Greece is the Word

Trip Start Aug 07, 2006
Trip End Dec 07, 2006

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Yassou from Greece.

After an epic 28 hour ferry voyage from Venice to Patras in Peloponnese I found myself on the side of the road with my bike at 10 at night. Another of those 10 o-clock at night, no language spoken, no map, no clue, in a dodgy looking port town situations that you find yourself in sometimes. Admittedly a little anxious, but as usual, a little good fortune and I found myself standing infront of a hostel.

The next morning I hit the road quite early, unsure about what to expect cycling in a new country. Motorists always seem to change their attitudes towards cyclists in each country you visit and the quality of roads and maps make a big diffrence to an easy day cycling.

Before I'd even left town I already had a local on a scooter who'd taken an interest in me and was pacing along side me. He started chatting away, very pleased to hear I was from NZ and entered into an indepth discussion on politics, USA, and the state of the world, seemingly oblivious to the long back up of traffic behind us honking their horns. 20 minutes later he finally went on his way, along with the 20 or 30 cars behind him.

I'd purhased a map 1:300,000 scale to get me around and before long I found many of the roads on the map didn't exist in reality and many of the roads in reality didn't exist on the map. Fortunately at least most of the towns seemed to exist in both. For most of the afternoon I was cycling in rural Peloponnese, 35 degs, on gravel goat tracks up and down 1000m mountains. By 4 I was out of water and out of patience. I hadn't seen a town or house in hours. :(

Finally I found a sealed road which led to a small settlement. The first sign of people, I went straight for them with my empty water bottles in hand, making sad thirsty gestures. They were a family sitting on their verandah relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. Well I must say my first experience of Greek hospitality was VERY impressive. Not only did they fill my bottles with ice water, they grabbed an extra couple of frozen bottles from the freezer, made me a coffee, fed me on fruit from their orchard and supplied me with home cook bisuits and cakes, and tomatoes for the road!! And to top it all off, it was a family of Mum and Dad and four daughters. Unfortuntely I had to decline when they asked if I'd like to stay... (forever!)

My spirits and energy renewed, I made off again. I laughed to myself how this time I was short of water and was taken in by kind strangers, whereas last time I was taken in I was a drowned rat! :)

Next day I stuck to the main roads and persevered the trucks until I made it to Olympia. Birth place of the Olympics in 776BC. Initially to the glorification of Zeus, but that ended later on. I'd forgotten that one of the ancient wonder of the world was there, the Statue of Zeus At Olympia. 12m tall, gold, ivory, the man giving a 'Blue Steel' pose...

It was all pretty cool seeing where it all began. Naturally I had to run the 192m track which is still marked by the marble start and finish line. I'm sure I would have given them a run for their money ;)
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