After my time playing with the kittens in Rethymno, I kept on going to the west of Crete, Chania was the next destination…..where I was to be hosted by the very kind Lina and her family.
Chania is a very beautiful place, especially with all the different beaches, really each one is different from the other and the many parks in between them, really quite different from what I have seen on the barren island of Crete so far…..
So you can probably already tell what I’ve been doing in Chania….. that’s right, enjoying the beaches, the parks and the old port town, of which I haven’t seen much in the whole of Greece (too bad since I quite like old town centers).
But quickly enough my time in Chania was over and I kept on heading west until I could no more and found myself on the beautiful beach of Falasarno.
While making my way and spending some time there, I got faced with many conflicting feelings and thoughts……… among others due to me feeling I was wasting time and money and was just aimlessly going in circles and also due to planning ahead to see where I would find myself during the colder months of the year(since I do not want to be in cold countries) would I still be in Greece, maybe find a badly paying job…… would I enjoy spending all that time in the same place during summer, after all I felt very restless during my 3 weeks at the dive center and felt I wasn’t feeling much for Crete anymore altogether….. too hot for cycling and the routes were mostly over busy big and thus boring roads.
After some deliberation and later some meditation to quiet my head down significantly I made my decision, time to leave Crete and start heading north make my way to Thessaloniki and from there get out of Greece into Macedonia to head towards Serbia, Belgrade where I will make the next decision of my trip……. Go west towards Italy and from Livorno take a boat to Barcelona to spend the winter there or keep going north and see if I can make it home before winter hits……… but I’ll see about that when I get there.
With this new plan in my mind I felt much more relaxed and was finally able to enjoy a beautiful sunset, finally watching the sun set in the sea once again, which I haven’t been able to see for almost a year and I love so much to look at ^^ but the visual spectacle wasn’t yet done after the sun had set………..
Since Falasarna is pretty empty from town/villages etc the night sky was very clearly visible and incredibly beautiful (yes another thing I love looking at) and for the first time in my life I caught a glimpse of the milky way :D even accompanied with 4 shooting stars, that I was able to see at least.
The next morning (Thursday 28-07-2016) I turned out I woke up with some neighbors next to my wild camp spot, it turns out 4 Italian friends made camp next to mine after they were kicked off of another, much more touristic, beach they tried to sleep at several km north, they invited me for a nice Italian breakfast, café and biscotti, which was nice to have a good café since leaving Italy…… after some chatting about our plans and previous trips it got to that time to pack our things and head our separate ways, them to some other beaches to the south of the Island and me back to Chania to get a ferry back to the mainland, which I caught that same evening.
Arriving in Athens again filled me with some good emotions, although very tired from a bad nights sleep on the ferry, soon I was to start making my way to me set goal, but first to meet my host for the next two nights, get some rest and do some more detailed planning.
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Host Filippos was a really nice guy and also a big cyclotouring fanatic and was busy with his own plan to go around Romania and Bulgaria or 20 days, but soon enough he had to work and so I was left to my own devices. But since I was still pretty tired from the ferry first thing after a shower was a nice long nap.
Waking up refreshed and full of energy I went around the neighborhood to catch some pokemon and explore the suburb of the giant city of Athens all in all there wasn’t that much to explore expect for some nice parks, so after a while I headed back to see the actual distances and terrain involved with my new plan, which seemed quite promising.
After a second day of relaxing in Athens it was time to start heading northwards, first destination somewhere in the area of Thiva, but since I started a bit later than I would have liked to it turned out to be quite a challenging ride, having to climb over a (not too high but still a) mountain range in the very hot midday sun.
At around 13.00 I was completely exhausted and overheated and decided on a nice long break in the shadow to cool down and regain some energy until about 16.00 although it was still a bit too hot but more manageable than before. Closing in on the evening hours I finally left the mountains and from there it was all downhill to get to Thiva where I got some needed supplies and made my way to some nearby lakes to look for a place to set up camp.
While leaving the mountains I noticed a strange looking cloud up above which made a very pretty light spectacle when it covered the sun, a beautiful golden light covering the whole area, so this was definitely not a cloud since (as far as I know) normal clouds don’t do that……..
When I finally found a nice place to set up camp along the lake there was a smell of fire in the air and apparently some bits of ash snowing down……. And then I remembered Filippos saying something about a forest fire on an island not to far away…….
Waking up refreshed and to a clear sky I felt full of energy and ready to do a 130km ride to Lamia in a single day. The route was beautiful and joyfully flat, except for the first part where my gps sent me the wrong way over a not yet existing road :/ which made me to an exra 5 to 10 km over some 200-400m hills but even this part was very beautiful. After reaching the right road the kilometers went by very quickly until, I got struck by a bit of bad luck…….
A flat tire, all in all not a big problem…. I fixed it and was quickly on my way again, but discovered something wasn’t quite right….there was an annoying bump somewhere….. I tried to fix it while cooling down a bit in the shadow, but when I was again on the road discovered it was still bumping :/ the next break I switched the front and rear tires so it bumping wasn’t as annoying and asked around on the net what it could be, probably the outer tire broke somehow and needed replacing …… but with the nearest bike shop being in Lamia at least 80km further.
