The month of November and the first half of December is largely dominated by an accumulation of bad luck with Piggy. It starts at my location in Thessaloniki, where I discover during the check of the oil level that the transverse support tube of the cabin has been broken off. I already heard some cracking when driving, but could not find out where the cause was. Now I can understand the cause of the cracking. With help from the camperlocation manager, I find the only Steyr garage in Greece. Just outside Thessaloniki. What a coincidence again. Outside on their yard there are a number of old rusted Steyrs and it appears that the garage also has many 2nd hand parts for the Steyr. A replacement support tube is quickly found and after a number of adjustments the part is mounted. This is not easy. It must first be cut, sawn, fitted, measured, pushed, drawn, welded and hammered. After a full day of work with sometimes 3 mechanics, I can return to the camperstop as a happy person. I immediately decide to purchase a spare support bracket for 50 Euro. This bow, at the rear of the cabin, has already been welded at the same location for 5 times. The person who has read my previous blogs knows that this has been demolished at various times in Morocco, Ukraine and Moldova and has been welded together. It will not be long before there will be a 6th time.
In Thessaloniki I meet a number of other travelers, who have also chosen Greece as a winterstop country and then travel on to Mongolia. Piggy gets a lot of attention, but just as much attention is given to the little Subaru of 2 young Germans who make the trip to Mongolia (see photo)
After 10 days in Thessaloniki, it is time to travel again. Via Vergina, where the tombs can be seen of the mighty Macedonian king Philip II and the son of Alexander the Great. They have been discovered under a huge burial mound. The modern museum has been excavated in the mound and from the inside the tombs can be seen at their original location. The beautiful treasures that were found in the graves, such as many golden attributes and other objects that have been given to the deceased on their journey to the hereafter, are exhibited in the darkness to preserve the atmosphere under the ground. The whole ambiance reminds me strongly of the tombs of the pharaohs in Thebes, Egypt.
After this impressive museum I visit another impressive phenomenon. Namely the monasteries of Meteora. The area consists of perpendicular rock pillars on which the monasteries are built. A kind of fairy tale land.Fortunately, the weather is still reasonable so that I can visit most monasteries without any problems with Piggy. Also between the rock pillars you can visit the various monasteries on foot. Now it is possible via roads, paths and stairs, but in the past the monks had to use ropes or ladders to climb up the tens of meters, or be lifted in a basket.
With rain I continue my trip to Ioannina. It keeps pouring the next days so that I decide to go to the coast out of bland. I made a good choice. Along the coast I head south to the islet of Lefkada. Here I have to deal with the 2nd bad luck case. At a gas station I drive under a roof which is slightly too low and damage the polyester shell of the roof tent. The shell, which I have reinforced in Belgrade, is not strong enough for this situation. Result: A visit to the Lefkada marina where the polyester is expertly repaired. Until now, it is striking that the damage occurs in the vicinity of a suitable repair site.
On the way to Peloponnese, I am increasingly warned that something is not going well while taking a left turn. I get really worried when I am on the north coast of the Peloponnese. The humming sound reaches unacceptable limits and at Derbeni I search for a suitable garage on the internet. The Steyr garage in Thessaloniki is too far. That is why I am looking for a MAN garage in Patras. Once there, my request for inspection is immediately rejected. They do not know anything about Steyr trucks is the answer, but after only a short-term, pathetic act the boss tackles and searches for the cause of the problem, together with his taciturn but friendly mechanic.
It turns out that the cab hangs out of balance and when taking a curve to the left, the entire cab leans against the engine, which resonates irritatingly. In addition, the engine is also somewhat pried off. Again, sometimes 3 people are busy sawing, cutting, pushing, pulling and even more. Also the leakage of air during the use of the engine brake is ingeniously restored. My technical knowledge is increasing more and more, but from a distance. Carrying out repairs yourself remains difficult for me. Because it is Saturday, and the job is not done completely, I camp before the garage on Sunday. There is a good internet connection from the garage so I have no problem to get through this day.
After the free (!!!) repair, I get the advice to have the case checked when I return to in Thessaloniki next year. When, a few days later in Demitsana, in central Peloponnese, I want to replace my support bracket at the back of the cabin with the one I bought in Thessaloniki because another tear occurred in the weld, I find out that the bolts are too tight to loosen. I also notice that the thing will not fit completely because a number of attachment points are missing. In itself that is not so bad, but when the cab tilts back it does not close anymore, with the result that I can not continue driving because the gears no longer work. Anyway, a whole story. I will not explain it further. Again with help from the owner of the restaurant and via via the cabin has been put back in its place.
In 2 days I drive back to the Steyr garage in Thessaloniki. I hope that there will be no problem along the way for which I have to tilt the cab to reach the engine. I spend the night in Ioannina next to a monastery with a beautiful view of the lake, and even stay an extra day to cycle around the lake in the morning mist and to enjoy the surroundings and to drink a tchipouro in a bar in the evening.
On Sunday evening I camp before the garage in Thessaloniki. It is always handy to have your own home with you. To make a long story short, The solution of the problem is successful. Pulling, pushing, lashing, sawing, welding etc. New support bracket mounted. A full day of work. What do you think…. 50 euros!!! I still cannot believe it.
Back to Peloponnese, I notice that the winter has clearly arrived. The Mt Olympus majestically rises above the other mountains with a beautiful white snow cover. The ride around the mountain is a treat. The more south I travel, the milder the temperature becomes. Fortunately, there is hardly any rain now.
After a short break in Delphi to view the antiquities I drive towards Athens. 12 km Before Athens I stop at a cafe / restaurant for my standard coffee-with-internet. When I want to drive further, I cannot start the engine. Faulty starter? The last days he started too difficult. The restaurant owner is not very helpful, probably because he does not speak English. A customer sees my problem and offers help. In the meantime, I called the ANWB (Dutch Automobile Club)and after an hour a mechanic stops next to the restaurant. I thank the customer of the restaurant for his help and after a few minutes of tension because also the mechanic does not get Piggy working, he proposes to start while he knocks with a hammer on the starter. Jeahhhh !! He is working again. I am very happy, and the mechanic looks very happy too. The advice is to go to a garage in Athens to check things out.
In Athens I meet Dion again and the 2 Spaniards I met in Thessaloniki. We’ll stay in touch. Through assistance and detours I visit a garage that specializes in solving electrical problems of trucks and buses. The starter appears outdated. I.a. worn carbon brushes. After a day of waiting, I drive back with a totally overhauled starter to my location. He starts again as it should.
Upon arrival at my location, the electric winch of the metal box at the rear of the truck stops responding. My access to the “home” is now blocked and there is no other option than to reach my sleeping place via the roof hatch. The next morning I return to the same garage of yesterday and explain to them the problem. Here too it is a worn winch, which requires new bobbins and carbon brushes.
Now, a week later I stay in Ancient Corinth and enjoy the beautiful weather. It is still unclear where I will be at Christmas or New Year. Maybe here on this adorable camper stop.