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Slipping Down To Greece

Posted by TravellingStrom on May 15, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

My time in Macedonia is finished, I had achieved a couple of objectives, ridden a few roads, found a cache or two and meet some great people, so I grabbed a couple of cakes from the shop downstairs for brekky, packed up and headed off. I had renewed my cache listing from the internet and there were now a few more in the area, one back down the way 8km or so. It looked easy and so I went for it, it was an easy find and even had a Travel Bug in it

Travel Bugs are a trackable item. Basically someone seeds one of these in a cache somewhere and they usually want to travel and sometimes have a theme about them. This particular one is a duck, it wants to travel the world but it wants to be near water. So, by taking this, I can keep it for a while until I find a cache near water, then leave it there. This one was in Holland prior to here, so I will drop it off in Albania maybe or Bosnia πŸ˜‰ The best part about going and finding this was because I now get to ride back up the mountain I did yesterday, how cool πŸ™‚ The signs say it all, zig zag roads, falling rocks and mad car drivers! Even some of the falling rock barriers have given away!

It was only a short ride after that to the Greece border and my actual goal today was to hit the coast, which is about 200km or so from the border. I tried to get my Macedonian money changed at the border but there was nowhere to do it, how annoying!! But then I realised, I only had 250 Denar and that equated to about $5, so I have a memento instead, LOL. While riding west I lost an hour because of the tine zone change, it can get confusing. That is a big bonus in buying that Travel SIM for the phone, it has worked in every country I have been in so far and I have never been without mobile phone coverage, only for phone calls though, no data! But, it tells me what time zone I am in, which is great. It was not long until I started to head into the mountains, now the route I had chosen was deliberate and I knew it would be slow going, but it looked like rain, so I donned the gear and headed off. The road was as expected, twisty and winding, up and down, just the way I like it πŸ™‚

Well, by now the rain set in and did not look like letting up 😦 I rode for a while until I spotted a canteen on the side of the road and stopped for a meat roll, there was not much shelter because the wind was blowing the rain in through the sides, although the dog did not give a rats and chased every car that went past, I gave him my leftovers, he was good entertainment πŸ˜‰

Because it was now not so much fun being amongst twisty winding slippery roads in the wet, and having vision problems with heavy rain and fogged visor, I decided to drop this route and get to the coast fast, maybe the coast would be drier, anyway I headed that way at the first opportunity. Now, here is where it pays to pay attention to what the GPS is telling you, sometimes a bad hair day on the part of the mapping division will make a mistake, I had been caught by an exact same scenario a week or so ago, but this time I caught it, check out the GPS screen below:

The purple line which the bike is sitting on is the actual route I am following, as you can see it is saying turn right to the direction β€œA2/E90 Ioannina/Grevena”, which is all good, BUT, the top left of screen shows two arrows both pointing straight ahead. Last time I had this I never saw the actual road curving right, I only saw the arrows because I was riding at 100kmh, so I had assumed it meant, at this junction go past and continue in a straight line. Well, back then, it was not until I had passed that I could see I should have turned and it meant a 30km detour to get back to where I was!!! Anyway, I pay a bit more attention to ALL the screen data now, needless to say I turned right and was heading correctly to the west, where the road went through about a hundred tunnels!!!

Which was good, because while in a tunnel,(usually around 1km long), I could lift the visor and shed the excess water and fogging and could see again momentarily! I was quite wet now, the spry jacket is not really designed for highway speeds and water was seeping through, this caused a wicking effect down to the crotch area as well. I was not too cold, the merino wool works great, but it was a welcome relief to arrive at the port city of Igoumenitsa late afternoon, and this was on the highway, I cannot imagine how long I would be still going on the mountain roads! I was happy to spot a cheap hotel on the beach side and booked in, before heading up town for a few beers and a feed, just a basic Giro this time, but I noticed I am back in the EU, prices shot through the roof! But I was now clean and dry and fed, which means happy and only a short ride to the Albanian border tomorrow. Although the weather forecast is not looking good up that way, it was going to be rain all up the coast to as far as Montenegro! I ended up having a couple of beers and met some nice chaps in a bar, but was in bed by 11 πŸ™‚

Cheers from Greece

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