Rosy-fingered dawn gave way to an intense morning sun as we wound our way up and down the mountains of the beautiful Pelion peninsula. There are sweeping views of the clear blue water of the Pagasetic Gulf as you round the last few hairpins to sea level, and take the coast road to Milina. It is a village of narrow streets so we need to find a place to park from where we can find Rob and Rachel’s place on foot. The place we find is right next to the beach, just about far enough off the road for safety in the shelter of a seafront building. We have instructions to find the house which conclude:
“200 years up that road/concrete track is our place, two red tiled roofs with a white gate in the middle.” Rob blames auto-correct for the distance, but atmospherically, it is just about right for the road….
Down the steps the other side of the white gate the two old stone buildings under the two red-tiled roofs face one side of a paved courtyard. On the other sides, a picturesque stone ruin and a half-tamed garden waiting to be transformed into a cool oasis with splashing water. Perfect.
The courtyard has orange trees set into the flagstones which entangle their branches overhead to provide shade for eating, drinking, sitting, reading – all the quiet activities such surroundings invite. I chose to sit there to eat apricots with yogurt and honey in the morning. Thank you Rob and Rachel.
The buildings are the ruins of an old olive press and it is the work of Rob and Rachel that has created this quiet haven. One building was completely without a roof but now sports an amazing configuration of beams – built in the Albanian tradition apparently.
The airiness of the white rooms and the metre thick walls kept us cool while we spent three nights enjoying the space of a house and garden after the tininess of the van – a whole bedroom, a truly amazing bathroom, a private garden and a lighting system we still have not quite figured out! The first night we could not get the stove to work and just had to go out to eat:-) At the beach-front Elia taverna we shared the best fava I have ever eaten followed by the best melanzani-type dish for me and cheesy-potatoey Piliortico (?) for Neil. (I would describe it as a Greek version of tartiflette but google search has let me down on this one.) He enjoyed it.
The village fronts the sea with a row of tavernas and the side streets have enough small grocery shops and bakers to meet the needs of the day. And the days are HOT. Swimming becomes a late afternoon activity as the sun begins to set, followed by a leisurely sundowner. One morning we go early and find a solitary sleeper on the beach in his bedroll. As people arrive to swim he picks up his bed and walks back to his van – full of fruit and veg which he sets off to sell around the streets. Looks like a nice work – I pursue one of my favourite activities – collecting sea-glass.The cooker now works – the trip switch was up instead of down (or vice versa) – so I cook on our last night to finish up the bacon and eggs we had had in the van for some time. My fault for being so un-Greek in my repertoire – the hob objected and a startling crack came from under the pan. Horror of horrors – I had somehow cracked the ceramic surface! Mortifying to damage other people’s borrowed stuff! (Follow up – many emails later and Rob’s local house-guru managed to source a replacement and arrange its installation in time for family holidays – thank goodness!) The cat in the window was unmoved throughout.It came to 16th June and we were now on countdown to our ferry date on 20th. My usual resources showed a real paucity of camper stops and campsites across country from Pelion to Patras and I wanted to see Delphi enroute. Stella said over seven hours drive to get to a campsite at Delphi and it was so hot we were reluctant to be any distance from the sea. Fortunately the ACSI book showed a couple of the campsites near Delphi had swimming pools, but seven hours is still waaay too far in a day. Finally looking in park4night I found a parking spot just back around the top of the gulf – but three hours drive on the windy roads. It is a public beach just at the end of the road from Nea Anchialos – right on the sea with trees.