.

Cycling Around the World

Day 114

Well what a difference, so glad I chose to take the revised route and head to Igoumenitsa instead of waiting for a Patras ferry, that might not have turned up anyway. This ferry got in at 2am instead of 11.30pm, so I was knackered this morning.

The landscape is beautiful, hilly, but beautiful, and the great roads and 2m wide hard shoulder are great. This morning I awoke at 8am and had my first breakfast here, and there were these purple eggs!

While in Italy there were sometimes eggs out for breakfast if I was in digs, but very rare, and very runny too, and not cooked at all in come cases. So I cracked one open, and to my surprise it was hard boiled, not runny, not raw. Great.

I set out to cycle but saw some lads fishing on the dock, the ferry terminal is by far the best I've seen, it's all open. You can cross the road into town, fish on the harbour and everything is neat, and there are even fish in the water :)

Igoumenitsa is a great little town and I would have liked to have spent a little more time there, but it was time to do some fishing with the lads. Caught nothing and so started cycling at 10am.

Most things were shut today as it is a holiday, but a garage owner had left his toilet open for people to use, I think, and so I did. Rooting through the bins for empty water bottles to fill, I left there with about 3 litres, enough for the rest of the day and night.

70 km's of lumps and bumps, but nothing over a few hundred metres, and I found myself what first appeared to me to be a great camping spot. I got into position and started seeing bees around my head, it was only then I spotted a dozen or more beehives.

Seemed like every great spot was packed with beehives :). I eventually dropped down from the hills to a beach and a few hotels and guest houses in Paralia. The place seemed like it was built for the people who lived there.

Don't get me wrong, it's lovely. Little gardens being maintained and families on the beach. I think it had that feeling due to being out of season right now. I would visit again for sure.

There was a campsite on the map as I descended, but it was closed, so I looked up guest houses on this stretch of beach just out of curiosity, and found a really great place at an amazing low price.

So low that I had to ring them again from outside this beachfront property to ask if I had the right address.

The family had finished eating when I turned up from my room and I was given a spot in the dining room and a really tasty lamb and potato meal, which I followed up with by a stroll along the beach and a beer.

A really nice day and I met some really nice people.

Day 115

She's gorgeous! She's my new mascot! No, I let her go of course. She was in the middle of the road, neck stretched out trying to see if anything was coming. She would never have made it.

I had seen pics of cyclists finding all kinds of critters, but up to now just a dead snake for me. Really pleased finding her and as soon as I put her near the grass, she was gone. Seriously fast! So fast there was a burn mark in the tarmac and she nearly set fire to the grass :)

Last night my bed, bike, and the whole room was shaking for about 15 seconds, and I knew I was feeling my first big tremor. It was crazy. In the morning as I rode out, part of the hill had collapsed and completely buried the road and had to be cleared with bulldozers. I got there just after the clear up.

It turns out that the whole area is basically sand and soil for the most part, and every time there is a tremor there is a chance of being buried in the hillside.

I made it through the tunnel at Preveza. As I approached, I was spotted by a traffic operative in a pickup, who pulled up on the other side and shouted over that he will be back in a minute.

I unloaded all my bags of the bike, ready to throw the bike on the back of his pick-up, and sure enough a few minutes later he was there. We had a chat and he dropped me off on the other side of the tunnel. Great.

After reading the route I had just chosen for myself for the next day or 2, I almost wished I hadn't gone through the tunnel but all the way around the bay instead, because the route around the bay, although a day longer, was not half as lumpy as my route now.

There is nothing but really steep rolling hill after hill. Only up to 140m, but really steep, and I'm still working on my climbing muscles :)

Dogs! Twice today I have been chased down the road by packs of HUGE dogs. I don't know what they are, but they are massive and obviously aren't getting enough to eat. They had me pedalling like the clappers to make 2 very lucky escapes.

Just look at how cute that critter is on my bar bag :)

Day 116

This morning at my digs - which are crazy cheap in these parts while out of season - I wasn't sure breakfast would be included due to the low price, so I just started packing my bike ready to set out.

An elderly lady who booked me in yesterday asked if I was ready for breakfast, and of course I was, so she made me a table up and out came the food.

