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Published: April 13th 2010
Airport in London
Bike boxed and ready to fly
Greece - 16 Days
I arrived in Athens and spent a couple of days to organise my equipment and to explore the city a little. I thought it was an interesting place to walk around, plenty of history with ruins everywhere, the acropolis was impressive, ruins atop a hill in the centre of the city.
After 2 days in Athens I cycled to the Peloponnesse Island and began a circular route around the island until I crossed onto the mainland via the new Rio-Antirrio bridge, just after Patras. Peloponnesse
I crossed the Corinth canal onto the Peloponnesse island and then cycled south passed the ruins of Mycenae, with its great strategic location and then continued south to Nafplio. I then continued south along the pretty coastline until I reached Leonidio when I turned inland to climb up, up and up to Geronthri, the town at the top of the Kosmas Pass. On the way up I passed the impressive Elonis Monastery and on the way down I passed loads of goats - very, very quickly. I passed Sparti and continued towards Megalopoli, needing to clima up and over another pass, this time not quite as high
View from my hotel room in downtown Athens
but the view from the top at Loganikos over-looking the Sparti valley was breathe-taking.
The worst areas of burnt land that I saw were between Loganikos and Megalopoli. The area was decimated by the wild fires during June 2007 and there was a quite an eerie feeling cycling through the huge burnt out areas. I spent a couple of days cycling via Olympia, Pyrgos and Patras until I reached the Rio-Antirio Bridge; the pedestrian path was closed so I ignored the no-bicycles signs and crossed anyway. I had a problem with my back wheel (a common problem on this cycle trips) so decided to save money and not enter into the ruins at Olympia, I was ablt to see most of it from the edge of the fence and I wanted to use the money to fix my wheel. There were no bike shops in Olympia but I was able to find one in Pyrgos, although I had to wait 5 hours for the shop to finish its siesta - I used this opportunity to eat my Greek corn flakes.
Peloponnesse was a great place; beautiful coastline, lots of relaxed people and goat herders wandering around Mainland
crossed onto the mainland and followed the coast east until I reached Itea, from here I headed north, spending one night camped in an olive grove before reaching the archaeological site of Delphi. This site was fantastic; some really cool ruins set on the side of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.
The Temple of Apollo was cool, the detailed writing on the bricks/blocks that made it, the theatre and the stadium were also cool structures but the most interesting thing was seeing how civilised they were, baths in the gymnasiums and water channelling systems, I bet they had game boys.
After Delphi I cycled back through the olive plantations and continued north through Lamia, Karditsa and Trikala, and a couple of days later reached the area of Meteroa, next to Kalambaka in Central Greece. Meteroa was one of the coolest places I have ever been to, there are a number of Orthodox monasteries built on natural sandstone rock pillars. Access to the monasteries was originally (and deliberately) difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This required quite a leap of faith - the ropes were
View from the acropolis
replaced, so the story goes, only "when the Lord let them break.
After Meteroa I continued towards Albania having to cross a mountain pass as big as the crossing I used to cross the Alps, and I got caught out a little as it was snowing at the top. It was quite worrying at one point as it was snowing and I hadn’t reached the top and it was getting dark. I eventually reached the top and down-hilled for about 10km until reached the town of Metsovo where I had to get a hotel and spend a long time warming up.
After Metsovo I cycled onwards in the rain towards Ioannina and then Gjirokastra in Albania but the countryside was fairly mundane and it rained for a couple of miserable days.
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