Category Archives: GREECE

STORY & PHOTOS OF POLICEMEN & POLICEWOMEN!

I was in Portugal and spotted this Policeman who looked like the “terminator” cop. I wanted to get a photo. I asked if I could, then his friend said yes, I just wanted terminator, but OK, I took this photo

20131203-091859.jpgPORTUGUESE POLICE PHOTO WITH THE TERMINATOR COP AND HIS FRIEND
I take the ferry to Spain, there were 2 policeman who were giving me directions to the phone store , I showed them the Portuguese photo then they offered to have their photo taken.. I said “Heck Ya.” This was the start of collecting policeman photos in every country I visited.

20131203-092332.jpgTHE SPANISH POLICE WERE SUPER FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL
A friend (?) from France wrote and told me to look out for Spanish cops. I sent him this photo and asked, “these guys?”
I’m biking around France, shopped at a farmers market and spotted 2 policeman. I asked him for photo? No. I show him the Spanish photo, he walks away. He joins his partner across the street, then he waves me over.

20131203-102226.jpgTOOK SOME CONVINCING BUT I FINALLY GOT THE PICTURE OF FRENCH POLICEMAN.
My first day in Venice, Italy at the ATM I spotted 2 policeman and they eagerly agreed to the photo.

20131203-150825.jpgTHESE ITALIAN POLICEMAN NEEDED NO CONVINCING TO HAVE THEIR PICTURE TAKEN.
Slovenia was a real task, I had to compromise some with this one. First, there are hardly any police around! I had always tried to get 2 policeman together, that wasn’t going to happen here.

20131203-151409.jpgTHIS IS THE SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENTARY BUILDING “POLICE” GUARD. THAT’S THE BEST I COULD DO. There are really no police to be found and not 2 together for sure.
The Croatian policeman shot was just about as difficult as the Slovenian. I hardly ever saw the police here either. But when we were dropping off bike boxes at the ferry dock, I spotted several armed “dock” police.

20131203-152142.jpgTHIS IS THE CROATIAN MARITIME POLICE, AGAIN IT’S THE BEST I COULD DO.
The Montenegro police photo was totally by “accident.” I was only going to be in Montenegro for 24 hours, so my chances were pretty slime. The bus I was riding in got in an accident, so the police arrived to take a report.

20131203-152736.jpgTHE MONTENEGRO POLICE DELIVERED THIS PHOTO BY WAY OF AN ACCIDENT.
Albania was fairly easy, the first night in town I walked into town with a local. He convinced them it would be OK, somehow?

20131203-153123.jpgTHIS ALBANIAN POLICEMAN PHOTO WAS TAKEN MY FIRST 5 MINUTES OF WALKING THE STREETS

The Greek policeman photo should have been of at least 2 policeman. Of the four policeman, only this one agreed to a picture.

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THE GREEK POLICEMAN ALL COMPLAINED ABOUT GERMAN CHANCELLOR MERKEL’S AUSTERITY DEMANDS
This next photo of the Turkish police is the Gold Standard from which all policeman photos should be judged.

20131203-161812.jpgHOT TURKISH POLICEWOMEN WITH MACHINE GUN–YEP HOLY SHOT
It was fairly easy to get all the 10 countries I visited policeman photos, but one Morocco. When I asked maybe 10 different policeman the answer was always the same “IT IS FORBIDDEN.” So I pretended to be adjusting my music while taking a few pictures:

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THANKS FOR READING, TALK SOON
RIDE ON, JEFF

LETTERS FROM VINCENT

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I WROTE VINCENT THE FOLLOWING LETTER:
vincent,
I just told my roommates the “are you seeing someone else?” joke, they loved it. Had a great time with Natasa, she’s a special person.
The hostels are so cheap and they ALL come with breakfast. I’m moving to different neighborhoods, a week at each. I actually like my breakfast more than theirs. but theirs is included. Its about 11 Euro per night. I’m moving to the Asian side tomorrow. It` ‘s pretty cheap here it’s the off season, there’s some good deals.
I’ll be here till Dec. 20
I had a great time hanging out with you. Thanks for getting us accommodation at Yannis’s.
Is that your flag in the photo?
Ride On
Jeff

HIS REPLY:

Hey Jeff !!!

