Greek road shrines

I had never had so many near misses as I had on the roads in Greece. As I explained in the story of my trip through the Balkans, Greek drivers are the epitome of all types of bad behaviour on the road – they do not mind their surroundings, use their mobile phones while driving, run stop signs, ignore right of way… and worst of all, they are incompetent drivers. They floor it on straights but can’t keep a decent speed through a corner, they don’t seem to be able to judge speed and distance accurately and they have total disregard for other users.

A testament to the consequences of all of this can be found everywhere in the Greek road network. I crossed the border from Bulgaria in a small crossing and took regional roads on the Greek side, a beautiful route going down the mountains. It was not long before I saw a small shrine by the side of the road, at the exit of a tight corner – it looked like a miniature church on a stand, and had fresh flowers on it. The flowers and the location made me think that it was there to commemorate the victim or victims of a road accident, in the same way that some people leave a bunch of flowers attached to a signpost or an Armco barrier in other countries.

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But then, a few corners down the road I saw another one. And another one. And another one. Some were quite new and well taken care of, some were older. The varied in size and complexity, some were made of stone, some were made of wood or iron, and all that remained of some were a few pieces of wood or metal hanging from a pole. They were everywhere, there was practically not a corner or crossroads without one on them, and I started to ride more slowly, more carefully, afraid that if each one represented an accident, I was on the deadliest road in the world.

They were a constant presence in my trip throughout the roads of Greece. I later discovered that they are called Kandylakia and do not always represent a road death – they are also built to express gratefulness at having escaped or survived and accident, but even if they are not always associated to a tragic ending, the sheer number of them bears witness to the dangers of driving in that country.

 

Sources:

About.com – Travel in Greece

Hellenic Communication Service

Bob Cromwell – International Travel

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Tour of the Peloponnese II

Day 33 – Tuesday 30th August – From Finikounta to Igoumenitsa (492km)

I got up late today and had another shower before setting off, I wanted to experience what comfort my room had to offer, as I was not going to get any for the next 48 hours. I was going to spend the night in a ferry crossing the Ionian Sea from Igoumenitsa to Brindisi, and I had not booked a cabin. The second reason for getting up late, aside from being tired from the long ride the previous day, was that the ferry was leaving at 22:00, so I had all day to cover the almost 500km that separated me from the port. No hurry.

The ride up the western coast of the Peloponnese was a lot less interesting than the east coast. The road to Patras, while not a motorway, was a more important one than the small roads I had been riding on the day before, so there was not much to see. I imagine that the best idea for this leg of the journey would have been to cut across the centre of the peninsula and ride across the mountains, but I did not have time or energy for another mega ride.

What little motorway I found near Patras was free, I only had to pay for the bridge that links the townships of Rio, on the outskirts of Patras, and Antirrio, on the other side of Gulf of Corinth. I was expecting a normal road bridge built on concrete pillars but instead I found a masterpiece of engineering. The bridge, called Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge, is the longest fully suspended bridge in the world, and is a sight to behold.

On the other side the road was more interesting, going up the hills again and inland for a while before becoming a motorway. I was in good time, so when I got to Amphilochia, on the shore of the Ambracian gulf, I decided to go around it on the west side to do some sightseeing instead of going straight north towards the motorway to Igoumenitsa. I stopped for some late lunch in Amphilochia (an excellent gyros), which was a rather beautiful town, and then took a very interesting road.

img_1363The Ambracian gulf could be a lake if it were not connected to the sea by a narrow opening, and I was enjoying the views from a straight bit of road with no traffic when, after returning my attention to the road, encountered a sight in my rear view mirrors that might be familiar to drivers all over the world – the four rings of an Audi nose two millimetres from my arse. I don’t know why the guy had not overtaken me, but hate people who tailgate, so I decided to put some distance between us. There were a series of ascending fast corners starting right there, so the guy quickly disappeared from view without me having to ride particularly fast.

You remember I said that Greek drivers are very bitter about being overtaken – well, Mr. Audi was no exception (although I had not overtaken him) and he moment the road was level and straight again, I saw him appear in the distance going as fast as he could to catch up. I would have let him pass, but by the time he got close the road was twisty again, and he had completely disappeared again.

