Our final day in Turkey was spent with Dave checking over Wilson again to try and identify the source of the coolant leak. Whilst Angela got everything else packed away ready for the drive to the border.
Finally Dave thought he had identified the leak as a core plug in the engine block. Relief, its not so critical and we can continue to top up as required and monitor the temperatures. So with both of us but Dave in particular feeling a little more relaxed we headed to Greece.
Unsure what to expect at the border we were surprised how easy and more importantly quickly it was completed. After passports were handed over and no issues with the registration of the trailer (another sigh of relief), no customs searches we were waved on and sailed through unscathed.
Once into Greece we had other issuers to contend with. With no Greece Sim card we were unable to use Google maps or Maps.me to navigate.
We had the TomTom that was fine for getting to big cities but no use finding a campsite etc. So onward we went using the TomTom and hoping we could find the campsites once we arrived in the approximate location.
This was a learning curve for us. If we had set up the routes on Maps.me or googlemaps before crossing the border they would have navigated us to the actual location even after losing a data connection. Still lesson learned for the next time.
Our first campsite was in the direction of Kavalla. Dave had contacted them online and they had responded but when we got there the place was clearly not open. A wasted detour and we were looking for a place to wild camp when we came across Alexander Camping. We were not expecting much going by the aged weather beaten sign but were pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be a quiet almost empty campsite with electric at the pitches, clean washrooms and WC’s, hot water and a restaurant with decent Wi-Fi. All things that had been promised in many of the campsites in Turkey but sadly lacking when you went to use them.
We woke up to a lovely Sunday morning and after hot showers we chilled for a little while before setting off into town to try and find a vodaphone shop for a Greece Simcard that we could go to on Monday first thing. Once found we headed to a restaurant on the seafront for lunch before heading back to the campsite and hopefully catch up on the website photos and blog etc.
The owners when we arrived advised us they had a wedding party for the Sunday night. Angela had her earphones ready just in case it got too loud. Although we expected it to be a long night by midnight most of the party had finished and the few beers we had earlier helped us sleep.
Monday morning and we were up and into Kavalla again to buy Simcards and get some food shopping, as our supplies were getting low. Angela overnight had started with shivers so we also hit the pharmacy. After chores done we headed back to the sea front to sit have a coffee, chill and watch the world go by.
Afterwards it was back to the campsite, get some washing done, more website admin and a BBQ with a couple of beers. Dave had also arranged to get the leaking core plug in the engine block repaired in Thessaloniki so tomorrow we would leave and head in that direction.
So it was we left Kavalla and headed to Nea Kallikratia where we would camp for a few days. Dave being forever the pessimist wanted a place to set up camp and where we could stay if the repairs to Wilson took longer than we hoped.
The mechanic (Kostas) of Makris Service we were taking Wilson too we had found through Overlandbound where he is a member and again Emre from Overland Anatolia helped out with setting things up.
So we arrived at the selected campsite near Halkiadiki, which was better than expected and knowing we might be here a few days whilst Wilson was repaired we got ourselves settled in basically removing everything from the Landy including fridge and setting it up in the Annex of the roof tent. The second bonus was the town had a Lidl’s so we headed up there to stock up on everything we might need whilst Wilson was away.
Next day having spoken to Kostas we headed up to Thessaloniki to get the core plug leak repaired. Initial optimism turned to dismay when a pressure test showed up a head gasket leak. Gutted was not even close to how Dave was feeling.
After discussing things with Kostas it was agreed we would drop the car off tomorrow to give Kostas a chance to get the parts and also to arrange a hire car for ourselves. Although Kostas tried to be optimistic the expectation was it would take at least 4 days to get the head gasket replaced and that was assuming the head itself was ok.
We headed back to the campsite with Dave feeling very down, after thinking he had found the leak in the core plug only to learn it was the worst case and the head gasket. This could be a trip stopper if the head was wrecked too not to mention the additional financial expense. We tried to distract ourselves by walking into town for a few beers but with this hanging over us and both of us full of the cold it was a pretty miserable evening.
Next day Dave headed off to Kostas whilst Angela stayed behind at the campsite and caught up with washing etc.
Later on Dave arrived in the hire car, a Nissan Note, so not quite the Overlanding vehicle of choice but at least it meant we could head out explore more of Halkiadiki whilst we waited news on Wilson’s fate.
We decided to walk into town again for a few beers and dinner to try and make the most of the enforced break in our travels. To top it all the weather was changing with rain expected so the opportunity to chill on the beach sunbathing was not going to happen.
The next day we woke up to rain the annex part of the tent was full of water. Thankfully we had put anything electrical on boxes off the floor having learned our lesson in Cappadocia Turkey but it still meant a big clear up. We wished we had left the Annex behind and just brought the Oztent that was shipped to the UK.
After clearing up we headed off in the hire car to explore Halkiadiki heading to the middle leg that was recommended to us by Kostas. We stopped off and had lunch in a lovely bay however the town itself was typical tourist full of tacky shops all selling the same tacky merchandise. We continued round the leg before heading back to camp.