It was more than a good time riding with you Jeff… I was shown a good way to travel with you.. So thanks a lot “professional bike walker” master..

Well. it must be the way to do Istanbul, one neighborhood every week. I’ll do that another trip.
I got back yesterday in Thessaloniki from a 10 days ride around the Halkidiki peninsula (I was in it last time I emailed you).. It was not just awesome… but wonderful.. I did so fuckin good Jeff !!! You would be proud of me ! 😉 But well, maybe the greek flag helped 😉
I’m gonna make an email to the people I met during these 10 days. I’ll put you in copy mail..

See ya man

Ride on ride on

THIS HIS HIS TRIP LETTER WITH PHOTOS

Hi everybody !!!

I just got back yesterday in Thessaloniki from my 10 days ride in Halkidiki. And it was not just awesome, because you, people, made it wonderful…

So to thank you for your precious contribution to the best ride of all my trip, I’m sending you this email, so that you’ll all have the whole story.. and also the pictures (some of them). I put also several people in copy mail, to let them know, in case they would want it 😉

Day 1 : to get to heaven, you first have to go through a nightmare : gettin out of Thessaloniki (goddamned, that was dangerous !). Fortunately, fisherman hosted me on “their” beach (picture 1) in Michaniona… they were fishing with strange things (picture 2). Thanks for the coffee and the great conversations about the crisis and the women.

Day 2 : deciding to wild camp next to the most beautiful chapel in Halkidiki (picture 4), with incredible view over Olympus and its first snow, and enjoy its facilities (shower is good after a late november swim in the Med’), that farmer and this fisherman invited me for a good meal… Language is not a barrier after a liter of Tchipouro !!!!

Day 3 : pictures with kids in Nea Moudania (5) – goddamn teenagers, it took me a lot of energy to get that picture – before getting in Psakoudia, its beach, its showers, and the best of all : Yannis !!! (7)…. Thanks for everything Yannis, the food, the drinks, your kindness, the great conversations we had… and also for the negotiation with the police (6) 😉

Day 4 : I just wanted some tobacco guys !!! (8) But thanks !! And before getting to Agios Ioannis beach, I found a couple of crazy guys in a gas station who wanted to do a bike tour I think 😉 (9 and 10).. That night, I got into such a big mediterranean windstorm.. In the tent, it was like trying to sleep hung to a kite.. But, I was saved by a UK ambulance in this “out there”. Thanks mathew !

Day 5 : I could make it to Neas Marmaras, just before it started to rain cats and dogs, and found a cheap and good hotel there (on the seaside, of course…)

Day 6 : the 25 km ride to Toroni, following the coastal road was amazing… and I was just alone in paradise (I saw one car during this 25 km ride !!).. Before getting to a beach in Toroni where I found some lost french people like me (12).. Merci pour les saucisses et les champignons aux petits oignons.. C’etait super bon !!!

Day 7 : Had to climb and to find a shelter for the night (I knew it was going to be heavy rain that night).. I did pretty good 🙂 (13). Thank you (well, whoever you are) for the site, the water supply and the electricity

Day 8 :gorgious ride and wild camp on the east side of Sithonia (from 14 to 18), around Sarti… Ouah !!!!

Day 9 : awesome ride once again but I wanted to find a spot with electricity and take shower.. It wasn’t difficult in Vourvourou (19)

Day 10 : I’m gonna go back to thessaloniki today… Or maybe not… In the end of little peninsula in Vourvourou, Christos and Harris, spontaneously, wanted me to enjoy one more day in one of the best site in Sithonia.. So, they just offered (yes, offered) me a room for the entire day (and night) in their hotel Thalassokipos (20 to 22).. That was “la cerise sur le gateau” !!!

