Days 28.5 – Finale: Get Him To The Greek
Day 28 part deux/ day 29: 430Kms (by boat, by jove!)
I stood like a sentinel outside the ferry terminal doors. Had my dad managed to secure a pair of tickets to the boat?
Remember! It wasn’t certain that by getting to Ancona at 12PM (75Kms in 4 hours) we’d be guaranteed a pair of ferry tickets. We might be sleeping in what’s known as “The Italian Dover with a weaker economy and more potholes”!
With a shit-eatin’ grin, my dad appeared in a garlic-scented hazy cloud, with 2 cabin tickets – for that afternoon!
We boarded the boat and to our horror prepared for a 20+ hour journey with no WIFI! What? We have to…
.. Talk to each other?!
My first impressions of Greece? More tolerant drivers than Italy and inspired Nespresso cups!
I’m surprised at how well I slept in my cabin – but also realised that my ferry from Athens to Crete will not be tender – most people were sleeping in makeshift beds in the corridors. A few tents to get a bit jiggy-wiggy on a boat. That’ll be me in a week (not a tent)
Greece side, we had a short 35Km cycle to a hotel by the beach. It took us no time at all..
You could call it…
.. Greece Lightning 😎😎😎
Day 30: 50Kms. There’s a risk my farmer’s tan will last until Christmas.
Without a plan so we winged it and crashed at a bungalow complex called Green Village. Featuring swimming pool and motivational (maybe?) posters.
And brace yourselves, because here it is…
The legs by the pool shot.
Keep the change, you filthy animals ;-)
Day 31: 50Kms. The 37 degree heat is ridiculous and by standing still you actually realise that it’s only the breeze from cycling that keeps you cool.
Almost made it to Athens! Right now, here’s a bridge that sinks underwater to let boats through:
Day 32: 50Kms to Athens! The final day for my dad. I thought that 50Kms was a bit of an anticlimax for the occasion but thankfully Zeus took note and made sure our day was anything BUT straightforward.
Here we go:
Why is the Greek economy in crisis? I’m not an expert, but refusing people the chance to play table football because “it’s closed between 2–5" (remember, football tables are mechanically coin-operated and require no human effort to activate, not even a switch) is a start.
Nothing serious enough to ruin the day though. We carried on.
Motorways. I’ve always tried avoiding them, especially when I’m on my bike. Unfortunately there was no alternative so we both took a deep breath, clenched, and joined the 4 lane free-for-all.
You eventually get used to the slipstream of an overtaking truck shake you around a bit.
What doesn’t help is smashing through a mega pothole and getting punctures on both your tyres!
A while later, and 10Kms away from our hotel, both tyres were replaced and we were all set to smash the remaining distance out! 10 minutes later…
You get the idea.
I then, for the third time that day, got chased by a small pack of rabid dogs. At first I thought it was funny, but when they were half a metre away from me and foaming at the mouth, I had to start sounding my horn to ward them off.
We’ve now made it to Athens. And I still haven’t tasted a gyros!! Here’s the hotel view:
Days 33 & 34. 0Kms (but 0.4Kms to find some replacement tyre tubes)
Athens is really hot and sometimes smells of pee. I think I like it here, but I’m not sure.
Day 35: waiting for my boat but this time no urgency to get to the port. We took the metro, my dad acting as my personal bag slave. Drinking 5–6 Mythos’ on an empty stomach is perfect prep for a long bike ride up some mountains.
I got to the port and my boat was waiting for me! Something seemed a bit off, but I couldn’t quite figure out what that was…
Day 36. The last cycle!
I was in perfect shape to tackle the final 80Kms. After all, I had a hangover from all the Mythos I drank, I (failed) to sleep on the floor of a boat, and got off at 7 in the morning on an empty stomach.
The first 30Kms along the coast were fine, the next 30ish climbing the mountains were brutal. Hot, sweating from every pore, I went through about 2 litres of water:
It was a bit of a lonely experience with hardly any cars going past so I just had to power on. Again, I encountered wild dogs that seemed to switch into a sexually-driven rage mode, chasing me and barking — the imminent feast of Duboc-ankle mere metres away from their reach.
It was the toughest cycle I’ve ever done.
You’re alone, the roads are empty, the climbing hills never seem to end, the fear of no more petrol stations to buy water from, legs burning, the sun’s rays hitting you harder and harder……
So imagine my utter, utter relief when I finally hit the other side of the mountains.
The downhill descent into Paleochora was the most uplifting moment you could imagine, and my legs were grateful! The final bombastic descent, accompanied by The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, is a moment I’ll never forget. A perfect way to end a great experience.
After 3 1/2 hours I made it.. Met my friends, and happy to have finished an unforgettable month.
Time to fit those cyclist legs into my shorts for my friend’s wedding!
Hope you’ve enjoyed the read, y’all!
Edit: Reading this again months down the line, I realise the story ended abruptly, a bit like Taxi Driver. I wondered if there was anything to add?
A few takeaways from the whole odyssey:
- I really bonded with my dad. Spending over a month with him day in, and day out – was a great experience and almost cathartic as I’d never spent so much time with him… Not for a good 15+ years. I can now confidently say he takes a crap every morning, as routine as the church bells ring.
- Sabbaticals. Before I left I had the choice – deposit on a house, or 4 wild months and get a killer tan. I’ve not looked back. I’d urge everyone to have a punt at doing something they love, with someone they love, at least once.
- JBL Bluetooth speakers on bike tours are AWESOME. But playlist is key. Rinse any socially embarrassing songs from your playlist before they surprise you.
I’m looking at you, Madonna.
- Learn to change a bike puncture. Or destiny will teach you.
- Beach weddings are cool:
- This isn’t the last trip.