Thursday, 25 December 2014

Greece - part one

From 26 november to 13 december

Max speed: 68,9km/h at some hours outside Athens

We decided to go to Greece on a whim, after a wild camping night when we didn't feel very sure and comfortable at a beach in Fano, one day ride after Rimini. So we took the 24h boat from Ancona and woke up, on November 26th, at Gino's (Alessio's father) birthday on Greek land in Patras.

Patras is, let's say, not a great city to visit but just a connecting point before going to other places, i.e Athens :-)
November 27th, we started cycling under the hard rain, just to realize after some 25km that we took the wrong direction and went further and further from Athens :-). So we did the other 25km to go back to the starting point, wet to the bones. Fortunately that Georgia, a sweet student in engineering, accepted our SOS request and saved us from the pouring rain. The time we spent together was short but she was our first experience of Greek kindness and generosity. She received us with this warm smile that made us feel comfortable right away.

After Patras, instead of going to a couch surfing host, we went to Savvas - Georgia's uncle home, just to confirm that Greek people are so nice. It took us 3 days and 2 nights to reach Athens. At some point, we saw a open camping: 12 euros for a night! We would have jumped of joy if we had found that price at the beginning of the trip. But now, 3 months had past, we have now an another view of our budget and of what we can do. So we just smiled politely and moved 500m further to wild camp amongst some bushes. 0 euros and a campsite just for us two

We didn't like Athens that much, you know kind of big busy unorganized city :-) but we definitely felt for the Acropoles and all those antique monuments. Such a glorious past!!!!

Some people advised us to go to Santorini or Mykonos but we preferred some authentic greek experiences rather than just beautiful landscape and postcard view. So,on Savvas' advices, we took the road to Evia, one of the biggest Greek island where normal tourists don't go.
Arriving to Nea Palatia, we asked for the ferry timetable and the verdict was " No ferry in winter time". What? But we are not officially in winter yet!!! No panic, we just need to ride some 20 km more to reach Halkida, where the island is connected to the mainland with a trembling old bridge :-)

Among things we love about Greece is that we can wild camp everywhere. No body cares when we put our tent on the beach or some piece of wasted ground near their houses, the only thing they ever asked was "are you sure you won't get cold?" :-) :-)
And almost everywhere, abandoned dogs came and held us company. Those poor little things are so nice and playful, they just looked for someone to whom they can be faithful to.

It's quite sad every morning to leave them again and see the sadness in their eyes. At a beach, 3 dogs, probably from the same family, stayed a night with us and the next morning, we spent almost 30mn to "cheat" them so they wouldn't follow us on the big road, which could be dangerous.

Just before leaving Evia, the Great Fortune smiled to us and made us meet Anastasia and Angel. We crossed their home just at the moment they got out with their bikes. After exchanging a few words, giving us tons of advices, they.... offered to stay at their place. At first for a night, then we stayed for a whole week, the two last days for some weather reason - we got up with the wind screaming outside and the sea, so quiet and so flat ordinary, became dirty and beat the shore with raging waves. We felt so lucky to be inside, under the warm blankets :-)

Both Anastasia and Angel (he is Spanish) are tour guides and they were free when we were there, which gave us all the leisure of enjoying the Evia rhythm  of life with them. We went cutting wood with a "prehistorical" saw, picking olives in a traditional manual way, visiting chipuro's production, looking for mushrooms, tasting wonderful "mezhees" (something like tapas) in Cafeneo - the heart of the villages social life :-)

It was such a great experience, much nicer than to see those white houses and blue windows in the postcard. We felt the kindness, the warmth, the generosity of Greek people. We could never thank them enough to receive us, strangers by their doors, like close friends.
And those never-ending UNO games with " Red?No red? Look fire!!!! Plus 4!!! Very funny!!!" will stay in the Rolling Potatoes annals!!! We still laugh remembering how Angel squinted his eyes at me when I skipped his turn, for an Nth time :-) :-). Amigos, we miss you!!!!! 

December 13th, finally, we left Evia, sad of leaving Anastasia and Angel, who became so dear to us, but at the same time, glad to feel the asphalt again. I could finally pass a phone call home to wish my Daddy a happy birthday and to see that at the other end of the wire, my family was gathering together, preparing for the party :-)

After 45 mn of ferry from Loutra, we arrived to the mainland again!!!! Ayyyy, Potatoes continue their route! Stay tuned!!!!

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