Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 114.35km
Average speed / 平均速度: 16.6km/h
Time on bike / 走行時間: 6h 52m
Total distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 165.80km (plus 8400km)
Ascent / 上り: +540m
Descent / 下り: -530m
In Komotini I became a member of The Web, an internet and gaming place with stores all over Greece. I bought 10 hours of internet time, which saves me about 0.90 Euro per hour over the normal price. The plan was to get to Thessaloniki today, cycle out to the outskirts, find a spot to sleep, and then spend the day in the internet cafe tomorrow updating stuff, and generally chilling out for a day. Things worked out even better than I had expected.
The ride to Thessaloníki was straight forward. I met a rather vocal Albanian builder on the way who made a Frape for me.
Once in Thessaloniki I headed south along the coast of Thessaloniki bay to Kalamaria for about 2 hours, hoping to find a church or a pagoda to sleep in. Things weren’t looking good, with most of the pagodas vandalized and exposed. Churches were few and far between also. It was 5:30pm when I pulled up in a small cove, leaned the bike against a small boat, and walked to the water for a breather. Slightly put out and not sure what to do, I stood there for a few moments.
A few meters away was a group of 50 or 60 year old men sitting on chairs around an oil drum converted into a brazier. It looked warm, so I wandered over trying to look cold. One of the guys motioned to me to sit down, and I sat, not sure what to say. They didn’t seem to speak English, so there was an awkward silence for a while as I tried to explain where I was from and what I was doing there.
I recalled my success with communicating in Russian further east in Greece, so I asked if anyone spoke Russian. The old guy closest to me suddenly lit up with a big grin and announced that yes, he speaks Russian! There is great value in knowing a few languages.
We went over the details of my trip again, and this time there were many more nods and understanding looks. I was promptly given three cans of sardines, some bread, a can of beer, and a bottle of water. ‘You must be hungry’ they said. I was. It was past 6pm.
I cooked up some soup on the embers of the brazier, and ate the bread and sardines, washed down with the beer. Not bad, this Armistice Beer.
One by one the guys left the brazier for home. As the Russian speaking guy left, he said that I should sleep under the shelter next to where all the chairs were. It looked alright to me, so I agreed.
A couple of the guys headed over to a cafe-like building nearby. I followed, hoping that they had a toilet I could use before hitting the hay.
They did have a toilet, and after all was done, I was about to head back to the shelter when the guys in the cafe called me in. They had a spread of fried fish, fried potatoes, salad, olives…all very good stuff. I had a second dinner with them.
It turns out that this is the Kalamaria Pigeon Club headquaters. They have photos of pigeons on the walls, and a cabinet full of trophies. On the TV was a nature program about prairie dogs. The five guys in the HQ were glued to the TV. Lature lovers through and through.
It wasn’t long before I was ordered to sleep in the adjacent cafe. It was warm and much more sheltered than the open shelter near the brazier. If all Europeans are as hospitable as this, then I think Europe will be OK after all.