Here we are parked up on the quay at Galatas, a mainland town that overlooks the island of Porto, the third in our tri-visitation of the Saronic Islands that lie off the ‘thumb’ of The Peloponnese.
Porto Heli 23/11 – 25/11/2015
We finally manged to drag ourselves away from Nafplio and head on South on our tour of three nearshore islands; Spetses, Hydra and Poros. We hoped each would offer something different and to a degree they did. Firstly however, is a short video of our bike ride from Karathonas Beach to Nafplio which should have been in the last post but we did not have fast enough Internet speed for the up-load. This video is notable for a couple of things, showing both my chain breaking and a man killing a freshly caught octopus. Originally it had a soundtrack by Steely Dan but the aged hippie knobs refused permission. So a lesson to you kids, if you want to be a hippie rock star then do not blow all your money on drugs or you grow up to be mean, mean old men.
Before we left Nafplio we met a charming couple named Tomas & Jackie who being locals, gave us lots of good advice of where to go in Greece as a Homie which we will be using, so hats off.
The drive to Porto Heli was largely un-eventful down through the ‘Thumb’. The roads are generally are still rather good and the standard of driving is still generally rather poor, especially after lunchtime for some curious reason. Porto Heli is set in a large crescent of a bay and with its gently sloping foreground gives a damn fine impersonation of Poole Harbour, only lacking the Red Squirrels and knobbly-kneed Boy Scouts of Brownsea Island. We parked up on the quay side and went for a look around this pleasant town.
1 Parked up at Porto Heli
2Porto Heli Bay giving an impersonation of Poole Harbour
We were in Porto Heli as the now disgraced Lonely Planet Guide informed us this is where to get the ferry to Spetses from. Wrong People, you must go to the town of Kostos 4.5Km away. We did buy a data card for the MiFi from Wind, pronounced as in blow and not as in up, €18 for 5 Gig, not the cheapest but it will do. We also made the decision we would repair the headboard behind our bed while here, but first we went for a meal. This being the end of November limits the choice of places open in resorts whose primary function is to cater for the white and bloated flesh of Northern Europeans. We did find somewhere that was open and had a party atmosphere going on. It seemed every single man over the age of 50 was having the odd sneaky one at lunchtime. But we all know what it is like to ‘get the taste’ and the sneaky one morphed into a full blown session ending with the entire male population staggering to their cars and driving off. So now we know why the driving is a tad inferior after lunch.
The headboard suffered from the same fate as everything else in the van, namely the sticky on the Velcro that holds everything together only has a limited lifespan. Never mind I thought, my favourite Father-in-Law, Terry, had made a big fuss just before we left in giving us a roll of heavy duty Velcro. So the plan was to add some glue to the Velcro that had come adrift, supplement it with some of ‘Terry’s Heavy-Duty-Proper-Devon-Stuff-Velcro’ and finish off with rawplugs into the vibration induced widened screw holes. So imagine my shock when I opened ‘Honest Tel’s’ Velcro to find it only consisted of a roll of the loops without the roll of hooks. Luckily we are in Greece and not in Spain where the shops actually open and within a few minutes the problem was resolved and I am happy to report the headboard is firmly affixed.
The next morning we were up bright and early and drove to Kostos to catch the ferry to Spetses. The ferry is a bit of a rip-off being €5 each way per person for a fifteen minute ride as a foot passenger. Spetses is an interesting island in that only allows resident’s cars on to the Island and a man in a smart uniform is there to meet the ferry and ensure nobody sneeks on. Stepping off the ferry in Spetses is like is stepping into a wasps nest. You are buzzed in every direction by Spetsonians whizzing around at full throttle with absolutely no love for pedestrians whether it be on the same lanes that pass as roads or narrow alleys that pass as pavements. It makes for a rather unpleasant experience similar in nature to the souks of Morocco. For some reason there appears to be trend in Spetses for the majority of shops to sell antique clothing along with anything else they sell. We are still not sure if this is for the locals or the summertime visiting hordes. The rest of Spetses is particularly verdant compared to the other nearby Isles and mainland. We ended our trip with a coffee and cakes.
A couple of Pictures of Spetses.
3 The town of Spetses on the Island of Spetses
4 looking back to the mainland from Spetses
5 Spetses Selfie
6 Spetses from the sea
We woke in the morning to find the weather and the wind in particular had decided to vent its spleen over the east coast of The Peloponnese forcing us to look out the window for a second time before debating whose turn it was to make the tea in bed. For the 427th time in a row I got up. A leisurely breakfast was had before we headed to the next ferry port for our next island, Hydra. The never knowingly-correct Lonely Planet would have you believe there are ferries from various places all to Hydra apart from the place where ferries actually go from. So like Spetses we ignored the poorly resourced Australian-based drivel and used our initiative to get to Metochi. A small point to note is the ferry does not actually go from Metochi but from a place down a single rack lane that leads to a pub and a church, and a ferry. We got there just in time to see the Ferry launching itself skywards on top of an enormous wave. We looked at each other, pursed our lips and decided to find somewhere to stay until the weather was in a better mood.
