From the ferry port, we cycled into Athens – every brick wall, every fence, every building used as a canvas for graffiti. In the centre, Christmas lights and Christmas shoppers filled the streets. The city holds ruins steeped in history, but before exploring the archaeological sites, including the Parthenon and monuments and temples of the Acropolis, we went through the parks and gardens to the Lykavitos viewpoint overlooking the capital.
Athens to Kiato beach camp
Leaving Athens was fairly straightforward and we soon joined a lovely quiet road along the coast, where we realised a running event was taking place. We waved and cheered as they headed the other way.
And passed a boat that had seen better days and whose captain ran out of talent!
We passed a bungy jumping site over the Corinth canal and passed many empty beach towns, hotels and holiday villas all boarded up for the winter. It felt safe enough to camp after we had rearranged some bamboo brollies to hide the tent.
Will then braved a quick swim to finish.
Kiato beach camp to Antirio beach camp
The wind was not our friend today as the road wound its way north through more pretty coastal villages. The atmosphere was really peaceful with only a few locals wandering around. The city Christmas ‘stress’ didn’t reach this far. We bumped into a friendly French cycle touring couple heading the opposite way who, when we mentioned the nasty headwind, declared that they hadn’t even noticed any wind at all.
We cycled onto the 10-minute car ferry over to Antirio and found a secluded spot along the beach to camp. It wasn’t long before lightning lit up the skies and the thunder rolled in.
Antirio beach camp to Astakos
Before descending into the lovely fishing village of Astakos, we were enjoying cruising downhill when, zooming along at 40kph, the most enormous hornet had landed on Will’s shoulder – a hornet the size of a small bird – and in his manliness he, of course, acted swiftly and calmly, and brushed away the flesh-eating beast. Of course, at no point did he let out a squeal, panic and nearly crash his bike.
After filling our water bottles and waiting for the menacing grey clouds to pass, we decided to risk it and set off for a beach camp; however, as we were climbing the mountain, the sky turned a peculiar orange-grey and the storm had arrived. The idea of wet sand all over our feet and in the tent wasn’t appealing so we found a flat area off the road which had stunning views, but sadly looked like it was used as a local dumping ground.
Astakos to Kanali
We cycled through farmland and stumbled upon a newly tarmacked highway, closed off to traffic. We smiled at a man on a motorbike travelling the other way who was also taking advantage of this pleasant surprise.
Part-way on our journey was a tunnel that bicycles are not allowed through. Just ahead of the tunnel entrance was a toll booth where the man stopped us, but called the service vehicle to pick us up and transport us through. We only had 10-15 minutes to wait before our personal taxi service arrived.
Kanali to Sagiada beach
Today our coastal route looked across to many of the islands, plus we got excited when we saw a camper van with a GB sticker! A sign of us getting closer to home, sometimes we would love a camper van to zoom home in!
We passed some wetlands and saw Eurasian rollerbirds – which we haven’t seen since the Stans – and had a break at the busy port town of Igoumenitsa.
Declining an offer of a lift in the back of a truck from a local, we cycled near the sea in the gorgeous afternoon sun and enjoyed our final beach camp in Greece, looking out to the Ionian Sea and Corfu. Will buoyed himself up for a very quick skinny dip before making a fire to keep us warm through the evening. Tomorrow – Albania.