Summer is almost over, and we don’t really have a winter plan.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration. At the moment we have a flight booked to Athens for September 27 where we’ll surely spend a little time (a week?) before continuing on down to the Greek islands for the first part of winter.
At the moment, we’ve just left the peaceful farm in rural Romania where we spent the last month. But. Our cottage has no insulation, cracked windows, no heat, no fireplace. They say the temperature here can get down to -30 C, but even +5 would be tough for a skinny Canadian family with no warm clothes.
How’s the weather in Greece in November? I don’t know. I’ve read someone say blustery, windy, cold. But is cold +18 C? or -5? We’ve been reading a bit and I think it depends as much on altitude as on latitude. I’m pretty sure the slopes of Mount Olympus are cooler than the coastline of Corfu. Still, spending the holidays on Mount Olympus would be pretty dang amazing.
A lot will depend on accommodation. We’re hoping to find a house-sit for part of the time at least. For those not familiar with house-sitting, here’s a summary:
People have houses, and often pets. People like to go on vacation.
They usually can’t take their pets with them, and they definitely can’t take their houses. There is a plethora of websites (MindMyHouse for example) to help people find and connect with potential house-sitters. These are people who will stay in the house, mow the lawn, and hug the pets.
Before we left India we applied to a bunch of house-sits all over Europe. Most did not reply, some politely declined. One couple with a beautiful house in the south of France replied almost immediately (ouch) after we booked our flight to Bucharest.
Unfortunately (for us) people don’t seem to want a family for their house-sit. I guess if you have a super-deluxe spotless villa and you are a retired couple you might not want kids in your house long-term. Most of these people have pets, though. Shouldn’t the wear and tear of pets versus kids be about the same?
Another complication is the Schengen Zone visa. The Schengen Zone is a collaboration between most of the EU countries to make cross-border travel easier. It eliminates individual visas per country but puts a finite limit on how long you can stay in all the countries put together. This is good and bad for backpackers.
The good (and obvious) side is that you can cross borders much more easily. The bad side is that you can no longer string together visas from one country to another to make up six months or more.
With the standard “Issued on arrival” visa we can stay in the Zone for 90 days per 180 day period. If we count 3 calendar months from our arrival in Athens, we would have to leave on December 27th. If we leave in the middle of that three months, the visa clock stops until we come back into any Schengen country.
What does it all mean for our plan?
That means if we stay in Greece for the whole ninety days we’ll get the boot around December 27th. Merry Christmas!
What we’ll probably do is leave for the back end of November and the first half of December, and then come back. But where to? Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, or a western Balkan?
Turkey seems like the easiest option without going north (into colder weather). If we are in the southern Greek islands (Crete, for example) it should be possible to get a boat or a flight to mainland Turkey fairly easily, no?
We still don’t know for sure what we’ll do, but we’re weighing the pros and cons of various scenarios. More to come…