Statistics usually give Ukraine and Albania as the countries with the most dangerous roads in Europe, at least measured by the number of deaths on the road. Having travelled on both countries by motorbike, I did not find that drivers were particularly aggressive or reckless, but they are cursed with some of the worst roads I have ever seen, made worse by the fact that wandering animals of all sizes, kids, horse carts, bicycles and lots of other things that should not be on the road are everywhere. Italians also have a bad reputation, and yes, I can confirm that they drive very fast, but most of them are excellent drivers and know what they are doing. Greece, however, is a different matter. The roads are no excuse here, they are generally good, the problem are the drivers. First, they just have no respect for any traffic rule or their own lives. They are a compendium of all possible wrong conducts on the road. Mobile phones, no helmets on the motorbikes, zero use of indicators, pulling out whenever they feel like it without checking the road, and a long etcetera. I have never had so many near misses as in Greece, and I have ridden a bike in Albania, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. Second, they are essentially shit drivers, and this guy in the Audi was no exception. Any idiot can bury their foot on the accelerator on a straight line, but you need to know how to drive to take a car round a corner and keep the pace, and believe me, I did not find a single driver who seemed to be able to do it in Greece. And third, as I said, they seem to be very proud.

So, back to our friend in the Audi – I was bored, and just to annoy him I started waiting for him in the straights, letting him catch up and then disappearing in the corners. I guess he got quite mad. When I got tired I just resumed my normal cruising speed and soon I was at the narrow mouth of the gulf, where I did not find a bridge, as I was expecting, but an underwater tunnel, very similar to the one that connects mainland Norway to the island where the Nordkapp is.

After that, the road became tedious and unremarkable again until the last bit before Igoumenitsa, where it followed the coast for a while and then connected to the last bit of motorway coming from inland, where it made a prolonged descent through the hills and straight to the port.

This was an important port, and as such a very busy one. I followed the signs to the terminal building and found myself in what looked like a refugee camp. The car park was complete chaos, it was full and there were cars parked in the middle of the alleys blocking the way, there were people with bags, cases, big bundles of clothes and cardboard boxes everywhere, some sitting, some lying on the floor sleeping. I reluctantly left the bike as close to the front door as I could, removed the tank bag and went into the building to try and exchange my reservation for a ticket.

The inside of the building was no better, it was packed full of people queueing to get tickets, to go through passport and security checks, etc. I looked around but there was no counter with the name of my ferry company, European Seaways. I went to ask at the closest thing, a counter marked European Management Maritime Company, because the name was similar and they were the only ones without an endless queue at the moment. I gave my reservation sheet to a girl who looked like Kate Winslet doing the most boring job on Earth and asked if they were the company I was looking for. She glanced at the printed paper for a millisecond, gave it back to me without looking at me and said ‘not here’. I asked her whether she knew where it was and she replied ‘no’ still without peeling her eyes off the computer screen. Well, thank you… I went to the only other desk without a queue, at the other end of the hall, and a much more helpful girl told me that it was indeed the company I had just been to, EMMC. I went back to my friend there, told her I had specifically been directed there and she just repeated ‘not here’. Well, if anyone from EMMC happens to read this, know that you have a shitty employee at your desk in Igoumenitsa and tell HR that she would be better employed in the back office, where she would not have the bother of having to deal with actual people. To load shipping containers, for example.

In the end it was a guy from a cargo company who told me that the Europan Seaways offices were not in the terminal building, but across the road, and they were not even marked as European Seaways but something else entirely different. Great.

I had been running up and down wearing all the riding gear and carrying the tank bag and the helmet, so by the time I walked into their office I was soaked in sweat, impatient and nervous about having left my bike unsupervised at the terminal. I saw that there were only a couple with kids in front of me and that they were already being given their tickets, ‘wonderful’ I thought, ‘no queue’, but unfortunately they belonged to that species that are not happy with simple information until it has been repeated to them about a hundred times, so after several minutes of ‘Pier 13?’ ‘Yes, pier 13, at the end of the port’ ‘At the end?’ ‘Yes, straight on until the end’ ‘Number 13?’ ‘Yes ma’am, pier 13’ ‘At the end of the port?’ ‘Yes, at the end’ ‘We board there?’ ‘Yes, your ship is in pier 13’ ‘Pier 13?’, etc. etc. etc. I was ready to kill the whole family, chop them to pieces and throw them off pier 13.

img_1365I had arrived early to the port, but by the time I got my tickets it was already boarding time. Not willing to waste a minute more behind people for whom simple information is a challenge, I got on the bike and shamelessly skipped every queue I found – to get out of the car park, to enter the docks area, to go through security control and to board the ship. I was the second vehicle to get on (behind another motorbike), parked the bike and went to find myself a place to put down my sleeping mat.

