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79ml. Headed to Kalamata today, had to shelter 1.5hrs from thunderstorm, had a bad headwind and my 1st puncture in 5,600km’s. Andrew who has a villa where i ended up, met me on his motorbike about 10ml from Kalamata with cold drink and sandwich. I followed him to Kalamata and when we got to Stupa, he towed me the 7ml up a mountain to his village. It was just going dark as we got there, so the 1st assistance i’d had riding the bike  in over 5.600km’s was greatly appreciated. Time off here and a well earned rest.

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28ml. Early start today and cycled to Olympua to go and visit the museum’s and archaeological site. Very interesting place and history about how the olympic games first started. Was fascinating. Then I rode on th a campsite at Tholo. Was a nice old site stuck in an old hippy type feel lol. so i went for a swim in the sea and had a meal and few beers before bed.

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25ml. Easy ride today. I stopped in a village to eat and drink in the shade and a car pulled up. The girl in the back asked me where i was from and invited me to the house for cold drinks. I followed them to the house and they fed me and gave me drinks and we shared stories. I didn’t want to leave as we was getting on so great. The dad was called Alex and he spoke decent English and it was his birthday. I said goodbyes and was wobbling all over the road with the drinks i’d had so i just set up camp in a field at the side of the road about 5ml from Ancient Olympus where they advised me to go and visit. Was a shame to leave them i can tell you. The girl also had a friend who was cycling the world and thats why i think we got on so well.

Alex and family.

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24ml. up and down roads today a bit lumpy. Route i chose was really quiet but the road ended due to a collapse so i had to wade through a river twice to meet it again after the collapse. I ended up getting to a village and stopped for a cold drink and asked to camp so they let me stay at the local church about a km out of the village. 4 kids took me there on the bikes and showed me the way and in the evening i went to the village for a great meal and a few beers.

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54ml. bit hilly again at the start of the day but after muesli brekky i was off and soon hit the bridge for Patra in the afternoon but after being stopped by the highway maintenance telling me i couldn’t cross the bridge but had to get the ferry across about 1km away and it was free so an added bonus. I managed to get to a village and asked the store owner if i could camp on the small sports ground but he said kids played there till 11pm so i could camp in his small landau the rear of his shop so we drank beer and chatted all night. great bloke.

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50ml. Called into Karpenisi at the bottom of the mountain and called into a garage and the owner spoke English and helped me repair the broken tent pole so at least if i’m careful it should last a little longer. I had an 11.5 ml mountain to climb today and it took me 4hrs in the heat.It was very steep in places so i had plenty of rests along the way. I came downhill at the other side and asked a shepherd if i could camp in the field just out of town and he said no problem so i made some soup and had a brew then into bed.

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51ml. Hard day in the heat again. 2 mountains seemed to be going up all day. Camped a field off the road at the top of the mountain and just as it was going dark. Tent pole segment snapped as i was erecting the tent so slept best i could in half erected tent. 

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56ml. After looking round one of the Monasteries and saying goodbye to Martin and Cathy, i set off heading for Patra. It was a good flat route today and very hot at 40 plus again. I took my time today and arrived at a small village called Anavra and asked if i could camp on the football field at the local bar and they said yes so i had a few beers and a really good meal. Happy days. Even the sports field had a toilet, running water and an electric socket to charge my gadgets.

 

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34ml. Good day again on mainly quiet roads again and arrived at the very impressive Kalembaca and Meteore monasteries. We rode up to the top and wild camped on quiet land near a small church where it was deserted. It was a hard climb in the plus 40heat.

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37ml. Set off from the old school house with the Canadian couple, Martin and Cathy bound for Meteore monasteries. We said our goodbyes to Filippos and left on quiet roads all day long. We stopped in a small village at a restaurant who said we could camp opposite on the grass but it was a bad nights sleep due to the familiar sound of dogs barking all night.

Filippos, Martin and Kathy outside the school house warm shower stay in Xirolimni

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78ml. One hard day today. I think after my tummy problems I was weak from not eating and I thought I only had 66 ml to get to warm shower host but it was 78 and somebody put a 12ml mountain in the way. Wow I nearly gave in a few times. I’d no energy but arrived at the old school hall where I slept at 8pm. There was 2 couples there already who were touring around the world. A Canadian couple who I met briefly in Albania and a German couple on a tandem. I went to the village concert that night and met the mayor who was the warm shower host and who let’s lots of cyclists sleep in the old school hall. Filippos was a great guy. I was so shattered I had a days rest here in the village. before heading to Meteore.