After another 10km which got more and more exhausting and annoying with this freaking bump I decided to stop in a somewhat bigger town where I also noticed some bikes and was hoping to find a bike shop, even though it would be closed by then. I got some food etc and looked for a place to set up camp for the night.
When waking up I felt very fed up……. The tire was flat….. AGAIN after patching it at least 2 times the prevous day…… turns out a new hole was made by a freaking thorn…. Grrrrrrr….. quickly patched it again and started making my way to Lamia (75km or so away) but luck had not found me yet….. after about 30 minutes I was riding on an empty tire again :/
Since patching it didn’t work and I didn’t have a spare tube I just pumped it up and kept going another 45 minutes and had to pump it up again and hope I would be able to reach Lamia this way.
Suddenly while stressing out rather or not I would be able to make it to Lamia at I saw something big- ish move strangely next to the road making a familiar squeaking sound……since I’m quite a curious person I went to have a better look and on closer examination it turned out it was a little puppy.
Of course I couldn’t just leave it there in the middle of nowhere in the hot sun next to a busy road….. it would be sure to die that same day, the annoying part was I couldn’t bring him with me either…….. I tried to stop some cars passing by of which one 2 actually stopped but none was willing to help this poor little buddy, same thing for some farmers working their fields.
So I emptied my handlebar bag, put him in there and slowly made my way to the nearest village 15-20km away still having to inflate my tire every 30 to 45 minutes……. Little buddy was slowly getting more comfortable in my bag but still freaked out a lot with every passing car and I had to stop him from jumping out a couple of times……
Sad to say when I made it to the village still nobody was interested to help or take him in :( and as much as I would like to I couldn’t take him with me over the busy roads climbing mountains in that hot weather an thought he’ll be off much better in the village where he at least could find food, water and shade. In the hope for him to find a home I looked for a nice looking garden and found one with a couple of kids shoes, hoping they will fall in love with him on first sight, like me, and nag their parents in order to keep him ^^
With a heavy heart I told him to look his cutest when they found him and not pee or poop in their shoes so he might be allowed to stay and said my goodbyes, he made this very difficult for me as while I was cycling away he was squealing and barking making me turn back a couple times, but in the end there was no other solution I could think of and had to go. ( I really really hope they will take good care of him).
A couple hours several kilometers and many inflate stops I finally made it to Lamia and quickly found a bike shop. The people there were very nice and helpful and even went through the trouble of getting the tubes I needed from another shop since they didn’t have them in stock.
They switched the tubes and outer tire, fine-tuned my breaks and even gave me a discount since they were so impressed by my undertaking. So loaded with 2 new tubes (1 spare), a new outer tire with built in flat protection, fine-tuned breaks and 30euros lighter I went shopping for some needed new boxers before making my way to a nearby camping to relax the rest of the day by the sea after a long and emotional day.
Having slept in a bit, but not too much so not to have to go through the searing midday heat again I decided to take it nice and slow the next morning (Wednesday 3-8-2016) the plan was to do a 50km distance going over a mountain range climbing up to 750m form sea level, it turned out much harder than I thought since I was still pretty tired from the days before with, but with regular breaks to catch my breath and cool down I finally made it over the mountains after which it was all downhill and flat and decided I can keep going a little bit longer. Eventually it turned out quite a bit longer and ended up doing more than double the distance that I planned, 103km instead of the planned 50 :p
Getting closer and closer to sunset I started looking for a place to set up camp which turned out a bit challenging for a change but all in all I found a good place to make camp after trying and failing with some other spots.
The next morning I woke up pretty tired and in a bad mood, which got even worse after seeing my brand new tire was again flat……. Even though it had extra tube protection, where the tire makes conact with the road, the sides are still vulnerable and got punctured by another f*ucking thorn AAAAAAAA!!!!! But that was my own stupid fault for checking out a camp spot near some thorny bushes.
Luckily there was a gas station nearby where I could clean my tire from some accumulated mud and find the actual hole, but being in a bad mood I rushed with inflating it and messed up the patch :/ so I put in the extra tube made many inspections to see if there wasn’t anything still stuck in the tire and made my way to the next big town(Larissa) to get more spare tubes.
The new tube and tire held out fine so there was definitely nothing stuck in there anymore, the way to Larissa was very enjoyable which lifted my spirits and improved my mood a lot. Having bought 2 spare tubes I kept on going since it was still pretty early and wanted to make my way to a camping near mount Olympus.
The route turned from very nice pasture roads to boring busy roads and back to enjoyable roads through natural areas again with the last bit having to go over the autoway/toll road since I made a wrong turn :P
Arriving at the camping nice and early and wanting to visit the house of the ancient gods I discovered it would take a full day hike just to get up there which unfortunately for me is not an option since I can’t take my bike and stuff up there :( so instead I decided to take the rest of the day to relax and take a much needed full rest day tomorrow before making my way to Thessaloniki and Macedonia the next couple of days.
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