It had continued to rain nearly all day so the annex and tent were cold and damp so we headed into town again for decent Wi-Fi and a few beers. Whilst having the beer Dave got an update from Kostas, head was removed and would be pressure tested first thing in the morning. Everything looked ok and as Dave religiously monitors coolant temps using the nanocom we were confident it had not been overheated and warped. I guess we would learn more tomorrow.
Next day, late morning, Dave had a call from Kostas to say Wilson could be collected that afternoon. Wow less than 48 hours.
Apparently the company pressure testing the head owed Kostas a favour and had worked late to complete it the previous evening. Everything was good with the head. The guys at Makris Service (Kostas and Tollis) had all worked wonders to get things done and we could not thank them enough.
So we headed to collect Wilson. Kostas had sent a video of the engine running and when we arrived he went over all the work that had been done. We paid our bill that was exactly as quoted and as a thank you we left the guys a bottle of malt whisky.
Heading back the 45 mins to the campsite we could hear a whine / blowing noise. We sent an audio recording to Kostas as we were a little concerned but Dave was sure it was the exhaust or Turbo blowing. Dave called Kostas and we discussed it, possible the exhaust manifold not tight. Dave checked all the bolts and all good so Kostas drove to the campsite to check it out.
True enough on closer inspection we could see the trace of exhaust gas at the manifold. This meant it needed a new exhaust gasket.
As it was Saturday everything was arranged and for Dave to take Wilson back up to the garage on Monday and the exhaust gasket would be replaced free of charge.
We were both still choked with the cold but Angela was feeling rotten she couldn’t shake it so we headed into town for a pharmacy and try and get Antibiotics and as the weather was still miserable we headed to the pub so Dave could have a beer. Angela now on antibiotics was on the fruit juices.
It was an early night with both of us hoping we would feel better tomorrow.
Sadly the weather was still wet and once again we awoke to a puddle in the annex. By now we have decided to try and arrange to ship the Oztent from Aberdeen to us in Greece and we would not use the annex in future.
We cleaned everything up, put the fridge and everything back into Wilson before deciding to go and explore some more of Halkiadiki firstly to give Wilson a bit of a run after the head gasket replacement and secondly because it was recommended to us.
This time we drove around the first finger where the weather was brighter and the scenery really beautiful.
Back at the campsite we headed into town for dinner and a few beers whilst using the Wi-Fi to catch up on the journal and photo editing for the website. When the weather is cold and wet a warm pub is the best place to be.
Finally with the sun shining and it was Monday so Dave took Wilson up to Thessaloniki and Kostas to get the Exhaust Manifold Gasket replaced and Angela stayed behind and took down the annex off the tent and got everything cleaned, dried out and the bedding washed. Our camping area looked like a Chinese Laundry.
Dave returned with a smile and a sigh of relief, Wilson is healthy again. So we headed into town to stock up on food shopping and back to camp for lunch. Dinner tonight was again into town. We walked in whilst the sun was shining but later the heavens opened and everything got drenched. After a lovely meal we headed back to camp with Angela in sandals that were definitely not the footwear of choice in this weather. Her feet were black by the time we got back.
Finally our enforced stay is over. Wilson is repaired so today we can head onwards with our journey. We were heading toward Platamon but first we would stop off to visit Pella on the way.
Pella was somewhat a bit of a disappointment but Vergina that was close by turned out to be surprisingly good.
Vergina is where King Philip father of Alexander the Great was entombed.
The museum is built into the mound where he was buried in a gold casket and you get to see his actual burial tomb and the treasures it contained. Definitely worth a visit and a great surprise.
Afterwards we continued to our campsite just below Platamon Castle. All well looked after with a lovely sandy beach, clean and hot showers only let down by the intermittent Wi-Fi. So got ourselves set up and enjoyed a bbq and chilled evening.
Next day was a slow start with Angela sunbathing and Dave sorting out a few things on the trailer that needed looked at. After lunch we headed up to Platamon Castle for a look around. Not a long visit but certainly nice and some great views.
Afterwards we headed into Platamon village for a cold drink and dinner. A walk around the village was followed with a return to the camp to continue with the blogs and website photos for Turkey that we had fallen behind with.
Next day we left the campsite and headed off to visit Dion, where the Gods of Olympos were worshipped. It’s a big site where walking around in the hot sun was hard work, so at the end an ice cream in a shaded spot was the order of the day.
Heading back to camp we had decided on a BBQ so we went looking for meat to cook coming back with chicken, prawns and corn on the cob. A feast the gods of Olympos would have welcomed.
The rest of the afternoon Angela spent sunbathing and Dave continuing with the website editing. All followed by a lovely warm evening, with music and BBQ.
Next day was Olympos day. We had decided to see how far we could drive up Mount Olympos and then visit some waterfalls recommended by Kostas. This is a long journey up very steep and windy roads and around the backside of the mountain.
Offering some amazing views and all very picturesque., we eventually arrived at the top of the road where an army ski school is based and you cannot drive any higher. Angela did ask if we could drive on through but the answer was a firm no.