A Greek coffee which was really nice, water, a few boiled eggs sliced and covered in olive oil, cubes of cheese, biscuits for my coffee, and then a small plate of lamb would you believe, oh and some toast too.

She asked if I would like something else but I was full and had a steep climb from pretty much out of the door, so I had to decline, and that's not like me. I'm liking this.

More dogs on my way to Amfilochia. 2 gangs but the first one of 6 Digby sized dogs were being chased by a guy on a motorbike who was trying to round them up, beating a huge stick against the floor which was really getting their attention, so big stick and hitting the floor seems the way to go. That said, the dogs knew him.

The second gang of just 2 smaller dogs were put off by my GoPro which I held out in front of me. They didn't like it for some reason and backed down.

There are 2 ways really to get to Amfilochia if coming down from the north coast. One way is going around the Amvrakikos Kolpos inlet, it will take you about the same time as going through the underwater tunnel, due to it being quite flat in comparison even though a much longer distance.

I'm so glad though that I had the experience of the tunnel route, it really is stunning and the people of been really nice. Vonitsa is beautiful and the place I had my amazing breakfast. It had me looking at house prices :)

So now I'm settled in my digs in Amfilochia and have about 130 km's to Patras, but I'm really in no rush if it remains like this, it can take me 3 days for all I care, or longer.


Day 117

(marker)

Hard to believe I have cycled in 6 countries on this adventure. UK, France, Spain, Monaco, Italy, and now Greece.

Before I set out I had never cycled on a fully loaded bicycle, not even on a practice run.

I put a few water bottles in the panniers and cycled into Liverpool city centre and back home a few times to get the feel of the bike, but a return cycle was around 30 km's and would knacker me out.

It was hard graft cycling those 30 km's the few times I did it, but I now find knocking out 30 km's before lunch really easy, on an expedition bike that weights in at 25kg + 40kg of gear, and me of course.

I've now covered 5027 km's (3123 miles) actual cycling km's. Any ferries or other transport of course not counted. I knew I would put every effort into it once I got started.

I always felt cycling was mostly boring, the cycle out one way then having to return to the start did nothing at all for me, so I rarely did it, but the idea that I could cycle out and not have to cycle back the same day while bicycle touring, was so appealing to me.

This adventure was about travelling at what I felt would be a perfect speed, and being able to carry all my gear with me without it being on my back.

I've always loved adventure and got it in my head that the bicycle is the contraption that would let me see the world under my own steam, at just the right pace.

So far so amazing, I have experienced things I would never have experience in a car or camper, and as for walking anywhere, count me out, it would take just far too long and bore me to death no doubt about it. I get bored really easily.

So there it is, my first 5000 km's and my first ever bicycle tour.

This image is of the other morning on the west coast of Greece on a completely deserted beach. I'm having cookies and milk for breakfast and taking it all in.

Day 118

You will remember that on the evening of the 6th I received a telephone call from Direct Ferries informing me that I will not be going to Patras the next day, but to Igoumenitsa instead and how I took them up on it, arriving at the new port at 2am the morning of the 8th April.

I'm so glad I did, because I have really enjoyed the whole 305 km's. I had my last 85 km's to do today, over some really lumpy landscape, but beautiful too.

It took me until 1pm to do 70 km's, then another 3 hours to do just 15 km's, as I headed up my last hill with a gale-force wind beating down on me. I really had to work at this one, my backside is red raw :), a bit like The Red Guy's off Cow and Chicken. Sorry for the over-share :)

I really struggled, with the wind actually stopping me dead in my tracks regularly, but, I eventually got that last 15 km's done, as you do. I have to say that this was the most enjoyable section I think I have done.

If others are thinking of doing it, I would suggest sticking to the bigger roads where possible, and only really bother with the smaller farm roads and tracks if you're not travelling alone, as there are dogs every few feet, big dogs, and if there are 2 of you it would be easy to sandwich yourselves between your 2 bikes while beating them over the head with your selfie-stick :) Safety in numbers and all that.