So, thank you so very much !!! That ride was better than anything I could have imagined, and a great conclusion for an amazing month-long trip in northern Greece.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Kriti. You almost all told me it was going to be better. Well, I really wonder how it’s possible !
We’ll see..
To be continued…
βινσεντ τουσαρ

I HOPE THESE LETTERS ENCOURAGE YOU TO TAKE A CAR-FREE VACATION, IT CAN BE AWESOME. THIS IS VINCENT’S FIRST BIKE TOUR ADVENTURE, HE ACTUALLY BOUGHT THE BIKE FOR THE TRIP. HE DIDIN’T BIKE BEFORE THIS TRIP.
TAKE CARE
JEFF
(working on a blog post) stay tuned

FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT GREECE

I knew a little about Greece before I arrived. I had heard about the Greek economic crisis and the austerity measures required for them to get more assistance from the European Union, namely Merkel. When I first arrived the policemen all mentioned how much they despised Merkel’s austerity measures as a requirement to borrow money.
I had planned to take the bus to a starting point, Kalambaka, before I learned Greece is 80% mountains, tough on a bike.

20131121-115045.jpgTHIS IS ONE OF THE 6 MONASTERIES LEFT FROM THE ORIGINAL 24.
I emailed Vincent and asked him to join me in Kalambaka, he shows up and we tour Greece’s remote northern region, together.

20131121-120542.jpgHANGING OUT IN MY LUXURY TRAILER TILL VINCENT ARRIVES.
We visit several non tourist non post card villages. We were definitely the talk of the towns. We were in Elassona just 20 minutes , Vincent asks someone if they had seen an American on a bike, yes was the answer. People in the small towns were well aware of our presence.

20131121-121009.jpgTHIS IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAN TRYING TO CYCLE AROUND ATHENS.
Biking allows for the opportunity to meet like minded folks, like Yannis of Elassona.

20131121-121300.jpgTHE BIKE GURU OF ELASSONA AND GREECE!
Yannis explained some of the situations that lead to the Greek crisis. People were able to get car loans or any loan for that matter, no money down or credit check, (sound familiar?) As people lost their jobs, the loans went into default. Obama “saved” the American economy by borrowing, at some point it will have to be paid back. America is next for some real austerity measures with real pain, get ready America.

20131121-122025.jpgTHE MANY ROADSIDE CHURCHES WERE CUTE, BUT
The priest of Greece are paid by the government, including their pensions. Yet the Greek Church has nearly 1 trillion dollars in assets, not just churches but hotels, parking lots etc. They have more than twice as much as Greeks total debt. They are being asked to contribute more instead of taking from the state, we’ll see.

20131121-122921.jpgOUR ROUTE AND TIMING WERE EXCELLENT, FALL WAS IN FULL BLOOM.
Walking around Elassona nearly 1/2 the store fronts were closed. Greece unemployment rate is 27% thats 1 in 4 people don’t have a job! They closed the state media, for America, that would be like shutting down NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, think about it.
Greece is full of valuable history and lessons to be learned from, like the fall of the Roman Empire. I visited Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city. I loved the city, Greek food is over the top great! I wish I had time to stay longer. The people treated cyclist with the ultimate courtesy and friendliness. Like Albania, many horns and thumbs up from drivers. I can’t wait to come back.

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20131121-124345.jpgTHIS INSTRUMENT WAS FROM THE ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM IN THESSALONIKI, (interesting read)

20131121-124601.jpgEVERYONE IS DOING WHAT THEY CAN DO TO SURVIVE.

