(written by Nancy)
Everything always seems better after a good night’s sleep and we did get that last night. No alarm today as we didn’t have too long of a day planned, which was nice. We made oatmeal and coffee in the room for breakfast and took our time repacking. When we went to check out Dave decided he was going to ask for a discount on the room because the wi-fi did not work. He had a robust discussion with the desk clerk but stood his ground and got some knocked off the bill.
It was about 9:15 by the time we left and we wandered a bit trying to get out of town. Thankfully on a Sunday morning there was very little traffic. We knew from looking at the map and reading other bike journals that there was a coastal road that paralleled the National Highway almost all of the way into Athens. We eventually found it and followed it all day today. It was a great road – not necessarily in the best condition but traffic was very light and the road hugged the coast all day.
One thing we determined quite quickly – we were not going to have any trouble finding food in Greece. In every little village or cluster of houses there seemed to be a bakery of sorts with lots of cookies and pastries. We went by some very fancy ones on the outskirts of Patras, both of us saying “Did you see that one?” multiple times. It was too early to pull over though so we hoped that there would be one when we were ready to stop for morning tea.
Just out of Patras we passed by a great bridge that goes across the water from Rio to Antirio on the other side. The bridge seems to be a real feat of engineering – on our map it is marked with the name Gefira. We had initially thought we might cross here and make our way to Athens on that side of the water. It would have been a neat bridge to cross though I expect the winds can be quite high on it.
We continued along the coast road, passing under the National Highway several times as we wound our way through many small villages. It was sometimes difficult to tell where we were on our map, as many times the village names are only spelled out in Greek and we couldn’t quite match the symbols. It feels a bit like it did when we were in Thailand – the signs have these symbols on them that are completely unintelligible to us. We started saying things like ‘triangle, triangle, E, pie, triangle, K – do you see that on the map?’ it got to be very funny – there is simply no way we will be able to decipher the signs in the few days we are here. We did actually stop at a gas station and pick up another more detailed map of the way between here and Athens so we should be able to make it, notwithstanding that we don’t know what triangle, triangle, E, pie, triangle, K means… If only my dear friend Stella (who speaks Greek) was along for the ride!
We made it to Akrata about 2 or so and thought we would see if the campground was open. The info on the web seemed to indicate that it did not open until April but we thought we might as well check before we headed to a hotel again. Lo and behold as we rolled into the campground the owner was there working and said that while he was not 100% open he did have hot water and we were welcome to camp down by the beach. That was enough for us so we headed down to get a spot. There is one other camper here, a family from Germany with their nice warm cozy motorhome. It is a lovely spot, right on the beach – the waves are crashing onto the beach not more than 10 meters from the tent. We put up the tent quickly and Dave rode into town to get some snacks at the bakery, as we had not stopped for lunch anywhere.
It was warm and sunny today – we haven’t felt weather like this since leaving Thailand, and it felt very nice. I think it is a bit unusual for this time of year here but we will take it! Hopefully we will make it to Athens without rain and with some warmer temperatures. The weather is cooling off as the sun starts to set but I think it will be warmer in the tent than it was the last few nights we camped in Italy.
Tomorrow we head for Korinth, about 70k or so away. We will still follow the coast road so I expect we will have more great scenery and the weather forecast looks about the same as today. We may have to try a few more bakeries on the way though, now that we know what to expect.
This route should put us into Athens on the day after tomorrow so, depending on the ferry schedules, we may have an extra day or two to see some of the sights in Athens. Seems a shame to come all this way and just ride in and out of a city with such historical significance.