I’m sure Al Humphries doesn’t mind me grabbing the metaphorical title of his global cycle-touring novel, as Greece really has brought me both thunder and sunshine. Cycle touring is always full of highs and lows, but at one stage I was losing hope of ever having Greece release me from her grasp. It was with great relief my ferry reached the shores of Turkey on Boxing Day a few days ago, ending a period of two months in the beautiful country of Greece.
If I was to believe in the godly omens of the Ancient Greeks, I probably would have exited the country on my very first night. When I was searching for a place to camp I stepped onto a snake! It was the first time I had seen a live snake when camping, and luckily it didn’t seem too concerned that a soggy cycling shoe had scrapped its lower back (does a snake have a ‘back’?). Frustratingly, I was too scared to set up the tent, and left the picturesque riverside in a dash!
On my first week in northern Greece I realised I was ahead of schedule, so I created a GPS track over the mountainous centre of mainland Greece. The result was five consecutive days of climbing, with the highest elevation gained in one week of my entire trip. The mountains were superb, with my favourite being the Parnassos Mountain Range near Delphi. Six years ago I travelled up to the ancient site as a bus passenger, and I remember it being much easier from the seat of a bus! In the evening I pitched my tent off one of the switchbacks opposite the two interposing valleys through the mountains to the Gulf of Corinth. The following day I rode along the Gulf of Corinth to Patras, with sublime views over the water to the towering mountains of the Peloponnese. The mountain route also brought a very successful dumbster dive in the town of Karpenisi. In the supermarket bin I rescued fresh apples, bananas, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, lemons, oranges, sugar and coffee. The downside to such glorious food was managing the extra few kilograms on the bike up those hills!