Day 237 Elia, Sithonia to Galini Neo Marmaris, Sithonian Peninsula, Greece.

OK – I’m going to stick my neck out here. The is probably one of the loveliest places we have visited in our eight months on the road! We have moved from the campsite where we spent last night, to just twenty kilometres or so further down the peninsula. The situation of our last campsite was great, but there were a couple of things that niggled us. Our pitch was looking out over the beautiful turquoise Aegean – but we had to look through a wire fence – such that I was starting to feel like a caged animal. The other thing that bugged us was the shower system. It involved putting keys in a machine, at a cost (cold showers were free, hot ones not), and then being timed. Frankly, for 21 euros a night, I think they could have thrown in a shower, and not made us sit behind a wired fence!

So we moved on southwards. En route, we stopped off at the coastal port of Neo Marmaris, a pleasant little harbour town, with cafes and a few shops. We purchased our Greek flag, some more suntan lotion (it is still very hot here), and then found a gorgeous little cafe by the harbour, with blue gingham tablecloths, and enjoyed our morning coffee. For once, the heat drove me to a Frappe, which was excellent. Howard stuck to the thick gloopy Greek coffee. We watched a local down by the harbour snorkelling amongst the rocks. Suddenly, he reached down, and pulled out an enormous octopus from under a rock. His wife, stood at the shoreline, egged him on, as he produced what was presumably their supper for tonight!

Then we continued on to our campsite, passing through lush pine forests in the hills above the coast. We passed by a string of brightly coloured beehives – a common sight in these parts, since honey is a key ingredient in the Greek’s favourite sweet pastry Baklava, made from layers of filo pastry interspersed with nuts, and held together with honey. Our campsite, as well as being advertised on our ACSI app, I also noticed that it had an entry in ‘Cool Camping in Europe’. It is indeed a very ‘cool’ place. It is a small family run affair. The owner led us down to the beach and let us select a pitch. We selected one with shade, but a little bit of sun, and a gorgeous view of the sea. There are only two other camper vans in our section, the rest are up higher in the olive grove. Consequently, we have this section of the campsite virtually to ourselves. Our section has a lovely shelving sandy beach. The olive grove campers also have their own private beach, but there are more of them. The best thing about our pitch is that it is maybe twenty yards from the campsite taverna – which is splendid. 

This afternoon, for the first time in years, Howard and I went swimming in the sea. It was like taking a warm bath. The water was crystal clear, and we could see fishes swimming underneath us. Tonight we had our supper at the taverna. We enjoyed a very nice bottle of local white wine (yes – a whole bottle!!), and some very tasty Greek food. As we ate, we watched the sun slowly set below the horizon.

Originally, we had planned to stay for a night – but it is too nice to move on that quickly, so we will definitely stay at least another day.

Howard has been engrossed in conversation with the campsite owner. Contrary to my comments yesterday, about Greece being in a good place – he feels the opposite. He told us about the high taxes, corruption, excessive youth unemployment and real problems with the migrants from Syria and sub-Saharan Africa. He told us that many of the talented youth are travelling to work in other parts of Europe because they cannot get jobs in their own country, and was concerned that there was no money to re-invest in the infrastructure. We listened to his concerns, and understood what a difficult time the Greeks have been going through financially. However, for us, as tourists, it still feels welcoming. I think one of Greece’s biggest natural resources is it’s beautiful coastline and idyllic islands, and unique culture. I suspect that it will take Greece a few more years to get back on it’s feet again, but I have little doubt that they will succeed. 

Tonight, we are both feeling very relaxed. I cannot fathom why this part of Greece is not more popular with tourists, but selfishly, I am delighted that they haven’t discovered it yet. This campsite must be one of the nicest we have stayed on in eight months. Greece has not lost it’s magic after all these years!

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