I wanted to cycle. A lot. And looking back on the experience, Meteora was the perfect time to go for a solo adventure. Everything was arranged for the coming days and we’d meet in Athens to await my sister’s arrival. Simple. I left early in the morning, starting my quest to catch up with the last bit of the Greek summer waiting for me in the south.
When the roads were only taking me higher and higher, I realized I made a mistake by not looking at the elevation while planning my route. After two hours I stopped to refill my water bottles, where I met Andrew, an American cycler. He explained today’s route to Ioannina included climbing to 1800 meters, then back down, and then “some” more uphill. I didn’t hide my surprise.
We parted ways at the national road, with him taking the high way and me taking the highway. Luckily, my bearded face was still able to convince the toll booth employee of my innocence, resulting in a private escort through the multiple tunnels.
Fully rested – Andrew offered me to sleep in the extra empty bed in the room he rented – I continued. Two days and one thunderstorm later and having survived more dog attacks than I was comfortable with, I arrived In Patra, completely soaked. The dogs were the worst. Sourav, an Indian student I met through Couchsurfing, welcomed me in Patra. I was ‘forced’ to stay one day longer than planned, since the thunderstorm lasted for two days and I preferred to cycle under the baking sun. Also, Sourav’s home made Indian Chicken Massala was spicy and incredibly delicious, which didn’t make it any easier to leave.
I continued south, following all of the west coast, loudly singing along with my music whilst feeling my face turning tomato again in the sun. I encountered a cave with a natural spring, a crystal clear river, a lot of 'wild bears' signs, fields full of mandarins (the fruit, not the people), enjoyed the sunset on my private beach, some more dog attacks… And then, when I was thinking the next dog that would come close to me would get the dogstick on his nose, a car drove past, honking his horn and giving me the middle finger while I was climbing another hill. I was burning with anger, towards dogs and cars alike. But everything slid away when I recognized the driver that was standing at the side of the road while holding an unopened beercan. This was no ordinary man, this was Oleg, our second father we met in Bratislava! My cheeks stuck in a wide grin, I jumped from my bike, gave my old friend a big hug and drank the beer from his hands in one big chug.
I put all my bags in his car, grabbed hold of his front window, and we raced up the hills towards Tripoli together at an unuasal high cycling pace. The generous Slovakian friend treated me to drinks and dinner, we exchanged a lot of stories, and I explained him about the solo adventure which was the reason he didn’t meet his other three sons that day.
After this morale boost, I was ready to go all the way to Athens and meet up with the boys. I looked down to the Aegian, put on my helmet and cycled the breathtaking downhill from Tripoli to Argos. In the sharp 180 degrees turns I heard my front rollers scraping the concrete, which should give a good image of the pace I set going down. This was a huge reward for all the climbing I went through and I truly felt like participating in the ‘Tour the France’. Athens here I come!