20131121-124750.jpgSOME OF THE ROADS WERE LINED WITH COTTON

20131121-125008.jpgTHE COTTON CAME FROM THESE “OPEN” TRAILERS
I have a video I shot of these vents spinning in the wind HERE
I HAD A GREAT TIME IN GREECE EVERYTHING WAS AWESOME, FOR TOURIST, BUT THE GREEKS ARE TRULY STRUGGLING. AMERICA IT’S TIME TO GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER OR WERE NEXT.
The bike ride to Turkey was one of the hardest days, head wind, attacking dogs, rain, machine gun touting guards ordering me around. My foot problems haven’t bothered me the whole trip, but after biking 2 days into a head wind, I can hardly walk now. I’m taking it easy in Turkey. I’ll be here till Dec. 20th, Natasa is coming tomorrow, can hardly wait.
I realize this blog post rambles, I’m tired. Seven months on a bike, camping, touring, blogging has taken a toll on me. I’m looking forward to 5 months of easy travel.
So in closing visit Greece, WHY? THE PEOPLE, FOOD, SCENERY, HISTORY. It’s a tough bike ride, I’m not sure that will be part of my return visit?

FINAL WEEK IN GREECE

I spent the night in some farmers field. After missing my turn off yesterday and riding an extra 20km I slept great. I charged my phone some at the bakery, so I thought of checking the weather, RAIN. Just as I read that, I could here rain drops on the tent. I like having a good breakfast before riding, but I hate packing a wet tent more. So I hurriedly pack the tent and stuff before everything gets wet.

20131117-220159.jpgTHIS IS THE FIRST TIME I’VE BEEN RIDING WITH A SUNRISE.
I’m on the frontage road next to the toll highway. I’ve never seen so many dead animals in such a small stretch of road; dogs, cats, birds, some kind of beaver. My frontage road ends and the toll way is my only choice. It’s early, I’m thinking “I can do this.”

20131117-220840.jpgWHEN IS THE NEXT TIME I’LL SEE A SIGN WITH THESE CHOICES? (probably never).
I arrive in THESSALONIKI, Greece’s second largest city. I finally get off the freeway and ride along the port road.

20131117-221557.jpgAM I IN PORTLAND? MY HOME TOWN OF PORTLAND OREGON HAS THE MOST STRIP CLUBS PER CAPITA IN THE U.S.
It’s only 9am and I’m in town. The advantage of arriving early when you get a hotel room, you get it ALL day and night. I find a hotel can be good value, especially if you use your camping equipment and set up a kitchen in the room. On that note, the Greek food is awesome and a fairly good value. But traveling as long as I am, I don’t feel I can afford to go out for every meal.
I’m going to play tourist for a couple days (since I skipped Athens).

20131117-222427.jpgIT’S RAINING BUT THE BUILDINGS ARE DESIGNED SO THE SIDEWALKS ARE DRY..

20131117-222617.jpgTHIS GLASSES SHOP USED THIS BEAUTIFUL BIKE FOR IT’S DISPLAY WINDOW. (yep another bike image)
I decided to visit a few attractions, I started with the WHITE TOWER that is located along the water front. I told them how far I biked to get here and she let me in for free! with self guided audio tour.

20131117-225246.jpgTHIS IS THE WATERFRONT SHOT FROM THE TOP OF THE WHITE TOWER.
There were some photos on display from earlier events

20131117-225441.jpgYES A VERY EARLY BIKE RACE.
The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki was next on the list. I saw enough broken ceramic pots to last me a lifetime, but in between that:

20131117-225825.jpgTHIS AMAZING MASK HAD GOLD MOLDED OVER THE SOLDIERS FACE BEFORE HE WAS BURIED.

20131117-231735.jpgI NEED TO RE-READ THIS. WHAT?

20131117-232617.jpgTHESE MODELS OF WAGONS WERE FOUND IN A FEMALE GRAVE, 510 B.C.

20131117-234750.jpgTHIS WAS ONE OF THE FEW STATUES THAT STILL HAD BOTH ARMS AND HIS HEAD.
I was joking around (surprised?) with the clerk at the museum, that the statues had lost their arms, heads, legs but they still had their penis. I said “I guess if you only going to have one body part left, that’s the best one.” She agreed, we both laughed pretty hard.
I’m done with the museums it’s time to take the bus to Alexandroupoli. I grab a cheap hotel that I find to be one of the nicest ones I stayed in. There’s cute little pedestrian streets lined with cafés.

