Paralia Greece road trip

[Pentru a citi acest articol in limba Romana , dati click AICI]

I finally returned with  an article to my blog , although I have arrived in the country for some time now , did not have time to idle at all. The crazy times and fun began in Bucharest and continued in Constanta with my sister’s wedding. The day before the wedding my comrades from Cluj  announced they are in Greece and asked me if I wanted to join them. After all the excitement surrounding the wedding, a few days in the sun on hot sand in Greece started to sound very good. Being at a very short notice I asked around who wants to come, but some had some excuses, some had explanations why they can not come (very big difference between the two reasons ), so I went alone to meet with gang there. I learned some time ago that just because you don’t have someone to join you for fun , that should mean you have to stay home and not go to have fun. 

Initially I wanted to take the bus to Greece, but to get to Paralia Katerini one must go to Bucharest, and from there to Thessaloniki and although it’s cheap , the bus takes a very long time to get there ( around 22 hours)  , so in the next morning I got in my car , filled up the gas tank and hit the road . In about 10 -11 hours I was there.

To reach Greece from Constanta I recommend you plan well ahead your route , on sites like Distanta.ro you have choices. I do not recommend the recommended route that leads through Varna, Shumen, Yambol, because  in Bulgaria , as in Romania there are only few are good quality roads, even the small motorway  A2 that starts  from Varna is in a bad state , plus  you might find yourself in some pretty shady roads forgotten by the world. I chose the coastal route which is heavily traveled, which is in a good condition , Constanta – Vama Veche – Varna – Burgas – Stara Zagora – Hoskovo – Karzai – Makaza – Thessaloniki – Katerini, 932 km in total. Take some Euro cash with you to  keep in case of  emergencies and for vignettes and you can take your credit  card , it  works very well in the EU. In Bulgaria vignette is 5 EUR a week, and in Greece there is none ,  but instead you have to pay motorways tolls.  And whatever you do , you must bring along a GPS or a GPS application on your phone, if you go by the road signs in Bulgaria will be disaster. One time I made the mistake of following the road signs to Varna in Bulgaria  because I had to recharge my GPS , and after about 10 kms away I realized that actually I was going  in the opposite direction on a route recommended to big trucks .

From Constanta to Vama Veche the road is very good , from the border to Varna again is very good , recently renovated by our Bulgarian  neighbours.  The road from Varna to Burgas although it starts very good start with a section of the A5 motorway , quickly becomes a narrow road full of winding mountain curbes which keeps going like this until  Nesebar. Pay attention to this  portion , although the road is in good condition, is largely unmarked ,if you don’t have a GPS to see what’s coming ahead , you can easily find yourself coming in to a 180 degree needle curbe with 80 km / hour speed.  So far untill here I knew the way from my previous trip to the beautiful Nesebar, from here on  I was driving on new territory. Until  Burgas the mountains already passed and remaining section was pretty much flat and straight. In the center of Bourgas stopped over for coffee and the shake little bit my legs after all that driving.  The city is quite nice in the center and on the seafront but otherwise in the rest of the city the communist legacy has left its mark. From Burgas starts the new A1 motorway recently opened ,  linking the main port of Bulgaria to the capital Sofia. Bulgarians managed to connect by motorway their capital to the Black Sea , and  is now possible to cross all the country along the highway …  what can I say , very good for them, shame on us Romanians. A1 motorway is in an impeccable condition, and gas stations on the highway are usually accompanied by fast food restaurants like McDonalds, KFC, etc. The trip  goes on to Stara Zagora, where we take the exit and then get on E85 by Haskovo. Here you will meet another new motorway  recently inaugurated , that will take you all the way continuously to Istanbul. And further down South the road that goes to Kadzhali is OK. Kardzali  caught my eye by it’s  good quality asphalt on the avenues, and after Kardzali , the good quality of the rooad continues  to the border with Greece.

