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Homewoods Journey from Albania to Turkey PDF Printable Version E-mail

ITALY – ALBANIA – GREECE – TURKEY 2012

Helen and David Homewood

Updated 16 July 2012

Here is the rather breathless account of a great motorhome journey, linking Italy to Greece in a different and more adventurous way, then on to Turkey. It was written by Helen on their tablet computer, battling with predictive text, using WiFi links as and when they appeared, and via a mobile phone SIM card. This is travelling at its best.

The occasional lapse into French is explained by the simple fact that the Homewoods live in France!

Other articles by the Homewoods on this website:

Guides to Travel In and To Morocco 2008

The Homewoods in Tunisia 2010

Helen writes:

Brindisi – Vlore – Saranda – Igoumenitsa – Ioannina

"We have unexpectedly got an Internet connection at a motorway services just west of Thessalonika. Herewith a brief report of the journey from (the Italian port of) Brindisi to Greece, via Albania.

The ferry from Brindisi to Vlore (Albania) was fine: cabin like a French two-star hotel of 30 years ago ... sheets, towels, very old but clean. It was the same price as the Brindisi to Igoumenitsa (Greece) ferry, plus around €35 each for the cabin, as it was overnight.

So glad you warned us about the tunnel leaving Vlore. We asked a bod at the port, he said: 'Turn right end of road, then right at roundabout, follow coast. There is a zhardina, with a sign about the tuneli about 2 km out of town'. And so there was. The notice board before the tunnel there is a load of Albanian, but the word that hits you is 'tuneli'. There is also a picture of the entrance to a tunnel, an arrow pointing left, and a no entry sign (the tunnel is one-way). You turn left and climb on a little road behind some houses, then re-emerge later on the coast road.

Spectacular drive, perfectly good road, with men sweeping up rocks, they are so proud of it. Well worth it just for the views over the sea and then the mountains inland. There was even a white line, so when we were in the clouds we could stay on the road.

We took the road for Ancient Butrint but turned back as it seriously detiorated. So approached it from the south, on the somewhat cranky winched pontoon. We were parked behind a car even though we are 3450 kg max. We watched as a car and a bus went across, side by side!

At Butrint we parked up waiting for the rain to abate but next morning it was even worse, so we returned on the pontoon and still need to see the ancient site!

Leaving there, we should have turned initially towards Saranda, but ended up on an unmade road for a few km, eventually emerging on tarmacked road. Our Petit Fute guide book to Albania has very detailed roads on the map of the Butrint site, so maps must exist, but then they jump to a much more overall view. This is why we quite unnecessarily subjected the van to several kms of unmade road. and I don't know how one would get hold of better maps. No doubt they exist . . .

NB Don't take the sign for Konispoli, that is just to the village. The border post is at Qafe Bote.

No hassle at the border, so we drove into Greece and past our first ever camping spot at Sagiada - something I have wanted to do since we were there in 2008!

The Petit Fute guide book says Albanian is not far linguistically from French, and looking at the signs I would agree - easier than Greek in fact!

We would have gone for the road east towards Macedonia if it had been Mlater in the year.

Once in Greece, we found it was Epiphany (6 January) and a feast day, so we ignored Igoumenitsa and drove to PJ's Sosta at Ioannina lake for the night.

Ioannina seems a lovely spot. We did no more than check out its Byzantine museum with mosque and minaret. The white and black pleated woollen woman's traditional costume was straight out of Patrick Leight Fermor's description of the nomadic shepherds wedding in his book 'Roumeli'. The mosque inside the museum is exquisite."

Ioannina – Thessaloniki – Turkish Border – Kesan – Gallipoli – Canakkale - Troy

"After Ioannina we took that super motorway, the former Via Egnatia, intending to visit Philip of Macedon's tomb at Vergina but we all ground to a halt where snow blowing from a plain between mountains to the northwest of us had covered the road.

We were all parked up while snow ploughs were brought in and it was 2.5 hours before we got going, and we were near the front of the queue! So will have to see Philip another day!

We parked overnight at the Olympus Plaza Services, some 40 km before Thessaloniki, at N 40.55461, E 22.54192. We also saw some good parkings with WCs along the motorway, perfect for cassette emptying and fine for an overnight in warmer months, for example N 40.117053, E 21.50613, just before the turn off for Kastoria I think. Also a couple between Xanthe and Alexandroupoli. Beware! Olympus is one of the few places for fuel actually on the motorway.

Fuel between the Greek and Turkish border posts was only 1.08 Euros but apparently only available for commercial vehicles.

We continued into Turkey, past the first town of Kesan, and overnighted in a peaceful tarmacked lay by, well back from the road and opposite a garage at N 40.65668. E 26.82115.

There are lots of possibilities on the Gallipoli peninsula, where we lunched at the harbour at Kabatebe: N 40.20064, E 26.27173 with free loos. We then overnighted at the Kabatebe Visitors Centre at N 40.21165, E 26.27685 where there is a fontaine of eau non-potable, which could be useful for washing, They turned it off at night - just as well, as it froze last night.

We managed to buy a 3G SIM card at Turkcell in Canakkale: 60TL for the SIM including one month's use and four Gigabytes. Another month will cost 40TL more, if we want it. Turkcell are just off the wide main Demircioglu Boulevard.

This morning we took the little ferry from Kilitbahir to Canakkale, which Lonely Planet say is the cheaper, but lands you somewhat to the west of the bigger ferry. We should have taken an immediate awkward left but instead ended up in the small streets and at the gates of the Maritime Museum. They initially waved us away, then the 'Commander-in-Chief' of the museum took a shine to us and let us in to his capacious car park. He fixed us up with an English-speaking guide to the museum and to the replica of the 1915 ship that laid the mines to sink the allied fleet. How do you guys with the big vans manage, though? We get into situations like that all the time!

Also useful was a large Kipa supermarket complex on the Izmir road about 4 km out of Canakkale.

Now we're parked at the caf้ outside the Troy Archaeological Park. They say they have water and loos, though David can't manage to hook up to their electricity. Cafe Wilusa: N 39.95604, E 26.24822. There is a small camping about 500 metres away to the east.

It's wonderful to put places to names. We passed Philippi of course; we slept with thousands of dead young soldiers at the Dardanelles; crossed where Leander swam the Hellespont; and we have just climbed all over the ruins of Troy.

That's all for tonight. We hope it gets warmer as we go south."

From Troy to Aliaga, just north of Seljuk

Today wasn't very interesting; all we did was drive, apart from my purchase of slipper socks! It has been below freezing every night and was snowing this morning as we turned inland south of Troy. There is a north wind which makes us think of the Mistral, one reason we don't much go for Provence. The forecast here tonight is "+1, will feel like -6 " .

We are now among olive groves at Aliaga, north of Ismir, in a slightly sheltered car park by a sort of port/marina with a very nice view across the bay: N 38.81114. E 26.97814.

We missed out on Bergama and Sart, but really think we should crack on south, then pick up on the sites on our way north when it is warmer. Can't believe there really are lemon trees at Selcuk, just south of here. . . certainly intend to spend tomorrow at Ephesus.

To Dalyan

Just drove for the South yesterday; our overnight at Aliaga would have been quieter about one km further on or further back. Best to take the little service road by the sea, where the main road becomes dual carriageway. There is a wind farm nearby, so shelter from wind and road noise is necessary.

