Wednesday 22 & Thursdsay 23 May – As we entered Greece the time zone changed, we have gone forward another hour so now two hours ahead of England. You would think that going overland the time difference is subtle and doesn’t affect you but we end up sleeping in quite late and then ate our lunch at 16.00 so pretty messed up.
We spent the rest of the day doing chores. Cleaning the bike, adjusting the chain, cleaning clothes and internet searching for where we can go to next. Whilst there is quite a lot to do and see around this town but it’s quite busy and doesn’t feel relaxed plus I really want to stay somewhere with less mosquitoes. We made a plan to go to Igoumenista and then take a short ferry to Corfu, camp at a site with a pool and then travel around the island for the next week.
Whilst we were cleaning the bike, a young guy from France came over and offered us his tools. He was on push bike and we didn’t actually need anything but we got talking to him. His name was Quintin [picture of him and Paul on the Instagram photos] he is travelling alone at the age of 21 and set off from Normandy for a five month trip. He has cycled through Germany, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Greece and was heading for Italy and then back to France.
He has a very similar attitude to us but I’d say he’s more laid back. He doesn’t have any of the ‘gear’ no GPS, no lycra, no fancy cycling shoes, no fancy bike, no cooking stove, he doesn’t even have a watch. He just wakes up, eats and sleeps when his body tells him to. He sets himself no targets, just gets to the next place when he gets there.
We share a few stories over dinner and he tells us he was robbed at the beginning of his journey – at the French border into Germany. They took his camera and money. The thing that keeps surprising me is that these things seem to happen in the countries you least expect. France – of all places yet he had no trouble at all in Romania.
Quintin has a passion for languages and is fluent in English and German and started to learn the Greek alphabet before he left France. He shares his knowledge of a few basic Greek and Turkish words with us over dinner.
We exchange contact details and say goodnight. He is also heading for the ferry but obviously it will take him a little longer than us.
Whilst we’d planned to move on the one thing we failed to do was check the weather forecast for the next few days and when we wake up it is raining quite heavily and the wind has returned. We do a quick bit of searching and see where we can head where the weather is better – east seems to be the answer and that would be the direction we would need to head eventually anyway so decide to try and head towards Halkidiki.
Before leaving we go to Mr.Massamas which is basically a Greek version of Greg’s. Whilst enjoying another Burek a delivery guy pulled up on a hill jumps out of his van and it starts to roll down, left his handbrake off. Luckily Paul shouted out and he managed to run back and jump in just in time – the lake was at the bottom of the hill.
The rain is torrential but we decide to keep going in the hope we will reach sunshine eventually. Once again the motorway passes right through the high mountains and the wind is around 20 – 30 mph. I thought the wind in Croatia was as bad as it could get but this was a lot worse. I had every single muscle in my body tensed for around two hours and gripped the handles so tightly my fingers ached when we stopped for petrol. I hope the wind isn’t going to blight us too much more as it really is petrifying.
Paul again had enough of the never ending battle of being swept across the lanes and got off to take the backroute. A local guy on a triumph stopped to converse on ‘how very terrible the wind today’ was and then drove off.
As we’d only changed our route in the morning we had done very little research on what there was to see in the north of Greece and we pass some rock formations that look like a mini grand canyon. Turns out they are the third ‘must-see’ sight in the whole of Greece and we drive straight past. Partly as there is a black rain cloud looming over them, but also because they didn’t look that spectacular.
We eventually see the coast and the sun and followed signs for ‘Olympus Beach’ but end up in a weird little town which is occupied by Romanian holiday makers. The town felt weird and not like Greece at all, as we drove through we could feel everyone watching us again, but because we seemed to have crashed the Romanians tourist spot the prices of rooms were cheap. We stayed with a man who had about 50 yellow budgies in his porch for 20 Euros and there’s a mini cooker so we had hot food.