woensdag 28 augustus 2013

GR2013 Day 11 & 12: Patras & Kalamata

I didn't really sleep during the remainder of the night. I'd arrived at Angelos's place at half past 5 anyhow, so I just stayed awake to watch the sun rise. I hardly ever take time to watch a sunrise... so this was as good a time as any.

The 30th would be another resting day, basically. Arriving that early/late in the night I felt any endurance riding today would not be a good idea, and I'd probably enjoy it more to spend a day immersing myself in Greece.

And Angelos was more than happy to help with that. After breakfast we agreed to take our bikes (his dad owned a Yamaha dealership) out for a spin, and go for a sandwich and a swim. And so we did. Heck, I hadn't swum in the sea for over 10 years... so what would be a better occasion to do it again?

After a dive in the sea and getting sunburnt in the weirdest way possible, Angelos cooked dinner and honestly, by this time a little rest sounded good... but Angelos had other plans. "We have to go in a minute" - "Where are we going?" - "To have a drink!"

To cut a long story short, I went to bed at 3:30am. What a night... and I'd not even been in Greece for 24 hours.

Despite this though, Angelos helped me getting the bent rack back into shape the next day.

Then, it was time to get riding again! I said goodbye to Angelos...

...and after observing the local riding wildlife...

...I was on my way out of Igoumenitsa.

The day before I'd ridden these roads with Angelos, and I'd noticed how slippery they were. I could feel the back wheel searching for grip.

But, as Angelos said, the back was nothing to worry about. Not going too quick into a corner so you might lose the front wheel, that was far more important. 

And I guess he was right. Still, I didn't like what the tarmac did to my riding confidence. 

Instead of leaning in fully, you go into a corner like you just got your license.

Oh well. Time to have a drink...

...and get on cracking. The tarmac was not everywhere as bad as it was on some roads.

Onwards to Preveza! A city name that kept reminding me of beer of some reason.

Un preveza por favor?

Oh look, here's me breaking the law again!

As it turned out, the credo of 'Screw the rules, respect eachother" applied as much to Greece as it did to Italy.

Soon I'd noticed I had followed the Preveza signs a little too maticulous, ending up in the city itself. So after a mapcheck...

...and asking the Hellenic rozzers...

...I found myself in one of the few underwater tunnels in Greece. 

And because it's one of the few, you have to pay toll. But not until I'd removed the insect that had flown up inside my right sleeve... this would happen two more times during the trip.

Angelos had briefed me on the route to take toward Patras. You know, where to turn left/right exactly, that sort of thing.

...and because of this, most of mapchecks were just to make sure I was heading the right way. I stuck to my compass if I wasn't sure.

Satnavs, who needs'em right?

And before long...

...I was greeted by the coast again.

Angelos had recommended me this road, and I could see why.

Because well... look at it!

Corner upon corner of sea-sided awesomeness.

And the roads weren't as baaaaaaaah-d as I was told. No worse than in Italy, at least.

Getting nearer to Mesologgi though, I came to know exactly what most of my Greek compadres meant when they said that the signs weren't that good. Up until now, I was always able to see which road lead to which city.

This was about to change.

Just take a look at this sign up ahead for example. I just guessed this was the right direction.

Or what about this one.

There was not a single sign that didn't have graffiti on it - on some occasions it'd gotten so bad, someone had sprayed the name of the destination city in graffiti on it.

Most of that graffiti was in the name of Panathinaikos' hooligan firm, which is coincidentally called 'Gate 13'.

Coincidences, what a wonderful thing. But I would rather have my coincidences spraypainted somewhere else next time.

Soon enough though, I was greeted by this awesome sight. The road leading from Mesologgi to Patras is etched into the side of a bayside mountain, giving you full view of the bay, the city of Patras and the huge suspension bridge that leads towards it.

Quite a sight. Then, it doesn't matter you're stuck behind a truck.

In Patras, I'd be spending the night at Akis's place, whom I'd come into contact with through moto.gr. As usual, I drove to the centre of town near a landmark, so I could describe where I was and before long, he picked me up.

I'd got into contact with a local Vstrom club, and they'd invited me to join their weekly coffee meeting that evening. A friend of Akis's knew where it was, and I had a lovely evening talking about the route, where to stop and how to ride. 

With dusk falling, it was time to head on back, and go to bed. After Akis amazingly surrendered his own bed for me to sleep in as well, it was lights out at 11pm.

Because the next day, Kalamata awaited!

Riding towards the sun I thought about the advices I was given the night before...

...chief amongst which was to look out on these Greek highways.

Because the emergency lane basically is a normal lane as well, and is used in that way whenever someone needs to overtake with oncoming traffic.

Not that there were roadmarks all of the way, but that's another matter.

See? Not that bad at all.

Just like in Italy there's signs warning you your speed's checked by radar... but also just like in Italy, I never saw any actual radartraps.

My guess is that, in true Mediterranean spirit, the things enforcing the speed limit are merely the signs saying the limit's enforced.

In the next town of Kapyrissia, I thought it was time for a refreshing drink.

Most towns have got squares like this, overgrown with trees where you can sit in the shade and just relax. Do you see how the Beast just blends in?

 This is also where I found out that in Greece, all drinks are served together with a glass of ice water. How nice!

Oh, and if you liked me Ed impression from yesterday's report, here's another one. A Muppet impression. 

Which particular Muppet it is, I'll leave to you to decide.

But anyway, after seeing some more S#$P signs...

...a sanitary stop in an olive orchard...

...riding through some really nice little towns...

...getting confused by signs from which the letters had disappeared...

(allow me to interrupt my stupidly long enumeration for a drink)

...and being amazed at people walking in 40 degrees in full black apparel...

...I was in Kalamata! I was tired to a point where riding to any other towns would've become dangerous, so about time too.

I'd arranged to meet with Fotis, from the Greek Transalp club. He'd had his first child in June but amazingly, he went even further in his hospitality. He allowed me to stay at the studio he normally rented out for the grandparents, who'd come to help with the newborn and now stayed for a night at Fotis's place. Greek hospitality (or filoxenia as they say) is truly in a class of its own.

After getting my stuff inside and having a nap, I was woken up by the pitter-patter of raindrops on the sunscreen. Underway for nearly 2 weeks, and this was the first rain I'd come across. And I was already inside.

During dinner, Fotis gave me a map of the Peloponnesos and suggested a route to Tenaron (which led to a nice adventure by itself, but more about that tomorrow). We exchanged a multitude of stories, after which he dropped me off at the apartment. 

Tomorrow I'd go as far South as I could on this trip. Cape Tenaron!