Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021... Our year in review

We started 2021 in Turkey, and we ended it in Greece. Two countries that are very close to each other. But in between the two, we did a whole lot of traveling. In fact, we were in a total of 13 different countries this year!

And of course we did all of that travel during the Covid pandemic, but it really wasn't that difficult. We did a total of 5 or 6 PCR tests (all negative) until we were able to access a vaccination shot in July and that reduced the need for the PCR tests. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Remember the package we were waiting for?

Just thought I would give you an update, just because it's so ridiculous.

To give you some background, we were in Albania when we decided to order a motorhome water filter from Germany. Prior to ordering, the company said that it would take "6-8 days, although likely sooner than that" to ship it to Albania. Their exact words. So based on that, we ordered it on November 24th, prepared to wait around for 8 days.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The place is getting pretty busy

Once again, it was mostly overcast and we didn't see the sun all day. But we did manage to get out for a 5 km (3 mile) power walk along the beach road Tuesday morning before the showers began shortly after we returned to Max. We timed it well!

There are now five camping vehicles here. It's all young people... or at least younger than us!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Thinking about boosters, and renewed our medical Insurance

Pretty quiet day for us yesterday. It was supposed to rain all day, but by 11:00am it was still not raining, so we decided to take a chance and hop on the bikes and go to a grocery store about 6 kms (3.5 miles) away. 

6 kms uphill all the way! And with a bit of a head wind. At least it was paved. And it made for a pretty easy ride back to Max, although we sure got our exercise on the way up.

Monday, December 27, 2021

We ended up at an interesting spot!

We had a stretch of decent weather the last few days. Highs around 17C (63F) and lows around 10C (50F) which is pretty typical for this time of year in this area. Certainly not tropical, but not cold either. 

But they were calling for some steady rain Sunday night through Wednesday, so we figured we had better find somewhere to ride out the bad weather.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Christmas feast

We woke up Christmas Day to a few raindrops, and it was mostly cloudy all day but we did manage to get out for a bit of a walk. Otherwise, it was a relaxing day and we played a few games of backgammon, cribbage, and yahtzee.

Then later on, Ruth made a fabulous Christmas dinner, and we had a good zoom call with my side of the family.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas in Greece

Merry Christmas morning!

Last year on this day, we were getting ready for Christmas Day eye surgery in Turkey. Of course Turkey is a Muslim country, so they don't celebrate Christmas, and Christmas Day is just another day.. But here in Greece, the day before Christmas is when children sing carols in the streets, families gather together to play games, go to midnight mass, and end their advent fast.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Ancient Olympia... birthplace of the Olympic Games

Having been to both Mexico and Turkey, we have explored a lot of ruins sites. But Ancient Olympia in Greece is a little different because it is where the Greek Olympic Games took place every four years without interruption between 776 BC and 393 AD... a period of 1,169 years!

Sure, to look at the ruins themselves, it's all very similar to the ruins we saw in Turkey. But it's the information learned here to do with the games that we found really interesting.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The photos don't tell the whole story.

We arrived at the seaside port town of Katakolo fairly early. They have a huge parking area that the motorhomes use, but there was only one other rig there when we showed up.

Katakolo is on the Mediterranean cruise ship circuit, so normally there would be between one and three cruise ships docked here while the tourists they carry made their way to nearby Ancient Olympia. But there is none of that happening right now.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Parked at the beach, and Max's AdBlue

It kind of felt like we wasted the day at the laundromat! But, we still managed to put on a few miles and get out of the very busy area around the city of Patras. Patras is the third largest city in Greece with a population now around 200,000 but I thought it felt much bigger than that.

The laundromat was located on a pretty busy street and we got lucky that Max was able to fit into one of the four parking spots right at the laundromat itself. One of the benefits of having a short motorhome!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Max went for his first boat ride!

Monday was a day to get some chores done. First up was to fill with fresh water. The park4night app is really useful for things like this because other van and motorhome campers have listed some possible water fill and propane fill stops.

There was a gas station along our route that had a water fill point, and it was easy access and we were quickly in and out of there. Propane might be a different story though.

Monday, December 20, 2021

If it would stay like this all winter...

We couldn't really have asked for a much better day. Sure, the temperature could still have been a few degrees higher, but if it were like this for the rest of the winter, we would be fine with that!

My mother mentioned to us that considering the weather we have had, we would have been better off in Mexico. And from a weather perspective, that is certainly true.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

This wasn't in the plans!

It was spitting with rain when we set off around 10:00am Saturday morning. I knew that we had to drive up over a mountain pass, but I didn't really think much of it. I also knew it would be a little colder up there, and figured that we might see a few snowflakes.

But I wasn't expecting a blizzard!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

On a mission to get further south

When I was planning our drive yesterday and looking for somewhere to overnight, there weren't a lot of interesting looking options. It turns out that's because there really isn't a lot of interesting looking things to see along that stretch. 

And, we were trying to get further south anyhow. There is a bit of cold weather heading through this area the next couple of days and so we are skipping by this area in favor of a little more warmth.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Christmas Festival in Trikala, Greece

The city of Trikala lies about 30 kms (18 miles) south of the popular cliff monasteries of Meteora. It's not much of a tourist destination. They have one small castle, and the old town area is pretty run down with a lot of graffiti. 

But we were told about a Christmas festival they do called Mill of the Elves and apparently people drive from all over Greece to take part.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The clifftop monastries of Meteora, Greece (day 3)

Yesterday we drove up to the monastery road that circles in behind the cliffs. This is how most people access the monasteries. There are some hiking trails to get up to them, but we also wanted to drive about 15 kms north to try to hike to the locations of some of the monasteries that don't exist anymore. 

