Monday, 7 July 2014

The Journey back to Grimsby.

Day 93 - Tuesday 01.7.14        Leaving day continued !

We drove to Corfu Port and checked in for our ferry across to Igoumenitsa, We sat in the shade and had a cold drink watching the world go by. Our friends Loretta and Terry turned up to wish us bon voyage, that was so kind of them. They  are leaving Corfu on Thursday to go back to Kent. We met them in Bari, Italy on the way down and they are going back home for 2 months because Terry has some work planned and they are due to have a new granddaughter. (Dolly was actually born, about 4 hours after they arrived - she must have been waiting for Nana and Grandad before she put in an appearance). We are getting the ferry to Bari as we had booked a return ticket. Terry was telling us that they will be going to Ancona this time as it saves a drive of 288 miles = a days driving. We will certainly be looking at this next time as he said for them it was only 40 euros difference in price.

Our ferry, Eleni.

Sailing away from Corfu!

When we arrived in Igoumenitsa we crossed to the other side of the port and checked in for our ferry to Bari, due to leave at half past midnight.

We had plenty of time to kill, so we decided to drive along the coast and find somewhere to have a meal. We found Plataria - a sleepy little harbour town. 

We had a walk round and then had a Meze in a taverna overlooking the Marina

We drove back to catch our ferry to Bari, it was late arriving and was almost 2am by the time we got on board. This 'camping on board' is excellent. We got a mains hook up as soon as we were in position. Poppy jumped up on our bed and settled down. We nipped up to the bar for a quick cold drink and then to bed. It was very hot in the van as there was not much air about, We decided that we need to invest in a 12v Fan for future trips. 

Day 94 - Wednesday 02.7.14  

We arrived in Bari at 11.30am - it took ages to unload the vehicles. We finally disembarked at 1.30pm. We stopped off for lunch just 22 miles away from Bari. We are amazed how many campervans were on the road, there were hardly any in April. We stopped for the night just north of Rimini at Autogrill Rubicone Ouest. I have never enjoyed a shower so much as I did tonight, it was very hot and sticky in the van with no AC. We had a light meal and settled down for the night, there was a breeze  so we kept the side windows open and had a good nights sleep. 

Day 95 - Thursday 03.7.14

We drove north and stopped off for lunch not far from Lake Garda 

We sat at a picnic table and spoke to a German couple who were on their way home in their campervan after spending two weeks at Lake Garda.

We drove on a bit further towards the Brenner Pass and saw some spectacular scenery on the way, with a little snow on top of the mountains.

We stopped off at the Brenner Museum  for a cold drink and to buy the Vignette which we need for passing through Austria.

'At the Brenner Pass, where once stood customs between Italy and Austria – a place of exchanges and encounters, but also of divisions – rises Plessi Museum, that hosts inside it a permanent exposition space dedicated to Fabrizio Plessi (born in 1940), an artist from Emilia but raised in Venice who is famous for his video-installations.
The building, designed by engineer Carlo Costa (director of the Brenner motorway), is the first museum space on a highway in Italy and wants to be a symbol (in its architecture and the works on display), connecting the Latin world with the Germanic one.
Inside it, what immediately stands out is a sculpture made by Plessi in 2000 for the Expo in Hannover, joining 3 compositions representing the provinces of Trento, Bolzano and Innsbruck, the historic heart of Tirol. Other than the installations, the paintings and the sculptures of the artist, there are also other exposition spaces and a conference room conceived to host events. And for all those car travelers who need more than a cultural stop, the museum also contains an eating and service area.
Without wanting to reduce the concept, Plessi Museum is a kind of rest stop that becomes an occasion for cultural discovery, in which travelers can explore its over 15,500 square yards in the form of a crystal shrine, with looming above it an impressive covering able to communicate with the main architecture and the alpine landscape, and to reflect its historically charged location'
We spent the night just south of Ulm in Germany at Rasthof Illertal.

Day 96 - Friday 04.7.14

We slept very well last night as the further north we go the cooler it gets. We stopped for lunch at Rasthof Bruchsal, not far from Hockenheim. 

Parked up for the last night!

Tonight we stayed at Raststatte Aachener Land Nord, Germany. Another nice, peaceful spot,  we slept well in the cooler air. 