Now at Dalyan Camping: 25 TL per night including electricity, at N 36. 82805. E 28.63731, across the lake from the rock-tombs of Caunus. There are boats to take you over the lake if you like.

Dalyan is a sweet little tourist town, which the GPS took us to by about 20 km of potholed road, and the last 50 km or so of the main Mugla - Antalya road had been under repair, so was missing its top surface. If driving from the west, don't turn for Dalyan until you reach Ortaca. We were pretty shattered when we arrived, together with a stray German motorhome collected en route, and a helpful local showing us the way on a motorbike. This made for quite a caravan! There must be a better way in!

This is the only campsite open here in January apparently, and cycling around we have not seen anywhere simply to park up.

The France Routard guidebook says the campsite is well maintained, which it isn't, but that's probably because the owners are on holiday in Istanbul, so it has not been opened yet this year.

Much warmer here though and we did 10 days' worth of washing and washed the van. This makes us feel almost human again.

With Good Company at Oludeniz Beach and in Fethiye

Now at Oludeniz Beach where we found Brenda and Adrian Wilson parked. Later Don and Maureen Madge joined us, so there was a merry gathering here.

There is no parking up along the beach here anymore, it is carefully blocked off at strategic points. The Wilsons said that one particular English van stayed here for 3 months last year, which they think may be the reason for the closure.

So we are parked beside the PTT (Post Office), to the right as you arrive at the sea, beyond the gendarmerie: N 36.54865. E 29.12015

Had a few thunderstorms overnight, but only cloudy now.

Fine and sunny today, thank goodness, so we went up to catch Oludeniz market and found Don (Madge) parked behind us.

I took the opportunity to ask Maureen if she ever went to a hairdresser here and she said Yes, just up the road.

At N 36.57311. E 29.14774 and called Goldfinger, the English hairdresser is next to a little mosque on the left of the road going from Oludeniz towards Fethiye. A very nice girl gave us both a super cut and her Turkish assistant "threaded" my eyebrows, a completely new experience. Turned out she and I are both from Leeds and went to school in Horsforth !

Brenda (Wilson) says the laundry in Oludeniz is good too. Leave your washing with them and you might have to wait a day to collect it , but we gather that is the system here.

Wanting a serious shop in the Migros supermarket in Fethiye (Don's tip at N 36.64262. E 29.12528), we didn't do more than chat to the Wilsons and take a drive down the fabulous coast road south of Oludeniz. We must have done about 5 km but the road, already vertiginous, became much smaller at a junction. So we returned, with even better views, to our previous pitch by the PTT in Oludeniz.

There is a splendid viewpoint between Dalaman and Fethiye at N 36.71337. E 29.03270. This is a good spot for lunch, a photo, and at a pinch an overnight, in a wide layby beside the main road. It looks over islands, headlands and the sea, from quite a height.

From Fethiye to Kas via Tloss and Patara

We drove back into Fethiye this morning and took the road to Antalya. Then after 22 km you fork briefly left towards Korkuteli, and hang an almost immediate right signposted in brown for Tloss, the road following the river for around 8 km. In the straggling roadside villages there were children walking home from school, in very snazzy uniforms of jade-green and grey fleece jackets. The left turn for Tloss would be easy to miss; the signpost is in the road on your left, not before it.

Then you start to climb and wind for 4 km, but it is all easy. At Tloss, you arrive at a cliff on your right with rock-tombs cut into the face and in front a fine agora, the remains of a theatre and the ruins of a Byzantine church - all for free today. We met a flock of goats with an old man, who scooped up the one tiny kid and shoved it unceremoniously into a plastic bucket to carry it down the steep rocky track. N 36.55459. E 29.42072. There was a sign saying WC and there is a water tap. We just had our lunch, but I imagine you could park up the odd van or two.

If you go the 4 km back down the hill then turn left, you can return to the main road north of Esen, assuming you are heading towards Antalya.

We spent the night just north of Patara, on a wide layby beside a cliff - very peaceful at: N 36.28321. E 29.32036. (You have to buy a ticket for Patara and its beach, and you cannot overnight there.) This was a peaceful spot for an overnight stay. The sun caught the van this morning and warmed us, which was just as well as we had been frozen.

We spent the day above the long white sandy beach at Patara, and wandering round the extensive UNESCO heritage site. This is a very pleasant place and well worth the entry of 5TL each.

We continued past Kalkan this afternoon. It looked too steep and narrow for camper vans, so we are now at a tiny market square of a layby, around 9 km beyond Kalkan on the main D40 at: N 36.24272. E 29.42711. A few hundred yards further on is the car park of a restaurant, with great views over the sea, headlands and islands. But we didn't need a restaurant and it was soon going to be too dark for a view!

We had a surprisingly peaceful night somewhat back from the road and drove into Kas this morning. There are lovely views along the coast road and we parked at StanDup's useful pitch, by Smiley's restaurant beside the harbour at: N 36.19845. E 29.63961. The harbour car park also had space with WCs, water and electricity, although not sure we had the right size plugs and we would have been a bit big for most of the spaces.

Had lunch at Palmye Cafe by the harbour, which gave us internet, though ours was not working. This is something we had on a campsite in Italy. Do they block your signal, does anyone know?

Apparently it will be market day tomorrow. It would no doubt be touristy here later in the year but it's just right in January, for a day or two at least, and it hasn't been spoilt by huge concrete buildings.

In the late afternoon we repaired to Kas Camping, where we have a lovely pitch overlooking the harbour. It is terraced but not very steep at: N 36.19834. E 29.63254. An Austrian on the campsite said they have had snow in Istanbul for the first time for years, and lots in Austria and Hungary.

As StanDup says, you could probably park up in the lane leading from the town to the campsite. Oddly, it has No Entry signs in both directions for 100 yards or so, which we ignored!

From Kas to Demre

'StandDup' are a couple called Barry and Ruth on the Motorhomefacts forum. They were in Turkey last January/February and there is a 6 page thread entitled, I think, 'Turkey January 2011'. Don Madge, Peejay and I have all chatted.

Kas is a peaceful campsite: there are wild narcissi in the grass and a sort of tiny purple lily and perhaps a pale greyish lavender-coloured gentian (I have left our Nature book at home, unfortunately). Our pitch has a view right across the bay and a noisy flock of jays feed on the olive trees all around us. We have washing strung between the olive trees, I'm about to stroll into the market for the second time and we are in shorts and T-shirts, doing very little!

Nothing much happened yesterday - there are days like that - except that we nearly had a coming together with an overhead sign outside a greengrocer's on the way through Kas. We went off to the Big Pebble Beach, or Buyuk Cakil Beach, to recover at: N 36.19189 29. E 65236 (thanks again to StanDup). This is a wide shallow sort of gorge, ending in a beach where two restaurants face each other. The first one is closed with a sign 'Free Otopark' and that is where we parked. The owner came by and gave us his card, in case we came back in the summer sometime.

The second restaurant has a sign 'Otopark', and was functioning. There was a thunderstorm and it was quite windy, but our pitch was so sheltered that we only heard the thunder, the waves and the rain on the roof. There were no vehicles and the wind did not shake the van.

