Sumi Hollingworth

A mother, partner, sociologist and stresshead who likes her own space, I am currently trapped in a campervan with my partner and a two year old, thoroughly enjoying the togetherness of being on the road. ;)
Living in: Morocco
  • Day219

    Istanbul

    July 27 in Turkey

    We crossed the border into Turkey, headed straight for my father in law’s in Istanbul. Sariyer, Istanbul was going to be our last stop for some time, as we planned to rent a flat here and settle for a while. We stopped for the night at Semizkum Mocamp just after Tekirdag (there were almost no campsites on this stretch from Greece to Istanbul either). We felt immediately at home here: a scruffy plot of land on an unpicturesque beach; with jawdroppingly makeshift facilities; tents and caravans with extensions; little tended gardens; music playing; barbecues on the beach and big long tressle tables for everyone to eat together, and a warmth of community that you cannot put your finger on. The next day we headed straight into the metropolis of Istanbul, parking our bus in a friends car park, and ‘laid our hat’ at ‘baba’s’. Our son’s second birthday had been spent with our English and Welsh family, seeing us off on our travels, and his third birthday would be here in Istanbul welcomed by our Turkish family, who still cannot quite believe we drove from London.Read more

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  • Day216

    Kavala and Alexandroupoli

    July 24 in Greece

    The coastal drive from Halkidiki to Turkey was beautiful, rugged and totally undeveloped with endless wild camping spots, and very few campers there (and almost no campsites). We needed to re-charge and fill up with water though so we eventually reached camping Sarakina, a lovely traditional Greek beach-campsite outside Kavala. Our experience in this part of Greece, campsites tended to be small and cramped full of semi-permanent-caravan-dwellings with makeshift infrastructure: kind of Affordable second homes, rather than empty bays for summer touring Motorhomes. Our next stop we wild camped alongside Turkish campers at Alexandroupoli, the last city before we reached the Turkish border.Read more

  • Day210

    Sithonia, Halkidiki

    July 18 in Greece

    After a much needed free pit stop and park4night at Zampetas camping and caravan centre in Thessaloniki, we headed to the quieter and less developed peninsula of Halkidiki, Sithonia. Hilly and rocky, covered in dense pine forest, with beautiful quiet coves and small beachside towns, it was very picturesque and we rested here for a week, trying out different wild camping spots. There were lots of crowded campsites but also several abandoned campsites with derelict facilities, but level ground and shade right on the beach. We stayed in one in a small harbour near Sarti beach; one at Paralia Sykia where we were driven away by a giant cricket, and then we headed to the West coast and camped near Poseidon beach complex. It was a beautiful sandy but rocky cove with a makeshift jetty where you could swim, with sea urchins and shellfish and interesting sea flora. The hotel guests used one side of the cove and campers lined the other beach. We hung out here for nearly a week.Read more

  • Day209

    Meteora

    July 17 in Greece

    We never expected to see landscape like this in Greece: Meteora was a monolithic rock formation of epic proportions, towering over the ugly industrial town of Kalabaka like some kind of spaceship. It was totally incongruous with the rest of the landscape which was otherwise fairly non-descript. It was akin to some of the awesome gorges we had visited in Morocco. Except in true Greek style, there were some ancient monasteries balancing on the very top of the outcrops. It blew our mind. We drove in a loop all the way to the top view points and then we drove on until we were exhausted and fed up, when we reached, near Greneva, a beautiful small gorge with lush emerald green river flowing through it, full of fish and a few holiday makers having a dip at sunset.Read more

  • Day208

    Metsovo

    July 16 in Greece

    Our first stop in Greece, we camped in the mountains near Metsovo, near on an old unmade road. It was wilderness and we parked next to a stream where H fished for tadpoles and newts. It was fresh and beautiful. It was so empty we were able to shower outside. We drove through Metsovo by happy accident because it wasn’t suitable for a Motorhome but it was a lovely traditional Greek mountain town. There was a wedding procession that surrounded us with smiles as we drove through the town.Read more

