A mediterranean Farewell
After the last few days in the Rila mountains were defined by rain and the occasional thunderstorm, we crave the sun again. Now, that might make you think of the three pale white boys we aren’t anymore – in fact, we’re all still bearing the marks of the last sunburn. And so, we rolled across the borderline between Bulgaria and Greece with high hopes and wet clothes.
After leaving the last climb on our way to the sea (and a climb, it was) behind, we shot down the mountain. The hard last days are forgotten as we start the descent; 800 meters down, spread onto almost 20 kilometers of smooth tarmac – between steep rock faces and green hills we slithered across the landscape, and down in the valley it’s a whole different setting: instead of the cold mountain air a warm, mediterranian breeze floats around and imposing mountains have become seemingly infinite flatlands. And the smell! It smells like vacation, the typical Mediterranean smell us european kids grew up on, reminding you of the summer holidays, the best time of the year. We’re in Greece! Cool.
Small villages with white houses and sea blue fences, paired with a couple olive trees. This is exactly the way I imagined Greece to be and in fact a pretty accurate image of what awaits us here.
You can’t stop anywhere in Greece for longer than five minutes without being offered something: A couple apples and bananas here, cold water there and one time we get invited for the night by a funny old grandpa. He speaks okay german and shows some weirdly strong disapproval for Quentins name.
Almost 2,500 kilometers on our bikes, and we’ve been thinking about the sea for at least the last 500. The closer we get to the coast – we’re heading for Kavala – the stronger the anticipation gets, but the last couple of kilometers become unexpectedly hard: It seems like someone wants us to really work for our arrival at the sea – not like it’s been easy until here – and that someone throws heavy frontwind at us and one last hill we didn’t expect, depleting our last reserves as we make it to the top. But then, the sea. The salty wind is blowing our still very short hair around, and we let our eyes wander upon this big, dark blue bubble of promise, having finally arrived at the first true vacation spot of our trip. The sea!
Daniel will leave us in a couple of days, but until then we’ll appreciate the sea as much as we can. We find a bay, completely deserted and amazingly beautiful, where we will set up camp for the next couple of days. As postcard-worthy as it is, our almost perfect little bay has one decisive downside: There’s a reason it’s so lonely, namely the impossible road across a steep and rocky mountain path, making a short trip to the next grocery store or the inner city of Kavala (only 10 km away) a half-day adventure, even without baggage. But even that has its upsides, because for the first time since Berlin we get to rest a little, calm down and contemplate.
I guess this is goodbye then
Three little biker boys, ate porridge ‘stead of food
One said „fuck this shit, I’m out“, and left we’re only two.
Three little biker boys, picked fights with some big dudes
As Daniel was knocked out, the three bike boys became the two.
Three little biker boys, thought they were so free.
Until the one guy‘s girlfriend called, now two are left to be.
We can’t enjoy our timeout for too long though, as the two remaining men have to say goodbye to Daniel soon enough and go on to Istanbul, to make more memories, meet a girlfriend and be mildly mauled by many wild dogs. Time is ticking again, and wanderlust has set in.
Post Daniel Era
No half hour after we’ve put Daniel into the bus home, Quentin‘s bike chain rips apart – and guess who’s heading for Thessaloniki right now, the needed tool safely secured in his bags. Yeah, we’re fucked, especially since the internet can’t help us out in this case, and GoogleMaps doesn’t show a single bike shop in the whole city. Gladly, Gmaps is wrong, and I’m able to play the hero and bike around town to get all the parts and tools needed to fix Q’s bike, so the two of us can continue on our journey.
We take a road along the shoreline towards Turkey, and even though it’s stunningly beautiful, everything east of kavala has a spooky and weird feeling to it, because it’s just so …empty. The landscape and nature is amazing, but there are almost no people to be found, and there are weird ruins everywhere. These ruins are mostly pretty new, stemming from building projects that were started, but never finished, for example the thermal baths of potamia, to which there are signs everywhere and even opening times on their website, but the baths themselves are rotting away, having become a ghost town without ever really being used.
The villages seem dead, too. When we head to a camping place marked on a map, located near a tourist beach with a beach bar and all, we are neither able to find the camping place nor the tourists or a beach bar, just a whole lot of nothing.
So, even though the nature itself and specifically the coastline in Greece was spectacular, we didn’t feel like staying any longer (also considering that it’s the most expensive country yet), and so we waste no time crossing the border into Turkey.