We went a couple of klicks along the road and spotted a Taverna. Being short of water and daylight we took the decision to stop and have a chat with the owner regarding staying over and filling our tanks. I think I should start by describing this Taverna as a real league of gentlemen establishment, this was a local Taverna for local people, except there were no people. Tumbleweed ran across the floor as an elderly lady made her way towards us with the aid of a stick. She had no English, and us, obviously, being English, have no language skills at all. I could see an extended game of charades for the evening ahead. But this was not going to stop our wonderful host speaking non-stop to us, serving endless drinks and food while her equally entertaining dog, nana, performed endless tricks and wheezes to get its tummy tickled. Our host whose name I ashamedly have forgotten wanted to make up beds for us to stay in her house. We had a lovely evening and thoroughly recommend stopping here for the night in your Homie. It has everything you can ask including flat pitches and spanking views across to Hydra.
7 Taverna Akth – Everyone should stop here
8 nana – The dog from The Artist
9 Tracy and Aggi
It goes without saying we were not allowed to leave before being given breakfast and a take away of freshly-picked oranges. This is just another example of why Greece is the best place to go Motorhoming. Thank you Aggi, see I did remember your name.
The weather was calm after the storm had blown itself out overnight and we headed down to get the 12:00 ferry to Hydra, a €6.50 high speed dash across the straight and within 25 minutes we were on the traffic free paradise of Hydra. Yes the views on the approach are spectacular but it is when you put your foot down on to its Marble Paved harbour you know you are somewhere very special. Here are some pictures of our journey over.
10 Looking Glamorous On the way to Hyrda
11 Us in the 1960’s, me with a piece of Beetroot on my lip
12 Hydra Harbour
13 Another of Hydra harbour
Hydra is the playground and one-time residence of Canadian tone deaf singer and poet Leonard Cohen, as well as Italian siren Sophie Loren. It is a stunning place, it is architecturally and geographically beautiful, it possesses car-free tranquillity and just oozes class and quality. There cannot be a better port side town in Europe than here or I’ll get Tracy to eat my hat. The only way to get around this island either to walk or hire a donkey or Water Taxi. So we walked around for a couple of hours, Tracy bought some locally made cosmetic products and took some photos. The place even in Mid-Winter manages to attract day-trippers in from Athens who partake in the only sport possible here; people watching. A fabulous place and here are some pictures
14 Tree lined street
15 Public Transport
16 Man on phone with Bush
17 Tracy’s Chemist
18 One more of the Harbour
19 Sea and Cannon
20 Eastern Hydra
22 Mule Train
23 Leaving Hydra
24 One for the road
25 sunset bay
26 One last look at Hydra
27 Storm brewing
A forty minute drive through some beautiful scenery from the ferry near Metochi brings you to the port of Galatas. The island of Poros, the last of our Saronic Islands to visit is a mere spit across the narrow isthmus that separates island from mainland. We arrived too late to visit and so parked up on another waterside retreat and headed into town for some food.
28 Poros from our van
We spotted, liked the look of and went to a place called Meze Meze, a restaurant ran by a highly entertaining chap by the name of Demos. Demos is a Balalaiki playing bundle of energy from the Western Road in Brighton. OK, originally from Thessaloniki, but left as a young man and has now just returned to try his luck at running restaurants in Greece instead of Britain. It was an entertaining evening with Demos explaining the Greek way of life and their attitude towards Government and Law. We had some really tasty Spit-roasted Pig and a couple of too many drinks on the house. Good luck to you Demos, we hope it works out for you.
The weather today was forecasted to be showery and so with a good view out to the west we waited until we could see a break before making the 100m dash to get the ferry. Poros on first viewing does not have the glitz and glamour of Hydra but this is not to put it down. It is very reminiscent of Dartmouth in Devon, a place regarded as not too shabby by the hordes of visitors it receives. It is pretty and is blessed with commanding views over the mainland. The buildings are similar to those found on the other islands but are not decorated to the same high standard. The shops are also a little more low-rent but a pleasant couple of hours can be spent wandering around for a piffling €1 on the ferry, 70cents on the car ferry.
29 Poros from the Ferry
30 Looking Stormy over Galatas. You can see our van on the right
31 Mmmm………. who is going to get the kebab? Cat or Dog?
32 Dartmouth? No Poros
33 View of the mainland from ferry back
So tomorrow we leave and head slowly towards the Corinthian Sea.
Love to All
E & T