20131118-001114.jpgI HAD MY BEST GREEK SALAD HERE. (notice the meal came on a piece of paper, no plate!)
I ask the hotel what to do in town, no suggestions (or clue). I bike along the water front,

20131118-001534.jpgIT’S THE OFF SEASON AND IT SHOWS

20131118-001735.jpgTHE ARCADE IS CLOSED BUT I COULDN’T RESIST THE AMERICAN FLAG SHORTS
Riding around I see this road is blocked off with orange cones, “go that way.” Turns out it’s the once a week farmers market and clothes bazaar. You think the lady at the hotel would mention this? Thank you for the bicycle, you can discover so much more.

20131118-002324.jpgTHERE HAD TO BE AT LEAST 5 OLIVE BOOTHS, THIS BIG AND NUMEROUS LITTLE ONES.

20131118-002504.jpgTHE PRODUCE WAS GORGEOUS

20131118-002624.jpgAND EVEN MORE GORGEOUS!

20131118-002745.jpgDOING WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SURVIVE, THE GREEK ECONOMIC CRISIS IS REAL.
There was more hunting going on earlier, around DISKATI and ELASSONA,

20131118-003036.jpgTHEY CARRIED THEIR HUNTING DOGS IN THESE BOXES, I SAW LOTS AND LOTS OF THEM TOO.
The Farmers market didn’t have much cooked food, so on the way back to the hotel, “home”

20131118-003743.jpgI SPOTTED THIS BACON WRAPPED CHICKEN (I got 2) AWESOME!
Back at the Hotel room kitchen

20131118-054333.jpgIT’S CHEESE RAVIOLI WITH BROCCOLI AND PESTO SAUCE
It’s time to head for the border, weather forecast is windy but no rain. It’s blowing so hard I’m barely moving. The border is only 45 km but in this full on head wind it could take forever. I have a photo for this but something happened so it’s at the end of this blog

20131118-055431.jpgI CROSS PATHS WITH THESE 2 TURKISH BICYCLIST, HE TELLS ME ONLY 30KM TO THE BORDER.
I’m never going to get there in this weather. It starts raining pretty hard (on top of the wind). I pull into a roadside bus shelter (only 2nd time on this trip) and have lunch while trying figuring out how to get out of this mess? A bus pulls up, I try to get on, no way, he pulls away, shit! The rain lessens some so I start riding again and take a side road to the border.

20131118-060218.jpgI’M GETTING CLOSE NOW
I start to cross the 2 lane bridge into Turkey and spot these 3 dogs, I sense trouble. I stop and remove my water bottle. As I start crossing the bridge they start attacking me, I squirt them with the water which gives them pause as I race to the border check. This had to be a top 5 hardest days day, I didn’t think I would ever get here. If this had been the first day of Jeffs Bike Tour, there might have been no tour, today was tough.

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Yep, I’m in Turkey, my final destination since starting in Lisbon Portugal over 7 months ago.
THANKS FOR READING THE BLOG, BIKING ISN’T ALWAYS EASY, BUT IT IS ALWAYS REWARDING!
RIDE ON
JEFF
NEXT? FINAL THOUGHTS ON GREECE
PHOTO GALLERY IS HERE
I’wanted to post his next picture about the traffic in Thessaloniki. It took me forever to ride to the bus station, people literally park anywhere and everywhere. I got trapped on the sidewalk a few times because the cars are parked so close together, there’s no escape.
c

20131118-070052.jpgTHERE’S ONLY ONE LANE OF MOVING TRAFFIC EVERYONE ELSE IS DOUBLE PARKED. SOMEONE DOUBLE PARKED AND THAT TRUCK COULDN’T GET BY, WHAT A MESS

20131118-073525.jpgTHIS IS THE WINDY DAY OF RIDING

CAMPING AND MEET THE BIKE GURU OF ELASSONA (part I)

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AFTER A FULL DAY UPHILL, WELL WHAT EVER GOES UP MUST COME DOWN, AND DOWN WE GO

20131114-211632.jpgTHEY DAY STARTS WITH SOME AWESOME VIEWS AND STILL NO CARS IN SIGHT!
I’m not sure why but the church has mini “satellite” church’s. Their visited frequently, lighting candles, I’ve seen people kissing the image of Jesus.

