GREEK BIKING PICTURES
Trip Start Sep 16, 2006
69Trip End Sep 16, 2007
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We rode south across Greece from Macedonia, circling Halkidiki, riding the perimeter of Sithonia, the 创middle finger创, and north east along the Aegean coastline towards Turkey.
All gas stations have elaborately tiled water spickets to fill up the water bottles and cool off with, as do the town squares.
There are lots of shrines along the roads -with candles, images of saints, and prayers.
People are generally really casual and relaxed
Time changes so set your watch one hour ahead. Things are done on 创Greek time创, which means trains leave whenever the train driver arrives, buses same. Very casual: Greek time.
Halkidiki is very historic with ancient villages, ruins, and monasteries. The first finger is super touristy and resorty with clubs and such. The middle finger, our favorite, is really natural or wild and park-ey, unexploited, with lots of public beaches and tons of totally secluded hidden wild beaches!
The third finger- full of ancient and operating monasteries- is off limits to females of any species, I'm not sure how the monks police this, but that's how it is. No women allowed so if you find yourself needing to see the third finger hop on a boat and sail the perimeter of hire some air transport. No female animals live on the island supposedly. True!
The fingers are very VERY mountainous with curly roads and small villages, lots of camping and incredible views of crystal blue water, lots of pine forests above in the cliffs, jasmine trees, and caves too
There are lots of wild dogs and cats, typical beach bums living it up, eating fish, and scratching their fleas and ticks. When the dogs chase you on the road yell 创OKIE创, this means 创no创. It's hard to get used to hollering 'okie' in a scary 创no创 situation.
Our favorite places:
near Drimos, a gas station shrine rest stop, where we camped and had our uncooked bag of orzo nearly stolen by the gas station bum dog.
Mihaniona, beautiful beach town, we camped on the beach. We were greeted by the owner of a local restaurant/ hotel who invited us to sit on his patio and enjoy some quality aegean l飗ing. we met his friends: Fomas-our translator, spoke 5 languages, 20 year old, works construction and gets paid well, working to make money for his family in Georgia- former soviet, not the state-
"i am not work my family no money, i know stroyka, if i work i sit if i not work my family no money".
Victor- a 创capitan创 on a fishing ship, he works 20 hour shifts, albanian, making lots of money, he wore a straw and python skin 'baseball hat'
Steljos-the hotel owner, wanted us to return and work for him this summer so that we could make lots of money, also wanted us to marry fishing boat captains so that we could live an easier life. he cooked us fresh caught sardines and made us coffee frappe drinks.
Kostas- a baker, he has 2 legs and can walk. his wife says "stay and be my lover", but he goes, because... he has two legs.
Ag. Mamas-- is a prehistoric village. we camped on the beach under a large pine of some sort.
Lerissos-- is a popular beach town between Sithonia and Agios Oros, the third finger where no women of any species are allowed. It's a popular weekend destination, lots of municipal campers, a monk off the island camped down the beach from where we camped. We met Paulo the Hawkwind and Sepultora fan.
The route from Lerissos to Xanthi was full of off-season campsites that were either dirt cheap or free, in what some might call "bad shape", with or without working toilets and running water, but mainly empty of people
We rode through some inetersting towns, like Kavala and Komotini and Sapes, where we spent the night in a pruned town park featuring the worlds' highest trees. Prior to setting up our tent, some small Turkish boys struck up conversation with us and tried to warn of us the impending doom of sleeping int he park. They kept motioning with a sweeping gesture, and saying the "bugari! bugari!" over and over. We assumed this was a warning of night-time thieves, but as it turns out, it might have been a wanring about the insanity of the next morning: the entire tree canopy swelled full of the world's loudest wild birds, which all began taking bird shits all over us and our tent. splat splat. we couldn't pack up fast enough...
Alexandria- we spent two nights in this port town, in a campground. Lots of old folks selling beautifully displayed grape leaves on the sidewalks. Lots of techno bar parties until the wee hours of the morning. Poeple start to go to sleep at 5am! We felt like sporty nerds... From here we jumped on our train to Istanbul, which goes North to Kastanies first. Our train, which as we found out, did not leave at 5am sharp as we had diligently and nervously prepared for, but rather it left on what the locals called "Greek time". This means it was several hours lagging, no worries. Slow and steady, very casual, no worries. In Kastanies, a dusty one stop town, we hung out with some train station strays for 6 hours and awaited the Istanbul line. A train yard worker brought us beer. be prepared to pay a $15 cash visa fee upon entry into Turkey, even if you do not plan to stay there. We were not expecting this fee, and so our cash was neatly tucked in a secret pouch located in the undersole of my bike shoe. I had the pleasure of pulling the smelly pouch out right there, in front of the guard, who ofcourse, told me to just put it "over there" (to air out?)
One of our first experiences in this country was at a stop light in Northern Greece, where a carload of giddy teenaged boys pulled over and yelled "hey!! you... we, we come together!?".
So our words about Greece are...
-have patience for the hills.
-bring massive amounts of sunblock for the nose and shoulders.
-eat lots of delicious halvah- the power food of the gods.
-endless free-camping options on beautiful beaches.
-scream "OKIE!" when dogs chase you or something bad is happening.
-be ready for a leisurely slow pace of life, "Greek time".
*we will post more beautiful Greece photos at a later time*