Day 51 – Thessaloniki

Feeling very low today. Have wasted two days in Asprovalta all because of stupidity of breaking GPS. The original schedule had me in Alexandroupoli today, but that won’t be until the 18th at least now.
The bus to Thessaloniki arrived at 9:30 – it’s supposed to be every hour on the hour, but oh well. 6.60euro to Thessaloniki, and it took 1.5 hours. On the bus I re-sewed my stove bag which I managed to rip. Sewing is easier said than done when on a bus doing 120km/h careering wildly down the road while the drivers on the phone.

In Thes. I started looking for places to buy a GPS, all I want is a simple Garmin eTrex – should be 80gbp in the UK. Every electronics store says not here and they don’t know where. One store looked outdoors-ey (lots of knives, guns, ammo, camouflage, compasses, that kind of thing), so I asked them. They didn’t know. Only suggestion was store called Placio on main shopping street.

The internet cafe was on the way, so I stopped there for a bit. Just around the corner I found a really well stocked outdoors shop. Everything you could need from all the good brands, tents, clothing, camping gear, good selection of everything from bargain to high end stuff. But no GPS’s. They also suggested Placio.

Went to Placio (turns out it’s like any electronics store on the TCR in London – poor selection of stuff, and they try to sell you what you don’t want anyway). They had car sat navs, but not GPS. They suggested another electronics store, but also no luck – it was a phone store.

Back at the outdoors shop, one of the workers heard me talking English, and said he’d lived in London for 5 years in the 70’s, and still remembered the markets and shopping. He said the only place in Thes. I was likely to find Garmin was the marine stores by the port.

On the way I saw a bookshop and went in, looking for maps of Iran. They didn’t have any, but the girl behind the counter looked friendly enough and was on Facebook, so they had internet, and the shop was empty. I ask if she could search on the internet for Garmin retailers in Greece, but in the Greek language, so the results would be more meaningful than me searching in English. “Is Garmin a book?”, I said no but it would be really helpful. She said no. I snapped, said she looked helpful, but turned out just like every other Greek, and that Greece would sink internationally unless someone learned some customer service and entrepreneurship. Also. shouldn’t she be working and not on Facebook. I slammed the door on the way out.

I apologise to all Greeks, who have been very kind and friendly in general. I didn’t mean any of it.

I was so shocked at myself I walked down a deserted alley and sank to sit and sob against a wall. Why was I so fixated on finding a GPS to buy, did it really matter? I missed home, and Jaine, didn’t know why I was doing the trip any more, snapping at innocent people who had done nothing wrong, and cursing entire countries which turn out to be very nice.

I went back to the internet and wrote a long “feeling sorry for myself” email to Jaine. Fortunately she replied straight away, basically saying pull yourself together. Just what I needed (thanks hun!).

At the port the only shops selling Garmin stuff had very expensive marine GPS’s. Not for me. I went back to the bus station, and passed through a market, buying bread, tuna, cheese, and apples. Despite having 3euro in my pocket I got all that. Must shop in markets more often!

At the bus station I went to ask someone if the bus went to Asprovalta. They got the question in first “Asprovalta?”, so we asked a few more people. No one knew for sure, but everyone was going to Asprovalta, so we figured it was a safe bet.

From the bus, about 3km out of the centre I spied an outdoors store – modern, professional, just like the ones in Covent Garden in London. They probably had GPS’s. Oh well. About 100m later was a bike shop. Modern, professional looking, just like ones in London – probably had a few things I needed. Oh well. Back in Asprovalta I went to the Internet cafe – I figured that’s where I left my sunglasses – and they had them!

After dinner of pasta with cheese and tuna (my favourite old simple meal from home), I read Al Humphreys chapter on Siberia. He spent 3 months riding in -40C. I’m less than 2 months in and have ridden through warm summer in Europe – need to toughen up!

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