  • Day207

    Gjirokaster

    July 15 in Albania

    We parked near the top of the town for the night in the coach park and had a lovely meal in the old town, on the recommendation of a American who had bought a place there after working there in the Peace Corp. Gjirokastër definitely had charm and something fairytale about it. It was being restored to hold onto that but, like Kruje, something felt stilted as too many shops sold the same handicrafts and merchants looked forlorn as too few tourists shuffled awkwardly past. Next stop: Greece.Read more

  • Day206

    Siri Kalter

    July 14 in Albania

    The Blue Eye is a natural spring which bursts at top speed from an underground cavern, thought to be over 50 metres deep, forming a river which flows down towards the sea at Sarande. The road to Muzine was dusty, nondescript, littered with rubbish and industry and did not give any hint of the landscape to come. As we descended into the valley, the river is a swimming-pool blue colour with lush green vegetation growing in and around the river valley. Huge native gunnera line the banks and other prehistoric looking big architectural plants, which naturally grow here, make the area feel like a man-made jungle: all the wonders of the landscaped garden of a Victorian Sublime stately home, or a posh garden centre in Chichester. Our jaws dropped when we arrived and stayed dropped as hundreds of dragon flies and butterflies fluttered across the crystal clear waters, and the sound of bird song and mating crickets filled our ears. Even tourists could not ruin our wonder. The makeshift car park housed some thirty cars and a few coaches but only a gaggle of tourists stood around the phenomenon, fixated. ‘No swimming’ rules had to be broken as we joined the brave, jumping into the freezing cold ‘eye’ and diving down into the black of the cave, as the rush of the spring water flowing pushed you up and along. At 10 degrees no one could stay in the water long but the urge to jump in was addictive and totally refreshing.Read more

  • Day206

    Butrint

    July 14 in Albania

    A UNESCO world heritage site, Butrint is a ruined fortified city on a forest-covered peninsula, opposite Corfu. Layers of civilisations were first found in the 1920s: Roman amphitheaters, forum, Acropolis, fountains, baths and Byzantine and Cristian churches and basilica lie around in rubble in the dense forest. They appear to have no budget: wooden visitor railings rot, huge swathes of the forest are unexcavated and signage is makeshift and minimal. It’s a truly magical lost city. Wandering around in the quiet early morning, it felt as if we had discovered it ourself. We camped the night next to an abandoned campervan in the car park of a lonely, empty but friendly hotel next to the ruins, and escaped before all the coaches arrived.Read more

  • Day198

    Livadhi beach

    July 6 in Albania

    We were looking for a beach where we could wild camp in the shade of a tree for weeks on end, but none of the beaches had been suitable so far. Livadhi was a long stretch of beach near the town of Himare. It had a couple of hotels and bars at the top end and then the dirt track continued into olive groves peppered with campsites and the odd beach shack. Horses and donkeys roamed around and Albanians trying to make money for the season selling umbrella shade camped in tents and caravans along the beach. We liked that this beach was not so developed. We spent nearly a week here at a Nasho’s Greek run campsite where we got the brakes fixed, ate like kings, swam in the sea twice a day and made some friends. H played for hours on his own in our camp building empires, learnt to swim and made friends with two Italian girls. We were sad to leave.Read more

  • Day197

    Gjipe beach

    July 5 in Albania

    Gjipe beach is a hidden beach in the gorge of a densely wooded river valley. It can only be reached by foot, just about by 4x4, or by boat. We parked at the top of the gorge and trekked the kilometre walk down the coastal path. The view of the coast and the beach was absolutely stunning. Despite its remoteness there were still fifty or so people there, and three beach shacks selling food and drink. There was also a simple ‘eco’ campsite set back along the river with makeshift showers, communal meals, a few solar panels and hundreds of butterflies. we decided a rent a tent here for the night and hike back up in the morning when it was cooler. H enjoyed the noises of the forest and the silhouettes of the spiders, beetles and bugs on the tent as the morning sun shone in, and petting the litter of puppies that the campsite dog had just birthed. Somebody cried all the way back up the hill and we arrived at the bus to find a puncture needed changing. Gjipe beach should stay this way forever, but it won’t. There was already talk of the land being sold.Read more

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