We jumped in the van and made our way south, completely unaware of the Greek highway toll system. It turns out that between Thessaloniki and Athens the major highway has over 10 toll booths charging around 5 Euros a pop. Luckily the secondary routes are in great condition with little to no cars plus they offer better views.
Our first stop was in a little town called Makrigialos. A lovely lady let us plug into her seaside restaurant outlet for 2 days free of charge. Winters are slow and most establishments closed making it hard for us to find groceries, no worries, the corner store shop owner included a few of his homemade sausages and the best kiwis I’ve ever had the chance to consume with our beer purchase. I’m telling you, Greeks are the most generous people on the planet.
Back in the van, direction Athens, we’ve come across some really interesting scenery. Deserted seaside beach resort towns, lush green farming fields, rocky mountains with snowy caps and tons of brown signs, indicators of archeological sites ahead.
Valentine’s day was spent in the bonny town of Katerini. To celebrate this great holiday and also treating ourselves to a fine shower (it’s been a month of washing out of a pot), Matt haggled a fantastic deal at a hip boutique hotel right in the city centre. Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures of beautiful Katerini, it’s basically a maze of twisting streets, many pedestrian only, with tons of cafes, bars and cute shops.
This is how to “hotel” properly; bring your computer and speakers for loud dance parties, stock up on various snacks, beer and 5 liter wine jugs, bring your own power bar for all your powering needs, don’t forget to bring a hot plate and dishes for late night dining, but most importantly, always have a lit Party Bird in plain view.
Katerini would be a great city to raise a family. It’s small enough that everyone knows each other yet large enough to have all the shops and amenities you would ever need. Though Katerini is not a coastal town, a 15 minute drive East to Paralia will fulfill your beach craving.
We make friends everywhere we go. On Valentine’s day we ventured into this fantastic family run rotisserie restaurant, meters away from the hotel. The owner and his daughter waited on us as if we were special guests of royal descent. On top of our heaping plates of fragrant rice, lemon potatoes and juicy roasted chicken we were asked to sample a traditional onion and yogurt soup, a simple desert made with yogurt and quince jam and the house Tsipouro, a pomace Brandy that tastes like a well balanced mix of Ouzo and car diesel, OPA!
As we left, our generous hosts gave us a goody bag including a chicken bottle opener and a great chicken mug. What a fantastic experience, I will never forget our friends.
Not being able to read the Greek parking signs we unavoidably parked our rig in a loading zone in front of city hall. When we found our ticket we asked the municipality police what we should do next. The officer was extremely friendly and told us to follow him to a great free parking lot close to the city centre.
Walking around the city. We get really excited when we see a fellow camper.