Unlike the Grimaldi ferry, where the air conditioning is usually set at about 5ºC, there was no air conditioning at all in this one. By the time we set off dozens of other people had camped on every flat surface on every deck, and it was unbearably hot. I decided to leave my sleeping mat there and went to the upper deck to get some air and see the port slowly disappear in the night. Bye-bye Greece, I’m glad to have survived your roads but I’m afraid I won’t miss you much.

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Tour of the Peloponnese I

Day 32 – Monday 29th August – From Athens to Finikounta (610km)

The previous day I had programmed a route on the GPS taking into account the roads that my map marked as panoramic ones and information I found from a bike tour company. I wanted to get away from big cities again and enjoy small coast roads at my own pace. The end destination was Finikounta, a small beach village at the southwest tip of the peninsula and the only place where I had found accommodation within my dwindling budget. I finished marking all the waypoints, the GPS calculated the route and it told me that it would take… ten hours.

Well, I was leaving early, if the bike was not out of the car park by 7:00 I would have to pay for another full day, so I thought I would take it easy, stop often and I could always pick a more direct route if I got tired.

The guy in the car park did not speak any English, but when I moved the bike he pointed at the sticker from Albania in the panniers and gave me a thumbs up, so I understood he must have been from there.

img_1340The day was breaking as I rode through the streets, and traffic was not as bad as I feared (the guy from the B&B had told me that they witnessed an accident in the junction in front of the building every day). I was determined to avoid the motorway, and as I was riding around the gulf of Elefsina on the old 8 road, just past a rather depressing area full of oil tanks, the sun came out behind Athens.

img_1337From there on, the journey got much, much better. There was no one on the road, and what a good road it was. It wound its way along the coast, offering superb views first of the gulf of Elefsina and then of the much bigger Megara gulf, until the village of Isthmia, at the mouth of the Corinth canal.

img_1341I thought that the Peloponnese peninsula was attached to the rest of the country on this side, but it turned out it is not. There is a manmade canal that connects the Megara gulf with the gulf of Corinth to allow ships to pass through, but it is very narrow, just over 20m wide, which limits the kinds of boats that can actually use it, most cargo boats need to sail around the peninsula. The motorway crosses it via a bridge that is high enough for boats to pass under it, but the road I was on was much nearer its mouth, and therefore lower, so the bridge must allow for the passage of ships. Instead of some variation of a bascule or lift bridge, the Isthmia bridge is a sinking one – it disappears below the surface of the water and rises again once the ship has passed. The road surface is formed by steel beams to allow the water to flow out of it quickly, and this combination of steel, water and big gaps between beams makes it extremely slippery and dangerous on a motorbike. I crossed very carefully, but when I was only two meters from the other side the bike started to slip sideways for no apparent reason. Luckily, I was able to maintain control and climb onto the bank safely.

Here is a video (not mine) that shows how it works:

Past the village the road became narrower and the towns smaller and further apart. The hills rolling down onto the sea were rather high and its slopes steep, making for really beautiful scenery.

img_1343When I reached the outskirts of Nafplion I was once more reminded of the stark contrast between towns and the countryside in Greece. This was the only really ugly spot I had found all day, and I left it behind as fast as I could. After having lunch near Leonidio, I started heading inland for a while to save some time (at this pace the journey was going to take way more than ten hours) and chose to avoid Sparta altogether (no more towns!).

img_1344For the next couple of hours, the coast road gave way to a mountain road that took me through a canyon, over a 1000m near mount Parnon and down the other side of the mountain range. It was a marvellous stretch of road, and only the fear of running out of fuel spoilt the fun.

img_1355I had not filled up in Leonidio, thinking that I would find a petrol station at the next village, but they were all very small mountain villages without a trace of a petrol station. It was not until I had reached the foot of the other side of the mountain that I saw a sign pointing to one in a village only one kilometre in the opposite way I was going.

