A Travellerspoint blog

Greece

Thessaloniki to Edessa

sunny

We left Lesvos with a heavy heart but a full stomach to board the weekly overnight ferry to mainland Greece. On our last day we were treated to a lunch banquet by our new couchsurfing friends in Lesvos. The meze dishes were flowing from pumpkin stuffed with feta to fava, wild spinach and aubergine... With 20 minutes before the ferry was due to leave they announced we would have dessert. Reluctantly we said we needed to go... They all laughed raucously.
'plenty of time!' they said. We looked at each other uncertainly....
'We only have 20 minutes...' I trailed off
'You are so ENGLISH! relax. You have to stay for dessert'

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And so we did. This delicious Greek twist on a baklava but with almonds instead of Pistachio nuts and doused in icecream that was infused with sweet pine nectar which tasted like a forest smells. Racing for the ferry we made it about five minutes before it was due to leave, and then waited on board for another 2 hours before it actually DID leave.

We paid an extra Euro on top of the basic price of a ticket to get a airline seat which we though was pretty good value. As we boarded the ferry most of the passengers were writhing and thrashing to mark out their territory on the boat using anything from teatowels to portable carpets. We were very bemused watching this chaos as we sat serenely on the top deck secure in the knowledge that we had reserved seats. It all became clear a couple of hours later when we went to find our seats and our seat numbers didn't seem to exist. When we asked at the reception we were told in so many words that it is basically a free for all and the numbered seats mean nothing whatsoever. Ah. So the next couple of hours were spent prowling round with our panniers trying to find two seats together amongst the bodies that had sprawled themselves out over ten seats. Note to self for next time...

The next morning when we arrived bleary-eyed in Thessaloniki we were met by Ariadni, the girlfriend of a friend of a warm showers host, so quite a tenuous link even for us! She was one of the kindest and warmest hosts we have been lucky to have on our trip. She took us round the city, to deserted beaches and for a trip to her boyfriends soon to be permaculture farm. Ariadni lives close to the White Tower which has become the gathering point in Thessaloniki for protesters who are demonstrating peacefully about the economic crisis in Greece. It has been interesting cycling through Greece at this time as the feeling that people can bring about change is palpable. Reflections from Greek people have been quite diverse. We have met some who have been quite resigned to it and feel that the people of Greece have brought it upon themselves, compared it to gorging at a restaurant that you can't afford for many years and then suddenly being presented with the bill. However others feel a strong sense of injustice and firmly believe that the government is wholly to blame. Although people seem very politicised everyone we spoke to lamented how fragmented it is. Everyone wants to have their voice heard but individually not as an organised whole. Speaking to Ariadni's boyfriend Vasilios he was hopeful that now that people are mobilised to react against what is happening that there will be a more lasting positive outcome beyond the anger of 'how does this affect me?' Perhaps people who have lost their jobs will think about whether spend spend spend is really the answer. Maybe they will go and work on their family's land, perhaps seek a simpler life or at least a life that will make them happy. We will see.

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white tower

white tower

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After two days in Thessaloniki we were keen to get back on the bikes and cycle towards Edessa, a small town on Northern Greece on our way to Macedonia. We were met by our exuberant couchsurfing host Evangelos and his friend Elefterios who is a cycling fanatic and proudly took us inside his shop to make us tea and show us his three bikes that were stuffed inside the souvenir shop that he runs.

Evangelos explained that he had arranged our accomodation for the night, as we were unable to stay with him, to be in the local consumer council office, a little cottage style building on the middle of the highstreet. As we inflated our thermarests on the marble floors next to the piles of magazines and office desks we reflected that this might just be one of the most unusual accomodation types of our trip so far.

