Wednesday May 21, 2014, 145 miles (233 km) – Total so far: 3,085 miles (4,965 km)
May 20, 2014 70 miles We had a rest day yesterday if you call preparing for the Asian part 2 portion of our trip rest. After Turkey it is no longer a free world as Europe has been. Most of the part 2 countries require tourist visas which is a very cumbersome process with some countries requiring a costly “letter of invitation”. We started the process which will pretty much dictate where our route will take us. This requires visiting many embassies in Istanbul. I did find a computer store in town with a color scanner so had many documents scanned thanks to a very nice business owner. After that we did bike maintenance then went to a local market for a nice collection of fresh fruit. Then it was catch up with email and a swim in the Aegean Sea while having a beer on the beach. Our dinner was at the same great place as last night. What an excellent restaurant!
Our two day stay at the family run Hotel Syrtaki (named after the dance in the movie Zorba the Greek) in Orfinio Beach was excellent. We were the only guests as it is a few weeks before the season starts and were treated like family. But that comfort can only last so long so we were off once again. The rare tail wind pushed us past the large city of Kavala and toward Turkey. In Kavala we encountered two Spanish riders headed our way. One of them had a rear broken spoke so they were looking for a bike shop. They left Madrid 45 days ago and have covered almost 4,000 km. Wow- they are really moving! The coast is absolutely stunning and our picnic lunch was so picturesque that we just wanted to stay and swim. But we continued to the city of Xanthi and after a long day of 70 miles we were exhausted. Our Dutch friend Hans had given us a business card of an excellent restaurant in Xanthi. When we asked the hotel receptionist where this establishment was he replied “It is too far by bicycle.” He spoke very little English but we wondered what he would say if we told him we had just cycled from Morocco. No place is too far by bicycle!
May 21, 2014 75 miles We had another early start and soon were in farmland and met three more tour cyclists, 2 Aussies (a very nice couple) and 1 Kiwi (a tour guide from Christchurch, New Zealand), headed the opposite way. After a two month tour of Europe they are headed to northern India. This will be their third trip there. India is sounding better all the time. We compared notes on everything and were very enlightened to our upcoming Australia cycle. We will rethink the route we had planned. The Kiwi guide (I am so bad at remembering names, sorry guys) knows the crew at Natural High Cycling in New Zealand (Andy, Sandra, and Jeremy) where we rented our bikes two years ago for our 6 week tour of the South Island. After that we stopped at a food van “Kantina” in the wetlands for a delicious “Greek Taco”. What an excellent stop and nice fellow. He asked where we were from and when I said America, his response was “America good, Obama not so good.” We continued towards the major city of Alexandrupolis which is about 20 miles from Turkey. About 15 miles out we both “bonked” due to the rollers and headwinds. We did have an apple left so we split that and actually started sticking out our thumbs for a ride. If you have never bonked you don’t know the awful feeling it causes. We helped each other to continue and we drove harder. We didn’t want to ride another 4 hours until dark to wild camp so we continued climbing or Jocelyn did. I was so proud of the fact that I hadn’t walked up a hill since Spain but I ended up walking a few steep hills in Greece. We continued on and on until reaching the peak over the city then had a magnificent fast ride down to town where we found a hotel. We had decided on a hotel because we were so tired and hungry. I think we bonked because we were off schedule with eating a 2nd breakfast on the roadside. We didn’t see any camping sites anyway. This is our last night in Europe and we expect to enter Turkey tomorrow. A very hard 75 miles.