img_1356I took a small detour stopped at an old, tiny petrol station. A shady looking young guy who did not speak any English filled up my bike, and while he was at it a friend of his arrived and started walking around the bike. When he saw the Albania sticker he pointed at it and said ‘fuck Albania’, without a trace of a joke in his voice. He was well over two metres tall and did not look particularly intelligent but I was sure he could rip my head off my shoulders with one of his huge hands. I replied ‘yeah man, whatever’, paid and got the hell out of there. At least I had my tank full and I had seen a rare contraption – a Yamaha scooter with shaft drive.

img_1359Instead of going straight to Kalamata, I headed down to find the coast again in the village of Githio, and then rode the coast road up to Kalamata. This detour and the mountain road were probably the best bits of road in the whole day.

img_1362At Velika, west of Kalamata, I left the main road, still following the coast, for the last bit of road before Finikounta, and then I cut across the hills on a road that was little more than a paved track, crossed two hamlets and ended up right at Finikounta.

It was already dusk, so I did not have much time to visit the town. It was a tiny place by the beach, quiet and very nice, and the hotel was much better than what I was expecting at that price.

Final departure

Day 31 – Sunday 28th August – Athens (0km)

Today marked the beginning of my way home. My sister and Alex were taking a ferry to Santorini in the afternoon to spend their rest of their holidays in the islands, and I was supposed to start my way back.

I had booked a ferry from Igoumenista to Brindisi on Tuesday, but when I started planning the trip I saw that it would take considerably less than I had thought it would, so I still had two and a half days to visit in Greece instead of just riding to the port.

I decided to spend that night in the city too, as I did not fancy sleeping in the suburbs, and the parking space for the bike was paid until 7:00 the following morning, so I might as well use it.

IMG_1314We visited the neighbourhoods of Plaka and Monastiraki in the morning, had a very good Gyros for lunch and after the long walk back to the B&B, said our goodbyes. I did not fancy going back to the centre until dinner time, so I stayed and planned the next two days. The ferry departed at 22:00, which left me two full days, so after studying the maps I decided that I would ride around the Peloponnese peninsula and see if I could leave the country with a more favourable opinion.

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City of ruins

Day 30 – Saturday 27th August – Athens (0km)

At 7:00 I had already got up, put all my things on the motorbike and ridden the short distance to the B&B where I found my sister and her husband, Alex, who after a sleepless night of travel were all ready and determined to be in the Acropolis by the time the gates opened, ahead of most tourists.

We had some breakfast on the way and little past 8:00 we were at the foot of the hill that contains some of the most famous archaeological remains in the world. There were only a few people queuing ahead of us, and they all looked to be past retirement age, but nevertheless a member of the staff came down the queue asking them whether they were students. They said they weren’t, and so did we when she asked us, but a guy who was behind us, not much younger than ourselves said ‘yes’ and without any further verification, the girl handed him a free ticket. Damn… we could have saved ourselves 30 euros.

IMG_1161There were many things to see at the foot of the hill, long before reaching the Acropolis itself, the Odeon of Pericles, the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthero, the Odeon of Herdes Atticus…  But after having spent a while contemplating all these remains, my sister declared that she wanted to see the Acropolis before the bulk of tourists arrived, and that we would have time to see the rest on the way down.

IMG_1171Unfortunately, there are some parts in the world where, no matter how fast you run, or how early you get up, you can’t escape a cruise party, and when we reached the main entrance we saw the stairs swarmed with people with little stickers on their polos marking them as belonging to this or that ship, taking pictures and listening to their respective guides, who tried to keep a reasonable distance from each other not to create interferences. The explanations were long enough for us to slip through and walk through the entrance without too much company.

IMG_1195I am not given to getting up early, but this was definitely worth it – walking into a nearly empty Acropolis first thing in the morning, as the sun rises and the morning is still cool, is something that has to be experienced. We have all seen pictures, we have all studied it to a certain extent at school or high school, but actually setting foot on gives a feeling that is difficult to describe. It does not matter how many pictures I might post here or in Facebook, come and feel it yourselves.

IMG_1183Our ticket included entrance to many other archaeological sites throughout the city, and we spend all day visiting them despite the high temperature. I make a point of not discussing politics or religion on this blog, but when one sees what an advanced civilization this was, you cannot help but wonder how far mankind could have got if it had not been by huge step backwards that the Middle Ages and Christianity represented and in a way still represent. I do understand the basic human need to feel that there is a purpose to us all or to believe that there is a superior being that knows best what it is doing, or at least someone to blame for all the random tragedies that happen in the world, but I keep coming to the conclusion that religion has done us no favours at all. And it is not just religion, more and more lately I keep thinking of that George Carlin quote: ‘never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers’. Walking around the ruins I wondered if thousands of years from now other people, maybe from other planets, would walk around the remains of our world listening to the explanation of their guide: ‘and then in 2016 Trump became President of the United States…’

IMG_1238We also visited the flea market on the other side of the Acropolis and wandered for a while around the narrow streets of the Plaka neighbourhood, but decided to save that for the following morning and headed to the Philopappos Hill for the best view of the Acropolis.