There were 2 cockerels having a testosterone-fuelled territorial spat at 5 am though, so we moved from there this morning and returned to Smiley's Restaurant in Kas.

As we were leaving Smiley's, someone came by and gave us 'a parking ticket' for 3TL! It says Kas Genc Spor Klubu Dernegi - I suspect we were being had!

There is a really good greengrocer's, by the way, marked on the map the Tourist Office give you. They sell a concentrated pomegranate syrup, which is sharp like lemons, and I believe it is very good for you. They also sell the only avocadoes I have found in Turkey at this season, so I changed my clothes so as not to be recognised and went back and bought some more.

We are now at a closed out of season campsite at Cayagzi, just short of Demre. It's a lovely spot with palm trees and the wide sandy beach close by: N 36.22408. E 29.94594. There are several fountains for water along the D400 between Kas and Demre and a very deep layby that looks useful if you want to park up, just before you emerge to a view of the coast and start the descent to Demre.

We are now by the harbour, where many large boats for touring the islands are high and dry and being worked on. Toilets are closed but the electricity box is open, with several leads running from it, so we added our own - and we will find somewhere to leave some money if we don't see anyone.

From Demre to Finike

Cayagzi beach near Demre is a nice place to chill out if you are retrait้, pas press้ (retired and in no hurry), as we are. There are boats for David to look at and other men working on them, which is even more interesting. A soft white woolly dog has adopted him. This was the Roman port of Andriake, with a granary built by Hadrian still standing. David scrambled up to have a look at it yesterday.

We cycled into Demre but did no more than shop, and we still have Myra and the Church of Santa Claus to see. A local with a boat has adopted us and gives us bags of huge sweet oranges. He offered to take David fishing and we might buy some fish.

Found another sort of halva, like candy floss almost and delicious; also found something like the pimento sauce they sell in the Balkans - here called Ahsune ev Urunleri? Sadly the jar was out of date and fizzed when opened: should be fun taking it back to the shop!

There is light rain today with a forecast of more for a day or two, so we are catching up on indoor jobs and cooking risotto to warm the van without wasting gas.

Now at Finike fishing harbour with 2 German vans parked beside us. There are lots of boats to watch in the marina nearby: N 36.29536 E 30.15044. Our friendly orange and fish man came around for supper yesterday, then he took us to a friend's place for glasses of tea sitting on carpets in a wooden hut by a beach in Demre. It might have been nicer if it hadn't been raining so hard!

Had to paddle to the van and it carried on teeming down all night long. I said to David this morning in bed 'We need one of those things you throw overboard, to sound the depths'. 'Oh, a crew member, you mean' he said, 'I've got one of those.'

Water was pouring out of the campsite. I took photos of an egret on a wet beach with a high sea running and then we escaped, swishing through roads awash in many places.

So we still haven't seen the Myra ruins or the church of Saint Nicolas in Demre, dedicated to the 4th C bishop, who was born in Patara. As legend has it, he took pity on 3 village girls who had no dowry, so couldn't marry, and dropped purses of money down their chimneys, thereby starting a whole industry!

We like Finike, it doesn't seem touristy. We had to use sign language in the baker's shop and two giggly little girls played a game with David in the supermarket, popping out from the end of an aisle and trying out 'Hello', 'Thank you' and 'Goodbye'.

There are plenty of parking places beside the beach on the D400 going East from Finike. The toilets at the cafe back at Finike port were fine for the cassette.

A km or so west of the town, there is a big layby and then soon afterwards a layby, which is in fact a building site, with a nice new stand-pipe and tap. Only the men's WC was open at the harbour but if you walk back to the entrance and turn right there are nice-looking toilets a little way along on your right, for a small fee no doubt.

Finally found a cheese we like. Our 1993 Lonely Planet said to go for full-cream (tam yagli), that sheep's cheese is beyaz peynir and goats' cheese is tulum peynir. We went for the most expensive, which tastes sort of like cheddar but with a different texture: it is Truva(Troy) Ezine Keci, Tam Yagu Beyaz Peynir - but has a picture of a goat! Also found our favourite ripe cream, to use instead of butter, called Kaymak, which wasn't available further west; and the yoghurt is simply delicious!

From Finike to Antalya

We did even less yesterday, but the sun shone this morning so we tore ourselves away. After a final trip to a haberdasher's stall, we headed for Olympus and the Chimera in the tracks of the Wilsons, who had gone past us on the road and then sent back some details.

Did not do well: Olympus and Cigali etc were very confusing and wet. We crossed the road where the river was flowing over it, but were not up for the actual ford further on. So we have yet another site to visit on the way back (though the Wilsons got through with their much bigger van!)

Thought the outskirts of Olympus rather tatty-touristy, but no doubt that is inevitable. However, with so much tourism going on there, a helpful map beside the road would not have gone amiss.

Trekked on to Antalya, where our GPS took us manfully through the town in rush hour and past Hadrian's Gate, but Don's recommended campsite was closed and, we think, has changed hands.

As we were driving peacefully along the little dual carriageway beside the sea, on the way into Antalya, a large satellite dish blew across our path and we ran over it . . . noises of plastic cracking and we probably need to replace our front bumper . It could have been much worse, I thought it was heading for the windscreen!

Now parked at Lara Beach (or Plaji), some 10 km out of town. Another van has pulled in behind us, the first French van we have seen. Co-ordinates for Lara Plaji: N 36.84980. E 30.82770, but anywhere along here would be fine.

The French, who parked behind us, said the thing to do is to park at the archeological museum, 3 km W of Antalya, then take a tram (which runs every half hour) in to see the old quarter. We'll report back.

Heading back into Antalya this morning we found water a km or so to the west, still at Lara Beach at N 38.84931. E 30.82123.

We set our GPS to head towards the airport, then picked up blue signs for Kemer which took us onto the motorway ring road, before letting the GPS take us to the museum, at N 36.88519. E 30.68059. If you give the GPS its head, you end up in alleyways!

It is such a great museum that you should have at least one pair of headphones between you, as you miss a lot of information otherwise. Scrambling round those rocky cliffs, we would not have believed the Hellenistic and Roman statues which were found there! Perge, to the east, was particularly well represented. David charmed the young lady into letting us go back in, after lunch in the van, to complete the visit in leisurely fashion. So we got to see all the tombs and statues and coins and so on, found in the caves we had and had not seen en route.

Then we found a Migros shopping centre nearby at: N 36.88414. E 30.66075.

Now parked at a harbour a few km west of Antalya at N 36.84310. E 30.61177. We might need to pay 2 TL but it is Saturday and the office might be closed until Monday. A few TIR parked up and there are toilets!

We did go back to the Museum car park next day, abandoned the van and walked into Antalya. There is an interesting old quarter, which is inevitably touristy, and we had lunch at a Routard recommendation just off the main road: good food in a sweet little courtyard and not expensive. Gul Restaurant, Kocatepe Sok 1.

The lorry park at the sea port at Konyaalti was overflowing with artics on Sunday night. As we didn't fancy their probable early start Monday morning, we continued down the coast and parked by a beach at Beldibi.

This morning was drizzly, but Physalis sounded nice, and it is, at 8 TL per person entry fee. There is a peaceful ruined port which is actually 3 bays - pretty and quiet, under pine trees. We were told us there was a campsite nearby, so we moved to Tekirova next door. Since no campsites were open, we parked by a beach at N 36.49518. E 30.52954.