our little cottage in edessa

our little cottage in edessa

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Edessa is a very pretty little city, unspoilt by tourism with beautiful waterfalls right in the city, however we were not planning on staying more than a day to explore it. My kidneys however had other plans as just as we were packing up our sleeping bags in the morning I was hit by a thunderbolt of nausea and pain and collapsed on the office floor. We needed to be out by 8am as the office opened for business at 9am so Rob shuffled me out onto the pavement where I curled up shaking and occasionally vomiting in the bin, much to the disgust I am sure of people passing by but I was in too much pain to care. The cavalry arrived in the form of Evangelos who raced me down to hospital in his car. I can't remember the last time I went to hospital in the UK so I can't make a comparison but within an hour in this small hospital in Edessa I had blood tests, urine tests, xrays and an ultrasound to determine that I had a kidney stone. I was then put on wildly hallucinogenic painkillers and remember very little except visits from Evangelos and Elefterios who came down from work to check on me. Luckily despite the crazy dreams the painkillers worked a treat and I was out of hospital that afternoon. Evangelos was keen to look after us and bent over backwards to accomodate us (another night in our little office hut) and he plyed us with food - or at least plyed Rob with food as I couldn't hold down food for another couple of days.

So after three days, longer than we had planned in Edessa, we were finally ready to cycle again, albeit it gingerly as bumps on the road were painful on the kidney, heading towards Florina, our last stop in Greece before we cross into Macedonia.

Posted by mrs lewis 10:48 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Lesvos

sunny 28 °C

Lesvos is a stunning island and we had a wonderful 5 days there. Four of which we spent cycling around the island (very hilly with obscenely beautiful wild campspots on the beach - Ampelia and Podaras) and one hanging out in Myteline with an awesome group of people we met through couchsurfing.
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Our host Panos showed us a great time in his hometown and said he wanted to come with us on our cycle around the island. However, at 7.30am after a night drinking the local spirit (Oozo) he was far from lycra clad and seemed to be put off by the hills and 75km a day schedule.

The island is perfect for cycling; stunning vistas, beautiful old villages, good clear roads, and wonderful beaches to relax on with crystal clear sea - just the ticket after a day in the saddle.
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The food at the Tavernas was also superb with the notable dish of fava (crushed fava beans with lemon and garlic) being a new favourite, as well as pumpkin flowers stuffed with cheese and great seafood (octopus salad!).

Check out this video for a glimpse of the action.
On Sunday, we left on the weekly overnight ferry to Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, with a feeling that living in Lesvos would be a fine thing, even though the country is now bankrupt. But if wealth is measured in natural beauty, and the hospitality and happiness of its people than they don't come much richer than here.

Posted by roblewis 06:15 Archived in Greece Tagged lesvos Comments (0)

ouch!

A glorious 5 days cycling on the Greek island of Lesvos saw me suffer another swelling/infection, this time after being bitten by a spider. My elbow suddenly started swelling up and quickly took the form of a golf ball. The next day, the swelling had still not gone down and so on arriving at a town with a hospital i thought i'd better get it checked out. They prescribed some antibiotics and game me a cortisone shot in the bum. After receiving this i started feeling very nauseous and as i got up to leave the room I could feel the blood draining from my face, the room span, and I quickly passed out. Thankfully the swelling has gone down now but it made me think that spending so much time travelling in the outdoors has led to quite a few bites, stings, infections and so on and so forth. The current list stands at:

  • 1 Tendonitis in my left ankle
  • 1 kidney stone in Mariana's right kidney
  • 2 numb hands for Mariana before realising her handlebars were too low. I was given the responsibility of cutting up her food into little pieces.
  • 2 bee stings (one each, mine when it flew into my shirt and stung me on the chest, nearly causing me to swerve onto oncoming traffic. Mariana endured one in the mouth, on the tongue)
  • 1 foot infection after a prolonged period of mosquito attack in Thailand. It got bad when the flies attacked the pussing bites.
  • 1 ditch mishap. Mariana was blown into a wet muddy ditch whilst cycling in NZ on a particularly blustery day
  • 1 spider bite leading to mass swelling
  • Lots of sunburn, mainly on Mariana's nose and chest
  • too many stomach issues to go through and list.These mainly originated from our eventful fortnight in China.
  • 2 magpie diving attacks. Both on me whilst cycling.
  • Multiple occasions of being chased by dogs - again too many times to recount but we now carry stones in our pockets to fend them off.
  • 2 bird poo bombings (both on me so i'm the lucky one)
  • Some particularly pusy sores (you can guess where) and unhappily nowhere in Greece or Turkey seems to sell anti-chaffing cream.

Posted by roblewis 12:31 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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