IMG_1273The hill is located to the southwest of the ruins and is the perfect spot to see the sunset with a perfect view of the Acropolis glowing red in the light of the disappearing sun and then contemplate the lights of the whole city turning on little by little, until almost dark, when the Acropolis itself is lit. Amazing.

IMG_1304As we walked across the centre, however, my impression of the city the day before was confirmed – away from the Acropolis and the streets that surround it, the city seems to be crumbling to pieces. There are a few EU capitals I have not visited yet (Dublin, Bratislava, Luxembourg, Oslo), but I think it is safe to say that Athens was, by a considerable margin, the one in the worst condition.

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Contradictory feelings

Day 29 – Friday 26th August – From Vergina to Athens (485km)

I had a long way to get to Athens today and was determined to avoid the motorway, where most traffic (and manic drivers) would be and see some nice landscape away from industrial states, factories, scrapyards and the general grimness that grows around big towns, so I plotted a route that would first take me as close to mount Olympus as it was possible to get without deviating from my final destination and then south through Larisa, Farsala, Lama, Thiva and, only at the very end, into the motorway for a few kilometres and to Athens.

It did not take long for the bad impressions of the day before to disappear – I filled the tank up in the first petrol station I found after Vergina (the one that the GPS indicated in front of the pension did exist, but was abandoned) and had a short chat, mostly based on hand gestures, with the old lady who owned the place about the country stickers on my bike. For most of the day the roads were really nice, with very little traffic, rising up into the mountains, descending into plains and cutting across the countryside. The only exceptions were, as expected, when I had to cross the few big towns on my route, but even that went better than expected, as they were smaller than I feared and traffic was light enough.

20160826071249_1The weather had also been kind for most of the way, but in the end I could not escape the wind, which appeared about 150km from Athens and got so bad that, combined with the fatigue of a long day’s riding, gave me a headache. I stopped one last time to take an Ibuprofen and headed into Athens, wary of what I might find.

This was by far the biggest city I was riding into, the hotel I had found was near a main train station just north of the centre, and I was likely to encounter the worst of the end of the week rush hour.

The motorway turned into a ring road which I soon left following the directions on the GPS, and then it did not take more than a few traffic lights to reach the hotel. All in all, it had been a fuss free and easy entry into the city, for which I was very glad. I was surprised to see how many big motorbikes there were in the city, mostly Suzuki V-Stroms and Yamaha TDM 900s, the latter one usually a rare sight in Spain, and how very few people wore helmets. Was it not compulsory?

At the hotel they told me to park the bike right in front of the steps in the main door, where the receptionist, who was on duty 24 hours could see it, and insisted that I did not leave anything on it.

I still had some time left in the day after I had settled in my room, so I decided to go out to explore the neighbourhood and get some information for the following day. My sister and her husband were arriving very early in the morning on an overnight flight from Madrid, but we were not staying at the same hotel I was now – when we had booked ours they had no rooms for Friday, so I had had to find myself another one. The one for Saturday was just a few corners away, so I went to see if I could take my stuff there at 7:00 the following morning and whether there was somewhere to park the bike.

20160826123845_1I walked all the way up the street and then down again and I could not find the bed and breakfast… it was not a long street, maybe seven or eight small blocks, and I had not taken the exact address with me, a mistake, I know, but I was expecting to find a sign of some kind in the building easily enough. It turned out to be no more than a small printed and laminated sign stuck on the wall next to a doorway, and I only saw it because there was a guy with a suitcase and a backpack standing in front of it waiting for the door to open. There was a doorbell in the sign, and after pressing the button a few times the owner came, not from inside the building, but walking up the street. It seemed they had two separate flats and the doorbell sounded wirelessly on the other one, the guy who was waiting told me that he had read we were supposed to ring once and wait for a few minutes. The B&B guy said that there was no problem regarding the following morning, and showed me a car park round the corner that would take the bike for 5 euros a day. From what I had seen so far in the street, that was a price I was more than willing to pay to have securely parked.