Olympos, the Chimera and Cirali

Hurray! Have finally seen the elusive Chimera. As the Wilsons said, there are at least three roads down from the D400 but you can't get across from Olympos to the Chimera except by fording or using stepping stones. This isn't possible when it has been this wet.

It also reminds us of a place in Ireland, I think it was called the Burren, in County Clare, where there were apparently around 40 burial mounds, though we walked for hours and could find nary a one. We decided the little people had bewitched them.

Well, down at Olympos last week we drove around on muddy tracks and the river flowed across the road in places. There were dozens of signs reading Otel, Pansiyon, Bufe, Tree-house, but a nice big signpost with a map and 'You Are Here' there was not. We haven't found any road maps with a scale of less than 1:75000 and even the guide books are misleading. I am not moaning, I do understand, and at least the GPS works here.

As we understand it, and our info may be incomplete, to get to the Chimera you go East past the signs for Olympos and Adrasan on the D400, then dive down the one signed to 'Chimera' in brown. The last km is on an unmade road but a full-size coach, 2 dolmuses and a car all took off from the car park soon after we got there.

It is a lovely spot, wooded and peaceful at this time of year. It was 3.75 TL for a ticket and you climb up a steep path with wide rock steps where necessary. Interestingly, the hills to your right are a rusty brown sandstone(?) and quite different from the grey and white granite(?) all around. The flames emerge from a grey/white slab, which looks as though it has melted at some time, more or less where the two types of rock meet. But we are not geologists and couldn't find a decent website describing it (but see the Wikipedia entry under Yanartas). There is a ruined building with the possible remains of frescoes; we have no idea what era. The climb took 20 minutes at a leisurely pace.

The flames have made themselves small hearths over time, although we only saw about 10 in all. It was once a point of reference for mariners and there is a lovely view of the bay from the top, overall making a really interesting and different visit.

We continued to Cirali and the beach and stayed there by the boats drawn up on the sand for the next 36 hours. There are toilets and there was a fontaine if you wanted it at the Chimera site. Dramatic hills drop steeply into the sea and there are abandoned orange, grapefruit and lemon orchards beside the lane. N 36.40618. E 30.47839.

A bit further on there is a parking sign and I believe the Wilsons were charged 10 TL, but no-one bothered us. If you want Olympos there is a river in the way, but why no bridge, no map? In France they would say Il faut pas chercher or 'Don't ask'!

Back to Finike

This morning we headed back to Finike, and stocked up with lamb chops, dried fruit and excellent pre-packed refrigerated mezzes. This was at the Bulvar (Boulevard) supermarket on the D400 on the East side of town. Then we pulled in at the port again at N 36.29539. E 30.15042.

Lovely to come back to somewhere you sort of know. Went for a walk and dropped a pair of trousers into a tailor's to replace a zip on a pocket. We found an upmarket lingerie shop and hit the Sales, bought a dictionary (at last!) and the chandler's in the marina think they can fill our French propane bottle. They also sell inverters (ours has packed up). We are still looking for that hammam.

We moved round the corner next to the marina at N 36.29220. E 30.14975. Turn first right at the traffic lights coming from the West, then go through the gate on the right and carry on past the chandler's etc. There is water at a tap opposite the chandler's.

We managed to have our French propane bottle filled here: they sent it away yesterday and we collected it later. They put 19 kg in for 152 TL which is 8 TL per kg or 4 TL per litre -more than twice the French price!

We went subsequently into a gas supplier's in Finike and found a 45 kg bottle of propane priced at nearly 260 TL + (I think) 19 TL deposit. They don't do the 12 kg size in propane. Disregarding the fact that this size doesn't fit our van, and the deposit element, this still comes out at nearly 6 TL per kg or 3 TL per litre, about the same price as at the pump.

A Turk we met, who lives in Holland and was down for the winter with a Knaus motorhome, told us he had tried and failed to get his Dutch cylinders filled here, which he thinks is illegal. Now he carries 3 cylinders, 2 Dutch and one Turkish. He said we probably paid what they charge the yachties, which includes transport. But the very nice lady in the chandler's did not say that it was illegal when we queried it, nor that it was for the transport: she just looked regretful and said that was the price. We're counting our blessings at getting it filled, anyway!

Since then we have had hot showers at the marina, eaten out twice (the Deniz Restaurant 2, on the D400 just across from the port, is a nice old-fashioned place, recommended by the Routard) and had some washing laundered, so have hardly used gas at all !

The same Dutch Turk said he had parked by the marina, although motorhomes are not supposed to but they get away with it. It is quieter than the harbour, so we moved and find we can wander into the marina proper, where they have impeccable toilets, lovely hot showers and laundry at 15 TL for a 5 kg load.

Weather everywhere else sounds very chilly!

There are some Norwegians here with a motorhome visiting someone on a yacht who say they went skiing last week at Saklikent, 45 km from Antalya "on a very bad road" she said.

Our inverter has now really packed up and looking online inverters seem to be a minefield, ours was undoubtedly a cheap one. Now charging this tablet via the cigar lighter, i..e. not with its own cable and doing w/out an inverter.

Still at Finike marina, there was a storm from the South forecast last night, so David parked close to the angle of the seawall and the wall behind the marina, with the town above and behind us, well out of the wind. Around 3 am the rain had stopped but spray was coming over the wall and hitting the side of the van, then the roof, then the ground on the far side. David has been a sailor (I have not) and he slept during the war under a thing called a Morrison shelter, which doubled as a dining-room table. However, I did finally get him to move some 50 metres, away from the wall but rocked by the wind. I then sat at the back of the van and watched the water wash over our recent parking spot.

Hilariously, just after we moved we saw headlights emerge through the rain, dark and spray. Was it our Norwegian neighbours, parked across the way? No, just the municipal dustcart. We watched as a little chap in oilskins hopped out, hooked on the skip next to us, emptied it and trundled off. David said 'Hmph! That's what worries me most, one of those skips hurtling across and hitting us!' and went back to bed.

The sea was still sweeping over the wall this morning. The Norwegians had been watching us move and said they wondered if the sea had done for our skylight. Much calmer now and David says there is nowhere more sheltered than here. I threatened to go to a hotel but have not done so - we'll see!

We stayed on in Finike: when it is raining on and off it is just so cosy to be parked by hot showers and a laundry, and hopeless trying to see archaeological sites.

David visited the very nice municipal hammam by the Otogar (bus station): turn left by the PTT (post office) from the D400, assuming you are walking westwards. He had a thorough scrub and an extra massage, all for 35 TL and guided through the rigmarole by a Turk with just enough English so he didn't make an embarrassing faux-pas. Their notice board made me work out my Turkish days of the week. They have ladies' days on Tuesdays and Saturdays and I might make it tomorrow.

Saturday is also Finike market day and last week we bought what David says are the best dates he has ever tasted. This was at what seemed the horrendous price of 28 TL/kg, after I had knocked them down from 30TL. This must be more than we pay in France, but they came from Medina and so are imported goods. We couldn't often find figs in North Africa but had bunches of fresh dates in January. It is odd that Turkey has figs in abundance but has to import dates - they grow bananas, for heaven's sake !

