I suppose it should be ‘back’ to Athens but… Before I start just a couple if quick admin points. Firstly, fear not those who did not read the blog posts back in 2010 but subsequently read the book ‘Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie’. The book was never just the blog. During the trip I wrote out about 30,000 words on this website which I subsequently re-wrote for the book in 120,000 words. Very little of the original text remains. The plan is to do something very similar this time so read away at your leisure now as the book will be even better! Perhaps even more ‘wonderful & witty’ (CTC not me) than the first. Secondly, don’t forget that, as in 2010, you can follow me live as I cycle this summer by clicking on the link posted to Reggie’s Twitter feed at the start of each ride. You don’t have to be on Twitter to join in as it’s over there on the left of this page! Found it? Good. Apart from that he doesn’t say much. He is a bike after all…
So, back to the story. I took Reggie to the bike shop called Podilato (it means ‘bike’) and a very pleasant chap called Alex replaced his inner tube more quickly than you can say ‘why can’t he do this himself?’ in Greek (which is probably what he did say to his colleague). In my defence… I needed a bike shop to buy a new pump and it seemed daft to not have the inner tube replaced by a professional and certainly Alex was; a mechanical engineer no less (more about that in the book & about his interesting thoughts on the current economic situation – don’t worry I won’t do this every time I miss something out…). He told me there was nothing wrong with the pump by the way. Idiot? Me?
The guy who runs the hotel had phoned the bus company about me and the bike going to the Temple of Poseidon and they had asked if it was a folding one. He wasn’t sure so when he recounted the conversation to me I winced slightly at having to try persuade a driver to let me on his bus. I went to the bus stop without being convinced it was indeed the correct one. It wasn’t which resulted in me tearing down the road when I did see an orange bus with ‘Sounio’ on the front like a right Charlie. With a bike in tow. Good news however; it was a coach not a bus so Reggie went underneath so that problem was sorted.
When I get a lift to work in Henley in a car, it always seems much further than when I cycle. As the coach wound around the cliffs and coves of the peninsular south of Athens towards the cape I could increasingly feel a knot in my stomach. It seemed so much further than I had ever imagined. Nearly two hours (two hours!) later we arrive next to the monument and I pushed Reggie towards the entrance paid my 4€ and tried to put on an expression that implied that it was simply unjust not to allow bikes to access the temple itself. ‘You can lock it there’. The picture below says everything and what it doesn’t is said by me in the previous post on the page in the short video.
It was a tentative start to my cycle back to Athens. 68 kilometres. I had last done something like that in, err… summer 2010. Nothing greater than my 12 km cycle to work every day since then. The riding was thankfully nice & easy to begin with. There were few cars in the road and those that were there were courteous and gave me plenty of space. There was plenty of space to give as the road itself was as wide as the motorists were polite. And so it continued, up and down for the next hour and a half. However I paused at the halfway point for a snack and noted how the road conditions were ever so slightly starting to change. I could sense the approach of the suburbs if Athens and I hadn’t been mistaken. The second half of the cycle was increasingly in heavy traffic and at times along three lane highways. When I was within 10 km of the city centre I quit the main coastal road and discovered a parallel road past the old airport. The problem was that I couldn’t turn right again, a move which was presumably being hindered by the existence if the old runway still being there! Turning right would have guided me to the city centre and it was a frustrating affair trying to negotiate my way through the suburbs if the capital but succeed I did. I can be my of the few people who has recently been able to say that they are pleased to see the Greek parliament building. For me it marked nothing political, just a familiar site from which I could easily navigate my way back to the hotel.
So, one cycling day down, forty nine to go.