We are really pleased with how 'Mercy' the motorhome has performed. She has behaved well, coping with all the steep hills and mountains and only using just under 1 litre of oil for the whole 2.892 mile round trip. We have estimated that we have got approximately 29 miles per gallon on the trip. 

Day 97 - Saturday 05.7.14

We packed the beds away and had a general tidy up this morning. We stopped for lunch near Antwerp. It rained most of the day,  as we arrived at the ferry port in Zeebrugge it was cloudy but not raining. We took Poppy to have her microchip scanned and get her DEFRA notification which we will need in Hull. Then we checked in and drove onto the 'Pride of Brugge' Poppy was put into her kennel - she seems happy to do this, she just settled down on her bed. We are so proud of her she has been such a good girl - she takes everything in her stride, calmly and without a fuss. We went to our cabin and had showers, then went to visit Poppy in the kennel to take her a drink and feed her. We went for a meal - Cornish Pasty washed down with Zinfandel, before retiring to our cabin.

Day 98 - Sunday 06.7.14            Back in England!

We docked at 9am, collected Poppy from her kennel. She was so pleased to see us and disembarked by 9.30am. We went straight through customs - they didn't even look at Poppy - just her documents. Drove back to Grimsby in the rain - welcome home! Our son Gary was at our house with the gates open and kettle on. 

We have had an amazing 3 months and look forward to doing it all again in 2015, with a different route next time. Thank you all for reading our blog and for all the positive comments and good wishes. Now back to reality - clean Mercy, put some laundry in the machine, sell our house and plan our next outing.

Last few days in Arillas

Day 89 - Friday 27.6.14

It was 26 deg by 10am - I spent the morning writing my blog.

We decided to go to 'Effies' - Eftihia  (EXYTHIA it means happiness ) for lunch as we have not been, up to now this visit. I always have the same meal - Grilled prawns with extra garlic - as recommended to me by Phil Poffley a few years ago. I think I died and went to heaven - they were just as delicious as always.

Effie came out to say hello, she is pregnant, due to have a baby girl at the beginning of September. She is keeping very well and had just come back from Corfu town where  she was buying some bigger clothes as nothing fits her now.

Phil and I spent a lovely couple of hours in the dappled shade, (30 deg outside)  reminiscing about this trip and previous holidays. The main pleasure for me is seeing how relaxed and well Phil is! It is just over a year since his heart bypass operation. I am so pleased we got to live our dream! I was doubting it when I saw him in intensive care last June.

Arillas sure is getting busy now and very hot!

This evening we walked down to the front. On the way we stopped to have a chat to Clare who is now working in the Silver Moon shop, she is loving it. 
Then we went to Portofino for a Meze. It was very windy so not as hot as it has been but still humid. Spiros was very stressed as he had had a visit from the police, right at his busiest time, when the restaurant was full. They wanted to check all his paperwork, which was all in good order except for one form which  he has to get from his book keeper. The police have visited most business premises today. They are looking for people who are avoiding paying tax.

We called in the Coconut for a nightcap and had a chat to Yiota.

I asked Kostas if we would be seeing Hannah and baby before we left and he told me that the Greeks have a tradition that they do not go out for 40 days. So we will have to wait until our next visit to see them  both. I gave him our present for baby. I had it made in England before we came to Greece - so it is well travelled.

I was curious about this 40 day tradition, so I looked it up and found that:-

The Greeks are very superstitious and believe a lot in religion but also in supernatural or paranormal phenomenon. Traditions and superstitions vary from island to island, from villages to villages and from region to region. In the past, it was believed that the new mother was the source of jealousy and must avoid the “evil eye” (κακό μάτι, kako mati) Therefore, she was never seen in public for forty days. After this period, she would take her baby to the church, the baby was blessed by the priest, and they could both start going out.

Day 90 - Saturday 28.6.14

I spent the morning packing and sorting things out for our trip home. Poppy only had a short walk this morning. It was 26 deg by 2pm and the humidity was 73%. I still have swollen feet and laid on the bed with them elevated. The inevitable happened - I fell asleep.
We went to Quattro in San Stef tonight - again. It is a new this year, Italian restaurant that specialises in hand made pasta. The  four friends are very efficient and friendly, they truly deserve to do well. Michaela told us that up to now, it has exceeded their expectations, I hope it carries on for them.  If you can possibly get there it is well worth a visit - the food is gorgeous. I had Bruschetta for starters, then Pasta with tiger prawns

 and Phil had garlic bread, and a to die for steak

followed by Chocolate mousse.

