Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alexandroupoli, Greece

By Claire
November 28
We’re 45 Km from the Turkish border and the anticipation is building. We decided to make the crossing on a Sunday since we have heard that it’s a very quiet day and makes the event less chaotic. We’ll see.

We’re camped at a really great place called Municipal Camping Alexandroupoli. The reception person was very helpful and was even able to direct us to a place where we could get some LPG for our stove and heater. We have had no luck getting it in Greece. We had one person write it down for us in Greek but it turns out it was for a propane bottle. We need the kind that is filled up with a hose just like you put fuel in your car. We drove out past the airport, about 12 km. from the campground and found the place with a big sign saying “AUTO GAS”. We were so relieved. However, even after running the gas for 12 hours to run the fridge while we crossed over on the ferry, we only needed €2 worth. It was a little embarrassing. The guy looked a little disgusted. But, that must mean that it goes a long way. I hope so. We have two months to get through in Turkey and a month in Greece. We decided to buy an electric tea kettle for heating water with the idea that we’ll use the campground electricity rather than our gas but when we turn it on it blows out the power for the fridge. We now have to turn the fridge to battery and unplug the extension cord attached to everything else in order to run the tea kettle. No problem; we have a liter of boiling water in 2 minutes.

We knew about this campground and planned to stay one night on our journey to Turkey but we met Mark and Briar from New Zealand at the campground in Kavála the other night and they convinced us this was a much better place. They were right! It’s right on the beach, the weather is great (it was very shady at the other place which made it much cooler), and the bathrooms and showers are much, much better. There are also lots of people here, mostly Germans. However, we have experienced our first “bad” campers. I was walking along with a very nice German man and his dog and we were chatting in very basic English when a couple parked their small campervan and their unruly dog jumped out. Naturally, he came bounding over to the German man’s dog, barking hysterically. It really was a problem and the couple made only the most meager attempt to call their dog. Dogs are expected to be leashed in campgrounds and we have never had a problem among the many dogs that travel with their companions. So, while the German man and I walked along, his dog beautifully mannered, the other dog bouncing and barking and rushing us, we endured and finally the bad dog raced off to chase the multitude of cats. And by the way, there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.

The dog drove us a little crazy all evening with his relentless barking—even more noticeable since it just never seems to happen—but this morning was the last straw. Chuck and I hurried to do our laundry early this morning to get the most of the sunny day and there was the woman washing her dishes in the laundry sink! This is one of those no-no’s that EVERYONE ELSE seems to understand. No one wants to wash their clothes where greasy dishes have been washed. We ignored her and carried on and then I noticed she was now brushing her teeth in the laundry sink! Oh dear. Strictly verboten! It was curious that she could be so clueless. They didn’t appear to be new to camping. Maybe this couple is just unconscious of other people or simply selfish and inconsiderate. I had considered going over and asking if they’d been to Turkey so I could get some info but after the dishwashing incident, I decided not to. Fortunately, they left this morning, a pair of plastic campground chairs they had helped themselves to left like a shopping cart in a parking space. No one will be able to pull in without stopping, getting out and moving them aside. Good riddance.

Meanwhile, we haven’t tired of Greek salads or yogurt; it’s more about worrying that we will run out of ingredients!

Greek Salad before


Yogurt jug—we go through it so fast, we’ve started super sizing

And of course, Chuck and his desserts:


But back to Mark and Briar from New Zealand. This is what we love about camping: the people we meet. We spent 4 hours in their camper drinking wine and comparing notes. They have been traveling since last December so are now seasoned travelers. One of the best tips I learned was to put my clothes and towel in a big plastic bag to hang in the shower. It keeps everything dry. Duh! Most showers are far enough away from the clothes that it isn’t a problem but sometimes you get the errant spray (or even many errant sprays going every which way) and your clothes and towel can get soaked.

They were so helpful with so much information—even convincing us that we should stay in a hotel right in the heart of Sultanahmet (the old town) of Istanbul. They even gave us the brochure, a card with the email address, and a map. And speaking of maps, they gave us a giant book of maps of all of Europe plus lots of magazines and travel brochures from places they’ve been that we will be traveling to as well. We so appreciate their generosity. I only wish they had arrived a day earlier at Camping Bati. Their blog is Mark n Briar @ Work.

I just finished talking to a Danish couple who are traveling in a caravan of other huge campers. They drove down through Italy and Sicily then to Tunisia and through Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. I’m not sure how they got here in Greece but they are now on their way through Turkey, Iran, India and Nepal for 5 months. It’s always interesting to learn about other people and the adventures they go on.

Later in the day I walked over to introduce myself to the American in this caravan of travelers. He is from California! We talked for quite awhile; he was very helpful and had lots of advice and information for us and even gave us a map of Turkey. He has traveled the entire world in his camper and he is fearless. Wow! I’m envious. You can check out his photos at Travels with Larry & Born Free.

And here is one of the campers with its own Christmas tree.

We are at day 90 and left early for the Turkish border. We have traveled 8,597 km. so far. I watched a fisherman just before sunrise and thought about how far we’ve come in our first 3 months.

Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started. ~ Greek Proverb


Tai said...

For the record, Mark and Briar can be found at http://marknbriar.blogspot.com/ though their page title is in fact Mark n Briar @ Work

Chuck and Claire said...

Thanks Tai! We even emailed them but couldn't figure it out.