Return to Ariel in Thessaloniki
4th September, 2018.
We returned to Ariel to find that we had rats running along the ledge on the wall and coming out of the pipe at the back of Ariel. Luckily we had rat poison on board and fed the creature near us but the other one we saw was further away and couldn’t get to us as there was water in its way. We reported it to the marina the next day when they were open and they undid the man hole cover and threw lots of poison into the hole. We didn’t see any more although I kept looking.
Then we discovered there had been an electrical storm over the marina about 10 days before our return and several boats had problems. Unfortunately, for us we were one of them. A flash had probably gone through the water and all our Raymarine equipment is now not working. After being advised to contact our insurance company they sent a surveyor from Athens by plane and hire car to list everything Jim had told the insurance company. A local engineer had arrived at the same time and after three minutes left saying he was too busy for at least two weeks. The surveyor arranged another engineer from Athens to come ten days later but time was moving on and we were now running out of time to get south. After further discussions with the insurance company it was agreed Jim could contact a local engineer recommended chap who turned up two hours later after he had finished work. He looked and decided it could only be storm damage and offered to take out the equipment and send or take it to Athens to be tested and then collect it at a later date if they could repair it. He said that as the wiring is so thin and fragile if it could be repaired and all talk to each other again there was no guarantee something else would not break down in a short time. All we have is a handheld GPS, the Heikell book and a lead line. Not much different than 35 years ago.
So as the weather was not good for moving and we still had one week’s credit in the marina we would hire a car and go and sight see.
We discovered the beaches around the bay out and past the airport and some very interesting little towns. We visited Ikea for new pillows and enjoyed our first lunch in the restaurant. We had a super time discovering the museum of Pella with information about Alexandra the Great after visiting the site of the old town which have been excavated found the beautiful tiled floors.
After lunch we drove on to Edessa and found the beautiful waterfalls and the view of the whole valley looking out for miles.
We made our way to Loutraki for the thermal hot springs which we found easily. As time was getting late we left to find a hotel for the night. The Hotel Phillippion had a room with a view looking across the mountains. We settled into our room and took a walk up the main street for dinner.
Next morning after a reasonable breakfast we had an hour in the hot springs. If you lived locally you would be one of the locals who obviously meet there every week. It was busy and at only 2 euros each it was fun.
We had been told about the brown bear sanctuary at Nuypalo a good drive of say three/four hours so we left after coffee to find the sanctuary. The sanctuary is set on top of a very high mountain which you drive up to. After leaving the car in the car park you walk up to the town and then another 900 metres to the sanctuary. We had to wait for the next tour and luckily our guide took us in to see the bears and gave his Greek talk and they all left with another guide and we were given our own tour in English. The authorities will not allow any advertising of the sanctuary and therefore not many people visit. It is just one of the local laws. We were not disappointed and saw several bears and were very pleased to see large companies sponsor the bears. There youngest bear is 4 ½ years old and the oldest they had had not long died and he was 49 years old. The guides go out into the towns and villages to give advice on how to keep the bears out of their areas. One of the things they advise is to lock the wheelie bins because once they find they cannot easily get food they will not return to that area. Northern Greek now has a population of 500 plus wild bears whereas 20 years ago there was only 50. Fascinating talk which helped us to understand the work they are doing to help the brown bear and the people affected by the bears. We noticed on the motorway there were bear signs and for miles there were high fences with three lines of barb wire on top.
We made for Kastoria to be near a lake. We were not disappointed as we found a hotel with a lake view and a comfy bed. We drove into the city and had dinner overlooking the lake. In the past this area has been fur country and we saw hundreds of shops all selling furs. The Russians use to visit and buy but this has not decreased and many of the companies are closing.
Next day we drove back towards Thessaloniki on the motorway to find the Royal Tombs at Aigai. The tombs were discovered and found to be the intact tomb of Phlip ll, father of Alexander the Great and brought to light a vivid image of Macedonian life and art. The unique frescos, weapons, jewellery and small luxury items found in the tombs could only belong to royalty. They found the “herron” the room where the deceased ashes were put in the caskets after being cremated and all the bones washed and saved before being put in the tomb and it sealed. Their favourite animals such as their horses were also cremated and their bones put in the tomb. The crown of gold which was found for the male was indeed beautiful and the woman’s crown equally wonderful but the gold caskets were worth a fortune. None for this was discovered until the early 70’s.
After a picnic lunch we returned to the motorway and drove a lot of miles before we turned right for Athens and headed into the mountains to see Mount Olympus and the national park. It was very hazy but we enjoyed the drive and experienced the mountains. Time was ticking on so we left for Thessaloniki.
We enjoyed northern Greece and hopefully we will come back and explore more.