It’s All Greek To Me

5 Posted by - February 16, 2015 - Bike Tour, Greece, Pedal, Travel
DSC_3014 Several minutes pass and no one seems to notice our presence at the Albania-Greece border. We root through our bags looking for food to kill time, but it doesn’t take long to realize we’re out of provisions. More time ticks by, eating into the late-afternoon daylight that’s essential to finding a spot to pitch our tent tonight. When still no cars pass through and nobody materializes at the unmanned window where we’re waiting, we exchange a half-annoyed, half-amused glance. “I guess I’ll go inside,” Justin offers and hands me his loaded bike to hold steady. As he leaves in search of someone who will “allow us” in the country, I’m left pondering how very different border crossings are back home. My palms sweat just thinking of the interrogation that is crossing into and out of Canada. “They said they’ll be out in a minute. I think they’re finishing up a smoke,” Justin says when he returns. He meets my wide, disbelieving eyes with a smile and a shrug. Because what can we do? When a guard emerges outside at last, he stamps our books in less time it takes to stub out a cigarette. As we take our first pedal strokes in our eleventh country, I turn just in time to see the border official walk back inside. DSC_3016 The sun sets and we climb in silence so we don’t disturb the fields of penned sheep and their aggressive guard dogs blessedly snoozing after a hard day’s work. Our eyes are trained on the side of the road for a market or sheep-free field, and we come across neither. Just before darkness engulfs the road in front of us, we spot a clearing behind a monument that’ll do for the night. Dinner is a handful of crumbled cookies discovered at the bottom of our food bag and we drift off to sleep with rumbling stomachs. DSC_3021 The next night we find an inexpensive room in Ioannina that’s cheaper than the local campground, and bask in the luxury that is a shared kitchen with an oversized propane camp stove and flush toilets that can’t accommodate toilet paper of any quantity. A bit of research reveals we won’t be able to flush toilet paper anywhere in Greece.  How many times we forget to discard paper in the bin instead of in the bowl promises to be excessive. Over the next few days, we ride along the coast, stopping to eat while overlooking sparking blue water and on deserted off-season beaches. DSC_3032

DSC_3166 In Agrinio, we get a room overlooking the town square and stroll the streets at dusk, eating baklava-flavored gelato. Our stomachs are bursting tonight, but on the way back to our room we pass the gelato shop for a second time and are handed a free cone. The owner saw us arrive on our touring bikes, we’re told. The next several days of riding have us meandering past big, beautiful bodies of water… DSC_3104 Through whitewashed villages… DSC_3076 And up into the mountains. DSC_3137 One night we spot an olive grove that’s seen better days and bushwhack through low-growing shrubs to pitch our tent. We settle in for the evening just in time to watch the sun sink below a blood-orange horizon. DSC_3154 DSC_3152 The next day, the same thorns that tore at our ankles and calves in the dilapidated grove also ripped through Justin’s tire, and we start our morning by changing a flat. Several kilometers down the road as we begin our ascent into Delphi—and nearly 3,000 kilometers after turning my first pedal stroke in Munich, Germany—I get my first flat tire. Justin pumps and I patch, and we’re on our way again in minutes. 20141008-DSC_3536 The climb into Delphi is slow-going, steep and sweltering. It gives us time to admire the massive mountains and muse about ancient Greek lore. Delphi, it turs out, is the “navel of the world.” When Zeus wished to find the center of grandmother earth, “gaia,” he let two eagles loose from either end of the world and they collided here. We stay at the center of the earth for a couple days, catching up on work, resting and chatting with young locals who wonder what we see in their “boring” town. DSC_3282 DSC_3291 DSC_3297 We explore ancient sites, most notably the Delphi Theater, built in the 4th century, B.C., with a killer view of the surrounding mountains… DSC_3248 …and the sanctuary of Athena, created between 380 and 360 B.C. DSC_3273 Cotton fields are set afire to remove excess residue, and we pedal through the smoke as we descend out of Delphi and toward Athens. DSC_3314 DSC_3305    


  • Anonymous February 16, 2015 - 11:58 pm Reply

    So gla dI saw this. I will show it to Suzie when I see her. She and cousin Annette spent a summer in Greece. She is recovering from an ice skating accident where she broke her wrist and smashed her knee. She is healing fine. Be safe most of all and think of us. suzie and I have you in our prayers!

    • b_puliti February 17, 2015 - 8:28 am Reply

      Thanks so much for showing this to Suzie! I hope she is feeling better. That sounds like a painful accident. Please tell her we’e thinking of her! xo

  • the lazybiker February 17, 2015 - 1:09 am Reply

    looks like the lazy bikers sister is checking in
    great views
    no flats

    • b_puliti February 17, 2015 - 8:29 am Reply

      I’m so glad you made that connection! I was wondering who my cousin Annette was. 😉

  • LEK February 20, 2015 - 2:29 am Reply


    • b_puliti February 23, 2015 - 8:12 pm Reply

      It certainly was!

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