Fantastic day today. It was cold last night, so I woke up all snug in my sleeping bag to find that the dog from last night was sleeping next to my tent, guarding me from other dogs. I made good progress passing over the land bridge along the coast, and decided to take the coast road around a mountain, even though the map said it was unsurfaced.
The villages on the way were nice, with smiling waving people. The unsurfaced road started well, which is to say tricky on a Brompton. But the trick is to take it slow, pick the bestroute, and use a low gear to gently pull over the bumps. The road was 15km long. I arrived at 12 and gave myself 3 hours – 5km/h average, so I’d have to go a bit faster than “pushing the bike” pace. The road gradually deteriorated, and the hills were steep enough that in a low enough gear to get up them I was spinning the back wheel, so I had to push up the hills. Going down the hills was also interesting, quite a few times I locked up both front and rear wheels on the gravel.
The scenery was fantastic, huge boulders, olive groves, hidden coves by the sea (although innaccesable down the landscape), and not a person for miles. Or so I though. I came round a corner to find a German tourer coming towards me. He was completely in camouflage gear – t-shirt, shorts, panniers, even his bike, were all in green jungle camo colours.
We discussed routes, and he suggested I go north from India into Nepal, over the Himalayas and into China, then east, and south through Laos and into Thailand. It’s a possibility, but the climate at the time of year could be a problem. He also said going across Burma was ok – he did it. Rather him than me!
The road smoothed and became tarmac. Took 2 hours 30 minutes, so not bad at all. Got to Alexandroupoli and found the municipal campsite – very nice, best I’ve seen in Greece so far.
Went into the town and used the internet. I have a warm shower in Kesan – yay! Also found Tass, one of my lecturers from uni and now good friends, is in Istanbul for a conference, hope he is still there and we could meet up. Drop off laundry, to be collected at 8:30am tomorrow, and go in search of bike shop Andrew and Friedel recommended.
The owner is fantastic, a very friendly guy, and one of the truly good hearted guys in the world. He tightened the headset on my bike in no time (it had been slightly loose since the pothole in Greece, and getting gradually worse), and when I mentioned Andrew and Friedel his jaw dropped. He’s amazed, and wants to know how they are, where they are, how I know them, where I’m coming from and going, do I have everything I need, am I ok? He fusses over me and the bike for a bit, and gives me a thermos water bottle and a few consumables. I have to stop him before he puts himself out of business!
I say thank you a lot, and go back to the campsite to make dinner. Dinner was pasta with a side of pasta garnished in pasta – my punishment for dropping dinner the night before.
I liked Alexandroupoli, it had a good vibe to it, busy but not overwhelming, well organised, and friendly people.