Greece, Punctuated by a Birthday

21 10 2012

On leaving Macedonia the first thing to do was fix Rose’s puncture again.  We then met a couple of French cycle tourers coming the other way who explained to us that they had been sleeping in the grounds of churches and that this was a widely accepted practice. So for the first time in our trip we immediately went in search of God’s house. The first was surrounded by many barking dogs and we decided against it. The second was on a small hill being overlooked by a village. With no-one around to ask and light fading fast we pitched up and the chef got to work on a nice noodle number.

We were up early to evade discovery, but thwarted by two well hidden punctures did not leave the church until 9 o’clock. Flat tyre syndrome continued as we had another 2 to repair before lunch. We did have a lovely country road to follow that wound through the hills, the wind swept farms and past some friendly packs of dogs. We asked about sleeping in a church but were informed, “forbidden” and “police” so we spent the night in an apple orchard completely hidden from view. Maybe we weren’t welcome at these camping churches after all. Of course we awoke to people working just metres away- damn that agricultural work ethic- and another 2 punctures! So we stealthily pushed our bikes out of the orchard into safe ground before repairs could begin.

This day was spent wholly on a motorway which was no fun at all. The only entertainment coming when Rhi punctured both tyres and had 3 holes in one of them. I think we must have been going a bit mad to have enjoyed this!

We found a lovely camp-spot in the scrubland near to (and still in earshot of) the E96 and its 4 lanes of traffic. Rose and I slept well. Rhi on the other hand was too excited, as it was the eve of her 27th birthday. Rhiannon woke us early and we were forced into giving her presents and making her a full English breakfast. Although I suspect the latter was not wholly altruistic, chortle chortle. This joyous occasion was interrupted by an invasion of hunting dogs who were surprised to be on the trail of herby sausages instead of the usual rabbits. We pretended the ensuing gunfire was a six gun birthday salute and uneasily crept back to the relative safety of the motorway.

A short but hectic ride later and we were in Thessaloniki. We couchsurfed here with Hlias and Moto, a pair of jugglers (not out of choice) and bike enthusiasts (very much a choice). They explained that many of their friends were unhappy living in Greece and were trying to find a way to live in another country. They are mostly pissed off with the shit money situation, everything is very expensive and the wages are very low. It costs €1 for two tomatoes and a chef in a restaurant will be paid around €2.20 an hour. We ate a delicious meal in a local taverna and drank a couple of beers to celebrate Rhi’s birthday.

The next day was an even more monumental occasion, ‘the doctor’- Rhi’s bike- was getting new tyres. So now wearing Schwalbe Marathon Plus’s we are hoping for a puncture free few weeks in Turkey. We took  the overnight ferry to Lesbos – from where we would take a shorter one to Diliki, Turkey the following day enter Asia.

On Lesbos we couchsurfed with a lovely lady Nefalia with whom we shared some warm and interesting conversations, a swim on a deserted beach and some of her Mum’s home cooked delights. We even witnessed a miracle- Rhiannon said no to a party!




2 responses

21 10 2012
Lem Kenny

What have you done to my daughter?

21 10 2012

Improved her greatly I think…

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