Days 8-9 – Greece
I was planning to stay at a campsite the previous night so that I could have a proper shower after 3 nights of wild camping and using wet wipes instead of shower. But since I broke my helmet visor mounting in the evening and had to find a shop to buy new helmet, by the time I got to the campsite it was late and campsite was shut.
I put my tent up beside the campsite at the coast. Even better – cheaper for me. A swim in the sea will do me (although salty) instead of shower.
Woke up in the morning, packed my tent and went to move my bike to the beach which was only some 200 metres away. But my bike wouldn’t start.
Sometimes I leave my helmet camera or phone to charge off the USB socket in my bike overnight. It was always fine – battery in my bike never went down. Well, helmet camera or phone don’t have huge capacity – some 2,000-3,000mAh or so. Last night I left my 26,800mAh power bank to charge off my bike overnight. Usually I charge all my devices off the power bank overnight, but because there was no life in power bank left I had to charge it somehow. For whatever reason I thought that charging would stop once my bike battery level goes down to certain point. Well, that wasn’t the case and it drained my battery completely.
I thought well, not a great issue. I had a jump starter with me (it’s small – just slightly bigger than a phone and it can jump start a bike up to 20 times on one charge). Used it a few times before and I was sure it would jump start my bike.
Plugged it in, tried to start the bike and nothing. Tried another few times – still nothing. Just the “dead battery clicking” kind of noise indicating that battery is completely dead. After some 10 or 15 minutes of trying I decided to leave jump starter plugged in to my bike for few minutes before trying again – maybe that would help? I started panicking a little thinking what to do if I can’t start it. Tried again after few minutes and it was a bit better this time, but not quite started yet. Tried again few more times and finally brought it back to life. What a relief. Lesson learnt.
I rode these 200 metres or so to the beach. It was 7 in the morning and it was completely empty. Water was freezing cold. It was middle of April so even during the day temperature only gets to low 20’s, but it was much colder early in the morning.
After quick (and very refreshing) swim went back to my bike and headed back the same way through Pelion as I came last night in the dark.
The plan was to ride towards the Athens through some mountain roads – Mount Giona and Parnassus. This was the route I did that day:
I rode back from Chorefto through Pelion towards Volos. Road was quite high up and when I started getting close to Volos, view onto the coastal town was amazing:
After Volos I jumped on a motorway for a short while, as I was running a bit behind schedule (it’s not that I had any specific schedule but I only had 2-3 days left for Greece and had to get on the ferry to Italy in 2 or 3 days).
But even motorway was twisty in places and it wasn’t anywhere near as boring as other motorways – with nice views onto the mountains. After couple of hours I left the motorway near Lamia and took some twisty road going between Mount Giona and Parnassus.
Views were pretty awesome. It was hot – around 30 degrees I think. Normally I wear a hoodie under my jacket but in this heat I had to take it off. Because of more room under my jacket now, it was flapping slightly at the top. The sitting position on my bike is that I lean forward a bit and when leaning forward, it created small gap between my neck and the jacket.
As a result of that, few wasps managed to get under my jacket and stung me in my belly. Each time I started panicking so much but tried to keep my bike in control and stop safely. And each time as soon as I stopped, I couldn’t see any wasps in there. I guessed they got out through the bottom of my jacket.
I kept going South towards the coast. There were some more awesome views (Agioi Pantes, Delphi):
I continued through the mountains towards Livadia. Some more awesome views:
It was getting late so after Livadia I jumped on a motorway again to get to Chalcis. After Chalcis I wanted to ride to mount Dirfi (for no other reason than that it looked interesting on the map. My definition of “interesting on the map”: white colour coded small twisty road with hairpin bends with a “mountain” icon beside it).
But by the time I got to Chalcis sun was already going down so I found a campsite in Malakonta. Yes, paid campsite after 3 or 4 days of wild camping. Finally I could take a proper shower! (Still prefer wild camping though).
It was really windy. At first I picked a camp spot right by the water, but it was so windy I couldn’t put my tent up. I moved slightly further into the campsite, away from the coast. It was still very windy but at least I managed to put my tent up there.
Malakonta was a small town with some shops, restaurants and some take away places. I was really hungry so as soon as I put my tent up, jumped back on the bike and stopped as some cheap take away place (but I sat in). Ordered some grilled chicken wrap – had to wait quite a while but used that time to tidy up the videos on my SD cards and transfer them to the hard disk to free up the space on the cards.
After I had my food went back to the campsite and finally went for a shower. By the time I got back to my tent it was pretty late and I went to sleep.
Here’s the video from that day:
I was not far away from Athens so I wanted to go there first thing in the morning. I didn’t want to spend too much time there, couple hours maybe. Of course I wanted to see the Acropolis and Parthenon.
Traffic in Athens was absolute madness. There were scooters everywhere. I felt weird doing all my checks when changing lanes or starting filtering while all these scooters didn’t seem to do any checks at all.
It was just before 9am. At some point I stopped at the red light. My bike is a bit wider than normal with all my luggage fitted and normally I still try to filter through the traffic, but this time there was not enough space so I stopped behind one car. Red light was on for about a minute or so, during which there must have at least 15 or 20 scooters gathered in front of all the cars. Some women dressed in skirts and shoes with heels, men in suits. As soon as light changed to green all these 20 or so scooters shot off ahead, all in different directions. Couldn’t help but laugh.
I wasn’t sure where to park my bike, so ended up leaving it on a wide walkway that is leading to the Acropolis. I wasn’t sure if it was legal to park my bike there or not but decided to just leave it there. It was about 10 minutes walk to the Acropolis.
I spent around an hour and half there and walked back to my bike. It was still there, no any parking tickets, all good. Got back on my bike and set off towards Corinth through this mad Athens traffic again. At some point I got thumbs up from another biker, probably because he noticed British number plate and it is quite a long way from UK to Greece.
I wanted to stop in Corinth but I didn’t even realise when I rode by. I wanted to keep going south to Argos and then as far south as I could along the coast, so I wasn’t turning back.
Views were nice, road was twisty but my progress was a bit slow. I was getting really hungry so stopped for food in small coastal town Tyros.
I ordered some chicken with chips. It was good but the portion wasn’t very big, so after I had it I wasn’t hungry anymore but wasn’t full either.
It was almost 2pm so I decided to not ride all the way south but to get to Leonidio and then take a turn more in – land towards Sparti.
Video from Athens to this point (Leonidio):
After Leonidio views were breathtaking:
From Sparti I wanted to get to Kalamata and then to the coast.
More nice views:
It was half 5 in the afternoon already so I knew I would need to find some place to camp soon.
From Kalamata I rode west and north a little to the coast. I got to Kalo Nero and found a perfect camping spot not far after, at Elea beach.
I woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick. The only reason I could think of was the sound of waves. I did camp near the water many times in the past but never with noise of the waves so loud. I’ve put a hoodie over my head to try and reduce the noise a bit and went back to sleep.
Video from Sparti to Kalamata:
Part 6 coming soon…