at Gialova.

The campsite is right on the beach and here we have stayed for 5 nights. Again, great little village just a short stroll along the beach and a lovely walk towards the lagoon in the opposite direction. The campsite was quite full, mainly Germans. The weather has been beautiful and the facilities excellent. Loads of showers, loos and a great taverna on site.

The beach is a picture postcard. Loads of water sports going on and posh yachts coming and going, so plenty to watch. The beach is only used by the campsite with lots of sun beds free to use. 

Just down the beach is a resort village with plenty of shops and small restaurants. A carafe (50 L) of white wine for 3 euros. Not much to complain about.

It must be coming to the end of the season because everyone seems to be leaving. The campsite is emptying fast.  We have decided to move on tomorrow to Mystras and the campsite called Castle View. We may see a few more ruins on the way but the site we are heading to has a good pool which we may need if this weather continues. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Maiden Big Voyage for a Neo France Italy & Greece. Part 1

First big trip away with Krystal our Neo. We managed to book a last "Camping On Board" spot to Greece courtesy of Anek Ferries. So two weeks to make it to Ancona and the boat trip. We decided to do Dover to Calais by ferry and after an uneventful trip we were soon safely on our favourite "take off" slot. Les Erables in Echalles over looking the Channel. The sun was shining!

Views towards the white cliffs.

After a great meal in a local restaurant we were off on the road to our first stop at Guignicourt.  Camping au Bord de L'Aisne. An expensive one night stop, though loads of space on the site. It was convenient and clean with good toilet facilities. Supermarket shopping and cheap fuel across the road, so a handy stop.

Ever on wards!  The next morning we picked up the toll road to our next stop Dijon. Camping Du Lac Kir. We had used the site before and it was another good "one nighter" we thought.


We had a good wander around the local park by the lake complete with beach. Lots of locals out and about enjoying the sunshine.

The beach at Lac Kir, almost in the town centre is a 5 minute walk from the campsite.

Amazing how French towns and villages manage to keep their facilities so pretty and cared for.

Time to leave Dijon and Krystal managed to get her first war wound. A tight turn out of the campsite, a large German with an even larger caravan inconsiderately parked and an encounter with an exit barrier.

Ouch!! Don't know whose pride was most damaged Den's or Krystal. Anyway they are both over it now. I think the bike rack and the bumper took most of the impact. We unloaded the bikes and think that most of the damage is cosmetic and fixable when we get home. Lesson learnt if in doubt get out! We were both concentrating on avoiding the caravan and making the tight turn we didn't look behind. The post took most of the damage but was still standing decorated in a lovely shade of silver grey paint.

Once we had got over the shock we headed towards Annency. Camping Municipal Les Champs Fleuris and our first proper stop and large drink. A very friendly site near Duingt. Through Annency at the other end of the lake.

A stunning setting. Lucky for us the French holiday season was just about to end and the site was emptying. Super fabulous weather for the first two days and plenty of time to relax by the lake.

There are loads of bike tracks which run around the lake and the local village is just up the road. We stayed at the top end of the lake which is much less touristy. 

Mist over the mountains. The weather did change and on our last night the rain came down very heavily. Fortunately we had packed up the night before so were quickly on our way the next morning.

Soon we were heading over the alps into Italy and our next stop at a place called Asti. Camping International Le Fonti. The weather gods were smiling on us and the sun came out just in time to navigate ourselves through some delightful Italian hill villages and our first Italian stop. A very pretty site in the vineyards.

We were on the hill overlooking the swimming pool. Very friendly owner and again great facilities. We enjoyed our first Italian meal in the campsite restaurant.

Good swimming pool we watched the aerobics!

We were heading towards Florence or Firenze for a bit of culture! We chose Firenze Camping in Town which was a brilliant site, easy to find with a shuttle bus into the city for 3 euros return.

It really was a huge holiday complex and very busy with good restaurant and pool complex.

A tight pitch but fine. We were really pleased we had brought the Fiamma sun screen we really needed it here it was so warm.

Florence was manic and thronged with visitors and massive queues. We soaked up the atmosphere.

A couple of more interesting locals.

Even a Chinese school visit. Check out the uniforms!

A few days in Florence and we were ready for some R&R in a slightly more rural setting. 

Our next stop was Il Falcone in the mountains just outside Orvieto near Tody. A fabulously quiet pretty place amongst the olive groves on rather a steep hill. We made it safely and spent a great 3 nights here.

Looking towards Rome.

The swimming pool was pretty much deserted, we tried it out.

Pitched amongst the olive trees.

The local village very quaint and quiet but good for a drink and a wander.

Finally after three days we were heading to the last Italian stop on this leg of the journey.  Camping Bellamare just outside the port of Ancona.

Another large brash camping complex but good fun. We had a very nice meal in the camp restaurant.

A quick bit of toe dipping. The campsite is just down from Rimini and very popular for family holidays. The beach was heaving with umbrellas. Sadly we had to wait until 3 o'clock when reception opened for business, by then there was quite a queue.

Not a bad pitch for a one night stop! Tomorrow we were off for the next bit of the adventure and a "cruise" to Greece.