Limyra, Arykanda and back to Finike

Today we set off intending to go to Arykanda and on to Elmali but realised we were passing close by Limyra, so turned off to see that.

Our GPS had not got the smart new road to Elmali, so we ended up driving through the village of Turuncova on market day. This was so charming and colourful and interesting, lots of old mud-brick houses and wooden ones, and they had clearly not seen many campervans, so urchins playing in the street were staring and waving.

Limyra is delightful. We have one of those picture guide books, which are mainly photographs with poor English, but give you a good idea of the place in advance. There is a notice board with a map but all in Turkish.

A lot of the site is on a cliff to the left of the road, visible with binoculars and you could climb up if you were keen. There is a theatre near the road on the left but on the right is the old Byzantine city, now pasture for sheep and goats, with a stream flowing over what we assume is the old paved road. The croaking of the frogs sounded exactly like Angry Birds (a computer game!) We could have picnicked there but ate in the comfort of the van instead, then continued to Arykanda.

This is much more impressive, set high in a fold of mountains with a fabulous view, and a lot remains of the sprawling site - well worth seeing, though for me the high spot of the day was Limyra !

We ran out of daylight, so headed back to Finike. We are parked on the beach opposite Sahilkent among the flats and hotels to the east of the town. There are lots of possibilities there, many with toilets. We are at N 36.30897. E 30.16375. You can hear traffic on the main road but the port might well have kids zooming around, as it is Friday night.

Demra, Myra, Ucagiz, Kale, Kalkan, Xanthos, Oludeniz and Fethiye

Well the beach was not a good choice! The main road was too noisy all night, as we might have guessed. Spent most of today at Demre and Myra. We had lovely views from the coast road between there and Finike, of course, and the ruins are superb. Some of the rock tombs are carved to look like the wooden houses of the day. Although the guidebook complains of the plastic tunnels housing aubergines, right up against the ruins, personally I like the homely touch.

There are swifts' or martins' nests under the arches of the amphitheatre and wonderful carved stone masks from a frieze round the theatre, with faces which all seem to be shouting.

We continued to Ucagiz, passing the ruins of Sura and one or two more, with a splendid view of Andriake harbour from the road. The tall white asphodel are flowering everywhere now and almond blossom is coming out.

Have run into a New Zealand/Swedish couple on a boat in Ucagiz harbour, who have been here since October. They asked us on board for a drink, telling us they may move, first to canal-boating, then to motorhoming as they get older. We have told them to look up this site (www.magbaztravels.com)

When driving down to Ucagiz, ignore the sign to the right in the village saying 'Harbour' and pointing to what can only be pedestrian access. Instead, carry straight on 200m further to arrive where the big tour coaches park, by the harbour with all the boats for Kekova island. N 36.19690. E 29.84830.

We had a lovely walk from Ucagiz round to Kale with the NZ couple, Chris and Desi. This was great as they could point out submerged rock tombs etc and they had a favourite little cafe, where we had an impromptu lunch of tea and mezzes. An amazing variety of dishes included rough home-produced carob powder, feta and crumbly cheese, pimento stuffed with barley, salad and a sort of unleavened thin pancake - something totally outside our experience and quite delicious.

These New Zealanders are there for most of this year, in a boat with a bright blue awning.

We moved on to Kalkan and ran into the Wilsons again. They had been sunbathing (yes!) and fishing, parked to the West of the quay, but had their sleep disturbed by kids partying behind them, so joined us above the town at the parking by the roundabout at N 36.26520. E 29.41385. Kalkan is a pretty town, a bit too Brit-oriented for us perhaps, but we were not really there long enough to judge.

Moved on yesterday to visit Xanthos, which was made more interesting by getting lost on the Necropolis hill, stumbling around amongst fallen rocks and fallen tombstones, amazing stuff. We met an old lady in traditional trousers hacking with a mattock, chopping up an olive tree root. When we say Merhaba! to locals they often think we can speak some Turkish and start chatting to us so, as usual, we had to throw up our hands in apology!

Back at the beach beyond Finike, David saw a father, mum and lad lifting a laden barrow over an obstruction in the path - then they continued, the men walking ahead and mum pushing the wheelbarrow behind. Hewers of wood and carriers of water, even in the 21st century!

Continued along the road for Fethiye, vaguely looking for a quiet spot not too close to the D400, but gave up and drove on to Oludeniz, which was not fun as the D 400 is often missing its top layer of tarmac and for the last half hour it was dark. Fethiye was busy; we missed all the cars, bikes and pedestrians but hit an unmarked speed bump and all the little bottles on the back shelf of the van leapt into the air and sailed across the floor, to the accompaniment of swearing from the driving seat. We reminded ourselves this was why we avoid driving after dark!

Stopped at Oludeniz PTT car park, N 36.54865. E 28.12015 with rain overnight.

This morning we drove up to the village above Oludeniz, where Brenda Wilson said there was a good and inexpensive laundry or Camasur. They were closed but a chap outside said the little supermarket next door was run by a cousin and between them they took in my 3 bags full and we are to collect tomorrow!

Then we put in the port co-ordinates for Fethiye and are now parked above the bay at N 36.63165 E 29.09975. There are also lots of possibilities from N 36.62673. E 29.09046 on, including a sort of park by a beach down below, we thought.

I have now given up trying to get David to return home any time soon and have booked a flight with Thos Cook from Antalya to Manchester and back from Gatwick at the end of the month. They sell off spare seats from their package tours, I think. We will probably drive to Antalya, though the New Zealanders said it is possible to get to Antalya cheaply by dolmus.

Lake Koycegiz, Marmaris, the Bozborun Peninsula and back to Antalya

We are trying to see more of the southwest before driving back to Antalya, so left Fethiye after a good shop at Migros and continued west along the D400, with an appalling surface in places. There is a toll of 4TL to go along one of the worst bits, probably because of a tunnel, but the speed limit is 50 kph, to the lake at Koycegiz.

It was very wet and muddy at StanDup's suggested pitch at the northwest end of the lake and Saltaniye would clearly be the same, if not worse. So we parked outside a cafe at the northeast end, suggested by some Brits we met in the village: N 36.95605. E 28.69293. It might be better just round the corner from the cafe as we had locals leaving at 2 am, chatting and slamming car doors.

The lake was lapping its shores on a sunny and windy morning as we drove on west to Marmaris and beyond onto the Datca peninsula, pausing only to purchase 6 grapefruit, 14 large oranges and a pomegranate at a roadside stall for 10 TL.

Still shake rattle and roll but the scenery is magnificent all the way, looking down through slopes of pine trees to a pretty bay sometimes. We ground to a halt at an open campsite by the sea and opposite a Jandarma, about 10 km after the turn for the Bozborun peninsula at N 36.80190. E 28.09806.

We really only wanted water but stayed for a picnic, then for the night (25 TL) when we found wheels spinning on the deceptively dry carpet of pine needles and grass. The water table is so high everywhere, it caught us unawares and took 2 hours letting the tyres down and jacking the vehicle up to block with stones to get ourselves out.

Such an idyllic spot that we stayed for a second night, though the facilities are non-existant. We carted our little spin dryer over to the main building to do some hand washing, as the electricity where we were parked would not power even the fridge! But with the sun sparkling on the water and perfect peace under the pine trees, it is a charming place.

