η ώρα περνάει (i óra pernáei)
Time flies. Normally, the border region of one country shows me what the next country will be like. In this way the process of adaption is short or there is non at all. Crossing the border from Albania to Greece was different - the long compartmentalisation of Albania made it very different from its Greek neighbours. Therefore, it was hard for me to adapt to Greece during my first days.
Luckily, I met and stayed with very friendly people. Like Anna and Kostas in a little mountain village called Zitsa. Or Aliki in the nearby town of Ioannina. With their help I got to know the Greeks a lot better. And by starting to understand the Greek behaviour I started to feel really comfortable in this ancient country.
Time flies in Greece. Before I noticed it I already spent one week here, not cycling too much. Zitsa, the village where Anna and Kostas live, is a picturesque and quite village. For three days I was either going for walks with their dog, reading in their book shop or eating delicious pastries in Kosta's bakery. Anna's brother, Adam, was also visiting from the U.S. so I had the luck to explore a bit of the surroundings with the two siblings.
In Ioannina I stayed with Aliki, a student of archaeology. She was super kind and fun to hang out with and even offered me to stay a few more nights alone in her appartment. (She was going to Athens for Greek easter vacation). But finally I decided that it is time to move on, so I left Ioannina after two days.
Then it was cycling again. I crossed the highest mountain pass so far (1,690m) and had fantastic views of the Greek mountains. You can see the pictures below. On top of the mountain I met two other cyclists from Australia. Yesterday I arrived in Kalampaka, where the famous Monasteries of Meteora are situated. After already a hard day cycling I pitched up my tent somewhere and hiked/climbed up the rocks towards the monasteries. I once fell from a rock and kind of shattered my phone but it was totally worth it. Meteora was definitely a highlight on this journey!
Note: I updated my route again. You can see the red dots on the google map on the front page. By clicking on the dots you get more detailled information. Like where exactly I was sleeping and how many kilometers I cycled that day.
Accident. The only word I remembered from travelling Greece three years ago was atychima - accident. A word that I hoped I would not have to use this time. But one mistake was enough to let the atychima happen.
It had rained for the first time in two weeks. Not much, but still enough to make the streets slippery. I love the smell of raindrops falling on hot tarmac. But instead of thinking too much about my favourite smells I should have rather paid attention to where I was cycling. I took a sharp left turn going 25 km/h. That was stupid.
My front wheel started to slide. I heard myself shouting "Ahh!". Then my left side hit the ground and now I heard myself moaning. I was scooting over the whole street before I came to a halt. Within seconds there was a junior football team running towards my direction asking me if I was okay. Standing under shock I said, yes, I am okay. After checking myself a few minutes later I was surprised that I was indeed okay. Just some minor scratches on my left knee and elbow as well as a big bruise on my basin. But no broken bones. No head damage despite of not wearing a helmet.
After bending the bike a little and bringing it back into shape I was happy to see that even the bicycle was not really damaged. I was very lucky. My phone was the only thing not being so lucky. After already dropping it from a cliff some days ago in Meteora the display smashed but it still worked. This time I was landing on my smartphone and the display shattered even more. It was working no more and I had to buy a new one.
But despite of this crash I experienced yet another good week in Greece. I was cycling along beaches and found really amazing camping spots. My favourite moment of the last week was when a group of young people invited me to take a coffee with them. After the nice coffee break they went on to invite me to a sea food restaurant where we shared some delicious food. In the end Manos and his brother Leandros took me home to their family's house where I could stay for the night. Their hospitality knew no bounds and I was very happy to stay with these wonderful people for one day. Efharisto!
A few days later I arrived in Thessaloniki, Greek's second city, where I spent the Easter weekend with Svenja (an old school-friend of mine) and her friend Laura. They are both volunteering for the Goehte-Institute in Sofia, Bulgaria, and used the free time to cross the border south. It was so nice to see a known face again and to go out for the night with them.
My time in Europe is slowly coming to an end. The gate to Asia is just 600km away. On my way to Istanbul I will join forces with Verena from Germany, who is also cycling towards the Silk Road (Greencoriandercyclist.wordpress.com). I am very excited about it.
Note: You can check out the summaries about Montenegro and Albania now! I uploaded them like all the other summaries in the 'Route'-section.