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Published: October 10th 2017
Friday 22 September
We were met at the Sofia airport (Bulgaria) by daddy's friend, Vasco, but not before discovering my pram was not on the conveyor belt! After searching everywhere in the tiny arrivals area, we discovered through the lost and found desk that it had never left Paris! So we arranged for it to be sent to Vasco's parents place. Daddy looked so happy to see his friend and gave him a ginormous hug! They had first met when daddy was living in New Zealand where Vasco had sailed all the way from here in Bulgaria... wow!!
Vasco drove us and all our luggage (except my pram) back to his little apartment where we met his delightful wife Alina. She fed us lots of yummy fruit and brought me some trucks and cars to play with as well as a box of toys to explore. The room mummy and daddy and I are staying in is normally their children's room. It has a very nice thick carpet to crawl on and, the most exciting, drawers to pull in and out!!!!
Alina ordered in dinner for us - I didn't have any sushi but I did try some Greek
salad - the tomatoes were so divinely juicy! - and some yummy meat - it just melted in my mouth! I like this country!!
Saturday 23 September
This morning everyone got ready after a super delicious breakfast of Banitsa (pastry with feta, yogurt and eggs) and kiselo mliako (sour milk/yoghurt) (pastry with feta and yogurt) made by Alina. Apparently Bulgaria is famous for its yogurt and tomatoes. We all squeezed in their car and set off for Greece where they left their campervan!
Vasco thoroughly enjoys driving and drove us super fast down the highway. I've never seen daddy go that fast! We stopped on the way in a little Bulgarian town just before the Greek border for mummy and daddy to get some money and do a bit of shopping. Vasco wanted to take mummy and daddy to a Greek Taverna near to where we were headed, but as it was already 2pm, mummy and daddy got a pizza and pastry to go as they were hungry.
A couple of hours and a border crossing later ( I have another stamp in my passport!!) we arrived at a picturesque Taverna overlooking the ocean with daddy's favourite
bazooki music emanating from within. There was a party of people dancing to the live music. So much food was ordered - sardines, Greek salad, tzatziki, *fish spread*, pork... mummy and daddy looked rapt and I got to try a few bits too. Alina took me to play nearby and got me a pine cone and glass bottle to play with!
After a big meal we headed down the road to the campervan. It was on a wild strip of beach with a few campervans alongside and some young children playing in the creek. The others were apparently our hosts' friends with whom they often went campervan-ing. Everyone was having a marvellous time frolicking in the sun and improving their already very dark tans. It looked like fun! But we had to check out what would be our home for the next three weeks!
This thing called a 'campervan' is quite something!! It is like our entire home - beds, couches, my cot, fridge, stove, cupboards, toilet, bathroom - all in a car!!! I was so surprised when we stepped inside our new 'home'. Alina had bought all kinds of supplies to make our journey comfortable and she
cleaned out some cupboards so we could put our clothes and food in. They are very nice giving us their home for our holiday!
Vasco and Alina went off to bring back water and mummy and daddy took me for a swim! The water here is a bit chilly, but it was fun, and we had a hot shower coming out of the wall of our campervan when we got out! Alina again cut up lots of fruit for us when she got back and they said we could have the campervan to ourselves as they would sleep in their car! Vasco and Alina return tomorrow to Bulgaria and daddy will drive us back over the next three weeks in the campervan. How lucky are we!
Mummy tried to put me to sleep but I wasn't having a bar of it - I could hear there was a party going on outside one of the neighbouring campervans and I wanted to join in! Finally, mummy relented, rugged me up, and we went to join the party. There was even more food! Daddy was eating freshly caught sardines and a smoked eggplant mash. I tried some fish mummy gave
me and it was delicious! Half the party were Greek and half Bulgarian, so we couldn't understand anything, except for when Vasco, Alina and their friends spoke with us in English. But it was fun to sit at the big animated table under the stars by the ocean.
Sunday 24 September
Even though Vasco and daddy set up a port-a-cot for me, I slept on the big bed suspended above the driver's seat with mummy and daddy.
The region of Greece we are in is named Chalkidiki and is made up of three promontories - Kassandra, Sithonia and Agion Oros, home to Mount Athos, a self-administering monastic state (of 20 Greek, Russian, Bulgarian and Serbian monasteries and some 1 500 monks) which forbids women to enter. We are mainly travelling around the Sithonian promontory.
Today Vasco and Alina took us for a drive further around the Sithonia Peninsula to Porto Koufo where they showed us another campground we could go to, even more picturesque than ours, only with more people, and within walking distance of Tavernas, a small shop and the port with lots of fishing boats and a few yachts for daddy. We decided to
make it our next port of call after a couple more days where we were.