It has gone very cold again, around zero overnight. We are reading of Greece's troubles, and Bulgaria's, and glad to be here in the warmer daytime sun!

This campsite on the Datca peninsula, just after the turn for Hisaronu, had on the gate Cubucak Mesire Yeri together with more words, which translate as 'Tents for Hire'! So now you know !

Dragged ourselves away and onto the Bozborun peninsula on Sunday and spent most of the day at Orhaniye where there were tiny marinas. But the small road is the only road, so we moved further on to Torgut for an overnight in a scruffy but peaceful layby at: N 36.75898. E 28. 11806.

We explored a bit further next morning but not very far. We had a coffee stop by a honey farm at Torgut Koyu, Selimiye, which didn't sell to passers-by but has a notice advertising holiday lets. Then there was an immense crag of red-brown rock opposite the road, with beehives below on a green lawn. In a family of goats, the patriarch was chasing and butting a younger male, who was giving as good as he got. Who needs televised nature programmes?

A lovely drive returned us to Marmaris and a shop at a Kipa supermarket by the main road. Kipa are a part of Tesco and, although we thought the big Migros shops were better, you get a great spit-roasted chicken in Kipa: perfect campervanning food!

Having reduced the tyre pressures to get us out of the ground, David kept them lower, and found the ride much better (see his posting on the Motorhome Facts forum), so we bowled along and were back opposite the Fethiye harbour at nightfall.

Today we visited the abandoned Greek town of Kayakoy - not like the French Oradour sur Glanes, but a sad place nonetheless. The churches were marked as being 17th century, which may well mean 1700s, I don't know. Just imagine being told to leave a place where your family has lived for hundreds - and possibly thousands - of years!

Waiting to pick up laundry in the morning back at Oludeniz, it was so warm that we spent an hour on the beach!

We left Oludeniz next morning and as we pulled out of the PTT car park, Brenda and Adrian's motorhome appeared beside us! Far more intrepid than we are, they had been way up to the West and off canoeing. They also fought their way up to Pinara in that big van!

We all went to collect our laundry, then we headed across the inland road from Fethiye to Antalya via Korkuteli. Plenty of fontaines beside the road as you climb, then you cross a high plain, snow-covered still as it is shielded from the south by mountains - dramatic scenery. The decent-sized road was completely clear of snow and long-distance traffic seems to prefer it to the longer coast road.

Left the snow behind some way before Korkuteli, which we bypassed. Not too many towns along the way but passing one settlement we were surprised to find 3 chickens pecking in the middle of the dual carriageway. We could not help going straight over a white one, which didn't improve our front bumper, already scarred by a low-flying satellite dish some weeks ago !

Ignoring Antalya and heading for Lara Beach again, the best way we think is to head for the airport, then follow brown (tourism) signs for Kundu Oteller (Hotels), then Plaji (Beach).

The airport is a state of the art expanse of tarmac and terminal building, but they sent us through the luggage scanning machines to find Thomas Cook's office in the interior. Exiting, we didn't need to go through the machines again! Thomas Cook appeared closed but another office told us they would be staffed behind the venetian blinds, which they were – something we will remember for future reference!

Then on to Aspendos with its magnificent theatre restored under instructions from Ataturk. The rest constitutes a pleasant walk at: N 36.93875. E 31.17321. A Japanese (?) tenor was trying out the splendid acoustics and it sounded rather fine!

The parking cost 10 TL and the attendant said we could overnight there. When everyone had left and we were settling down with an aperitif, a barking and howling from just beside the van (the canine guardian replying to competition in the distance) had us driving off in the dark. We found a layby between the site and the main road, small and scruffy but peaceful at: N 36.92581. E 31.16784.

Back next day towards Antalya to see Perge, which we much preferred, with free parking amongst the tour buses. This is a splendid site, even though most of the best statuary is quite rightly in Antalya museum. Both sites now have anemones flowering amongst the grass and stones.

Now back at Lara Beach. There is a big Migros supermarket within cycling distance and a good cycle track all the way there. N 36.85793. E 30.86886.

After a short visit to the UK, Helen flew back to Turkey on Sunday, 11 March, to rejoin David and the motorhome in Antalya. She continues:

Antalya

When I left the country, we had stayed on Antalya airport car park overnight as it was a 3 am flight. To pick me up on my return, however, David was able to drive in with the dolmuses and hang around for an hour or so. No-one bothered him or moved him on.

On his way to the airport David had heard unmistakeable sounds of metal on metal, so the following day we went in search of a garage and had the front brake pads replaced. Very quick and efficient, we were flagged in immediately to the workshop and paid TL 180,00.  We forgot to note the co-ordinates but the big Fiat dealer, and all the other dealerships as well, are on the main Antalya-Alanya highway, west of the airport turn-off.

Finike

We returned to Finike yesterday in driving rain: it had been glorious here in my absence! When David had the propane bottle refilled at the marina he'd left our precious French/Italian adaptor behind! Interestingly, when he had a moan about the price, the man in charge said "Sorry, I am providing a service and the price is the price." However, this second time it was only 95 TL as against 152 TL! Can't imagine the bottle had taken that much less gas to fill.

David spent some of the fortnight I was away chilling at Cirali beach and a few days hanging out with the nice yachties from New Zealand, Chris and Desi, so was not too much on his own.

When I got back to Finike I realised that it was Tuesday, which is ladies' day at the hammam. I had never been. If anyone goes there, work out the days of the week first from what is written on the board outside in indecipherable Turkish!

I took myself round there at 4.45, when they were about to close but took pity on me. Girls in their bras and pants were scrubbing us down, first with lovely warm water, then with a sort of soap-filled bag. The exfoliated skin was rolling off me, to horrified "Ay ay ays!" I told the girl that would be "Oo la la!" in France, so she was giggling and saying "Oo la la!" but otherwise we didn't have a common language. Cost 20 TL and I tipped her 10, though a tip of 5 TL would have been fine, no doubt.

David, who was there a few weeks ago, had paid 5 TL extra for a Krem Masaj - not really a massage as such, but cream and aromatic oils energetically rubbed in (and I emerged quite uncommonly sweet-smelling, said David). A really great experience! I think that in Kas the prices start at 35 TL and go up to 85 TL. We like Finike, it is more a Turkish than a European resort.

Fethiye

Today we set off north from Finike to Elmali. The new road north goes from Sahilkent, east of Finike, although it is not shown on our map. We intended to head further north from there but a total of 12 km of unsurfaced road slowed us down dramatically, with lots of road works round the large lake south of Elmali. The rain turned to sleet and the temperature took a dive so we turned west and back to sea level. We are not here for the snow and ice!

So we took the road from Elmali towards Fethiye. This is a beautiful little road but there is a col at 1850m (6,100 ft) and we had snow to 1 metre depth all around. We were quite glad to get back to Fethiye with its current temperature of 14 C!

We pulled into our normal overnight spot, on the headland looking back at the town, to find - allo allo allo! - a British-registered campervan. It was Margaret and Barry's lovely Australian friends, Graham and Audrey! So we had a chinwag and a glass of our latest exceedingly odd drink: a version of a French Kir, but made with sour cherry syrup instead ofcreme de cassis with the white wine. It grows on you, especially when alcohol is rare and expensive.

