Category Archives: Cycle Touring England to New Zealand | 2012

Athens, Greece and immigrants

Temple of Hephaestus, Athens
Temple of Hephaestus, Athens

Greece sits on the edge of Europe and attracts many immigrants from the east. Some legal, but only ‘some’. Not all the immigrants that pass through Greece stay in Greece though, the country is used as a gateway for the rest of Europe. I read in the news recently that Greece has asked the EU for help with its illegal immigration problem as it feels it shares an uneven burden due to its geographical location.

Walking down the streets of Athens the level of immigration becomes patently clear, some streets are only populated by Pakistanis and, I assume, Indians. It was rather surprising at times to walk from an ancient Greek icon to a nearby street selling eastern spices, fabrics and, that modern Asian stereotype; mobile phones and cheap and fake consumer electronics. Continue reading Athens, Greece and immigrants

The maze of Athens

One of many of Greece's ancient ruins
One of many of Greece’s ancient ruins

Reaching the outskirts of Athens, the point where traffic slows to a crawl, happens many kilometers from the center, wherever that is. Athens sprawls out in every direction, completely swallowing small towns, and the center covers a large and indefinable area north of the Acropolis. As we cycled into heavy traffic and perimeter districts our pace slowed dramatically. Moments ago we were racing down a beautiful mountainside lined with conifer trees and smart villas. Now we had come to a halt as the single entry road of the decent gave way to a maze of side streets, dead ends and turnings left wanting of sign posting. Continue reading The maze of Athens

Pushing on through Turkey

Turkish Flag
Turks are proud and fly many flags, perhaps because they have much to be proud of. It’s a great country.

I still have to write a post lauding Kos. We had much fun there. It’s a beautiful island with a rich history and fantastic beaches. But for now this is just a quick update to say that we’re currently pushing our way north through Turkey to Istanbul. We’re cycling long days but the terrain is tough. There are hot dry hills in every direction and the road network leaves much to be desired. Finding wi-fi remains difficult. Even internet cafes here don’t have wi-fi, just cubicles with old computers and no where to keep the bikes safe whilst we use them.

Our experience of Turkey is good overall though, the people are friendly and generous. This morning I earned 4 home grown cucumbers for pumping up a guys wheelbarrow, and we’ve met plenty of welcoming strangers.

Anyway, that’s all for now. We have to do visa research for Australia before leaving town to find a camp spot. We’re currently in Soke, south of Izmir.

There are no absolutes in travel – another change of plans

My first taste of really good honey
My first taste of really good honey, on a hotel balcony in Athens

This morning I was going to leave Athens for Rhodes, now it looks like I might instead go to Kos. Longer term I had planned to cycle to China but now I want to keep bees in Australia after we have toured India. When I get to the ferry port tomorrow morning however the plans may change again and I’ll be unable to say with any certainty that I’m going to Kos until I arrive on its shores. Continue reading There are no absolutes in travel – another change of plans

Macedonian shaped blur and a Greek sunset

14,000 miles cycled on the tourer
14,000 miles (22,530 km) cycled on the tourer

After leaving our hosts in Macedonia feeling bright and refreshed we headed onto the motorway that I had read was fine for cycling on. As it happens it was. We shot down the slip-road, still unsure of what exactly to expect, braced ourselves for the gushing wind of passing lorries and onslaught of car horns and then, nothing… the three lane road, complete with a deep shoulder, was silent. A car would pass, sitting in the middle lane, followed by a lorry in the far lane, a good 7 or 8 meters away from us and so we pushed on. We carved a line straight south through the heart of Macedonia. The beautifully maintained road took us through the mountains and down into huge dry plains, the scenery was spectacular and we made very good progress. Occasionally there would be a water fountain at the side of the road. Once when we stopped to fill our bottles a Swedish couple in a camper-van ran over and shoved

Continue reading Macedonian shaped blur and a Greek sunset

Petty theft and generous strangers

Pileško was a worthy adversary
Pileško was a worthy adversary

On the last train we took to Skopje we sat beside gypsies brewing Turkish coffee, talked to strangers and had things stolen from our bikes. We had all our valuables with us in the seating compartment but some desperate sole stole my helmet, rear light, reflective band and 2 broken carabiners. Curiously leaving the perfect, large and attractive carabiner on my bike and taking Ellie’s cycle computer but leaving the magnet and sensor.

It’s a shame to have had things stolen and represents an otherwise good body of people badly. I met some very kind people on the same train. One man surrendered his seat to Ellie so she could sleep and stood talking to me for hours after. He didn’t play any part in the theft Continue reading Petty theft and generous strangers