After the full moon on Lefkada we explored further south, driving over the spectacular bridge at Patra (of which a civil engineer somewhere should be very proud) and into the Peloponnese.
Turning off at Gastouni towards Kastro and Kilini, where several campsites are marked, we found a surreal area of Greece. Camping villages punctuating a coastline of vast sandy beaches, with gates and boundaries separating them from endless fields of water melons, evidently planted by men but seemingly left to nature.
In a quiet rural farming village, we lunched as soon as we could find somewhere open and with food. We were the only guests again and great food as usual, despite the apologies that ‘kitchen not big because no tourist’.
We settled at Camping Meltissa, the most informal and natural ‘camp site’ (rather than the many ‘camp villages’) run by a very friendly Greek family. A wonderful base for us to chill out in comfort with a fantastic, west facing, quiet spot next to the beach.
We walked and jogged on the beach (inspired by the retirees and locals’ wobbling along the beach as the sun rose ), snorkeled, swam in the crystal clear water and played in the and afternoon waves.
Stir crazy after the first day, we walked out along the lanes and up to Kastro and its Byzantine castle (just in time for it to close for siesta). So again, we did our best to ease the Greek financial crisis with beer in one bar with an wonderful view…
and lunch in a local taverna with a small menu but great chef and great local wine.
The next day we planned a walk to Kilini, a small port and nearest large town that the guide book promised was ‘cheerless with no reason to stop’ which normally means it’s worth a mooch at least for an hour or so. Heading off north down a lane in what we expected was the right direction, at just before midday as we often stupidly do, we soon came to a dead end. We had been guessing since we hadn’t found a detailed map of the area and when we asked the camp site owners about footpaths, they looked at us very oddly and asked ‘what about Olympia, have you been there?’ Yes and not quite the ‘off-the-beaten track adventure’ we had in mind.
Luckily, at the end of the road, there was a sign for four rental bungalows with a Greek kitchen at the beginning of a long, lawn bordered, rough drive. We wandered down fearing a tourist trap but found a lovely bar, perched on the top of the coastal cliff, with tables under welcome shade and quiet music playing. It seemed we had woken the bar man when we asked if they were they open for food but he happily brought us a beer and told us that the kitchen would open shortly.
Within a few minutes we had iced glasses full of Mythos Greek beer and relaxed to Greek calming music from the bar, cicadas in the trees and the waves lapping below. We looked out across the sea to the silhouetted hills of Kefalonia. Within half an hour, I was so relaxed I felt like crying and within an hour we had a wonderful aubergine salad, Greek salad and pork souvlaki (kebabs).
Having seen another couple emerge from the beach below we tore ourselves away from the tranquil and surreal oasis and went to investigate once we were fully refueled and rejuvenated from our stop in the oasis.
The beach below the restaurant stretched north, perhaps we can get to Kilini that way? Tomorrow? And south, only a short way before being cut off by rocks jutting into the sea, separating this beach from our Kastro beach, a mile or so away. Surely we can clamber round, what’s the worst that can happen? And so we did emerging onto the very end of ‘our’ beach where we had walked to yesterday and assumed we could go no further, as evidently the couple of startled beach walkers thought too as we jumped down from the last rock onto the sand.
We wandered the last mile through the lapping sea, flip flops in hand and content smiles on our faces.
Dinner by the camper van enjoying our sea view and the sunset, you can never tire of sunsets…
…particularly when they give you the chance to take arty pictures of your cool camper van!
We contemplated whether we should walk to Kilini (around 12km away according to our Greece map) by the road or try to get by clambering along the beaches and rocks. Wanting adventure and challenge as always, next morning we set off north along the beach (more in the next blog)…