18th - 23rd Feb 2003
The first half day out of Thessaloniki was pretty miserable. Big roads, lots of traffic and it was snowing so there was spray from the lorries and water all over the road. We stopped for coffees at the first opportunity once we were out of the city, and again later because we were in no hurry and the weather was hardly pleasant.
Then we had a nice surprise in the form of a Russian Greek who we asked directions from. A little further up the road we found him waiting for us with a thermos of coffee and cakes! Conversation was difficult as it had to be in Greek with the odd word of English or Russian, but he described to us how he had photographed polar bears while doing military service in Northern Russia. It's amazing what you can mime!
Most nights we camped on snow and the temperature went down below zero even inside the tent. We slept in most of our clothes as well as the down sleeping bags!
We bought three new tyres in Thessaloniki, one because I had suffered a bad cut in my back tyre, and two more "knobblies" because with all this snow around we felt we needed something a bit grippier than the slicks we had. We scoured Thessaloniki for a good modern bike shop but in the end the best tyres we could find were in a funny old shop, piled high with antique spare parts. The tyres were nine euros each (not enough to be any good) and looked a bit old. On the second day this happened to my back one:
So far the other two are holding up - but now I have a slick rear tyre and a knobbly front one, so I can steer OK on loose or slippery ground but not go uphill.
At a place called Amphipoli we saw this rather fine lion. It dates from the 4th century BC.
Then the weather began to warm up. One evening we could even pour the olive oil insteading of having to dig it out with a spoon! We camed in this pleasant patch of pine forest as the sun was setting:
And we visited the caves at Alistrati which have the most spectacular formations I had ever seen, lots of excentrites (wiggly stalactites), some off them so coated in helictites that they looked almost hairy. Sadly photography was not allowed.
Coming into Kavala we visited the site of Phillipi, famous for being the scene of the crucial battle of Mark Antony and Octavian versus Brutus and Cassius. That was lost on us, be we were impressed by the public loos - not much privacy there!
<<< Previous Back to diary index Next >>>
Greece cycling info