After being inland for so long crossing so much territory, we decided that we needed a bit of beach time.  So we drove away from Meteora, Greece and headed for the Ionian Sea to the west.  After about half an hour we found ourselves on the Greek freeway called A2 and to be honest, it is as fine a highway as we have ever driven.  There must have been 20 tunnels varying in length from about a quarter mile to over three miles in the two hours or so we were on it, and even they were stunning.

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The upshot was that we traversed one of the most mountainous regions of Greece in a couple of hours instead of probably spending about five hours winding across them on the old road.  Our GPS (now discovering roads after the several days we spent earlier with no maps) showed the old road and it looked like a long gordian knot across the landscape.

There was a glitch, however.  After about half an hour, the warning lights came on the instrument panel for the ABS brakes, with a further warning to head to a dealer as fast as we could.  So we did a bit of Google Map searching and found that there was a dealersip in the beautiful town of Ioannina, not far ahead and right on the A2.  Off we went, a bit unnerved by the warnings, but rather confident we would make the dealer without any serious problems since the brakes seemed to work just fine.

Once there Rocky the Renault (we finally settled on a name) had a thorough going over with the diagnostic computer and in the end got a clean bill of health.  The problem seemed to be with the sensor and nothing more.

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Off we went and in about forty minutes found ourselves in the lovely seaside town of Parga, just to the south of the southern end of the island of Corfu on the mainland and hemmed in with mountains that seem to just plunge into the Ionian Sea. It is an absolutely beautiful little town wrapped around a lovely small bay with an island in its mouth, so it has virtually total protection from rough seas. Above town on the point is a sizable castle and fortress built by Ali Pasha, the Ottoman ruler of the region in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

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We stayed in a really nice campground a couple of miles out of town right on a lovely beach.  Here’s a look at the beach and bay from the restaurant above.

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After a day or two we took a long hike up the mountainside next to the campground and the trail seemed to go on and on through one olive grove after another.  Among other things it did afford a great view of the campground on the left and a splashy hotel and taverna next door, and Lichnos Bay itself.

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Part way up the mountain we came upon a clearing and some vegetables planted on a flat area.  There was also a palm tree, clearly not native, and a shed to store tools.

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You also probably noticed what look like a black tubes snaking down the hillside.  These are actually large black plastic nets rolled up because they are not in use at the moment.  Come olive harvest time, however, these nets are unrolled and spread across the entire ground under the trees to catch the olives as they fall to the ground.  They were everywhere up the mountain as almost the entire area was olive grove and the larger trees are over five hundred years old!

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When we finally neared the top there was an area of the road we finally found ourselves on that was already covered with the netting in preparation for harvest in September.  The entire mountainside would look very differently then!

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We stayed altogether four days, including two days under very different circumstances than tent camping.  This happened because at about dusk the third day it began to pour rain, and we really mean pour!  We took to Rocky the Renault for shelter, opened the nice red wine given us by our friends in Ohrid, Macedonia, and were prepared to wait it out.  Suddenly there was someone knocking on our car window. It was one of the women from reception telling us to follow her as they were going to put us up in one of their beautiful new seaview apartments and spare us the night in our tent in the rain.  Hard to imagine nicer people in a nicer place!

We finally drove away and headed for the rough, rugged mountains and famed gorges of the Zagori region of northwest Greece, very close to the Albanian border.