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Hi, this is last story in Europe. I wished everything was fine but there were a lot of accidents and difficulties actually.
Just after I left Athens, I suddenly lost the way and asked some people but everybody said there is only highway. Basically in Greece, there are 2 main road, highway and old national road. From Patra to Athens, these are always parallel to each other, so I though there should be normal road next to highway but it was wrong. (I got to know later that old one is behind the mountain.)
There was no way without taking a train.
I and my bike was put into luggage space. no seat, no ventilation. The train staff told me to keep the door open to get fresh air…..nice experience.
But I was lucky. Train was working. I didn’t see any train for 3days after that day. Greece has many strikes now.
It was around 11 when I arrived the station. I was so tired and asked the security guy if I could sleep in the station, and he said yes. Thanks.
I could find the way from the small city Lamia, but it suddenly ends again and unfortunately it was even far away from the train station. Fortunately there were no people in the tollgate, because of strike, I guess.
I decided to take highway. It was my small riot. “Make the road for bike!”
Actually it was not so dangerous. Traffic was not busy and there are big space for emergency. However, I still had the big problems. I came to the tollgate and thought that I might get a penalty. I prepared some excuses and said sorry to the woman, but unexpectedly, she just said “You can go”. I still felt sorry and tried to pay money but she said “No, it’s OK”.I was still doubting but kept riding on highway, then a patrol car came and reduced the speed. I was a little bit afraid but they had gone away. I was relieved for a moment, but then, police car came up to me with sıren. I thought I must be warned for this time, but they just passed. Their target was not me. Moreover near Tessaloniki, there was a bıg toll and I saw police checking the inside of cars or tracks and I was hesitating to pass, then one track driver gestured to me and hided me behind his track. I didn’t get any problem till I arrived at Tessaloniki.
Well, maybe it’s allowed to cycle on highway in Greece, isn’t it? (No, I don’t think so! Please make sure yourself if you want to do it!) Anyway if nobody complain, it cannot be illegal. I don’t follow law but people.It’s my way.
Beautiful morning on the beach near Volos. Free-camping is actually illegal but I never make any problems to other people. I always try to be good, make good relationship with people there. Of course nobody has complained to me. I think I have the right to wake up in such a beautiful sunrise as long as I keep manners or morals. Don’t you think so?
From Tessaloniki, I changed the dırection to the East along the coast. You can see the unique shape of land in the map, it’s called “3 legs”, and there are 3 lakes as well. I found a hot spring beside one of them. I love it.
As you can see in the picture, the color of water is white because it includes sulfur. Very good for health and beauty.
There are many elderly people who were staying for hot spring cure. When I was cooking outside, they came to me and gave me many foods. Their hearts were as warm as spring.
Greek cheese and fresh bread. Delicious.
Everything was going well but the weather was getting worse as I got close to the city Xanthi. This cıty is placed on the delta, exactly on the end of the valley. It was rainy and super windy like typhoon.I couldn’t even walk and escaped into the abandoned factory. However, wind was still blowing into the room very strongly. I couldn’t set the tent. I tried to shut it with heavy shelf but it suddenly fell down when I just began sleeping. After all, I moved the shelf like the picture not to fall down again.
Not really funny.
It looked like demon’s face which was breathing out wind from the hell.
In the next morning, the wind was still so strong that I can ride bike at 40km/h without moving when I was heading to the same direction as the wind, but to the opposite, I had to push my bike. But what was the worst was when the wind came from the side. I could neither ride nor walk. I decided to wait in the supermarket. There was the kind guardman and he checked the weather news for me, then he said “It will be fine in 3days”.That was not fine for me. Because my visa was going to expire in that day! I asked him the place of the train station.
When I arrived at the station, I got another problem. The train had just left and the next train was 8hours later.In addition, I fıinally caught a cold in the rain and wind. I went back to the supermarket and put on all the clothes I had. I was like a strange ski player who was sitting and trembling in the corner of the cafe. I stayed there until the train came.
If I was the owner of the cafe, I might throw out someone like that. However, far from it, the owner served hot cocoa or cookie. Moreover the girl working there gave me back money saying that the price of coffee I bought was wrong. No, it cannot be wrong. I ordered it by pointing at menu because I couldn’t read Greek. 100% correct! I tried to return it but she didn’t accept it with wink. They also gave me nice sandwich when I left. I was crying like a child on the way to the station.
I was really happy, thank you so much. You are the best cafe in Greece!! I want to come back one day.
I experienced both the best and worst thing in the last day in Europe.
Oh, but as a result, I couldn’t go out of Greece in that day. It was 10pm when I arrived at Alexandropolis, the city near the border. It was too late and I was exhausted to ride bike, so I went the checking point next morning. I was really afraid because I had overstayed for one day, but not only for that. Basically we Japanese can stay in Schengen countries for 90 days without visa, but I had already stayed there for 10 months. For 6 months I had visa in Holland and for 1 month is extra period to leave Holland. Acording to dutch IND, If I go out of Schengen once and come back, I can stay for more 3 months. But some of others said no. Probably there is no clear rule for this case. God only knows, and God was on my side. The policeman who checked my passport didn’t speak English and, to be honest, he didn’t look clever. So I kept speaking and showing the unimportant papers written in dutch. He was trying to think for first 10 min but fınally gave up and stamped.
Do you know there is duty free on ground route as well as airport?
There was no problem at all to enter Turkey. The policeman was so friendly and asked me a lot of things about me, but nothing like the questions you get in airport . He just flipped through my passport and gave me stamp, and kept talking. However, the way to Istanbul was not easy. It was rainy and very cold. The road was so hilly becasuse it always goes straightly even if there are mountains, like this.
In the first night in Turkey, I found the restaurant with nice garden and asked if I could sleep there, then people there allowed me to use a small cotage. In addition, they gave me turkish chai and some food. After I watched the football game on TV, I was going to the cotage to make tent, but one of the guys stopped and told me to wait. I asked why but they couldn’t speak English well. He just said “Come”, then I followed him. He took me to a house, but it was not his house but his friend house(I knew it after I arrived there). The guys living there welcomed me and said “You can sleep here”. I was really glad, but to be honest, a little bit confused. I thought they couldn’t refuse their friend’s request and I was really disturbing them. But now I know that was not true. While I was there, many people came to the house to meet me, and they did all they could do for me. If they had any bad feeling, I’m sure that they couldn’t do like that.
Thanks all my friends, thanks for everything.
I still remember one thing. They said “In Turkey, ıf you knock someone’s house, you can get a bed”. I thought it was joke though I knew turkish people are ver kind. However, as they told me, I could get a bed in the next night.
I found a closed gasstation with nice garden and asked the guy, then he told me to sleep inside. I met some people there and we drunk a lot of chai. I love it.
Getting close to Istanbul, traffic was getting busy and city was getting dense. I felt this country was rapidly developping seeing the many places which were under construction. Istanbul is actually so huge city that I coudn’t find the border, like Tokyo.
When I was trying to cross the river between “Europe side” and “Asian side”, I came across the guy with a big bike.
He is Sub, from Korea, who started from Korea and has traveled through asian countries. Two travelers who came from Asia and Europe met each other in Istanbul, the city which connects Asia and Europe! It’s a miracle to meet you here!!!
In Istanbul, I met many nice people and wonderful experiences besides. I will write about it later. I have been staying here for 2 weeks so far.
Anyway I arrived at Istanbul. This is the starting point of “Silk Road”, the oldest and longest way in the world. It’s my main purpose for this journey to pass through Silk Road….. wow! exciting!
The next way: Istanbul – Ankara
Athens – Istanbul
3776 – 4693 / 917km