Monday, July 13, 2015

Greece part 2

With the stomach back to normal again and the first ever bearing on my Bonnie replaced, we continued on towards the Turkish border. The weather still wasn't great. It had rained, again, the whole night but in the morning it seemed to clear up a bit. At least for a short period... as we were to find out an hour later. Just long enough to pack up, head for the nearby supermarket to buy a tub of yoghurt for breakfast and head off east.

The part of Greece we were riding through reminded me of Scotland... and all because of the weather. We were in Greece... and we were there in summer... yet it was cold (yes I'm not kidding, it was honestly cold). Just a week ago we entered in 38*C, but now we had a strong cold wind and lots of rain coming from the mountains with Bulgaria. It also reminded me of Scotland because of the relentless rain... which turned everything into a grey slurry.

Normally we would stay put for a day and await better weather. The reason we didn't is two-fold. First of all there is no reliable weather report here, they are changing all the time and so far have been completely wrong for 8 days in a row now. Secondly we have to consider visa entry dates and still would like to try for a Russian visa (which will take time). I know most people plan trips like this into minute detail. If you are that kind of person then visa entry dates probably mean little to you, as everything is planned anyway. We're not like that though. We like to plan as little as possible and let it play. At best we like to have a sort of rough guide, it has an introduction but the rest of the pages are intentionally kept blank. This allows for the unexpected encounters we love so much. Follow the tips from local people to see the things you won't find in travel books. It also allows us to stay put when the weather turns foul.

This little turtle was sitting in the middle of the road

As it was, having lost a lot of time due to the Russian visa refusal followed by food poisoning, plus no idea what the weather would be like tomorrow anyway, we thought it best to continue east. It wasn't all bad though... The bikes ran fine, the new Avon TrailRiders handled the flooded roads well and Rukka kept us dry (even though at some point it was raining so badly that I saw puddles of water standing on my trousers). We opened up the Tutoros one extra turn to counter the rain and knew the stuff inside our Nomada panniers remained dry. The AltBerg boots kept our feet dry and warm too. Sounds like blatant plug for this gear doesn't it? Well, you know what? It is! But for a very different reason than you might think. You see, I've been riding bikes for well over 35 years and can vividly remember coming home soaked and frozen. Fingers so weak from wet and cold that I couldn't even turn the key of the shed to put the bike in.  I can also remember holiday trips where we were riding with plastic bags in our boots to try and keep our feet dry, had soaked jackets that started to grow mould in them. Of course we arrived at a campsite like drowned cats, opened our bags and found water had worked its way into them and changed my sleeping bag into a sponge. Camping also meant no option to warm up or dry out the soaked stuff. There's also the safety aspect to consider. Cold an numb means slow response time and less control.

So yes, I do appreciate good motorcycle gear. Probably better than most. Unfortunately there are quite a few products on the market which promise a lot, but deliver little. I'm glad we found the gear we have now, as we can even enjoy days like this. Because let's face it, riding a bike is always more fun that driving a car. Through this travelblog we want to show the world and tell you how we did it, what we used, what worked an what didn't. On days like this I'm grateful for the gear we have. But if you think I'm biased then read what we wrote about Hilleberg tents... I write it as I find it. 

So it all went well then? Well, ok we almost ran out of fuel... then petrol splashed into my eyes due to an enthusiastic dog...(!).. we found roads blocked due to landslides (had I mentioned the heavy rainfall...?) and a passing Seagull managed to shit on my helmet...! But apart from that it all went well :-)

For some reason petrol stations are few and far between here. So much so that we were seriously running low on fuel. Mike's fuel level warning light had been on for a while, mine wasn't but that's because it doesn't work... When we finally did find fuel, it was at a run down garage which only accepted cash. We thought it was because they didn't have a card reader but turned out to be because of the financial crisis Greece is in. They might loose the Euro before the end of the week and thus banks blocked card readers. Greece turned overnight into a cash only society. Nice, but the ATMs were all empty too by now...

Meanwhile a big German shepherd came for a bike inspection. He was soaking wet and seriously thinking about biting my head off... When I slowly reached out for him, he thought about having my hand as an entree... when he realised I was ok, or thought I was at least, he became a big cuddly teddybear! Suddenly 40 kilos of dog meat jumped up to me, his paws came at eye-level to me! Apparently petrol had been spilled, the dog had been standing in it and it thus ended up in my eyes! Not his fault of course but it took my eyesight away for a few seconds while he jumped against me again... and we almost tumbled over!

In Kavala we found a Roman aqueduct and... sunshine! We stopped for photos and found quite a few motorcycles running around town. Most of them with some sort of pizza delivery type box strapped on the back, doing all kinds of deliveries. At the end of the day we found a Nature Camp along the coast. The last campground we would have in Greece. A bit run down but considerably cheaper than the previous campground and with showers that actually worked...