! We decided we'd be better off based in one village somewhere roughly in the middle so we could settle in for four nights and be able to have longish day trips around rather than having to find accommodation each night. By the process of driving through and going "yeah this village looks nice, it has a few tavernas and hotels that look like they will be open and a village shop" we picked a hill village called Milies or Milee depending on whether you are trusting Greek maps or Greek road signs! When we arrived we went to a couple of
establishments looking at rooms before choosing this one. Like our last location, Kastraki, very limited English was spoken by the hotel hosts in both the places we looked at so we had lots of fun, and got a huge sense of accomplishment, in working all the finer details of room type and price out in halting Greek with Liane and I both contributing.......we ended up with a bargain but Maria, the owner, gets two rooms occupied for four nights in the off season so not much maintenance for her but she gets an income so really every one wins.....and we even managed to ask about doing laundry in halting Greek with charade like actions - Gwendols actually was the front person for that interaction so we have all played our part and are using the language which is a good feeling......Liane and I are sharing and Gwendoline commented on coming into our room half an hour after our arrival "well you two have certainly moved in" as we totally re-arranged all the furniture and completely made ourselves at home.....well it's four nights so you do want to make yourselves comfortable!!
(L) As Deb says we had a dream run from Kastraki to the Pelion. We left at 9.15 am and were there in about 3 hours. The roads were so good, once again really well signposted and Jane plotted our course with no deviations. We had put in a town just the other side of Volos because we are once again PIBE so no real fixed place in mind to stay. Unfortunately as we had told Jane to only take us on main roads ( after the goat track, dirt road over the mountain incident ) we ended up driving smack bang through the middle of Volos, something I had wanted to avoid! It's crazy town, people, cars and vespa type bikes (of which there are hundreds here) whipping around everywhere. Roads quite skinny that once again even though we're in a major town had to pull over to let oncoming traffic past as others just pulled up and parked wherever the fancy took them!! Hopefully Deb got some good shots of that little adventure! Once through Volos I had a mental picture of where I wanted to go however we had changed our minds about staying in a mountain village as we'd just spent 2 nights in Monodendri and then 2 in Kastraki so thought it might be nice to once again be at a nice little seaside village. We drove down through Kato Gatzea, which looked all closed for the season and onto Kala Nera where we decided to stop for a coffee and loo break... the clouds were looking quite menacing and we were sure the heavens were going to open on us at any minute which made us all the more reluctant to venture up into the mountains on those windy roads
. However even though this looked like it would be a nice place in summer it too was quite deserted with only the one or two cafe/tavernas open and not much in the way of accommodation that looked inviting so we kept going. I had seen in my research that the town of Milies was just in the hills above here so we headed upwards, thankfully the clouds dispersed and no rain was forthcoming. We drove into Milies and took the left turn down to where the old railway station is, there is a lovely looking place we stopped to have lunch in and although we asked the man if he had rooms to which he replied yes we didn't even bother stopping to look at them cos he wasn't very friendly and lunch was so,so. After lunch we drove up to the town proper and found a gorgeous Hotel with a fabulous view of the coast ( although it's very foggy so hard to tell where the sea ends and cloud begins! ). Between us with our broken Greek and Marias broken English we asked for 2 rooms for 4 nights and got the price down from EU 100 per night (for the 2 rooms) to EU300 for 4 nights with a divine breakfast included!! Once settled GJ wanted to stay in her room so Deb and I went for a wander into town where we stopped for a glass or two of red wine and a stop at the supermarket for some supplies ( red wine for the room and some nibbles ) then back up the hill to catch our breath and collect GJ for dinner. On the way back we ran into the most gorgeous dog that rolled over and put her paws over her eyes so I couldn't resist her, the problem then of course was that she followed us all the way back to the Hotel!! Dinner was at a Taverna on the square where we chose to sit outside in the very cold night air as opposed to inside where there was a fireplace warming the hearth but a cloud of smoke so thick there's no way we could have managed to have lasted through dinner! Dinner was once again divine EU35. Our friend once again did her "I'm so adorable you have to pat me routine" which GJ also fell for!! Fairly early night.. in Greek time... tomorrow we're going exploring!!
The Pelion region of Greece is our last stop before we end our trip with the cities of Athens and London so we left Kastraki heading in that direction. The roads between were fabulous, wide and new with lots of tunnels so the journey didn't take long at all.....as you drive around and see oh so many abandoned building projects that remind you of Greece's economic crisis you are also driving on these AMAZING roads that make you wonder if that sort of expenditure may have been a contributing factor.....the major roads we have driven on around the country really are just all new and fantastic and must have cost an absolute FORTUNE! They certainly put the Pacific Highway at home to shame and make it look even more like the goat track it is .... that road really is, or should be, a national disgrace!!!! Political observations aside......we had four nights left to enjoy and explore this area and, given the accommodations in both Athens and London are pre-booked, it was the last time we would have to manoeuvre our way through decision making process of where to stay.....After driving onto the peninsular, (inadvertently directly through the main drag of Volos....thanks for nothing there Jane!) and sussing out a couple of coastal places along on the western shore we gave into our natural instincts and headed back for the mountains