And if we wanted to see all of the different viewpoints on our last day in the area, driving was the fastest way to do it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The clifftop monastries of Meteora, Greece (day 2)

There is lots of hiking and exploring to be done in this area, and even though the temperature is a little chilly, it's actually great weather for doing exactly that. But before we set out, we had to get another SIM card for the phone. 

I wasn't happy with the data package I got from the first supplier, so we walked into town and went to the Vodafone Greece store.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The clifftop monastries of Meteora, Greece

Monday morning we woke up to a clear blue sky. What a refreshing change! With a more positive weather forecast in our future, we decided to do the detour to the monasteries of Meteora. 

It was about a 200 km detour from our loosely planned route, and with the price of fuel we don't take these things lightly. Also, toll roads in Greece are fairly expensive and while we normally prefer to stick to the back roads, they can be pretty slow going.

Just  warning... lots of photos today!

Monday, December 13, 2021

The ancient city of Dodoni

The skies finally cleared enough to go and do some exploring. We made sure to bring our umbrellas and raincoats with us though! 

Only a 15 minute walk from where we were parked is the ancient city of Dodoni. We didn't come here specifically for that, it was just a coincidence really. Which is a good thing because I read some reviews that said it wasn't really the best ruins site. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

I think the worst is over

Pouring rain again yesterday. In fact it was so much rain that the Greek authorities in this area put out a blanket cell phone alert warning telling people to stay home if it wasn't absolutely necessary. 

We had originally planned on doing some driving south, but decided that wasn't a good idea. We felt the need to find somewhere better than a parking lot to ride out the rain though. I found a listing on the park-4-night app that looked suitable, and it turned out to be a really great choice!

Saturday, December 11, 2021

It doesn't matter if it's raining out if you are inside a cave!

Pouring rain again all day yesterday, just as they forecast. So we drove the short distance from Ioannina up to the Cave of Perama.

We've been in a lot of caves in our travels. It's actually one of the things that we try to seek out. But we've kind of become "cave snobs" over the years, and try to do a lot of research before spending the money to visit some caves, because quite frankly, some caves are not worth visiting!

Friday, December 10, 2021

Welcome to Greece. Country #50 for us!

Max's fuel tank was down to about 1/4 so the first thing we did was to top it up. We hadn't put any fuel in since November 2nd. Max gets really good fuel mileage, but it's even better when he's not being driven!

And then it was off to Greece. In the pouring rain.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Well, that turned into a pretty good day!

It was 10:30am by the time we pulled out of the campground at Berat. A little later start than I would have liked, but not bad. Our goal is always to get parked up by 2:00pm, so we should have still been okay.

Our destination was Permet. Only 60 kms away as the crow flies, but the easiest drive is 170 kms! There are shorter routes, but they are recommended 4x4 only. We know that some motorhomes and campervans have done it, but it's really slow going. It turns out that we had some bad sections to deal with anyhow!

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Getting ready to get back on the road. Headed for Greece!

Yesterday morning we were still parked in the lot near downtown Berat, so we took advantage of the location to stock up on a few things. No idea what's in store for the next few days, so it's good to be prepared. 

We went back to our favorite butcher guy. He sold us the most delicious juicy pork chops last time, and so we bought four more, as well as one chunk that can be oven roasted. And a half kilo of ground beef as well.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Well, we've had enough

And, we've learned a lesson. Never order an international package in Europe without being prepared to wait forever until it arrives.

Before we ordered the water filter, I had asked how long it would take to arrive. The supplier told me "DHL says it's 6-8 days. But I think its going faster." His exact words. So based on that, we made the order and were prepared to wait 8 days.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Six month review of Max... our European motorhome

Max is a 2021 Adria Matrix 520ST. He is 5.9 meters (19.5') long and has a Citroen chassis. We first met him in June, so it's been almost six months that we've had to get to know each other.

We did spend much of August and September in Canada, so really it's only been about four months of use. And in that four months, we have put 4,200 kms (2,600 miles) on the odometer. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night!

Quite a  few things to talk about today. 

We made the decision to move Max down to the parking lot in the city itself. More for a change of scenery than anything else, but it's also slightly cheaper and of course it's closer to the shops and we were due to stock up on a few things. Our LPG was getting low, so we also needed to fill the tanks.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Out for a hike, and shipping update

At 12:30pm I got an notification update regarding our package. It has only now left Germany! So it took a full week to get from the supplier to the airport. Well at least it's not lost. The last update actually says NOTE: As soon as the shipment arrives in the destination country/destination area, you will receive updated information in the detailed tracking history.

So you would think that we should receive another update today. But who knows. It is what it is and we'll just have to wait it out. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

We aren't destination people... we are explorers.

We've been in Berat for two weeks now. Which has been okay... we like the city and the area and the campground we are at is great. But even when we like a place, we are ready to move on after two weeks. We aren't destination people, we are explorers. Which is why our home has wheels. 

So what's keeping us here?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

We bit off more than we could chew!

We woke up to a beautiful blue sky, and it stayed that way all day! What a refreshing change from all the rain that we've had recently. 

So we decided to go for a long bike ride. I had read about a winery in a village located 15kms (9.3 miles) away. We figured we would try to go there for lunch. A 30 km (18.6 mile) bike ride isn't unreasonable, so off we went.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Berat Castle hike, and Ruth's dentist update

We posted our November expenses last night. Our cheapest month of the year so far!

The rain finally stopped after lunch and we were pretty quick to get out and get some exercise before it got dark. We decided to walk down to the city and see how much the river had risen due to the last three days of fairly hard rain.

And from there up to Berat Castle. We had been up to the castle when we were here in March, but wanted to go back just for the hike up.