Lunch was another delicious affair at a Taverna at Porto Koufo. A multitude of dishes were ordered - fried eggplant, Tzazaki dip (I tried both!) sardines, Greek salad, fried octopus... Then we all returned to the campsite and said our farewells to Vasco and Alina after an afternoon swim and relax.
Monday 25 September
Mummy and I awoke to find daddy outside reading so mummy left me with daddy to hear 'The old man and the sea' while mummy made us a big breakfast! As we were eating, overlooking the sea, a herd of goats frolicked by, followed by the goat herd who told us he had a total of 511 goats (he wrote the number in the sand as he didn't speak English)! Mummy led a stranded kid back to the herd who disappeared across the marshland.
I knew today was going to be a big adventure when mummy packed my backpack full, put me in the top, and off we went with me on daddy's back! We walked along the beach and headed back up north along the shore. We
reached the end of the beach and made our way up the rocky path through the thorny scrub to the top of a rocky outcrop and then started our descent down to the next beach. We walked up over each scrubby cliff to discover several bays and then, when one cliff got a little too hairy, we cut across to a dirt road and followed it past a series of villas that seemed abandoned for the winter months. Finally we arrived at a nice looking beach down from the villas which even had some beach umbrellas and chairs that were packed up on the beach. Mummy and daddy found a ball, a starfish bucket and a spade for me to play with in the sand so I had a marvellous time! The swim was not quite so pleasant as it was a bit cold for my liking, but I loved crawling around in the sand!
On the way home I of course fell asleep after such a long day! Daddy made a big pot of pasta before everyone went to bed.
Tuesday 26 September
This morning was the first time daddy drove the campervan. It took a little
while to pack things away so they didn't go flying off shelves and seats when we drove and to get the campervan ready. Mummy and daddy set up my seat but there wasn't much leg room so mummy just held me. It's fun sitting in the back of the campervan! We didn't drive very far - just around the bay to Porto Koufo. We drove right to the end of the strip of beach, looking out onto the bay and the channel between the sea cliffs.
Today was mummy and daddy's second wedding anniversary. They made a special picnic for lunch while I was sleeping and were just about to have a toast with a glass of wine when I woke up - I wasn't going to miss out!
Both mummy and daddy took turns at going for a swim and then everyone got ready to walk back into town to go to a Taverna which looked back over the port. It was very pretty. I fell asleep on the way home.
Wednesday 27 September
Today's event was lunch at a nearby Taverna, not overlooking the sea this time but prettily decorated all the same and our
closest eatery. Mummy and daddy ordered the recommended fried squid for which the restaurant is famous and it did not disappoint - it was so deliciously tender that even I had some! All the meals were lovely - mummy was so surprised at the beautiful dressing on even what looked like a plain salad. I got a bit bored after a while though because mummy and daddy were on their phones and computer for ages. I amused myself by standing on the seat holding onto the stone wall and trying to grab the plants mummy pushed behind the screen.
Thursday 28 September
This morning the weather had changed - it was cloudy and windy - so no one felt like going for a swim! Instead, I jumped in the backpack and we all went for a long walk up and over the hills dotted with olive trees towards the next bay. There were so many olives, black ones and green ones, and daddy let me reach out and pick some off the trees.
After our walk, we left Porto Koufo, drove to the other side of the peninsula and headed to a campground recommended by Vasco. It was
very expansive with a nice beach, pool beach volley net and tennis court, but daddy wasn't keen on such a crowded place (although there weren't so many people in the off season), much to mummy's disappointment (she was looking forward to using the nice hot showers and washing machine)! And so we continued on and turned off down a windy dirt road to another little beach that was completely deserted with rough seas being swept around by the wind.
Before settling down for the night, we made another journey up the potholed road and headed into the town of Sarti where we bought groceries and a few souvenirs. Mummy and daddy were learning how to count in greek from the local vegetables and olive sellers. Dinner was at a fast food Gyros place called Obélix, but mummy and daddy weren't too impressed after the amazing Taverna food we have been eating!
Friday 29 September
I'm not feeling so well today - my head has been burning up all night and I'm dribbling heaps. Mummy thinks I might be teething or growing again.
This morning we went back to Sarti to look for water, but daddy turned into
a street that seemed to end with no place to turn around. So he started to back back, but suddenly we heard a scraping sound... it was the car beside us!! Everyone came to have a look and finally the owner arrived. He was very understanding and was happy to take some euro to fix the car and let us be on our way. Instead though, we decided to visit his restaurant for lunch as he'd been so nice!
