Greek Christmas 2011

Monday, 26th of December 2011

Monday, 26th of December 2011

The way from Kavadarci  was beautiful. We followed a wonderful canyon and made our first experiences cycling on a freeway. On the way to Thessaloniki we camped again and it was not too cold at all! We made it to escape from winter!

Pascale, Philipp, Gaels friend Julien, Roberto and I sleep downstairs and Gael sleeps upstairs.

In Thessaloniki we stayed with Gael, a French ex-touring-cyclist who found his way back into the “normal” life. Just a few hours after us there arrive Pascale and Philipp from Switzerland who also cycled here and where going to stay in Gael’s place with us for some days.

 

Our to-do list was huge. Find new panniers for the back gear, try out to squeeze all our things in, find a big front basket and a proper aluminum wheel for Roberto’s bike, sell the trailer, take pictures from ourselves, print them to send them to our families, find a volunteer job in Turkey, buy a good map, make a live interview with a Mexican radio, find some tubes to repair the tent, send pictures and texts to different newspapers and so on. In total we where busy for two complete weeks and did not even manage to see the inside of the white tower, Thessaloniki’s landmark.

The best weather ever – at least since october. We thought we would have made it to escape the cold winter.

For one day we made a trip to the south with Gael’s friend Julien. We picked a perfect day with 24 degrees and enjoyed our breakfast at the beach. When we left Thessaloniki we cycled without jackets again, because we had to go uphill. Cycling on a busy freeway again pushed the adrenalin even more and I was very frightened of the number of fast cars passing and honking. Somehow we made it to change lanes and leave the freeway again. We camped next to a small chapel between two villages.

By the following day we went on. It got colder and colder and we cycled and cycled. Around noon I wrote to Athina, our host in Kavala, that we would probably not make it in one day. She responded that that was a pity, though she had organized us a flat in the center all for ourselves. We looked at each other and decided to try. 60 kilometers were behind us, 70 to go. I cannot tell how, but we did make it. The way was beautiful, for many kilometers there was nothing but the sea, some big rocks, the street and us. After 110 Kilometers I had enough. But the aim was so close so we decided to try to go on. For the last 20 kilometers we somehow landed on the freeway again. There was a lot of traffic, it was getting dark and we climbed up and up. It got worse and worse. All I did was complaining. “I just cannot go on! I am exhausted. I cannot go uphill anymore!” But I knew that we could not stay in the middle of the freeway so we went on.

 

For Roberto it was easier. He was used to travel with the big trailer in the back. Now he only had two panniers, a front bag and a backpack, just like I. There were 2 kilometers left for the exit. More cars honking. 1.5 Kilometers and another tunnel – uphill again. 0.5 Kilometers and I could already see the exit. Now my motivation was back. We took the exit and could not really enjoy all the serpentines going down to the center of the city. It was dark, the street was not in perfect conditions and we had to brake all the time. By the port we stopped and texted Athina. Then we enjoyed the German Christmas-cookies called Spekulatius, which we have found on the way in a supermarket. We were completely wet and luckily Athina could make it soon. So we followed her car to the flat. Uphill again of course.

We enjoyed a hot shower and soon where back to the normal world. On the next day we went out for dinner with Athina and her boyfriend Johny. We ate delicious food and enjoyed a very good conversation. Athina and Johny where great hosts. Even though they worked a lot they have always found some time for us. We tried to leave several time. First we just decided to stay a day longer to go out with our new friends. Then it was raining and we still have not managed to buy some new rain trousers that we have lost leaving Vienna. Then it was Christmas coming and we did not want to spend it camping in the cold. The weather has changed a lot and even though we thought we would have managed to flee from winter it has still caught us. Then Roberto did not feel good. In the end we stayed more than a week.

Christmas we have spend somewhere between the cold flat (the heater that we had hardly used was empty after three days) and the many bars of Kavala. We cooked Goulash soup and Schnitzel with Zigeunersalsa and listened to German, Mexican and US-American Christmas-songs. I wonder where we are going to spend next year’s Christmas.

To all of our readers: We wish you – if you may celebrate Christmas or not – some great days and a happy new year!

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