Akyaka

We said goodbye to Graham and Audrey this morning and had lunch by the lake at Koycegiz. We are now at Akyaka, a sleepy little port next to Gokova on the coast north of Marmaris at N 37.05070. E 28.32776. I think we must have passsed Peejay somewhere en route: we hope you have both shaken off the flu, Pete!

It is sunny here but with a strong northwest wind.

We hope we are nearing the end of this trip, lovely though it has been. We are booked on a Minoan ferry via the ferries.gr agency. Paleologos came up trumps with their Camper Special (Minoan Lines) this morning: 297 euros including a free cabin and meal from Patras to Ancona on Sunday next, 25th March (but see below!) So we expect to cross from Cesme (Turkey) to Chios (Greek Island) and then from Chios to Piraeus some time this week.

Oren, Milas, Bafa Lake

Meanwhile, from Akyaka we trekked to Oren along a beautiful little coast road with fine views of that incredibly blue gulf. But the strong wind drove us to park inland in a car park near the main road at N 37.04183 E 27.94679. Our GPS did not know Oren at all !

Shopped at Migros in Milas next day, on the main road, but totally missed out on the town's sights. We bought 1 litre of olive oil and 2 kg of olives in olive oil by the roadside at Camici: only 30 TL the lot. Apparently, there is a cottage industry making carpets in the area too.

Turned off for Kapkiri just before Bafa Lake and then turned left just before you pay 3TL to enter the village, which is the archaeological site of Heraklion, We finished on Zeybek Camping, a wildish place overlooking the lake, which is a nature reserve and home to over 200 species of wildfowl. N 37.49913 E 27.52428.

We were parked by a 1,000 year old Carian section of wall, on grass spattered with anemone, camomile and calendula flowers. There were chickens being flattened by cockerels every morning - didn't know where to look! There are good if scruffy facilities with hot showers and we strung a line between trees for the inevitable laundry.

Such a peaceful place and walking over the hummocky fields brought us to the remains of a Byzantine monastery. There were Greek? (or Carian?) tombs in the water below. You will gather we quite liked the place !

When you visit the village it is what Canterbury, for example, must have been like in the Middle Ages. The local women accost you, displaying bundles of brightly coloured trinkets, but the main street is dust-covered sloping bedrock. The Greco-Roman agora has agricultural clutter along one side and we didn't read until afterwards that there are Byzantine frescoes in some caves. We were not up for seeking a guide, just preferred enjoying the tranquil view of the lake.

Bafa Lake was formerly part of the Aegean Sea, then the River Meander (yes, where the word comes from) silted up and it was cut off. We think it is probably brackish but sea bass and mullet still swim there to spawn. Zeybek Camping is also a restaurant and there was a party of Turkish students (or so we thought), camping there in tents and eating there too.

The mountain behind the village is the Greek Mt Latmos, where Endymion, a fine-looking shepherd, was put to sleep by Seline (or Diana) the moon goddess, so she could visit him every night.

Miletus, Priene

We tore ourselves away this morning and drindled round the lake, visiting the sites of Miletus and Priene - the first mainly a Greco-Roman theatre. There were fat frogs croaking in the flooded agora beyond, the biggest lizard I have ever seen (must have been 18 inches long) and tortoises trundling about. Priene is a largish ruined Greco-Roman town under an impressive cliff: pleasant places both. Now parked in the Otogar below Priene, which seems perfectly quiet at N 37.66137 E 27.30457.

May blossom is now in flower, the grass in places is just wall-to-wall daisies - how will we ever leave? Still, Chios sounds interesting: more Byzantine than Greco-Roman, though David pulled a tooth filling out once, trying the mastic from there, which is supposed to be good for your digestion.

Seljuk

Yesterday we drove from Priene via Soke to Seljuk. Needing water after Soke, we found quite a few fontaines no longer functioning, then a roadside cafe with water gushing from a huge purple overhead pipe onto the ground! The proprietor obligingly unhooked it for us to fill our tank and as we drove away we saw they were selling organic olive oil. We had already bought plenty, or would have turned back.

In Seljuk we parked inadvertently at the Ephesus Museum, which cost us 7.5 TL. We asked about a supermarket and were directed to a small, not very good one. It is said there is no Kipa or Migros in a place that size?! We wondered if we had missed a section of the museum: it wasn't very big but Seljuk is a pleasant place.

Ephesus

We saved Ephesus for this morning, after finding a brilliant perch on a beach: head towards the coast and Pamucak, then turn right at traffic lights some 5 km after Ephesus, heading towards Menderes. Locals were driving down onto the beach and along it to the next little settlement, we think. Very peaceful night at: N 37.97628 E 27.25373.

Have just visited Ephesus. We got there at 9 am - they open at 8 - but were still engulfed by crowds after the first hour. I think the scale of the place is what is so impressive, and that glorious library frontage. There are better seats in the theatre at Priene - they were really comfortable - and the museum in Seljuk wasn't a patch on the one at Antalya, where we parked for free and walked into town for the day. I think we are ruined!

The best laid plans of mice and men (and women) . . . several ferries from Cesme to Chios have been cancelled, so we have had to put the whole trip back and we won't get to Ancona until Friday 30th March.

Went back into Seljuk next morning to visit the fine ruined mosque, then a market that the tourist office had told me of in a suburb on a Tuesday - the main bazaar is on Saturdays. I bought some nice soft walnut loukoum (Turkish delight) in long strips, but was really wanting more baggy pants for a friend's birthday - dammit, they only had skirts, yet every old lady I saw was wearing those trousers!

Cesme

Then we headed up the coast road, and picked up the Motorway for the last stretch into Chios, found the port and collected our ticket from the Erturk office. It cost a further 29TL (would have been 12 Euros) port tax. Cesme port N 38.32208 E 26.29647

Tried several overnight possibilities in Cesme. There is a little esplanade just South of the port at N 38.29297 E 26.27687. We had a cuppa there, then went instead through the town to a headland North of Cesme at N 38.33645 E 26.28457. This was brilliant and we stayed the night. There is water a bit further on with several fontaines. The flow is slow but that seems the same for all the fontaines there, despite Cesme meaning 'spring', and the one we did use smelt slightly chlorinated too. Some kids came and parked next to us and played loud music around 12.30 am but didn't stay long.

We moved to Ilica port the following morning and spent the day there at N 38.31350 E26.35884 by some boats. I think you can swim there even in winter because of warm springs in the sea.

A grumpy old chap approached us when we left and charged us 2TL for parking there.

Intended to overnight at Migros supermarket car park at N 38.32892 E 26.31588. However, when we stopped at a petrol station for fuel, the chap who served us told us we could park there for free, which we did. It was very quiet, between a lorry and a bus. He said he was Uncle Mehmet and to say he said we could park there ! N 38.31789 E 26.33359

Up betimes this morning and to the port: a very smart port, but as chaotic as Brindisi. A customs lady with a very young enthusiastic but barely-trained dog gave the outside of the van the once-over; she even climbed up herself and tapped on the roof panels. All perfectly friendly though, and a smooth crossing into Chios. Essentially a foot-passengers-only ferry there is room for two small cars or just the one camper. We pulled on board after the incoming Ferrari (!) had removed itself.