I could have just hopped on the free ferry here tonight at the dock and been on the other side in less than half an hour, but I decided that after a butt busting 85 km's in glorious 26c sunny weather, that I would just get the ferry in morning and take it from there.

Next destination is the ferry terminal near Athens to get me doing a little Island hopping, so I recon about 300 km's to the port.

Day 119

:/ first puncture in over 5000 km’s. I have a normal spare tube but thought I’d try the double ended get me home tube so I don’t have to take the wheel off :) Let you know how it goes.

:/ After my first puncture in all this time, I thought I might be OK for a little while. Not so! 2km from my campsite, after a 60km cycle, I get another, and in my new double ended tube!

I made it to the campsite and replaced the tube with my last standard tube and I also put on my spare tyre. Not taking any chances. I have inspected the other tyre like crazy, every mm of it, but nothing. The little bit of wire I removed, so it had to be something new.

On closer inspection of the double ended tube, there is a kind of burn or graze with a slight cut in it, but so tiny. I’m thinking this was a fault prior to purchase and opened up under pressure.

Anyway, I reached the campsite, dropped all my gear, and dove into the crystal clear sea. Washed my clothes in it, had a good scrub, and then got stuck into sorting the tubes and putting up my tent.

I don’t know why people looked so unhappy about me being naked and washing my underwear in the sea :) They won’t be so upset when the fish start floating to the surface :)

Day 120

The ride today was mostly flat and running right next to the water.

Had a lovely meal for lunch at a beachside restaurant and headed straight past my planned campsite because it turned out to be a sh#thole and I’m now in the town of Corinth.

The towns, landscape and scenery have changed the last 50 km’s or so of the 75 today, not for the better but not the worst either.

I suppose it’s only expected being on the approach to a capital city. I’m now just under 90 km’s from Athens and less than that to the port of Piraeus where I hope to catch the ferry to hop some islands to Turkey.

My target has been Cyprus via Turkey, but I’m wondering what this will be like now as Cyprus is so close to Syria and with everything going on right now.

I’m not fearing for my life, I did that on the roads in Italy :), I’m only thinking flights and my extremely vague schedule may be affected and pondering the best plan of action.

Day 121

What a day :) Cycling to the port of Piraeus was ups and downs and a ferry over to the island of Salamina, across Salamina for 15km then another ferry to Perama.

Then another cycle of 10km to Piraeus, all after a lumpy 58km before the first ferry! I’m knackered :)

I might actually be knackered too, because 20 mins after arriving in Piraeus I’m sat on a boat going to Paros, arriving at midnight!

I told a rep at the port that my destination is Turkey but I was aware that I needed to hop an island or 2 in order to reach it.

He was a bit abrupt and said I had a few islands to do but my first one needs to be Paros. I hadn’t even heard of it, but we shove off in half an hour, and I’m told that this tug has a number of stops but nobody will tell me when mine is :/ I must be mental :)

122

Well the plonker at Blue Star Ferries in Piraeus yesterday put me on a bum steer last night. I should have guessed by his attitude.

Telling him my final destination was Turkey, he told me my only option was to get to Paros and then hop from there. So I did.

This morning at the Paros booking office I’m told that this won’t work, and that I was sent to the wrong island!

So now, at 5pm tonight I’m booked onto a ferry that will take me to Siros, the island that the ferry stopped at before getting to this one last night! Arriving in Siros at about 6pm, I take another ferry to Rhodes at 11pm which I’ve booked, getting there at about 11am the next day.

From Rhodes I’m told there are regular ferries to Marmaris in Turkey. I have a cabin on the Siros to Rhodes ferry so I’m going to need that by then :)

There are going to be ferry worker strikes from Wednesday, hence my traveling to Rhodes by tomorrow. Turkish ferries operate between Marmaris and Rhodes regularly, I’m told :)

I will likely be staying in Rhodes for a couple of weeks over my birthday maybe and having a nice long break to let my butt heal :), before cycling the Southern coast of Turkey to get a ferry to Cyprus.

In the meantime I’m going to spend the day looking around here on Paros.

123

So that's it, I arrived in Rhodes and I'm a really short ferry trip away from Marmaris Turkey, so nice break time and I will be back with updates once I cross over to Turkey.