20131114-212053.jpgTHEY MAKE FOR A GREAT LUNCH SPOT FOR CYCLIST TOO!

20131114-212312.jpgMORE PHOTOS TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO PLAN A BIKE VACATION (your welcome).
I love the stone work and churches here.

20131114-213038.jpgTHIS STRUCTURE IS BOTH, STONE WORK AND A CHURCH, SCORE!
We stop on top of a bridge and both agree, “were camping along this river tonight”. We take a dirt road (of course) around the river bend so we can’t be seen from the road. While were figuring out exactly where were setting up,

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I look up from the river and see Vincent talking to this guy with a horse.

20131114-213746.jpgTHIS GREEK COWBOY IS ACTUALLY FROM ALBANIA.
I turn away for a minute and yep

20131114-213941.jpgVINCENT HAS TRADED HIS BIKE FOR A HORSE.
The Cowboy heads down river and we set up our camp. All the grass land is well trimmed by the many many herds of sheep, goats and cows.

20131114-214409.jpgTHIS INCLUDES OUR CAMPGROUND.
Vincent and I are very compatible touring buddies (except for his French thing of smoking). We get packed up and yes it’s straight up from the river valley. The fall valley views are amazingly colorful.

20131114-214928.jpgTHERES MORE OF THESE PHOTOS IN THE PHOTO GALLERY
There’s maybe 2 more cars here than in Albania, I think partially due to the real economic crisis their experiencing here.

20131114-215423.jpgWHEN THE OCCASIONAL CAR DID PASS THEY “ALWAYS” WENT WAY AROUND US, I FEEL VERY SAFE BIKING HERE.
Vincent and I get split up as we roll in ELASSONA. I’m on the hotel hunt, he goes to buy a wrench (they gave it to him), he leaves with the name of a local bike guy that host cyclist. We meet up and head to Yannis’s house.

20131114-220405.jpgTHE SHIRT SAYS IT ALL “WERE AMONGST FRIENDS”
After unpacking and some small chat, it’s time to eat. One of the good things about hanging with a local is they know the best places to eat authentic “local” food.

20131114-220947.jpgAPPETIZERS, SALAD, BBQ LAMB, IT’S SO MUCH FOOD I HAD TO STOP EATING. I’ve nicknamed Vincent “Jaws” once he starts eating, he doesn’t stop. Well Jaws was in heaven.

20131114-222204.jpgEVEN THE LOCAL BAKERY WAS GETTING INTO THE BICYCLE IMAGES
Yannis restores old bikes, basically turns rust into riding jems. We bring the bikes down from his attic workshop.

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THIS PHOTO IS FROM OUR CAMPING SPOT, SEE ALL THE GOATS ON THE VERTICAL ROCK LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO EAT.
Vincent is heading to Larrisa and I’m going to stay holed up in my hotel room

20131115-070837.jpgVINCENT ACTUALLY BOUGHT THESE FOR YANNIS’S MOM, TO THANK HER FOR HOSTING US.
There is so much going on here with bikes and Yannis I’ve got to make this a 2 part story (sorry)
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to ride your bike, the planet will love you.
Jeff
YANNIS THE BIKE GURU CAN BE REACHED AT WWW.RESTOREBICYCLES.COM HE’S WORKING ON AN ENGLISH VERSION OF HIS WEBSITE, HE SPEAKS GREAT ENGLISH CALL HIM AT 00306973981979

SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE
NEXT? YANNIS RESCUES ME FROM THE HOTEL.

BIKING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF NO WHERE (no post cards?)

I’ve been in Kalambaka 6 days and visited the Monasteries 3 times. Vincent wants to go to Larissa, me Thessaloniki. I show him the route I’m planning on taking, he decides to join me. It’s only 30 km out of his way.

