If you would have asked me halfway through the day if I thought I was going to make it to Greece today, I would have said, ‘Definitely not’, for halfway through the day I was struggling to move faster than 6kph as I faced a headwind. I began to wonder what I would prefer out of a strong headwind or heavy rain. I think I decided I would prefer the headwind. Eventually, the wind quietened down until it was a background presence and my mind began to realise how pleasant the day was. It was very cold, but the sun and blue sky was out. About 5km from the border I stopped at a servo to spend the last of my Turkish money, of which I had 11.50l. I spent 5l on a hot tomato soup and the remaining 6.50l on a 1.5L bottle of water, packet of biscuits and two chocolate bars. About 1km from the border I got a bit of shock to see three cycle tourists coming the other way. I stopped for a chat and met three Spanish guys who are planning to get to India. Seeing them has made me feel as if I should man up a little and not complain about the cold so much, seeing as though I won’t be only one dealing with it. It’s a little comforting to know others are suffering as well.
The border crossing was incredibly easy. I actually didn’t get off the bike once. The Turkish border consisted of two booths. I got my passport stamped at the first one and inspected at the second. No questions were asked. As I rode over the bridge between Turkey and Greece, a Turkish soldier stopped me, asked me where I was going and told me to turn around and go back. It turned out he was just super bored and was trying to make a joke by telling me I should stay in Turkey a little longer. The Greek border consisted of one booth, where I got my passport stamped. I was only asked one question: ‘Where are you going?’ It is a common question at border crossings and a completely ridiculous one, considering the type of journey I’m on. ‘You mean in Greece? I’m heading towards Alexandroupoli. And I’m leaving into Macedonia’. A little further on from the stamping booth was customs. The officer asked me where I was from. He seemed pleased when I said Australia. I added that I have ridden from Australia and was excited to reach Greece as it’s the 20th country of my trip. The guy said well done and waved me on. And that was it. I was free in Greece. By this time it was about 4.30pm and I really needed to find somewhere to camp quickly. About 5km on I found a passport lying on the road, belonging to a Turkish guy. It was clear it had been sitting there at least overnight as it was a bit rain damaged. I pocketed it with a plan to give it to the first police I see.
I quickly realised finding a place to camp wasn’t going to be so easy. The main road leading from the border is a fenced in highway, so there was no getting off it into the adjacent fields. I rode on until there was an exit. I took it to a petrol station where I asked if I could camp behind the building. The young guy said he wouldn’t care but his boss probably would. I left the petrol station to suss out my second option, which is a culvert running under the main road. I’d earlier spied what I thought must be the entrance to the track that leads to the culvert, and I was right. The drain is a little damp but I have set my tent up in a dry-ish patch. It’s obviously not the most comfortable place I have, but I’m happy to have a roof over my head and two walls. The traffic is dying down now it’s dark, so it’s not too noisy. It’s pretty bloody cold though.
|Distance ridden today||111.26km|
|Average cycling speed||17.7kph|
|Total distance ridden||26,744km|