Monday, November 16, 2009

Riding in Lesvos Greece pt1

April 1 - April 12 2009

After the long flight from Portland Oregon to Athens, Greece I was ready to start riding. But wait there is a snag in the plans. The ferry workers of Greece picked my travel day to stage a 24 hour strike. It turned out not to be as bad as the hotel clerk had lead me to believe. The no ferries was really only a 6 hour departure delay. One minute after midnight they were allowing the ferries to start loading with cast off as soon as everyone was on board. So with a few extra hours to kill I took the metro back to downtown Athens, then walked some of the sites. My hotel charged me for an extra night for the now needed late check out but also allowed me to store my two duffel bags there while I was out riding for the next 10 days. On the flight over I was able to use one duffel for both of my panniers,trunk bag,and handlebar bag and the other was used for my bike. (no airline has ever asked me what is in the duffel bag and I have traveled using large duffel bags for years.)

The port area is separated from the main streets. Once I crossed into the port area it was a blast to be riding as the streets were wide and the traffic was sparse. I waited with a small group of passengers to board the ferry Lesso for the 12 hour sea cruise to Lesvos. Once on board I found out that they have a checked baggage area that allows you locked storage for the entire trip. I pulled my gear off the bike hooked it all together with the velcro strap on my trunk bag and turned it over to them. I was able to lock my bike against the side of the ship in a fairly secure place. Happy now that I did not have to worry about my gear sitting on the back of my bike or worse having to haul it and tend to it for the ferry ride.

What can I say about a Russian built ferry. All the comforts you would expect on an old Russian ferry.
I made sure to remember the name as this was one ferry I would avoid riding again.

The Island Of Lesvos came into sight around noon. I looked at all of the high ridges and mountainous terrain and said " damn this island isn't flat". I had met a local and was asking her to point out all of the sights as we cruised past. But much to my regret she had been car bound most of her life. So besides pointing out the town she was from she knew very little of her own island.

The ferry docked on the edge of Mytilini the capital city of Lesvos a little after 2pm. I put my bags on the bike, flipped a mental coin going with the choice of the Mediterranean sea to my right, I was off. I was out of town in less then ten minutes. After passing through the walls of a huge castle I was sandwiched between several blocks of buildings build right to the roads edge. Traffic zoomed past, no honking nor close brushes,the sun was shining and hello I was riding in Greece.

Was really glad to be on the Giant folder. Those fat 20" tires were suited to the mixed bag of surfaces that these greek roads were offering up. The bike was handling the bumps without giving me any wobble. The only issue was the new set of cool stops on the front brake had a righteous squeal when applied hard. (later this become the best horn I have ever had).

I must have stopped a hundred times in the first 20 miles to take photos and look out at the landscape. My Nikon may be heavy but the quality of photos is well worth the weight. I took 10 gigs of memory cards with me planning to fill them completely. Evening was approaching, the sun starting to set over my shoulder when I started to look for a village to stop for the night. The road wound away from the coast and started to climb hard. I had in my excitement to get moving had not packed a lunch or taken extra water. now with the light failing these items were becoming an issue. After taking my last swallow of water I saw an old army firing range a few yards ahead. There was a large long concrete pier that was used to give elevation to the shooters. I was able to make camp behind it completely out of site from the road. I ate some power goop for my dinner then climbed into my sleeping bag for a cold nights sleep.

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