Including house wine the bill was less than 40 euros - so not too expensive for such wonderful food. 

We had a stroll up to Hippopots to have a chat with Jackie and Pete before driving back to Arillas. They do some wonderful pottery.       I ordered a couple of special items to take home with us. Jackie is going to rush them through for me as we need to collect them on Monday evening.
Another very memorable evening.

Day 91 - Sunday 29.6.14

Another hot one today - 27 deg at 1pm.  30 deg at 3pm and 84% humidity.
We went to Brouklis to see Dimitri this afternoon, we were the only people there, apart from Dr. Yannis. The four of us had a good chat about various things including dogs on the beach. It seems that the notice on the beach is not enforceable. The council will be having meetings to discuss the matter and the wording may change - to something like, dogs on leash, keep dogs under control, pick up after your dog - there are various options.

So we took Poppy for a last swim of this holiday down by the jetty.

Yannis, Vasso, Harris and Alexandra, our landlord and his family all came to say goodbye to us, we paid a deposit to book the apartment for April, May, and June 2015. Looks like we will be doing it all again - all being well.
We had a snack in Sharon's pool bar and said goodbye to everyone. This evening we packed some things into the campervan then went to Brouklis for dinner. Bifteki again for me, one of my favourite meals. Called in at the Marvel for a nightcap and to confirm that we will be wanting a room for tomorrow night as we have to vacate the apartment. We watched Greece loose their football match to Costa Rica.

Day 92 - Monday 30.6.14

This morning we packed all the rest of our stuff in the van. We went to the Marvel to check in and have lunch. We drove to Roda to the vets to get Poppy's passport stamp and for her worming tablet. Matoula the vet is so lovely, she checked Poppy's microchip, and signed the passport saying she is fit and well to travel. A painless payment of €26.
We filled the van with Diesel, checked the tyre pressures etc. Then we drove to San Stef to collect my items from Jackie and Pete at Hippopots and say goodbye.. We drove down to the port to have a last look, then on to Armourada for a last drink with Leon and Billy. We met some more forum members who, all came to say they are enjoying the blog. Said goodbye to Clare in the Silver Moon shop.

We drove down to the front hoping to get a photo of our last Arillas sunset of this trip, but we just missed it. Back to the Marvel for a shower, then a Meze with wine and off to bed. It has been a long, busy and emotional day.

Day 93 - Tuesday 01.7.14        Leaving day!

We had a leisurely coffee on our balcony when we woke, reflecting about this trip and how amazing it has been.

We had brunch before setting off. Just as we were leaving I had a message from Yiota saying she had made Cheese pies for our journey, what a lovely thoughtful gesture! Yiota and all the like minded locals are the reason we keep returning to our little bit of paradise.
We said our goodbyes to Sophia, Kostas and Spiros at the Marvel, drove down to Yiotas to collect the pie, said another goodbye to Sharon then set off from Arillas on the journey home.

Last view of the beautiful clear blue sky.

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Twelfth Week

Day 82 - Friday 20.6.14

Lovely sunny, hot day after the storms Dot  packed her bag this morning. We drove to Sheila and Keiths house for a late lunch.

It was a lovely, long relaxing lunch, with great views and chat.

I saw the most beautiful Swallowtail butterfly in the garden.

We left Dot at Sheilas and drove back to Arillas. We have to see her before she flies out as she has accidentally left her passport and ticket here.

Day 83 - Saturday 21.6.14

Lazy morning again, we went to Sharon's for lunch. Had a chat with Kevin and Kay. Phil and I went swimming in the sea and sunbathed, we left Poppy at home as we didn't want to torment her with not being able to swim yet. We went to the Marvel for dinner and had a game of darts with Spiros. We met some more people who are enjoying reading this blog - still amazed at how many people read it.