To Greece – Island of Chios

Arrived at Chios port: N 38.37251 E 26.14076. Picked up the ticket for our onward trip to Piraeus on Monday (from the first Nel Lines office you come to after the port - there are at least 3 others!) and drove off South heading for the airport initially. Then continued to a little harbour after Karfas, called Kerameia, at N 38.30120 E 26.14960 where some workmen were spraying a Vodaphone racing yacht. Watching paint dry was energetic enough for us!

Amazingly, our Turkcell 3G Sim is still working, a real bonus!

In Chios

Got up this morning and realised fortuitously that the hour had changed and it is Summer Time. (We'd already mistakenly switched to French time, so were pretty confused!) Apart from a cat climbing on the roof it had been a peaceful night.

Set off from our perch amongst various boats, with a misty view of the Turkish coast over a limpid sea and drove south along the prescribed tourist route. First stop was the mediaeval village of Pirgi, with grey and white geometric patterns on the houses and a slim elegant tower to the Byzantine church.

Found the village square full of dancing schoolchildren - it is the day (25 March) that Greeks celebrate their Independence.

We had a beer while we watched them, then went back and filled the van from a roadside spring. The school bus went by, then 2 lads in school uniform who had missed the bus, asked if we could give them a lift to Mesta? We trundled down the road and ended up having a tour of Mesta from these two refreshing fourteen year-olds, who were so proud and happy to live in a beautiful old village - even though their chief love is their motorbikes! We exchanged email addresses and went off with a Greek flag on our windscreen - following Don's example, we had sported a Turkish flag until yesterday.

We are reminded that Greek and Turkish roads have different pitfalls. The surface is mostly better in Greece but there are frequently fallen rocks in the fairway and the narrower lanes have small trees protruding - presumably heavy vehicles drive down the middle. Lots of fine old houses with overhanging balconies too, but there are splendid views and Chios has villages almost reminiscent of the Mani peninsula, with the same square stone houses, though not as tall. Turkey has felt a very homely place to us but we easily fall in love with Greece, and that wonderful lettering - I stare at words on hoardings then suddenly shout out 'Exodus' or 'Adonis'! (David mostly replies "Don't do that!")

Back at our perch at Kerameia tonight. Turkcell was not working on the far side of the island, so it must just be our proximity to Turkey which is providing it here.

THE HOMEWOODS GO HOME

Well we are home and getting so caught up in life - as well as intensively valeting the van - that I risk not completing this saga. Here goes therefore.

Greece – Ferry from Chios to Piraeus, Athens, Corinth

We caught the big Nel Lines ferry from Xios port and had a palatial outside cabin. Really very quiet, just a hum from the motors, but for some reason that kept us awake!

Arriving in Piraeus at 7 am, we took a route avoiding the town centre and Athens. Stopped eventually beyond Corinth and spent the rest of the day and night at Paralia Kato Diminio: N38.03665 E 22.72139, a nice quiet empty out-of-season beach (Paralia means beach). There were plenty of these along the Gulf of Corinth, as we just followed the coast road, edged with pleasant small holiday towns. Please come back tourists, the people are so nice here!

Diakofto

It was less easy to find water and toilets than in Turkey, but we found a fontaine by a school next day at N 38.13012 E 22.50323. Shopped later for Greek bread, good local rose wine in a plastic bottle, fabulous huge tomatoes, and spanakopitta (spinach pie). Also dried fava beans (broad beans), which the shopkeeper (with no English) tried to stop me (with no Greek) from buying, as they need to be soaked and cooked for a long time. Did he think I was going to use them for a picnic?

We ended up at Peejay's pitch at Diakofto Beach: N38.201939 E22.194989. Peaceful spot with views to far side of Gulf of Corinth.

Patras, Ferry to Italy

Road works on the way to Patras next day had the GPS confused, but plenty of signposts in fact. We followed Don Madge's recommendation to go round the town on the motorway, then approach the new port from the southwest. Our GPS was still confused by more road works but we fell on big new signs for 'Ferries to Italy' easily enough. Someone on the boat told us it is perfectly simple just to go straight through Patras and follow signs for the port, but he wasn't driving a big van! There were no hopeful illegal immigrants at the port, just a few at some traffic lights on the way there (who helpfully showed us the right way to go at a confusing crossing). The big new ferry port of Patras is at: N 38.21973 E 21.71928.

The huge smart Minoan Lines ferry, new in 2010, included a lovely cabin and the night's meal in the price (ie mixed salad, choice of main course + an orange or an apple). The restaurant was very pricey though - you could easily spend 50 Euros for a very simple meal for two the following lunchtime!

Ancona

We docked in Ancona at 2 pm next day: port co-ordinates N 43.61753 E 13.50663. Tied ourselves in knots, as we wanted Hymer agents on the way home and there is one nearby at Camerano. Conero Caravan, on SS 16, at km 309.7. (N43.52185 E 13.52302). Having found it they couldn't oblige!

Castel Bolognese

Italy was greening its trees and the orchards were pink with blossom, but we hit the autostrada and had road works most of the way to our aree di sosta at a sports complex at Castel Bolognese, between Faenza and Imola: N 44.316353 E 11.792369. It was Friday night, and the local youths were up a bit late, but it was pretty peaceful nonetheless. Aqua and scarico (water and rubbish bins) on-site.

Fuel in Italy was 1.67 Euros for diesel at one place but mostly 1.75, and a bit more on the Autostrada.

Parma, La Spezia, Genoa, Arenzano

On Saturday, we took the autostrada to Parma, then La Spezia, then Genoa. We found this a pretty good route, although not easy to know where to dodge across from east to west, as we didn't fancy any of the snowy passes over the Alps.

We stopped, as we often do, at Arenzano, the first seaside resort west of Genoa, and jolly useful if you get off a ferry in Genoa. There is a big car park on the way down the hill to the town, which is useful by day (but I don't have co-ordinates); you can park free overnight in an empty car park in the town: N 44.40227 E 8.68423 but it is crowded, and payable, until the shops close. There is a handy little supermarket close by.

Noli

However on Saturday it was still early so we shopped and then continued to Noli, on the Italian Riviera, where we had parked in December. Found parking as before at N 44.20294 E 8.41480, but only just. The town was crammed with cars and plenty of campervans: what was happening in Noli on Palm Sunday weekend? A peaceful night though, these were families and sleeping when we were! Apparently Noli is mentioned in Dante's Inferno!

France – Palavas les Flots

On Palm Sunday we drove through France. What bliss with no lorries at the weekend. We detoured to Palavas les Flots, S of Montpellier at N 43.53104 E 3.92404. It cost 11.4 euros, but is a good site with nice showers for the marina and the aire. Odd smell though - we heard it hadn't rained much in France, so perhaps the canals were stagnant? You should see flamingos there, but we didn't hang around.

Again, we were hunting for Hymer agents next day and, forgetting that they would be closed on a Monday, detoured to Narbonne Accessoires, then Muret, south of Toulouse, where we struck lucky and found the bit missing from our awning cover. Yes!

Home Once More

Then home via the motorway, and thankfully no burst pipes or other horrors - you never quite know after a long absence! These last few days, with details of stopovers, bring the story to a close.

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