Saturday, 2 June 2012

From Barcelona to Tehran: Day 31

Day 31: Hello Ancient Greece; From Igumenitsa to Perveza  in Greece

May 30, 2012; Distance covered today: 107 Km; Total: 2174 Km

It was my first time taking a ferry across a sea for long hours. It reminded me of Titanic and the different sections on it where different social/financial status would determine which section of the ship one belongs to. I was among the poor, truck drivers and those who did not have a bed or even a seat. The bright side was that since it was not the high season, we, the poor, could also lie down on the couches in the bar, something which would be impossible if there were many passengers. So, I put my laptop under my head, my important belongings in my pockets, and my handlebar bag  on my stomach and went to sleep for a couple of hours. 

At about 6, the ferry ducked in Igumenitsa in Greece. My Turkish friend went to offload his truck from the ferry. I was one of the last passengers to go off and I saw that my Turkish friend had been waiting for me to once again offer me a ride and say goodbye. It was amazing to see that in a few hours of our meeting, how close we had become. We would call each other “Ghardash” which means “brother” in Turkish. We hugged and said good bye outside the ferry and departed. 
My First View in Greece

One of the reasons why I like to travel by bicycle is the very thing that happened on the ferry between me and the truck driver. Because I am travelling alone, and because I needed to know about the roads in Turkey, I approached him; otherwise, I would have been minding my own business and been very reserved, like almost all the passengers. 

At the port, there was a dog who had an empty bottle of water in its mouth and wouldn’t let it go. Since there was no one in the port, the dog came to me and sat down next to my bike with the bottle in its mouth. I remembered that I had had some bread in my panniers so I gave it to the dog, and he ate it all. I left this dog and a few meters away another crazy dog with a shoe in his mouth followed me! The dog followed me for about 200 meters or so! 
He wouldn't let go of the bottle!!

I was a little disoriented at first. I didn’t know which road to take or which way. I then decided to go into town and have breakfast first. Then I can think better. I was very lucky to go into a very nice caf√© and had some of the best pies. The owner spoke very good English so I spent an hour there and enjoyed talking to him.  
My friend and his pies

I decided to go south taking the road close to the beaches. I didn’t want to deal with the challenges of finding a place to spend the nights so I didn’t go east. Besides, the forecast for east was rain.
I didn’t expect Greece to be hilly like this; I thought it would be somehow flat! That means climbing and coasting down began first thing in the morning. At about 3 o’clock, I saw a cyclist going opposite my direction. I went to the other side of the road; She stopped and we talked. 

We went to a coffee shop just round the corner and had a chat. Alice, was a university student from France. She had been on the road for a couple of months now. She had started in February, in winter, all by herself. And, this had been her first bike tour . She had been to Balkan countries and Turkey. Now she was going to Venice and then home. Alice CouchSurfs a lot. She told me that she had never stayed in a hotel! I was amazed by this because it is very difficult to arrange CouchSurfing accommodation—No internet, no phone, no fixed schedule…

She gave me the phone number of the person who hosted her in the town I was heading. When I got to the town, I called him. He hung up on me many times. I had asked a guy to call the CouchSurfer’s number because I didn’t have a phone. He did and told the guy who I was and why I was calling. The funny point was that as soon as I would get the phone to talk to him, I would lose him immediately! Alice also admitted that it is a lot easier to find CouchSurfing accommodation when you are a girl.
Alice and I

I used my GPS and found a very good campground. I then went to a supermarket and bought some stuff to cook something. After dinner, I went to the reception area to use the Internet. When I got back, I found out that some kind of animal had torn the corner of my tent and eaten the martadella I had stashed for breakfast. I didn’t mind losing the food, but the tent was torn. I used ductape to fix it. Now, it is 2:30 and I am really tired.

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