Our destination for the night was a town called Vourvouru, to the north of the peninsula overlooking Mt Athos on the third peninsula with several islets off the coast making for gorgeous scenery. We saw none of this when we arrived, however, as it was dark and we parked in a wooded area under the pines.
I was so crazily hungry that night that I gobbled down the rest of a squeeze tube of baby food and finished off the porridge. Mummy was so surprised as she had never seen me eat so much! I think I ate a little too much, however, as I wasn't feeling great and when mummy took me up to her bed because I
wouldn't settle in the cot, I proceeded to vomit up all the contents of my stomach onto the bed!
Saturday 30 September
Last night I kept mummy up all night - I fed at 1.30, 4.30, 6 and then I was super active until finally I did a big poo! Daddy changed me because mummy was too tired. They thought I was finished, but half an hour later I did another one!! Mummy wanted to let daddy sleep so she took me for a walk to the end of the peninsula which was very pretty with many islets off the shore and some rocky outcrops we walked over. I didn't see much though because I soon fell asleep. After breakfast, daddy took me for the same walk and I fell asleep again!
On the way to our next destination, Nea Potidaia, daddy stopped at Ancient Olynthos - the archaeological ruins of the most important cultural centre in Chalkidiki during the Classical period. Built on the famous Hippodamean system, the Classical town dates from 432 BC, when it was the seat of an alliance of 32 cities in Chalkidiki. My favourite memory of the city, though, was the dried
fig tree daddy found - the figs had dried on the tree! So mummy gave me one to chew.
That night we headed to Nea Potidaia on the top of the Kassandra Peninsula, with a man-made canal linking the Thermaic Gulf with the Gulf of Toroni. We stopped at Ouzouni Beach camping on the eastern side of the peninsula. We had arrived just in time because the next day it was closing as the summer tourist season had come to an end! It was a campsite right next to the beach, complete with baby bath (!!) and washing machine, so we managed to wash all our clothes (and hang them all around our campervan!) and I had my very own bath - luxury! I still had a temperature, so daddy gave me some Neurophin and put me to bed early before ordering take away for dinner.
Sunday 1 October
I slept in while mummy had a swim at Ouzouni beach. Then daddy went for a swim after breakfast while mummy and I walked along the beach beside him. It was such a long beach with calm waters!
Today we visited Petralona Cave and Archaeological Museum. The
cave was spectacular! After seeing the cave in Ireland, I feel like I'm a bit of an expert now. 😊 This cave was discovered in 1959 and lies on the slope of the limestone hill 'Katsika'. It's chamber and galleries have a total length of about 2 kilometres , meaning it is huge!! Its ceiling was crammed tight with the most incredible array of millions of pencil stalactites and the stalagmites reaching upward and often joining their counterparts were enormous! There were even curtains of limestone on the side walls and many other incredible features. Mummy and daddy were awestruck as they looked around, mouths agape. I think I saw something pretty special. 😊
Within the cave many discoveries have been made of bones and teeth from various animals - rhinoceroses, hyenas, foxes, badgers, flying foxes, lions, bears among others. But the most interesting finding was of a fossilised skull in 1960, nearly identical to those of the Neanderthal Man according to the anthropologists. The most recent findings date Petralona hominid's existence to over 700 000 years ago! I can't even begin to imagine how long ago that was! Traces of fire were also found, dating the cave to
around 700 000 to 1 million years ago, making it the earliest fire on a global level. Wow! What a place to visit when you're only 8 months old to put your life in perspective!!
On our way to our next campsite, daddy stopped at LIDL to stock up on groceries. Mummy carried me around the supermarket in just my nappy to try to cool me down because my body and head were so hot! We bought lots of yummy food to cook and eat.
We set up camp on a beach near Nea Kallikrata at the top of the promontory of Kassandra (the first of the three fingers). Daddy prepared a monster chicken and vegetable soup to feed mummy and I to help my cold. But I had fallen asleep by the time it was ready. I will try it tomorrow.
Monday 2 October
My temperature has gone! I woke up full of energy and my usual self again. Mummy opened the window and exclaimed 'what a magnificent view'! The moon reflected in the ocean of last night had changed to clouds and a flock of birds lining the shore. It is lovely to awake to
the sound of the ocean.
After a lazy morning, we drove to a free camping site by the ocean near Thessaloniki. We walked about 6 km along the promenade lining the ocean to the big city of Thessaloniki, the second largest city of Greece. This afternoon was spent exploring - the Roman Forum, the Arch of Galerius (built after Galerius's victory over the Persians in 298 BC, with intricate marble relief sculptures), the White Tower. We were going to have to return the next day to explore further!
