After leaving Kalambaka we headed west hoping to stop in a small town along the way. Arriving there we found it would have been extremely difficult to park as it was a windy hill side town and we didn’t want to risk being stuck in the small narrow streets. We looked at our maps and other information and decided to keep driving the Vikos Gorge, a well-known in Greek national park with stunning natural scenery and the World’s deepest Gorge as measured by the Guinness Book of World records.
The road leading to a lookout had a sign saying “Forest of Stone, and as we reached near to the top we could see why as the landscape changed to interesting rock formations and trees growing amongst them.
We followed the signs to a look out and walked down the short pathway to have the most amazing view of the gorge. What also amazed us was the lack of real barriers on the edge of steep precipices, they had built a stone wall along part of it, but in other places the path was very close to a drop off that would have given you little chance of survival.
While we were there we were able to witness the spectacle of a thunderstorm on the other side of the ridge and so we returned to the camper just in time before the rain started to pour and we were surrounded by the thunderstorm. When the storm had passed we drove back down to the town of Monondendri where we found a place to stay for the night next to the road at a picnic area. Many times when we park up we have been joined by other motorhomes as it seems there is safety in numbers and the fact that one motorhome is there it is assumed it must be ok.
That night we were joined by a French family and a young couple from the Czech Republic, Stepan and Lenka, who were very friendly and gave us some helpful hints on where to travel in the Czech Republic and some places to visit. The next day they were going to hike the gorge and camp out in a tent for a few days so we said our good byes and they gave us an invitation to call them when we are around their area. We then drove to the other end of the gorge to the town of Vikos, it was a windy steep road but worth the effort as we were rewarded with some great views and an interesting village.
After a drink at the local café it was time to hit the road again and after stopping at a water spring on the side of the road to fill up and have lunch we headed to Igoumenitsa to book our ferry tickets to Trieste. We took the secondary road which had some great views and was very quiet bringing us to the port at about 5.30 in the afternoon.
The lady at the booking office was very helpful and gave us a good price of 330€ which included a cabin and a 30% discount voucher for any meals we had on board but the next ferry was in three days. This was not a problem as we has a place in mind if there was no ferry for a few days and we headed north towards the border of Greece and Albania to a stretch of beach where there were several options to stay. As chance would have it we took a wrong turn from the one our tom tom was advising us and found a nice beach where we decided to stay.
We spent one night parked next to some deserted kiosks and the next morning noticed a German camper parked further along so after some investigating we asked if we could join them and moved the camper along the beach into an area which was a deserted bungalow camping site. From the look of it, it catered to children’s camping and all the buildings were still in good condition but the fence had been breached a long time back and locals were quite frequent visitors. We found a shady spot to park under some Eucalypt trees and settled into some beachy time while we waited to catch the ferry. It was a very quiet spot and apart from a few regular locals we were able to enjoy the peaceful spot, with the cicadas chirruping and the waves lapping it was bliss. We also noticed as we were bobbing in the water, the fish jumping exuberantly out of the water and flopping back in, it was quite comical and I couldn’t help thinking that they were having a competition to see who could jump the highest. As we were not paying to stay there we decided one lunch time to eat at the local fish taverna, we had calamari and sardines along with the obligatory Greek salad and some chips: some of the best seafood we have had. We used their internet and spent a good 3 hours there enjoying the atmosphere, the food and being able catch up with our world wide web business.
All too soon we had to pack up and move on to our date with the ferry to Trieste. The ferry was leaving at 12.oo midnight and we were supposed to book in at 10.30, we had plenty of time but decided to leave our beach spot at 6.30 and on the way we noticed a young man hitch hiking to Igoumenitsa, we decided to stop and give him a ride and found out he was from Brazil, studying Vet Science in Pisa, Italy. He was a nice lad and was grateful for the ride as he was on a small budget. He was carrying a small guitar and ended up playing music for us as we were driving. Such a nice random experience.
The ferry arrived and had a lot of difficulty docking in the port because of the wind. Missing its goal twice it had to pull out and let another ferry dock and take on board their passengers. Oh well it was a long wait but while this was going on we had the fortunate encounter with a lovely family from Les Mans in France, The Simpsons, Mum, Dad and two lovely lads who we enjoyed getting to know and swap travel tales. Finally we could board and bunker down in our cabin at about 1.30 am for a much needed sleep while we let the captain steer us to Italy.