Day 84 - Sunday 22.6.14

21 deg at 9am - not a cloud in the sky! Dot called for her passport. I did some housework and washing - getting some things sorted for going home. I also did an online shop from Tesco for the day we return home. Phil went over to the Marvel to watch the Grand Prix. I spent the afternoon reading. It was still 30 deg at 6pm. We went to Brouklis for a meal tonight - spit roast chicken - it was delicious. then we walked down to meet Terry and Helen Warner and had a drink with them in the Acti - it was great to meet them at long last, we have been friends on the Forum and Facebook for years. They only had one drink and retired to bed at the Horizon as they had been up since 6am yesterday morning. We popped into the Coconut for a nightcap.

Day 85 - Monday 23.6.14

Today we drove south to Moraitika to meet up with our Danish friend Connie, who has lived there for the last 3 years. We went to her house for a glass of wine and then parked the campervan up for the night, as we stayed over in it. We walked down to the beach, Poppy had a lovely swim and a cool off.

Connie and I walking to the beach

Happy Poppy

Then we walked up to Connie's favourite restaurant Edesma Taverna for a meal. We had been there two years ago when we visited with Sue and Dave. 

We were joined by Connie's friend Scarlett - she is such a lovely, bubbly person and very comical.

We had a long leisurely meal with lots of wine and chat. Then we walked back to the van, Connie went home and we took Poppy for a quick run before we all settled down for the night.

Day 86 - Tuesday 24.6.14

We parked up for the night next to a supermarket, behind it there was a gated courtyard with some kittens in it, they were that tiny that they could squeeze through the rails and came running over to us - hoping to be fed. We picked Connie up and drove further South to Lake Korission. I was hoping the flamingoes would be there but it must be the wrong time of the year.

We stopped off at a beach bar and had a cooling drink, I am getting to like Iced coffee, very much. Poppy had a run and a swim in the sea.

This is the view we were looking out at.

Then we went to a traditional taverna for lunch, the lady, who I think was the cook as well as the waiter spoke very little English. .

While I went to the loo Phil ordered some wine, we all wanted white but apparently she said no only red - and pointed to the red square  on the checked tablecloth,  but she made a point of telling him that it was not from a supermarket, she had made it herself from her own grapes. Therefore the tablecloth depicts red, white and rose according to Phil.

The menu was very limited and was mainly in Greek, but there were a few English words added, like fish and chicken.  Connie opted for fish and Phil and I had Greek salad, tzatziki and bread.  It was all very tasty.

We were lovely and cool, sitting in the shade of the
olive trees with a beautiful view of the lake.

We dropped Connie off and made our way North, stopping off at Pontikonisi Cafe for an ice cream. We watched planes taking off and landing over Pontikonisi Island or Mouse Island as it is more commonly known.

We watched people swimming down below in the crystal clear water,

 also a yacht trying to sail, but just drifting about as there was no wind.

An idyllic spot to spend a couple of hours!

'Pontikonisi Island is situated just south of Corfu town near the resort of Perama and Kanoni, it is a small island which houses the Byzantine church of Pantokrator, which was built in the 11th or 12th century. The Byzantine chapel that is on the top of the island encloses the memorial tablets of Elizabeth Empress of Austria and Rodolfo archduke.
Pontikonisi Island means ‘Mouse Island’ in Greek and it is from this that it gets it more famous name and viewed from afar the island gives the impression of a mouse. According to Greek legend the boat of Odysseus was turned into this island by Poseidon.
You can reach the island by a small boat in the summer month, which leaves from the small port opposite but you should be aware that you will not be allowed to walk around the island or the church. The only day of the year the church is open to visitors is on August 6th, which is a celebration day called ‘The Transfiguration of Jesus’ and pilgrims are taken to the island.'

We made our way North, back to Arillas for a snooze and shower, then out for a pizza and a nightcap at the Marvel. We watched Greece win their football match against The Ivory Coast. There were certainly some happy Greeks tonight.

Day 87 - Wednesday 25.6.14

We had some visitors this morning, Steve and Carol, they have been reading this blog and came to introduce themselves, they also said they are thinking of bringing their campervan over next year. They had a look round our apartment and said they would like to rent it next year. We are hoping to come back April, May and June and they would like it July, August and September.

