When 8 years ago we bought our motorhome it was very difficult to imagine how drastically it would had changed the way we perceive the meaning of traveling. The keyword is obviously independence. Our new “home”, a magic turtle shell, allowed us to wander from place to place, living simply and frugally, enjoying places and making experiences that we could never have had traveling in the conventional way.
I am convinced that if more people choose this form of itinerant tourism and if governments actively supported it as a model of sustainable tourism, there would be only benefits for everyone. Less concrete, less damaged beaches, reduced wastage of natural resources (energy, water) minimized pollution. A better, greener world!
Independence does not mean lack of organization. Now is the time when most of us start thinking about where to spend our summer vacations and making plans. Having spent many months wandering around most European countries, I think that if a motorhomer asked me to suggest a destination for spending a few weeks or even months (!) I would recommend for sure visiting Greece. And this is not only because as a photographer myself, I followed the fate of photographers to falling in love with the Greek light. I have more convincing reasons:
1. Top of the list is Greece’s natural and historical wealth. Not only are the must-see sights many. They are completely different one from the other. Abundance and diversity, the perfect conditions for a curious, restless motorhomer-explorer. Take for example the Peloponnese, by far the most popular motorhomer’s destination. Its ‘exotic’ beaches are listed among the most beautiful in the world (Elafonisos-Simos, Voidokoilia), it has archaeological sites of international resonance (Olympia, Epidaurus), medieval villages and castles that remained untouched by time (Monemvasia, Mystras), forests, rivers, gorges and waterfalls (Lussios, Neda), lunar landscapes and villages with fortified houses (Mani). There is even a volcano (Methana)! And all these, in just a few hours driving…
2. Even in the peak tourist season we always found a spot in the Mediterranean sunshine away from the crowds. Thanks to the vast and smooth coastline (the longest compared to other Mediterranean countries), there is plenty of space for everyone. Moreover, the most popular beaches are not necessarily the most beautiful. Do not be surprised if you find yourself in front of a postcard style beach and you are alone or with very few others.
3. Contrary to what you might imagine, the summer heat is far from being unbearable. As our motorhome does not have air conditioning, we usually rely on the miraculous sea or mountain breeze depending on where we are and up to now it worked like a charm! At night, the temperature drops significantly and a bed sheet or a light blanket is always welcome. All these are of course for the countryside. Urban temperatures are high also overnight. The wind may sometimes be a small hassle, especially in August in the Aegean sea region, but the good news is that in summer it hardly ever rains!
4. Wild camping is prohibited, but parking is not. So as long as you park your RV (Recreational Vehicle) according to the rules, without setting out tents, tables and chairs etc. it is highly unlikely to be disturbed by the authorities (Police, Municipality).
5. Greece welcomes with open arms the non-forward-thinking. Even in the smaller villages there is a general store where you can buy the essentials. They stay open until late at night every day of the week and often they are only slightly more expensive than big supermarkets. So why not give back to the local economy and buy from them? As a bonus you do not need to stack products in your closets. Also, on isolated beaches canteen-cafes-tavern usually are not there just to make junk food. You can ask them to bring for you fresh products, fruits, vegetables or milk from the closest village.
6. Excluding islands, where there is water shortage, in the rest of the country, with very few exceptions, there is drinking water in abundance. Look around to find public taps otherwise gas stations is the next easy solution; when filling petrol just ask to use their water tap.
7. Greeks have a talent for foreign languages! Beyond the ‘mandatory’ English, many, especially younger ones speak an extra language as French, Italian or German. But even those who know only basic English will find a way to communicate with you. The spirit of hospitality and the pleasure of sharing things and experiences with visitors are still alive, especially outside major urban / tourist centres.
8. For those who think that Greece is reachable only by ferry, there is good news. The country is not an island! Those who do not wish to pay for ferry tickets and of course have the time and enjoy driving, can come overland, following a network of safe highways.
9. First camper stops are a reality! There are already two in the Peloponnese, one at Kalogria Beach near Patras and one in Ancient Corinth, while more and more campsites will not refuse you to use them as a camper-service or to stay for half-day. If in need, just ask.
Text by Massimo Pizzocaro who is an Italian photojournalist specializing in travel reportage and administrator site camperistas.com that gives information about traveling with motorhomes.