13 to 17 June 2017 – Milina and turning west…

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….

milina walk to beach

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 Milina ruin and catand a half-tamed garden waiting to be transformed into a cool oasis with splashing water. Perfect.   milina garden

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.

Milina breakfast

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.

milina beams

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.

milina meal neil

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.  milina sunsetOne 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.me millina beachThe 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.milina catIt 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.

Nea Anchialos
What the photograph does not show is the line of empty plastic bottles half way up the shingle.  It looked and felt clean in the water – must be some effect of being at the top of a gulf where the wind pushes floating litter until it can go no further – at least this is not a turtle beach!  It became overcast and stormy in the evening with biggish waves crashing a couple of metres from our wheels – always a bit worrying. One other van had shown up but parked some way away from us.  Next morning was picture perfect in full shade from the tamarisks as it warmed up. We had a peaceful early  swim and a shower on the beach – cannot praise beach showers in remote places enough! One by one or two some older folk started appearing.  Eventually there were eight or nine of them swimming along  chatting as they went – seemed to be a swimming club of some sort.  I wonder if they go in in the winter!
It was a lovely spot for a last dally in the sea before we set off inland.
Nea Anchialos - me in sea
We had a long drive of four hours and twenty minutes ahead of us over some mountains, across a plain and over another mountain range to get to the campsite near Delphi.  We were avoiding the motorway this time.  I had picked out a questionable parking spot two-thirds of the way over just in case the hairpins became too much.  We did not need to worry – the roads were good.  We even got to see the views that we had missed over the mountains near Thermopylae as we retraced the road.  The questionable parking spot high on a mountainside came and went and, on closer inspection, the lane leading to it was indeed questionable! Fortunately the drive went smoothly and an early stop was not necessary.
Sitting on an outcrop in the foothills of Mount Parnassus Chrissa Camping shares the view over the olive groves to the Gulf of Corinth with Delphi itself.
Chrissa camping view
 As you can see, it was cloudy – but still hot.  The day before had seen serious downpours here and several pitches on the gently sloping terraces were unusable due to mud and debris having accumulated. It was largely empty though and we went for a swim despite the grey skies – what a view!  And all to ourselves!Chrissa camping pool viewIt rained some more as night drew on so no cooking outside, which we normally do, and yet again we were forced to eat in the local, on-site taverna:-) Lamb chops and chips again for me! Portia nestled damply in the trees below.
Chrissa portia 2
Tomorrow ancient Delphi – especially recommended by my mother – and on towards Patras.
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5 comments

  1. Just had a look at your blog. “Rosy fingered dawns” – very Homeresque! All sounds great fun and a great start to retirement.

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