The aircon on Mercy (campervan) has given up the ghost,  we decided to take her into the garage this morning. The mechanic was a lovely. helpful man, who tested it and found out we have a hole in one of the pipes, he said it would have to have the engine stripped down and the pipe go to Corfu town to be mended. We decided not to do it - in case it took too long, we have read the book, Avrio never comes by John Waller - and bearing in mind we are leaving next Tuesday, we dare not risk it. We had a lazy afternoon, the temperature was around 34 deg, lunch at the Marvel and then back to the apartment for a snooze and a read. We stayed in tonight and had beans on toast as we have had a hectic few days and the heat is beginning to take it's toll on us. It was still 28 deg outside at 7pm.

Day 88 - Thursday 26.6.14

I have been a busy bee, washing clothes, packing some things away and tidying up. Trouble is it looks messy now as I have little piles of things all over ready to be packed away in Mercy.
It was very cloudy today, I don't think we saw the sun at all, Hot and humid all day. We drove down to San Stefanos - Phil bought a new pair of beach shoes, then we went to Waves taverna for lunch, after which Poppy had a swim in the sea. Snoozing and reading this afternoon.  We stayed in again tonight - I made a chicken pizza - we are trying to use all the bits in the freezer.

We are just about to spend our last four days on Corfu - we leave on Tuesday for the journey home. I will  publish a blog on Tuesday if I get chance. Then we will be on the road until Sunday 6th July.

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Eleventh Week

Day 75 - Friday 13.6.14

27 deg at 11am   30 deg at 5pm.
A friend has posted on Facebook, some Stoneart they have done on the beach - I think they are lovely.

Today we all went up to Bardis Sun Studios for Lunch. At last Larissa has met Bobby and George - I hoped they would want to marry my granddaughters years ago - seems it is not to be. Bobby has married the beautiful Katerina - so that only leaves George now - so still hopeful! Then we had a drive up to the Night Owl. We only had icecreams but the girls met Linda and loved all the owls and especially the baby swallows in their nests.

Emma at Night owl
Lila at Night owl

Swallows at Night owl
every time the parents
flew in, 5 heads popped
up and 5 little beaks opened

Then we went down to Sharons for the girls to have a swim - we sat with a glass of wine and watched the world go by. It was 30 deg in the shade at 5pm. This evening I dropped the girls off in Sidari and we came back and had a delicious Bifteki in Armourada.

Armourada looking pretty

Apparently the girls had a good night, they had a nice meal and then went round some bars - drinking cocktails and having a good laugh. They got a taxi back at 6am. Oh to be young again!

Day 76 - Saturday 14.6.14

Dot and I drove to Sidari to get her prescription made up - she has high blood pressure according to Dr. Yannis. The girls slept in this morning, then got up and went down to the beach to meet some friends. Phil, Dot and I decided to go over to San Stefanos beach to see if dogs were allowed. We didn't see any signs - as soon as we opened the back door, Poppy took off for a swim. She found a stick and had a good play. Then we sat in The Waves taverna - right on the beach - for our lunch. It was a lovely meal and the view was great. The bonus was Poppy being able to swim - sorry Arillas but you are loosing out on our custom during the day. There is a webcam viewing the beach, sited on top of Waves Taverna.

Tonight we went for a Pizza with the girls at Pizza Lithero - delicious food once again, they made friends with Dimitri the waiter and Vas the chef. Then we went to the Coconut for a nightcap, and met up with Grace and Chris.

 Dot, Phil and I left the girls to watch the England match which started at 1am Greek time.

Day 77 - Sunday 15.6.14

We all decided to go to San Stefanos today - same place for lunch and we all went swimming - it was a fabulous day.
Tonight we walked down to Thalassa for the last supper with the girls - gorgeous meal again, I had my usual Fillets of Sole with an Ouzo and cream sauce, with mashed potato. Larissa had Grilled Octopus for her starter and really enjoyed it.

Think she likes it!
Getting stuck in!

Then we popped into Portofino for the girls to say goodbye to Spiros and Spiros the waiter. We left the girls at the Coconut and walked home.

Day 78 - Monday 16.6.14

Dot went to Portofino to have breakfast with her friends who go home today.

