I Found Old Willys Graveyard

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It turned into a beautiful sunny day in the Attica region of Greece which was a change from the rainy cool weather of the past few days. I decided to take a break from family history research, staring at old photos, and looking at my piling up “to-do” list, and go for a drive. We decided to head to Salamina Island which although an island, is within the Attica region. This makes traveling to the island (ferry is the only way) straightforward; no vaccinations or negative COVID tests are necessary.

There are actually two (at least) ferry routes to the island and being a Sunday afternoon, (less traffic), we decided to take the ferry from Pireas, the large port area near Athens. Getting to the Pireas and onto the ferry was pretty quick, and we stood on one of the decks for the 15 minute or so journey across part of the Saronic Gulf.

I’ve seen some houses listed for sale that are on Salamina Island, and thought it might be a good chance to check out the “feel” of the island – although am a bit concerned that the population can reportedly grow from around 50,000 to over 350,000 during the month of August, when the vast majority of Athenians take their holidays and head to villages or islands for sun and beach time.

My first views of real estate weren’t great. 🙂 There are many abandoned houses in Greece, some of which seems to me to be considered “prime” in other parts of the world. This is one of the views, although the mainland still, from the ferry:

abandoned houses along the saronic gulf coast

I have some other very nice photos that I took along the way, but I want to get to old Willys Grave shortly, so will only briefly explain and show some of the scenery we encountered before hand.

My initial impressions of Salamina Island weren’t that great. Driving off the ferry, I just didn’t get a feeling I’d like to live there, but that was only part of the island; there’s much more to it that I’d later discover.

We ended up taking a road that would eventually lead us to the most southerly area of the island, and down through Maroudi and Peristeria before stopping at Kolones (The name of this village reminded me of Clones, in Co. Monaghan where I’ve visited my cousins’ farm – but it’s not quite the same name).

After Peristeria, the views from the road were beautiful and I had to stop to take a few shots with the camera:

ships beyond the coast of peristeria
Ships In The Distance Plying The Saronic Gulf Enroute to Pireas

Finding Old Willys Graveyard

The road to Kolones was easy to miss at first. Google maps directions told us to turn left off the main road we were on, but the problem was – there were actually three lefts we had choices to take. I sat there wondering which road exactly to take, as the one we were supposed to take (and eventually did) had big pillars on the side, and almost seemed like a private residential road or driveway. Another veered off into a direction that didn’t seem correct (but you never really know in Greece by first appearances of directions of roads), and the other was blocked by someone working on a car.

Eventually we figured it out and we wound down a narrow road from the heights of a small mountain to the coast and found the village. A quaint village that invited us to walk around, so I parked the car and thought we’d head down to the beach area. But something further back in the bushes caught my attention. “That can’t be,” I thought to myself. “Those things are 90,000.00 Euros brand new and even 20 year olds can go for a pretty sum.”

I walked towards them only to discover – it was the graveyard of at least four old Willys!

old white willy
The Headstone Of Willys Graveyard

I’m not sure what year these ones were made, but for those who don’t know, Willys MB were the predecessors of the Jeep – US Military vehicles used in WWII. Perhaps some American soldiers driving Willys vehicles had made their way to Salamina Island on to Kolones, where they decided to abandon military life to stay in a beautiful part of the world.

I counted four Willys all told, including this one resting deeply in overgrowth – it’s green color made it almost hard to see and I could have missed it if I had not looked closer:

old green willy in overgrown bush in Greece

From Dust To Dust, and Metal To Rust

As mentioned, there were several including a couple of old ones that have are now pretty much unrecognizable except for the frame, sitting beside the white Willy:

willy vehicle and frames rusting on Salamina Island

I paid my respects to these vehicles that were amazing in their day, a bit sad they had been abandoned and not preserved – and we eventually moved on from Kolones to get to Karakiani.

The Road From Willys Graveyard

We had taken a couple of roads just to explore, and then from where we were, asked Google to help us to navigate to Karakiani. I was driving the Mazda 3, but oh how I wish I could have had one of those Willys in great working order! Perhaps Google assumed from our starting point that we must be in something a bit more rugged than the Mazda. I wished we had come with the Tiguan; much more road clearance which I could have used.

The road Google had us take was not really much of a road, but more akin to something logging trucks might use in Northern Ontario. It was very hilly, narrow, and with ruts that could have easily taken off the exhaust system if I didn’t get it right. We came to one spot where there was no choice but to try to get the tires as lined up as possible on a high bit, while I grimaced a little as I heard the bottom of the Mazda scraping rock. There were parts of this road that were worse than the road we took on Thassos Island.

Yes, a Willys Jeep would have been perfect.

The Views From Karakiani

Stopping at Karakiani, we decided to get a bite to eat at the only place we could find (we didn’t quite make into the village proper) called Meltemi. Sitting on their “deck,” outdoors provided us with a beautiful view of across the Sardonic Gulf, and later, the sun setting in the west.

A young family were enjoying the water, as the boy watched his little sailing boat sail in the Gulf, perhaps dreaming of himself sailing on the ships that come from afar and frequently in his view, to the port of Pireas.

boy and his sailboat at sunset at salamina island

As I watched the sunset spreading its glow across the sky and into the sea, I thought of those Willys too. If anyone wants to catalogue the resting places of these great vehicles, get in touch! I can show you where four of them are hidden away.

view of sunset from karakiani, salamina island

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1 thought on “I Found Old Willys Graveyard”

  1. So sad to see those rotting like that. 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 Find the owner and restore one of them at least!

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