Published: October 17th 2009October 13th 2009
Total Distance Cycled: 357km
We were off to Greece today. We weren’t sure about what expect for hills but at least we knew we had a 300m drop in elevation. Unfortunately, 100m of that came from just getting out of Malkara! I hadn’t even got out of town, when I realized that the small repair I made to my gears yesterday had created more problems than I had fixed. Over countless stops I finally got my gears working enough to get to our end destination.
While we had to deal with traffic and hills on the first two days, today would all be about wind. It started right at the start and it didn’t stop for the next two days… We just geared down, put the headphones on, and just grinded away. The rest of Turkey was less hilly and fairly uneventful. We picked this route partially because we thought the traffic would be less because the Greeks and Turks aren’t the best of friends.
As the Greek/Turkish border was the entrance to the EU, it was quite big. It was almost entirely devoted to moving Turkish trucks. We passed dozens of them on the way in. Everyone
was quite friendly at the border, and he had no hassles.
Our introduction to Greece was a four-lane freeway right after the border. This seemed to be a bit of overkill given the amount of traffic, but as in so many cases with local rivalries it was all about show. The best example of this on my travels was in Korea between North and South Korea, where they competed with everything from flag poles to building size at their border towns.
We fought the head wind at its peak for the remaining 40km. While Greece is definitely more developed than Turkey, their gas stations didn’t come close to competing with those in Turkey. We were lucky to find the Greek ones sufficiently supplied with an assortment of drinks. The ones in Turkey were similar to the ones we have in Canada, as more of convenience store. The other thing of note was the dogs… We were chased a few times on our way into Alexandropoulis. I remember this being a problem on my last trip trip.
After getting set up in our seaside hotel, I took a look around town, and Alexandroupolis had a charming little old
Granite Street Corner
Granite is so common and apparently here that they use it for street corners!
quarter. There wasn’t much left for old buildings but the small cobble stone streets gave everything else that special appeal. I’m not sure were everyone eats here, but all the Greeks seem to do is drink. There were dozens of cafés and bars towards the western part of downtown. A lot more people were out here on a Monday night than anything in Edmonton. All of these drinking holes took advantage of the tempered climate here, as they were all open to the outside. Most had more seating on the outside than on the inside!
Alexandroupolis was only suppose to be an overnight stop, but the winds only got worse overnight and by morning we had gale force winds. It wasn’t a tough decision to hang tough here for another day. There were tougher places in the world to do this in. It didn’t rain much, so we made the best of the day. The highlight was a little museum set in an old mansion on the history and culture of the Thrace people. These people were split up between Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey over the past century. The visit didn’t cost us anything and we even had a
Greek Fast Food
Many of the cheaper restaurants would just serve their meals on paper.
personal tour from the curator!
Marble is obviously in great supply here because they even use it for the street corners! I have pictures to prove this. The other thing of note on this phase of our trip was the cost. Greece is no longer a bargain. The introduction of the Euro seems to have changed all of that. It is interesting being in a country, whose currency was denominated less than the US dollar.
There are more photos below