March trials

New plans for Greece

Over winter we decided to discover more of Greece over the next several years. There are several reasons for this and the main ones are: the beaches, the mountains, the people, the food, the freedom to do so much more as opposed to other European countries, just to name a few. Also our bikes which have served us so well over the years are getting old and needing a lot of maintenance. So we will be retiring them to Greece where they will be used a lot less.
They will be used for smaller tours and or day rides. Meaning we will go to different places by car or public transport and for there we will explore the area using our bikes.
Now that means we will be needing new touring bikes for here and are in the process of selecting two. Most likely the same model for both of us.

March 10

The plan was to take all our bicycle touring gear to Athens, set up and acclimatize for a couple of days before taking off for a short ride to Patras and back to Athens over several days. Being so early in the season with many camping still closed we decided to just check into AirBnB’s.
unfortunately it didn’t go as planed.

We couldn’t find anyone with a large enough car to take us to the airport. So to get everything into our little Fiat Punto I had to take the bikes completely apart and fit them into smaller boxes. Took some effort but we got everything into our little car.

Waiting to check everything in at Charleroi airport in Belgium.

In Athens airport we rented a Hyundai I30 which was also just big enough to carry everything. We found renting a car for two day’s was still cheaper than taking a taxi big enough to carry everything. And still have a car for the evening.
We also used the car to take our bikes to the port of Piraeus, avoiding riding through Athens on an early morning weekday. The rental company had an office near the port were we dropped off the car. Worked out perfect.

Our first evening in Athens, and enjoying a nice dinner at our favorite souvlaki joint.

This was our second serving, the meat was unbelievably juicy.

Sunday, March the11th

Today we just chilled, Monique slowly put our gear together and I started putting the bikes together.
As you can see everything was stripped from the bikes, wheels, racks, mudguards and the saddles.
Notice I’ve put threaded rods with nuts to keep the forks apart.

Monique’s bike is ready

And now mine

And finally they are ready

Monday the 12th +/-70kms

We drove to the port early as there was no way to see the times of the ferries online. The one we need was to the island of Salamina (nearest to Athens). The plan was to take the short ferry to Palukia, Salamina then cycle along the island for about 11kms to the other end where we took another short ferry to Megara. This way we avoid cycling along the very dangerous and ugly port industry areas.
In 2010 we cycled through this area and we didn’t want to repeat that ordeal.

We had to wait for about an hour for our ferry

We were glad there weren’t too many people on board

Surprisingly clean inside

Another huge cruise ship docked in Piraeus

We stopped at the first bakery we saw near Salamina town for an ice coffee and some cheese pies

After Salamina town we were treated to some nice views of the route we bypassed across the Golf of Elefsina

Much better than the alternative

The bigger ferry for the much shorted crossing. It took only five minutes

On the old national road just before Stikas (click to view larger)

Lunch break between Stikas and Kineta

Corinth canal

Right after the canal there is a kiosk on the right side with several dogs that came after us. Not a pleasant  experience. A truck driver even stopped just behind us and got out to help chase them away.

We made it to our Airbnb just before sunset.

While reading another post in Crazyguyonabike I came across a picture of the airbnb that we stayed in twice during this trip and since I didn’t take a picture of this really nice place I borrowed one.
This picture is from (Timothi Towers – Touring Greece on a bicycle 2018) A great read.

Tuesday the 13th +/-65kms

The day started out great.

But those clouds in the distance were coming our way.

Inland in the Peloponese the higher peaks had plenty of snow

Soon after this picture the headwind got up to gale force

In Xilokastro there is a wooded area were we stopped for lunch

It also provided some shelter from the fierce cold headwind

The headwind continued all the way to Aigeria our stop for the evening

Across the Gulf of Corinth there was plenty of snow on the higher peaks

Wednesday the 14th Rest day

Today was bad. Monique caught some bug and couldn’t get out of bed. I asked our hostess if it wa possible to stay another night as there was no way Monique could ride on to Patra.
Our hostess was even kind enough to make some delicious chicken soup for Monique. Anyway she slept most of the day trying to recover.
The apartment was really dated and we hoped she would feel good enough to continue the following day.

The coastline directly in front of our apartment

My artistic photo attempt

Most likely from too many Heineken beers

Aigeria.
By evening Monique’s situation was not getting better so we decided if she would be up to it by morning we would ride back to Airbnb in Corinth, stay the night and in the morning take the train from Corinth to Athens.
The plus side would be, the fierce head wind would be a tailwind now thus quite a bit easier to cycle.

Thursday the 15th +/-65kms

Our hosts, and yes you guessed it right he’s a priest. Made it a little awkward having a conversation with.

Very nice couple shame we had little in common

As usual they were very intrigued by our method of transport

Nice to be heading with the wind this time around

Saint Johns church were our host worked. I was really happy Monique was holding up

We doubled back to this bakery for supplies

The pebble beach along the wooded are

Lunch time

Back at the wooded area near Xilokastro. Monique is still just hanging on. We stopped quite often to help her cope

This wooded area brought many memories for us. The small trail left of the fountain leads to a beach hotel where we both worked for several months in the summer of 1986. Monique was taking care of the owners mother while I worked as a waiter and bartender at the hotel restaurant. We also had a German pointer dog at the time called Pen. Unfortunately we had to give up once back in Piraeus as Greece was very unfriendly with animals.

I had booked the same Airbnb we had a few days ago and as soon as we checked in I made sure Monique was resting then went to get the train tickets, than found a restaurant and got some soup.
Once back Monique took a turn for the worst so we got a cab and went to the General Hospital in Corinth. Anyway doctor said it’s nothing serious just a nasty bug and gave her some heavy antibiotics pills and said it will pass in a day or two. Only paid for the pills, great service.

Friday the 16th +/-15kms

In the morning we made our way to the train station got in and rode to Athens.

I must way we were very impressed with the train service in Greece. The trains were very reasonably priced and quite clean. It was a bit tight with loaded bikes but no issues as whenever we stopped I got up and moved the bikes left or right for the other passengers.

In the first train we met Apostolos Vranas who showed us how to get on the metro which saved us riding about 10kms through Athens city center. It would have been extremely difficult for Monique to menage. An angel who we would never forget.

Epilogue:

It was an experience to say the least. We learned a lot, like the great service at the Corinth Hospital, the great train service that helps bypass the city center and the great attitude of the locals.
And true to the doctors words, Monique fully recovered after a couple of days.