On 16th June finally we were ready to head eastwards to find the starting point for the famous Silk Road. Effectively there are many theories about the place this ancient trading route should start from. Currently, there is the opinion that many different initial paths lead somewhere in the Middle East to what we know as the Silk Road. Following this logics, Laufenburg may be the starting point of one of them – anyhow, from now on.
The week before departure we made the last improvements on our car, washed it thoroughly, and the day we left Prado got a full load of Diesel, slightly less expensive in Germany.
If you want to know more about our experiences before departure click the button below.
16th June, Como; Italy
Passing thru the Alps by the San Gotthard tunnel we reached Como in Italy in the evening. There we found a really nice B&B: In Riva al Lago: central location, reasonable price, secured parking for Prado and a huge breakfast.
Of course Monika needed some energy to survive Como’s rainy weather: McDonald’s for something real, pizza in the evening and a hearty breakfast the next day.
17th June, Ancona; Italy
500 km on the highway to Ancona. Nothing special, just highway, flat landscape, industrial parks on the right as well as on the left. Difficult for us to develop the real Silk Road feeling.
At least Camping Internazionale in Sirolo a little south of Ancona was pretty nice; next to the beach, with a restaurant for people like us: too lazy for cooking.
20th June, Igoumenitsa; Greece
In the afternoon Minoan Lines was waiting for us in Ancona. The ferry to Greece. It arrived a little late, so we departed in the late afternoon only. 17 hours to Greece. Some time for a little stroll to discover Ancona’s old town – ok for an hour or 2, not for much longer.
The ferry was ok, even if rather new – already with clear signs of certain maintenance defaults. Well, a little special was the food – next time we bring our own, even if it’s only rotten cold chicken, as everybody else does with a minimum of experience with Minoan lines.
Nevertheless, beautiful sunsets and on the top deck the ultimate place for a sundowner.
The next morning approaching the Greek coast. Immediately, we could feel the way Greek has developed during the last years: potholed roads, houses in urgent need of some paint, very little traffic, no sign of any construction, etc. Remembers us slightly to pics of some eastern countries in the 80ties.
A little later we were at the pretty nice Elena Camping, just south of Igoumenitsa. Time to recover from traveling on the ferry, wash whatever needs to be washed …
… and getting used to Greek beer and food – here Stifado and odd Moussaka.
A 3 h drive eastwards, on a highway probably still a little bit under construction since 2008 when the big crisis has started. Looks like a support program of the EU Development Fund with Greek’s own contribution still outstanding. E. g. toll stations and rest areas just got the signboards, but no stations to collect money or picnic places and toilets. Who bothers; at least a nice mountainous area.
In Kastrakis, no camping, dark clouds and thunderstorms are not far away. We found hotel Spanias – ok, but not special, at least with safe parking.
Then we had to explore the famous cloisters on the top of sheer cliffs.
Of course, nowadays the odd tourist may no longer accept the incredible danger to climb these cliffs just to meet a few monks or nuns; and the inhabitants of the cloisters got a little more ambitious too. So the Greek Ministry of Tourism, Nuns’ affairs and Monks’ Expectations (GMoTNAME) constructed some nice roads to the cliffs and steep stairs leading up. Cloisters ready to especially honour these efforts even got an elevator for goods and monks/ nuns.
Please click on the arrow 2c the Panorama
We even met a lot of tourists also visiting these places. Quite a number rather seemed to be on an exclusive selfie trip.
23rd June, Ouranoupoli; Greece
Don’t be ashamed if you don’t know where the hell is Ouranoupoli. To get this all important knowledge just go on reading.
After all these beautiful cloisters we had to move on towards Turkey. On the highway (still a slightly unfinished one urgently needing some maintenance) we passed Thessaloniki, on our way to Khalkidiki – the peninsula with the famous Athos Monks Republic. Of course we couldn’t enter, nevertheless that’s where we found the village of Ouranoupoli with its campsite – you guess it – called Ouranoupoli.
A last fat Greek dinner, a last beautiful Greek sunset – tomorrow we’ll be in Turkey. But this story in the next post.