Both a little disappointed to have arrived at 1900m and not be allowed further so we headed back down to explore some more and search out the recommended waterfalls. Sadly TomTom, Googlemaps and maps.me failed and we could not find the waterfalls we wanted to but we did find a nice little monastery tucked away in a gorge that we walked down to.
So we headed back towards the campsite stopping to make coffee and have lunch by a lovely river.
Back at camp things had started to get much busier. We had a couple of beers in the beach bar then chilled for the evening but with a big family group of males (dads and sons) all around us it was set for a noisy night.
Next morning Angela was not in the best of moods having been kept awake till 4am by the noisy group of men. So at 7am Angela was banging doors putting on loud music and getting her own back.
Today was Meteora day. A 2.5 hour drive inland from our base camp. Meteora is where monasteries are built on high rock pinnacles. Very impressive and we managed to visit 4 of the half dozen or so that are still remaining. Visiting each one involved a lot of stairs and we were surprised to find one had a cupboard full of human skulls apparently previous monks from the monastery. A long drive to get here but again a definite must if you get the opportunity.
After a long drive back to camp we decided we didn’t want to cook so headed in Platamon Village for dinner. We chose a fish restaurant but pretty much nothing was available off the menu and their attitude was pretty poor even to the point when we asked for a Nescafe Coffee the response was just “no” and not even offered an alternative. Very poor to say the least!
Afterwards we headed back to the campsite. Thunderstorms were forecast so we were glad we had already eaten when the storms hit. So we retired to the tent, as did the noisy neighbours so at least they made less noise.
Next day we woke up to a warm sunny morning but with everything a little damp so everything was hung out and aired. After the running around the last few days we chilled around the campsite sunbathing reading etc.
Later in the evening we watched a movie and our noisy neighbours decided it was going to be another late one. Angela was not a happy bunny.
So another day and it was time to pack up and move on. We were headed towards Molos and on the way stopped off at Selos a Neolithic village. It is very desolate and remote so obviously does not get many visitors. We spent an hour walking around the ruins which Dave enjoyed but Angela not so much before heading off.
Venezuela Camping was our next destination in Molos, a well-kept site with friendly owners and right by the beach. Very peaceful with pretty much no noise at night something Angela in particular appreciated.
After a peaceful night we were heading to Delphi today. Our route choice using the TomTom was the Eco Route option. This route often follows obscure and interesting roads through small villages but also where without a 4x4 you might well be cursing.
It was a hot day today and with the ruins of Delphi on a mountain side it meant more stairs and hills to climb but the views well made up for the effort.
After walking the ruins we had a cold drink then visited the Delphi Museum that is filled with artifacts collected from Delphi and which are absolutely amazing.
Well worth a visit but again both of us felt we had been spoilt by the likes of Ephesus or Aphrodisias we had seen in Turkey so sadly Delphi did not quite live up to the hype.
On the way back we picked up some shopping and went to a local taverna for dinner, very nice. Back at the campsite it was a chance to upload photos to the website. A constant challenge with often poor Wi-Fi but here things were good.
Next morning we woke to dreaded rain. It soon cleared so Dave went about completing Wilson’s weekly checks whilst Angela tried reorganising the boxes.
Around mid afternoon we headed off to find Thermopylae. Scene of where the 300 Spartans fought off thousands of Persians. To be honest there is not much there except a memorial and some statues. I think Angela was hoping for Gerard Butler, sadly she was disappointed.
We needed a bigger shopping so headed off to Lidl to stock up. Afterwards back at the campsite we continued with the website editing and Angela completing the journal. The lady owner from the campsite brought us a free bottle of local wine that Dave enjoyed. Dinner was BBQ and followed by an early night.
Next day Dave finally completed the Turkey blog whilst Angela packed as much away as she could. We were now heading towards Athens.
Our target was a 3 hour drive away in Marathon where the campsite was very nice, clean tidy electric and a nice bar and restaurant on the beach. Evening was a couple of beers chatting with another English couple exchanging information on visits, routes, places to stay before we headed to bed.
Another lovely morning to wake up to. We had discussed where Ellie (Dave’s Daughter) could come visit whilst Angela was in the UK at her daughter (Jodie’s) graduation. The decision was made to make it Croatia and Dubrovnik. It was also decided that when Angela came back she would bring Jodie with her and Ellie would stay on that extra week also so the morning was spent making all the arrangements.
At this same time some of Angela’s friends (Malcolm and Lorna Green) asked if we were thinking of visiting Crete. If so we could use their house so now we were also looking at ferry prices and options
We also needed to arrange to get the Oztent shipped from the UK. Andreas from Cyprus Global Logistics helped out here with an address we could use and Ryan (Angela’s son) arranged things at the UK end so now we knew the Oztent was coming and once received in Athens we could pick it up anytime. This was great news as it meant we had better options than the leaky annex when the weather was bad and also a place for guests to sleep if they want to come visit.
The rest of the day we chilled and had a BBQ before heading to the bar for a few beers.
Next morning we were heading out to Sounio (Temple of Poseidon). It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from Marathon on very tight windy roads full of insane Greek drivers but has some beautiful bays and houses along the route.