Then we went to Brouklis for lunch and had a good chat to Dimitris. We saw his new kittens too.

 I walked down to retrieve Larissa and Emma off the beach - they had had a swim and were asleep on sunbeds - serves them right for staying up so late lol. I met Kevin and Dawn Gable while I was down there, they are staying in one of the apartments at the poolbar - nice spot.  The girls went back to the Marvel  to finish their packing as they leave at 6pm. They have had a good holiday - even with us oldies in tow some of the time, but Larissa says her grandparents are 'cool' - and say they are definitely returning next year. It is always difficult when you tell someone how good a place is - you just hope they like it as much as you. It certainly seems that we have two new Arillas Addicts! Phil, Dot and I stayed in tonight and had a simple meal with salad. We have eaten out every night with the girls and are fed up of getting glammed up - we had a lazy night.

Day 79 - Tuesday 17.6.14

This morning Dot went off with her friend Brenda to have a breakfast which they won in a quiz last week. Phil and I took Poppy to the vets in Roda as she has some bites on her leg, and has licked it raw. Another injection, antibiotics and a spray for her. Another 50 euros - good job we love her. No swimming for the next 10 days! Poor Poppy she has such a sensitive skin, a bit like me actually. I always have a bad reaction to mossy bites and any jewelry that has nickel in it. We stopped off for lunch halfway between Roda and Sidari. It was really high up with a tiny view of the sea, their flowers were very healthy and cared for.

Then went shopping for some coffee and dog food. There has been quite a change in the weather today, rain in the night, cloudy all day and cool. Tonight we drove up to the Night Owl, we took Chris and Grace as they have never been. The food was delicious again, Dot and Chris both had the biggest Pork Chops I have ever seen.  We came home after the meal as I had a migraine.

Day 80 - Wednesday 18.6.14

We all went up to Gravia for lunch today, it was very hot with a lovely cooling breeze. It is a few years since we have been here, there are new owners running it and they have made some improvements, especially the bar which runs the full length of the cafe - a great place to watch people walking the donkey path between Arillas and San Stefanos, they look like dwarfs, it was funny to see an umbrella bouncing along being used as a sun shade.

This evening we went to the Rainbow for a fun darts match - nothing serious and no finishing on a double. It was a real good laugh.

Day 81 - Thursday 19.6.14

Dot went off early with friends. They drove to Corfu port and then took a boat to visit Island Vidos. It is a small island just off the coast of Corfu - less than one kilometer in diameter.

 According to the history of the island:-
During the First World War, the island of Corfu served as an island hospital and quarantine for sick Serbian soldiers following the epic retreat of the Serbian army and part of the civilian population through Montenegro and Albania in 1915 following the Austro-German-Bulgarian invasion of Serbia (see Serbian Campaign (World War I)). While the main camps of the recuperating army were on Corfu itself (a contingent was sent to Bizerte as well, and many of the civilian refugees were accepted by France), the sick and near-dying, mostly soldiers, were treated on Vido to prevent epidemics. In spite of Allied material help, the conditions of both the improvised medical facilities and many of the patients on the island resulted in a high fatality rate. Due to small area of the island and its rocky soil, it soon became necessary to bury the dead in the sea (by weighting the corpses with rocks to prevent them from floating). Over 5,000 people were buried at sea near the island of Vido.
A monument of gratitude to the Greek nation was erected at Vido by Serbs in the 1930s.
The waters around Vido island are sometimes referred to as the Blue Sea Tomb
Dot enjoyed her day - we went over to the Marvel for lunch. At 6.30pm there was a storm, very heavy rain and thunder. We walked down to Portofino for Dot's last supper with us as she is going to stay with Sheila and Keith for her last 4 days before she returns to the UK. We went into the Coconut to watch England loose, and to say goodbye to Chris and Grace as they go home tomorrow. Kostas was there as Hannah and baby are home now - it was a bit noisy to have a good chat to him - hope to see him/them soon. While we were walking up the hill it started thundering and lightening - we just got in and Dot made a hasty retreat to the campervan before the heavens opened. The storm went on until 4am.

The end of the eleventh week, it is speeding by now - only just over a week to go before we start our journey back home. 150 days without a cig for me, I am so proud of myself, especially when I am around people who are smoking.