 

Greece

Greece

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 Mekaza pass  between Bulgaria and Greece is a new built road , opened in Sept. 2013, besides  impeccable asphalt , it offes  some very beautiful scenery. If on the Bulgarian side was a noticeable difference in the quality of the road compared to the rest of the country , after passing into Greece , the level of impression on the pass  goes in overdrive, the road is simply impeccable, very well marked, signaled at night, and  cuts the mountains through long tunnels combined with  suspended bridges. At the border there  were very few cars, and control is almost nonexistent, is like going trough a drive-in , you give your id card at the first booth , and drive up to the next to pick it up at the next one , and there is free Wi Fi across the entire checkpoint .However , just before the first village  I was  pulled over by the police. I was slightly worried that I exceeded the speed limit  on the very good road  before, but the police did not even asked me for the car documents , they were more interested  in where I go and the purpose of my visit, I said my name and the name of the villa where I will be staying , they made a thorough control  of the car and of the luggage. There were two policemen in uniform and a narcotics detective in plainclothes . Probably the fact that I was alone in the car sounded the alarm at the border above. Everything beeing OK, the nice police men wished me a a good trip and went on with their business. From the first town Komotini town you enter the super highway that will take you all the way to  Katerini, where there is a exit to Paralia. As I said before in Greece there is no vignette, but after entering  the  superhighway after about 50 km I first encountered the toll booth , the fee for cars is 2,4 EUR. I payed  relaxed a couplex of times , but  by the time I got to Katerini I was already pissed off at Greece . For a distance of 300 km on the highway I met no less than six toll booths , totaling 14.4 EUR, which is a hard price even for locals Greeks. And yet somehow it can be worse ,  in this shitty  country , we are paying both vignette and motorway tolls , as you all know , in  Romania  anything is possible in the worse possible way. European main roads in Greece are in very good condition. But by far the most impressive are the super highways, though they are expensive, especially in the area East of ​​Thessaloniki they offer some of the best driving experience and views , beeing built high on the mountains. Again , the  GPS is sacred, especially in the outskirts of Thessaloniki where you will encounter  some intersections of major highways all with many straps. 

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Paralia is a small resort, a kind of Eforie Nord of Greece, more civilized version with mountains in the background. I liked the fact that it is uniform, ie all the buildings have 2 or 3 floors and they all pretty much look the same,  not like in Romania where everybody pretty much built what and how they liked. There is an Orthodox Church in the center, a tourist and fishing port, where you can buy fresh mussels and shrimp. On the street near the beach is full of shops and terraces. The beach although small in width, is very clean, some sections are with sunbeds, but most of the beach is free to use how you like. each. We  found a nice club “Menta”, and there is a Lidl and a  Carrefour Express in the resort. It is full of tourists predominantly Romanians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Ukrainians, Russians, so most hostels have adapted to their customers needs  and offers small room kitchens and a cabinet full of cutlery, a saucepan, kettle and plates, which is not bad at all . In the big balcony you will find an ashtray and large   tables where we gather to drink and laugh late in to the evening  until 11 pm  … after 11 dim down the volume or the neighbors will complain. In the resort you can eat well with 10 euro in an restaurant, a beer cost 3 euros at the bar , and 1 euro at the supermarket ,   a coffee about the same, the food is pretty much the same price like Romania ,  diesel same  like us, instead the  gasoline’s more expensive, about 1.6 euro / liter. In the city a gyros plate is 6.5 Euro, and the wafer you can find in some places for 2 euros. Ouzo is served free at almost  all restaurants, waiters and sellers generally speak Romanian, and other languages.

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The villa where we stayed offered every day a  trip or activity  for those interested, so I chose the first day the boat trip for 20 Euro a piece and went with the  gang on the boat “12 Apostles”, the theme of pirates, from which we  sailed  to one of the islands near a marine mussel farm. During the sailing   we served on the boat Greek wine, listened to music and saw the ruins of the  Port of Alexander the Great. On the island we spent about 2 hours at the beach, and in the salt ponds where sea salt is extracted , and when we returned to the boat the Captain was waiting for us with many  cooked fresh mussels, served with lemon and bread we ate hearty mussels very tasty and they were followed by a more filling meal, all of course accompanied by greek wine. I can say it was worth 20 euros.