20131112-213300.jpgIT’S ONLY ABOUT 30 MILES TO DISKATI, BUT UP, THE WHOLE WAY.

20131112-213935.jpgI HAVE TO KEEP REMINDING MYSELF I’M IN GREECE. (hence the shirt and flag)
Just as we stop for a nice peaceful lunch break.

20131112-214436.jpgTHIS BAND SAW TRACTOR DRIVES UP.

20131112-214540.jpgIT´S BECOMING WINTER, TIME TO CUT SOME FIREWOOD.
They still burn off crop residue here, I was a little shocked.

20131112-215211.jpgIT WAS PROBABLY 1KM OF SMOKE, BURNING EYES AND COULDN’T SEE THROUGH THE SMOKE.
Once through the smoke were turn off our low traffic road to a “where are the cars?” road. I tell Vincent “we’re on the other side of no where”.

20131113-071709.jpgA LITTLE FARM ACTIVITY AHEAD.
A sign indicates, restaurant ahead? I tell Vincent I need a shot of coffee, he agrees, he does too. It’s hunting season and they’re dividing the days hunt at the restaurant.

20131113-072135.jpgEVERYONE IS LEAVING WITH A BAG OF MEAT FOR THE FREEZER.

20131113-072449.jpgBIKING ON THE OPEN ROAD, IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER!
Our destination is DESKATI, I know nothing about this town other than the name. I didn’t have the energy to tackle Athens, so Deskati, “here we come”.

20131113-073141.jpgIT’S NOVEMBER AND THE TREES ARE DEFINITELY CHANGING COLORS

20131113-073343.jpgTHE WEATHER HAS BEEN GREAT FOR BIKING, SUNNY 23C (LOW 70’S F).
We finally arrive in Diskati, the longest last 10 km of the trip. A local speaks French and tells Vincent to follow him, he’s on a small motorcycle, to the only hotel in town. We arrive and it’s closed for the season, the guy calls the owner and she opens up just for us!

20131113-074338.jpgWE COOK DINNER IN OUR ROOM. (budget travelers).

20131113-074721.jpgIT’S SUNDAY OUTSIDE THE CHURCH AND VINCENT IS SHOWING A GROUP OF MEN THE MAP OF OUR ROUTE.

20131113-074937.jpgTHE CHURCH IN THE BACKGROUND IS OUR BIKING GOAL FOR THE DAY(eventually!)

20131113-075039.jpgWE TOOK A BIKE RIDE AROUND THE VILLAGE (way around)

20131113-075406.jpgWE WERE ON TOP OF THE WORLD, LOOKING TO THE NEXT VALLEY.

20131113-075529.jpgMOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL BACK TO TOWN

20131113-075652.jpgOUR ORIGINAL GOAL WAS THIS CHURCH, WE TOOK THE VERY LONG WAY AROUND TO GET HERE.
Back in town the basic question was “what are you doing here?” “this isn’t a tourist town” exactly why we came here. The people are what make a town or country and this is no exception. When I walked down the street the entire town was watching me, they never see tourist. I heard some talk behind me, “American” “American”, this was a very charming place. I wanted to get a few postcards, good luck with that, NONE.

20131113-080424.jpgLOCAL CELEBRITIES HANGING OUT AT THE COFFEE SHOP

20131113-092908.jpgTHE VIEW FROM THE HOTEL BALCONY

20131113-093022.jpgBREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS (bike riders)
We stayed an extra day here, it was a great experience to see and feel the real Greece, not the tourist mecca of Athens. I may not have seen the Statue of David, but Vincent brought flowers to the lady at the grocery store. It will always be the people that make the travel experience awesome.

20131113-093444.jpgI HAD TO TAKE THIS PHOTO OF VINCENT WRAPED IN HIS FAKE DEAD ANIMAL BLANKET
The older generation in town are constantly flipping theses worry beads, and with the Greek economic crisis probably flipping them a lot more.

