After crossing the Adriatic Sea we arrived in Igoumenitsa, in the North of Greece.
It´s curious going into a new country by sea, with the boat you cannot fill the little change that tell you about the proximity of the border. In a moment… here you are!… new people and new language… Word that you cannot understand and for which pronunciation you need to train your tongue… we need more than one day for remembering how to say thanks, what you write “ευχαριστίες”, you say “efharisto”…
In Bari we decided to go across the North of Greece, far away from heavenly beach and from a more pleasant weather, but closer to a non-touristic place, where the contact with the people is easier and more sincere.
Ipiros and Macedonia are two province very mountainous. Although their summits are not so high, around 2000m, you have the sensation of being into a very tall mountain range. We enjoyed the snow mountain and we cross forest and forest of oak tree.
From the beginning, and more while the contact with the people was going bigger, we felt that Greece is bad in the economical aspect, but very rich in the human. They are always prepared to help anyone who needed it.
tent… they invited as for dinner in their restaurant and gave us a bed in their house… big
Danai, Mihalis, Eleni, Nikos and Filio showed us this the first day. We ask for a place to put the
The word “crisis” is in the mouth of everyone we met, and the y know how the situation in the
South-West of Europe is going worst and worst. But these rural areas have the adv2entage of
taking what the Nature give them and let them a better life. When we cross the Peninsula
now empties, live in contact with the Nature and reconsider what we really need.
Ibérica”, we talked about this and said that maybe the future es go back to the small villages,
We spend the second night in a hotel in Ioannina. We were looking for something with cheap appearance, but we coudn´t find it and we ask the price in a hotel-hotel… we were surprised, as it was cheap and the hotel was very good… they told us now the hotel is half price, it not they lost their clients. But the petrol and the food have a very high price.
The next day we cycled to Metsovo and, because of its high, we could enjoy the incredible snow landscape.
Moreover we have a sunny day… can we ask for more…
… then, at the end of the pass, a family, on holydays around this area, was waiting for us with mandarins and some question about our trip. This is the first time in four month, María remembered similar meeting of her previous bicycle trip, and I could realize that this magic moment are real.
We spend the night in Mirsina, a little village lover of fungus, where we were talking with young people… and in the night, the oldest boy came back from his house with sweets and fruits… one more time you don´t know how to thanks… We are still very far from Asia, but we have the sensation that we are getting closer.
We already told you how Katherina´s mother, Maria, was waiting for us in Avles, a little village in the North of Greece and, it was on our way, we appeared there (ah! In the same village, before arriving the house, other family stopped us for greeting, taking some pictures and giving us… ummm… very good chocolates), and there we stood one week, enjoying her generosity, her love and the heat of the chimney.
María learned how to cook the famous Greek Pita, a puff pastry with sweet or salted filling inside…
… in the meantime, I cleaned and checked the bicycle very well.
“Jan da lo… Potolo”… eat and sleep… to gain weight… like this we were in Maria´s house.
Afternoon with cappuccino and Greek lessons, because Maria speak Greek and Turkish, no ingles atoll… but we could communicate… the famous nonverbal communication does miracle.
… with Telis, Litsa, Maria, Iro y Athanasia we enjoyed the first meal of 2013, we missed Khatherina.
When we left the house, Maria was a little bit worry, because we didn´t know where we were going to spend the night… no problema amigo… we arrive to a little village and ask in the school for a place to put the tent, they took us to the Church, where two women and their family host us in their house. One more time we realized how much we have to learn… at least for me.
In Thesaloniki we could realize how strong the crisis is. It isn´t easy to live in a big city, when the salary came down 40%, when your source of food is the supermarket, where every product are very expensive, when the petrol has gone up from 0,8 to 1,3€ in a short period of time, and when the unemployment is the 26% and is rising.
Enoikiazetai… on rent. Is the word more seen in Greece, you learn is very quickly.
But one more time we want to repeat that, in this hard reality, the people we met teach us that there are other values, which the wild economy cannot destroy.
And going on we arrived at Turkey, a very valued country for cycler, where we have a beautiful welcome (although the greek military we found in the bridge between the two border, had fun with us, they said there were some problems and the Turkish military weren´t going to allow us the entry… uuppss! For a second we thought the joke was real and something happened that we didn´t know).
In a few minutes after the border, a car stopped for asking about the trip and offered their house in Ankara, what a good sensation! These things are new for me and make me very happy. In the way to Kesan lots of horns welcome us, well, some dogs also welcome us but not in a very good way.
We knew that in Kesan there were some WS, we couldn’t contact them before but we had their telephone number, so we phone them and… klinnnn! Perfect, no problem, you have house and if you want tomorrow you can walk with us in the mountain… we cannot ask for more!
It was a raining and snowing day, and shared it with these great people was a luxury. They teach us the first turkish word and made us fill more closer with this new land.
We contacted Esen and in Kesan Doçek Mountaineer and Cyclist Club, we took a chay while they decided the place we´ll stay. And this place was Rahman´s house…
… a very good painter who gave us this drawing.
The next day we arrived at Istanbul by bus and, because the snow was fallen, we had to negotiate with this taxi for taking us to Osman´s house, our WS contact.
We spend the three first days into Osman´s house, looking the snow falling behind the windows. The fourth day we went for a walk in Istanbul Center.
We were frozen and looking for warm in the bazars, full of shops.
In this moment I´m in Istanbul and María has gone to Spain. The 31th of December his brother Sergio and Sofía had a little girl, Leo, and María has gone to visit them.
After cycling through small road and quite villages, arriving in a big city with fifteen millions of habitants, looks no easy to fill comfortable. But, I´m ready to enjoy what this magic city offer me in this days. And I´m doing well…
… filling the cultural change we are going to live in the next month…
… enjoying Kafkaesque situations that you can find in this thousands of mixtures place…
… meeting other cyclists living their dreams, they usually stop in Istanbul for taking visas of the next countries they are cycling in and enjoy the city… (“This is my favorite capital”, repeat Chris lots of times)…
… and enjoying the colors when the sun start falling.
Finally Istanbul has got me to fill comfortable in a big city… It´s easy, I assure.
And I (María) make a small parenthesis and go to meet my niece Leo… beautiful… when I see her, I forget I´ve just made in some hours what I had to pedal for four months… I take with me a small bit of her, her soft chubby cheek, her closed eyes, open and when she want to open them but cannot, because she´s so sleepy!, her smell, her breathing and her warmth body when she get sleep in my arm… thank you very much.