20160826125047_1What little I had seen trying to find the B&B and what I saw later when I walked to the train station to find some information on bus and metro day passes left me rather shocked. This was not what I was expecting from a neighbourhood just to underground stops away from the centre of a EU capital city – the streets were filthy, the trees had not been pruned in a long time, I had to walk half hunched to avoid the branches, the plants and grass strips by the side of the streets were either dead or wildly overgrown, electrical boxes from street lighting were broken open, a surprisingly high number of storefronts were boarded up or just abandoned, their windows covered in graffiti or broken, there were whole empty derelict buildings, abandoned cars in the street… it was as if they had stopped caring for the city a long time ago.

20160826125727_1With all the info I needed for the following day, I went back to the hotel, wrote for a while and went early to bed – Saturday was going to be a long day with a very early start, and I was excited both to see my sister and her husband and to visit the Acropolis.

From Canadian lakes to Spanish badlands

Day 28 – Thursday 25th August – From lake Batak to Vergina (389km)

My days on the motorbike kept getting longer now that I was travelling on my own, and by now I was pretty much into the long distance mind-set. This was going to be the longest riding day so far, but I did not intend to do too much at once – the AT is less comfortable as a long distance tourer than both the V-Strom and the Super Ténéré, so I had promised myself that I would take breaks after no more than 100km.

It had been raining all night and I don’t like folding the tent when it is wet, but there was no sun in the morning, so it was useless to wait for it to dry. I wiped as much water off as I could, took it down and left with all the layers on the suit on, as it was rather cold.
In true Frost style, I took a road less travelled south to a small border crossing, at one more time Bulgaria offered its best landscape – thick forests and mirror-like lakes that would not have looked out of place in Canada.

20160825032650_1When I reached the border there were only a few cars and two lorries in front of me, but as I had already experienced on my way into the country, Bulgarian border policemen seem to be the slowest in Europe. Once everything was sorted, I rode a short distance to the Greek border, was quickly waved in with the usual Barça comments and rode into what seemed another world.

20160825062942_1If you had told me that I had teleported to the hills in central Spain I would not have doubt it. What had been lakes and green forests just an hour ago were now golden brown hills, with very few trees, a dry smell in the air and the temperature rising fast.

Despite the contrast, it was still very beautiful, particularly through the route I had chosen, avoiding large towns and main roads. I went near a place called Drama, but turned south before reaching it, and it was not until near Serres that I started to find bigger roads.

My first good impressions of Greece quickly changed. The landscape was now mostly flat and scorched by the sun, everything had an abandoned air about it, and the roads were no better than what I had found in the previous countries. The ring road around Serres looked like a Russian ring road – with catastrophically bad tarmac, junctions with traffic lights every few hundred metres that made fast progress all but impossible and the worst drivers I had found so far on this journey. Greek drivers seem to be very bitter about being overtaken – I would pass a 15-year old car and I could see it accelerating in my mirrors, trying to catch up again. I would stop first at a red light and the car next to me would be in gear, slipping the clutch and ready not to let me get ahead once the lights turned green. For God’s sake, even middle-aged women in crumbling little hatchbacks did it… how on earth did they expect to outrun a motorbike?

I took the motorway from there on to try and save some time, seeing there was no landscape to appreciate and the main roads were turning quite nasty, and was surprised to find a row of toll booths after riding a few kilometres on it. There was absolutely no sign anywhere before entering the motorway that announced that it was a toll road. First time I saw it. It was not a lot of money, but I paid it gingerly seeing how bad the tarmac was even on the motorway forming foot-tall folds under the heat and the weight of trucks, not to mention the hordes of nasty drivers. Oh, and they would not take credit cards to pay the toll.

A good while later I was glad to get off the motorway and head into the small town of Vergina, where I had found a cheap room in a small pension. At least this was a good ending to the day – the place was quiet, the room good, the girl in reception very nice, and they let me put the bike in the garden, where I could see it from my balcony. The only negative note was that they would not take credit card either, and all the money I had left were a few Bulgarian Lev, so I ad to go find the only ATM in the village.

20160825103754_1It took me a good while, as the town seemed to consist of detached houses and no centre, but in the end I managed to find the ATM and a small supermarket where I got some food and the end-of-the-day beer.

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