Tuesday 3 October
Poor mummy has been noticing I am barely feeding compared to how hungry I have been over the last several days - I have been feeding like crazy! But today mummy was pretty uncomfortable as I hardly fed at all! Both mummy and daddy think I have more bottom teeth coming though soon, and daddy thinks I've got heavier! Since I've been in Bulgaria and Greece I've had my very own playpen set up in the campervan and I absolutely love standing holding the edge and watching what is happening around me. I can even get up by myself now which is so much better as I
don't get so frustrated waiting for mummy or daddy to help me! Even better is when I'm on the window seat and I grab hold of the window sill to stand and watch what is happening outside. I can even walk along a bit if I hold on, and I am starting to be able to stand using only one hand. Soon I will be hands free!! 😊
Today we hired bikes and rode into Thessaloniki - it was much faster than walking!! We saw one of Orthodoxy's most important early Christian monuments, the church of Ayia (Hagia) Sophia, built in the iclonoclastic period in the late 7th century. It was very dark inside with paintings decorated with gold that glinted in the light, and lavish gold chandeliers hanging from ceilings painted with frescos. There was much marble used and the walls were a dark black for the most part. It was very ornate. Next we returned to take a closer look at and circumnavigate the archaeological ruins of the Roman Forum, constructed on two levels, that comprised the commercial, government and social centre in the late 2nd century AD.
After dropping off the bikes, we then had
lunch at a bakery with two delightful owners, Themis and Caterina (like mummy). Themis was a lovely jovial fellow who was so much fun! He took me for a ride in his arms and we played a game where he took me outside and we looked back at mummy and daddy through the window. His son, Vasilie (Bill in English!) also came by and his father told him he wanted grandchildren!
Next we visited daddy's pick, the Museum of Byzantine Civilisation. Mummy and daddy seemed really interested, but it got a bit boring after a while and I fell asleep. The museum staff were really friendly though and the lady in the museum shop gave me some cuddles!
The sunset from the port was magnificent tonight, after which we just had time to squeeze in a visit of the White Tower, mummy's pick, with an exhibition of the history of Thessaloniki as well as a superb view of the town from the top! Thessaloniki's trademark was built around 1535 as a fortress tower used to control the entrance to the Thermaic gulf. The tower, 30 meters high with 6 floors, was built on the site of an earlier
Dinner was at a lovely little Cretian restaurant where the owner and the lady who worked in the real estate agency next door took a liking to me and whisked me away to play with me! Everyone is so kind here! She even gave me a banana which I really enjoyed, as well as my own high chair. I lasted most of dinner, but then I had a big feed and crashed. Daddy must have carried me home on the bike because I found myself back home in the campervan!
Wednesday 4 September
Today was an unusual kind of washing day - necessary because I had done a big poo which leaked through my outfit onto the cot blanket. Daddy found a laundromat on the GPS and mummy and daddy took the i-bikes again (they had paid for 5 hours and only used 3 yesterday) and we all headed into the suburbs of Thessaloniki. The laundromat was hard to find and we had to ask several people who only spoke a little English for directions. Finally, we realised there weren't any self serve laundromats, only dry cleaners! So we stopped at one which was just about
to close, then another with two lovely elderly men inside. Through gestures and pointing at the calendar, we realised they were going to have our washing ready by tomorrow! Oh no, that wouldn't do! We tried, using the clock and our phone, and finally pen and paper, to tell them we only had an hour to return the bikes and then needed to leave for Bulgaria. They seemed to understand and, through negotiation which included them showing mummy a wet dress hanging up to ask if we minded the clothes not being dried, we managed to arrange to come back in (what we figured was) one hour to collect the clothes. Mummy then asked if there was a nice place to eat (using actions of course). The man explained in Greek what seemed simple directions, but mummy asked him to write the name down just in case. Just as well, as mummy and daddy had to show it to several people in the street before eventually finding the restaurant!! Now I realise how useful it is in France and Spain to have mummy able to speak these different languages.
The restaurant had many different meats rotating on skewers (like
in Argentina mummy said) and the meal of souvlaki, chicken breast, salad and potatoes only cost €16 - very good value! I didn't really care though as I was so hungry I ate my squeeze tube of fruit and filled up on milk before falling asleep.
Next, daddy drove us a couple of hours to Kerkini Lake and wetlands that Vasco recommended, about half an hour from the Bulgarian border. It was very peaceful and when I awoke from the drive we had walked halfway out across the parched soil of the wetlands towards the lake. Daddy was very excited to see flocks of flamingos lining the lake shore in the distance. We relaxed there and watched the sunset before making our way back to explore Bulgaria!
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