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The next day I was tempted to take the trip to Mount Olympus, which costs 15 euros a piece, but since I was with my car , why not better take 4 persons , chip in 2 euros each for gas and go there. The Mountains are  just 30 km from the resort, and we went by car to the picturesque town of Litochoro at the base of the mountain, from there you walk on different hiking trails. We only went as far as to the waterfall “Tub of Zeus” , the massive mountain greeted us with snow covered peak and offers some breathtaking views and in the opposite direction you can clearly see the beautifull blue Aegean Sea. The  mountain trail continues to the Monastery of St. Dionysius which is at 1,100 meters, and it takes about 6 hours  , the hike also requires some equipment. After returning to Paralia resort we still had plenty of time to sit and relax on the beach.  

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Next day , the proposed  trip bu the agency was to Edessa & Pozar thermal baths , about 140 kilometers away from Paralia which costs 25 euros per person …. and of course we got together four persons in the car and chipped in 6 euros per person for diesel and went there. Edessa is a small town, which does  not stand out with much except for it’s  urban waterfall, the city is located on a high cliff, passing through the center there is a river flowing into the park in the center, forming one of the largest waterfalls in the Balkans. It is also possible to go under the waterfall where you will have a nice viewing angle. From Edessa, there are about 16 km to the thermal baths in Pozar, the nice road passes through the mountains and by cherry orchards, very tempting . The  complex of thermal baths of Pozar is based in the  mountains and looks a bit like Baile Herculane, there is a cold mountain string and near it there are hot  thermal water pools. We originally wanted to see what’s up on the mountain, but the rain got to us on the road and we fled 20 minutes under a gazebo . So we returned quickly to the large basin where being wet and being a little chilly outside because of the rain when we went in to the hot water was a dream sensation . Soon the sun came out again.  The entrance to the pool costs 3 Euros.

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So , let’s talk money ,  I put diesel in the country of 260 lei,  35 Euro for driving around Greece , and50 EUR more of diesel to go back home , which was not enough and had to put 15 Leva worth of Diesel more in Varna, that sumes up to a total of 150 EUR  (665 RON) for 115 liters of diesel for nearly 2,250 kilometers, resulting in an average consumption of 5.3 litres for 100 km , which is not bad at all for a 2.0 engine  in my opinion. So it is possible , if you do not accelerate every time you catch some straight line and don’t go in desperate and suicidal overtakings , rawling the rpm of the engine as much as possible  to impress the girl in your right seat  in a desperate attempt to overcome your small dick complex you will get  a decent consumption. And there somewhere expense 100 Euro with all the souvenirs, gifts etc, but I stood less there. 

I want to thank the people who invited me and the people with whom  I have spent the holiday there for receiving me in the group , you guys were all nice and good people, I hope to see you again soon  in Cluj or by the Black Sea. I’ll leave you to enjoy the rest of pictures and come back soon , I will have fresh stories from my  last voyage in  Asia and USA ports.

Vezi si alte calatorii / Check out other trips : Brasov 12.2014Buzau quick stopLepsa & Vrancea countyChisinauNesebarBucharest weekends 2014 , Busan40 days in Cluj NapocaHunedoara CastleSingapore 2013Brasov 02.2014 , Istanbul 01.2014 , Cluj Napoca 08.2013 , Sibiu 07.2013San Pedro , Bucharest 2013 , Varna 2012 , Los Angeles 2012 , Budapest & Viena , Salerno , Cluj Napoca 2012 , Firenze , Brasov 02.2012 , Amsterdam , Antofagasta , Valencia , Lima , Bremen , Istanbul 2009 , Valletta , San Juan , Barcelona , Singapore 2010 , Los Angeles 2010 , Transilvania road trip , La Spezia , Bosphor by ship , Sydney , Melbourne , AucklandSan FranciscoTauranga

Alternative tourism: Detroit , Georgia , Burning gate of Turkmenistan , North Korea , Pripyat & the alienation zone   , Nouadhibou graveyard

Cum traieste cealalta jumatate / How the other half lives :  KarachiGuayaquil  , Lagos


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