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Life on the Ionion Beach PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

Life on the Ionion Beach

Barry and Margaret Williamson
February 2010

Ionion Beach Camping and Apartments is, in our opinion, by far the best place to camp or stay in the whole of Greece. Take a tour and find out more on their website. Among much else, and uniquely in our experience, the website gives an account of the origins of the campsite. The whole complex is still owned and run by founders Michael and Anna Fligos, together with their sons, George and Theo, and their families - all three generations resident on-site.

Camping

In past years, we have often spent part of the winter on this campsite with our motorhome. Initially we were living and travelling in a 27 ft Four Winds C-Class model; since October 2007 we have owned and enjoyed a 26 ft Fleetwood Flair, an A-Class design. Low-season reduced rates for camping apply from November to the end of March.

The Fligos family, quite unusually among Greek campsite owners, have re-invested heavily in their campsite on Ionion Beach. They have a large number of comfortably large pitches for caravans and motorhomes, each with electricity and all within reach of a tap of good water. Their toilets and showers are modern, clean and hygienic, with fully enclosed and heated facilities in the winter months. Modern washing machines and a tumble drier are available, as is a plentiful supply of free hot water for use, washing clothes and dishes.

Outside the low season, more facilities are available. They have built a large safe swimming pool alongside a bar; overlooking the beach. There is also a restaurant with a wide ranging menu of food, a 'mini-market', refrigerators for public use and a first aid post. As its name suggests, the campsite fronts a long stretch of beach on the fringe of the Ionian Sea. Ten miles out, Zakinthos floats on the horizon of Homer's 'wine-dark sea'.

Putting our Flair motorhome into store in November 2009, we began the experiment of travelling in a 17-ft Mercedes Benz Sprinter van. This involved radical changes in the way we travelled (much more freely and cheaply) and lived (finding rooms - a lot less cheaply!) One source of inexpensive accommodation, at least outside the busy summer months, is the rooms/apartments/bungalows sometimes available on campsites throughout mainland Europe (though rarely if ever in the UK).

Apartments

This year, we have appreciated the Fligos family's greatest achievement: the building of 24 spacious apartments, set well apart in four, two-storey blocks, separated from the campground by spacious lawns and trees. Busy throughout the warmer months, in the winter they are quiet and available only by advance booking.

Structure: Each apartment has three rooms. There is a large living room, which includes a kitchen area; a double bedroom and a fully-equipped bathroom. Balconies run right along the front and the back of the apartment; the front door from the living room opens onto the front balcony, while large double-glazed French windows lead from both the living room and the bedroom onto the private rear balcony, equipped with outdoor table and chairs. Every window is double-glazed, with full shutters to retain or keep out heat, depending on the season.

The bedroom contains two single beds, which can be pushed together or kept apart, while in the living room there are also two single beds which serve as settees.

Fittings: The living room is fitted with a satellite TV, which gives us access to a range of English-language news programmes: BBC World, France 24, Russia RT, CNN, Aljazeera, and all the local and national Greek channels. There is a large fridge/freezer and a double electric hotplate. An efficient air-conditioner can be remotely controlled to cool or heat the rooms to a preset temperature.

We were also able to borrow an electric oven/grill from good friends Michael and Flo, staying on the campsite. Our laptop, set up permanently on one of several tables, was supplemented by a printer borrowed from other motorhoming friends, Vivienne and Alan.

Services: Included in the use of the apartment is hot water for the kitchen sink, shower and bathroom sink. In winter months, 3 hours of WiFi use is provided free every day (for all campers) and more can be bought by addicts. An electricity meter is fitted so that consumption can be carefully monitored. Sheets, pillows and towels were provided initially and we took responsibility for their laundering.

The Mercedes Sprinter is safely parked outside the door. The Fligos family, particularly George and Theo, are always willing to give help and provide local information. For example, when is the Greek Orthodox festival of 'Clean Monday' this year?

Reluctantly, we plan to move on in early February, down to the south initially to visit several friends there: motorhomers, as well as expatriates living in the hills. However, by the end of February we aim to have left Greece, crossed the Foot of Italy into Sicily and be paying a short visit to Malta. After that, we return to Sicily for a ferry to Tunisia.