20131113-100111.jpgTHIS IS VINCENT PRACTICING WITH THE WORRY BEADS.
THANKS FOR READING AND LUBE THE CHAIN ON YOUR BIKE, YOU GO FASTER AND QUIETER!
JEFF
YOU CAN SEE THE UPDATED GREEK PHOTOS HERE
NEXT? CAMPING & MEET THE BIKE GURU OF ELASSONA

FIRST WEEK IN GREECE

IN THE COUNTRY LESS THAN AN HOUR
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THE POLICEMAN MENTION HOW MUCH THEY DESPISE GERMAN CHANCELLOR MERKEL.
I grabbed the bus at the border. I read that Greece is 80% mountainous. I´m not ready to tackle Athens, so my guide book suggest I not miss METEORA. It´s a good idea, plenty of climbing (in the bus), 5 or 6 tunnels some several kilometers long.

20131112-091115.jpgTHIS IS THE VIEW COMING INTO KALAMBAKA.
I´m not religious, but religions around the world have made their impact on history (under statement). But when the opportunity arises:

20131112-091439.jpgI NEVER MISS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MINGLE WITH THE LOCALS (at the phone store).
I decide to ride the bus to the monasteries and hike down.

20131112-091706.jpgTHERE USE TO BE 24 MONASTERIES BUT ONLY 6 ARE STILL STANDING.
The hike down was great (yep walking).

20131112-091943.jpgIT´S EASY TO GO CAMERA CRAZY HERE.
The monasteries cost 3 euro, but not for everyone. I walk in with a group of 40 people, someone grabs me out of the crowd and asks for 3 euro. I look around and tell him “no one else is paying”. I guess I look like a tourist, later I learn the museums are free for Greeks. I don´t look Greek? I think Merkel needs to hear about this.

20131112-092032.jpgTHESE ARE THE SKULLS OF PREVIOUS PRIEST.
I write Vincent, the French Cyclist I met in Albania and tell him this is a “not to be missed” tourist attraction. He responds with, “I´ll take the bus and meet you. Meanwhile, camping is 8 euro and a trailer is 9 euro. Since my sleeping pad is dead (leaks), a mattress for 1 euro, OK.

20131112-092745.jpgNO KITCHEN OR PLUMBING BUT AWESOME BED AND PRIVACY.

20131112-093704.jpgPLEASE NO TRAILER TRASH JOKES, IT ALL WORKS GOOD.
Vincent is not here yet, so decide to ride my bike to all 6 Monasteries. I arrive at one, closes in 10 minutes (it´s 1 in the afternoon!), I ride to the next one, closed on Wed. & Thursdays (winter hours). It´s still an awesome bike ride:

20131112-094521.jpgTHE ROADS AND STONE WALLS WERE BEAUTIFUL.

20131112-094650.jpg

20131112-094715.jpg
.

20131112-095010.jpgI MADE THE RIDE INTO A LOOP, BIG LONG DOWNHILL SUPER FUN.
Being the off season, there is little to no traffic, it’s lots cooler but the pool is drained at the campground too:(
Vincent shows up and we do the whole tour again, this is my third visit to the monasteries. But it’s pretty awesome and so is the biking.

20131112-100101.jpgI USUALLY TOUR ALONE, BUT VINCENT IS REALLY FUN TO HANG WITH. (FRENCH?).

20131112-101241.jpgI LOVE ALL THE STONEWORK

20131112-101343.jpgHE HAS HIS OWN TENT

20131112-101455.jpgFRENCH DESERT, NUTELLA ON BANANA.
When your bike touring you can hear the livestock bells, sheep, goats and cows. I remember in Albania hearing the whole hillside valley ringing with bells.

20131112-101706.jpgI BOUGHT THIS PIECE OF ART, THE NECK BAND IS CARVED WOOD WITH A CARVED LATCH, IT IS F__ING BEAUTIFUL.THE BELL SOUNDS GREAT TOO!
THANKS FOR READING
JEFF
MY GREEK PHOTOS ARE HERE
MORE MONASTERY GOOGLE IMAGES FOR METEORA GREECE
NEXT? RIDING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF NO WHERE (no post cards?)