Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Retracing our Steps

By Claire
We are currently in Kavala, Greece, where we had our wonderful Thanksgiving dinner so long ago. We were in search of a particular bottle of wine, made only in Kavala, that we had with our dinner.

We made it into town, no thanks to "Sunya", who is back with us again thanks to a guy we met back at the Alexandroupoli campground, Chris. He managed to load the Greek map onto our GPS for us. Naturally, she didn’t know about the new road and kept trying to make us turn “right here” but we knew better, for once.

We parked in town and started off in search of a supermarket or wine shop. We have found that asking is the best way to navigate. Finding someone who speaks English is another story. We have also learned that pharmacies are the best place to find someone who speaks English. Strangely, all the pharmacies were closed, and they have one on every block! No problem, I walked into a ferry ticket office and naturally, the woman there spoke English. She was very helpful and wrote down the hotel I needed to head towards and then the name of the market that had a wine store next door. We managed to find it but he did not have the wine I was looking for. Off we went down the street to the market where we searched for the label I remember so well. No luck. Fortunately, we stumbled upon another wine store and the guys in there were very friendly and spoke excellent English. He smiled and told me there are lots of wines made in Kavala but he didn’t carry the one I was looking for. He recommended several and told me he drinks wine all the time and he really loved a particular bottle. We decided to get it since we didn’t know if we’d be able to find the restaurant again. It’s always good to have a backup.

We dropped the wine off in Homer then headed towards the hilltop castle, knowing that the restaurant was somewhere on the way down. We found it pretty easily and there was the Greek Canadian who recommended the wine in the first place. His wife and son were also there. Turns out, it is his own label, his house wine I guess. We bought a bottle, talked to them for awhile then set off deciding to stay the night here in town at the campground where we met Mark and Briar who told us about the great hotel in Istanbul. Naturally, Chuck deserved a treat for all this driving and parking and trekking through town.

Tomorrow we are driving to Thessaloniki, a place we would like to avoid, but Chris (see above), the very nice Englishman from Guernsey, found a camper repair shop that we want to check out to see if they can replace the skylight.

But let me go back a couple of days to our time in Alexandroupoli. We actually spent 4 days there—no WiFi—getting things in order inside Homer while Chuck worked on a temporary repair for the skylight. None of the stores were open since we arrived on a Saturday so we had to wait until Monday. During one of our walks through town on Sunday we finally managed to find a hardware store, and then another and another. We also found a guard dog inside a pet store next door.

We felt optimistic that they would have some waterproof tape and plastic and when we showed up Monday morning we were happy to find a man and a woman running the tiny shop. I should say, it was the woman who handled everything, knew where everything was and spoke excellent English. The man just kept saying, “America?” over and over again. He really wants to go to America. New York and California are his two top places to visit. Other than that, he was useless. I guess they don’t get a lot of American tourists in their hardware store. We bought a number of items then asked if she knew of anyplace that could do repairs. She pointed to a cross street directly across from her shop, specifying the one with the woman out front sweeping. We thanked her and made our way to that shop.

There we met a man who spoke excellent English. His shop was glass and plastic. He told us he could help us but not until the next day (this morning). We agreed on 9 am and he gave us his card and told us to go to his warehouse 3 km out of town behind the bowling alley and the big pink Jumbo store. We found it but had to wait 15 minutes for anyone to show up. Two guys with no English arrived and with a couple of calls to the owner and Chuck speaking to him as well, they managed to make a custom top which they sealed with some kind of caulking and taped it all up so we could leave immediately. We can remove the tape after two days. These two very friendly guys spent an hour and a half and only charged us €15. It sprinkled lightly as we left but we’ve had mostly sunshine ever since so we haven’t been able to really test it. Our fingers are crossed.

So other than relaxing and reading and even watching a movie, not a lot has been happening. We are now waking to church bells rather than the call to prayer, a noticeable difference. We’ve seen a number of minarets though, as we drive along—some attached to plain tile roofed buildings and a very few attached to classic Ottoman style domed mosques.

Greece seems more modern in some ways than Turkey but it’s hard to pinpoint the differences yet. Except—the smoking! It’s terrible and everywhere. Both campground offices reek of it. We spent some time in an internet cafĂ© and I almost couldn’t stand it. Our jackets now scent our home with cigarette smoke.

Our goal is Meteora to see the monastery high on a hill. From there we will make our way down to the southern tip of the Peloponnese to stay awhile and then a 6 day trip to the island of Paros. Right now, the weather is great and we hope it stays that way. We don’t know how much Internet access we will have, so don’t worry if you don’t hear from us for awhile. On the other hand, somehow we always seem to find it.

If you do not have brains you follow the same route twice. ~ Greek proverb

1 comment:

Elisabetta said...

How about making a dessert foto calendar for ur friends, as a gift for 2011?!
Vistaprint produces them inexpensively and I've had such fun making them in past years as holiday gifts. You've got the best dessert fotos and chuck will supply the critical food review!

On farmacies: in both italy & greece they MUST have a farmacia open within walking distance of all those you found closed (just in case, but i hope you never need this info...) anyway, it's posted in the closed-farmacy's window, where you must go to find the alternate, open farmacy.

Zackynthos and Kefalonia are on ur way back to Europe just below Corfu...I hope there's a chance you'll go to at least one of the ionoan isles .. will stay-tuned..and hey watch-out for those vicious guard dogs!
E and Tartufino (in Sonoma)