Information: The original language of this blog is German. Any other language is translated using DEEPL's machine translation (www.deepl.com), without proofreading.
Northern Greece gave us a warm welcome with temperatures exceeding 30°C.
We enjoyed the summer conditions and switched to the siesta rhythm: In the morning we get up early to ride our bikes in cool temperatures. From lunch on we don’t move from the spot for the hottest part of the day. In the late afternoon we enjoy the last kilometers in pleasant temperature and beautiful evening light.
The summer also brought many thunderstorms and a fierce storm that flooded the best places on the campsite of Ioannina with lake access. Fortunately, we had pitched our tent further back and spent only one sleepless night.
The sights in northern Greece are distributed in such a way that many tourists (including us) moved from place to place. The route went from Igoumenitsa to Ioannina (to visit the Zsagori villages and the Vikos gorge) to Meteora. We were particularly impressed by the rocks and monasteries in Meteora. The onward journey towards Mount Olympus brought us to less touristy areas, which was fine with us. Because of too much snow and (by Swiss standards) insufficient equipment, we had to do without the two-day hike of Mount Olympus.
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We would much rather have done without the countless dog encounters. Not a day passed without our “dog coping strategy” being used several times. If a dog barks and runs towards us, then…
yell loudly(!) at the dog …and do not stop yelling even in points 2-5
stop cycling immediately and get off the bike, bring the bike between you and the dog
arm yourself with stones, which impresses the dogs
wait until the animal has calmed down
continue on foot until the dog has lost interest.
We had no coping strategy for an animal encounter of a different kind: on a dirt side road we crossed a herd of cows including dog and bull. We got off and pushed our bikes. At a stable (=sheet metal hut) we met the second part of the herd with another bull. He showed little enthusiasm for our presence and gave us snorting to understand that he would not let us pass. When the already crossed herd came running from behind, we took the escape to the front and pushed our heavy bikes cursing through the pasture.
Apart from unpleasant four-legged friends, Northern Greece offered us everything we wish for as bike travelers: good (pass) roads, little traffic, beautiful places to sleep, drinking water fountains in every village (which are wonderful for washing your hair), friendly people and Freddo Espresso & Cappuccino :-)
After a short detour through Albania, we are now near Ohrid, North Macedonia. Here we happily received a material delivery with maps, guidebooks and spare parts. Many thanks to all who were involved!
We will report about our experiences in the Balkan countries in a next post…