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34ml set off late today due to waiting for bike parts that never turned up. So left Vaso and the guesthouse about 1 and rode through the border I used to drive through with the truck 30yrs ago. Wow on the north Macedonian side there’s fancy casino/restaurant and hotels been built. I rode to the old truck stop where I used to stay and eat and drink but that’s all closed down. I met a warm shower host at polykastro called Tassos and he rode about 20ml with me till I found a wild camp spot. Great guy. I set up tent for the night and was good not to wake up for the toilet. Think my tummy is better.

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42ml. Left Nick at the room today and set off for Gevgelia. He was heading into Bulgaria. I Headed to Demia Kapija on the way to the Greek border. This was a great little village where a lot of climbers go. There’s a campsite here but it’s not far to Gevgelia so i carry on along an old road along side of the railway track and it’s not a good road for 10miles. I have to get off and walk in a few spots because of the bad surface. I eventually meet tarmac again then it’s back on gravel shortly after but a lot smoother and make better progress. It runs alongside of the motorway and theres an entrance into the services so i go for drink and food before the final push. I reach Gevgelia and book in Jana guesthouse. I like it here and decide to stay 4 nights to hopefully get better from my stomach problem. The 2nd day here i go for a coffee and order some spare disc pads for my bike at a great bike shop in town. While having coffee i meet Sarah who is a cycle tourist from Denmark and we have a coffee and then she is looking for a room so i take her to my guesthouse and Vasi makes space for Sarah to stay. We have coffee and food with Vasi and great conversation. I’m in awe of Sarah as she has travelled alone a long time all the way to China and back, wow. I find out all the info i can from Sarah and listen to great stories. She stays for two nights which is great for the company. Tomorrow I cross the border into Greece and Burnley play in Istanbul in europe cup but it’s only 6 days away and i’m 820km away so i’m thinking of getting part way there then getting a bus to Istanbul but it depends on my stomach problem which is not improving much.

Sarah the long distance cyclist from Denmark. Great lass

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68ml. Bad night last night. was up 3 times for toilet and each time was eaten alive with mozzies. stomach cramps also. We rode through Prilep then had to the the main highway to Negotino as this was the only route possible. long climb up which was hard in the heat and with the runs so had to stop about 8 times for the roadside toilet today. At the top we had about a 12ml downhill which was good compensation. Nick agreed to share a room with me in Negotino as i couldn’t have another night camping with my stomach like it was. He booked a twin room on line with the phone and it was a relief to have a nice toilet lol.

Statue of king Marko in Prilep

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35ml. Used the old road today deserted but lot of stretches on it with annoying cobbled surface. Lovely small church at the top of the big hill we went up. Met a guy from London who lived in China teaching English. He was on a 3wk tour of the Balkans. Unfortunately he’d had 2 punters on the cobbles but he had a road bike with thin tyres. I got a tummy bug or something and it got worse as the day went on. Me and Nick wild camped after the road ran out in a field so we asked a farmer who said it was ok to camp there.

wild camp at Lake Prespa

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40ml. After packing up our wild camp me and Nick head down by Ohrid where nick has his bike chain repaired, then we follow the lake to the climb over the mountain to lake Prespa. It’s another hot day and the elevation at the top is 1,600m but the climb is only steep at the beginning then its a quite easy 6 or 7% gentle climb of about 10miles. There’s no shop’s and only two water stops on the way over the mountain. The scenery is spectacular. We head for a wild camp spot on lake Prespa.

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46ml. After leaving Shupenze i head for Peshkopi but at the crossroads at Maqellare, I decide to turn right and head straight into Macedonia, after talking with another cycle tourist who’s just come from Peshkopi. I spent my last Albanian Lek in the last restaurant on a nice plate of Goulash and go through the border. Just as i wait for my passport the German tourer comes called Nick so i ride with him for the next 3 days as we’re heading the same way. Along the way we see another lone tourer called Sandra so we have a coffee with her and then ride together until her turn off where she has a room booked. We make it to Struga and wild camp in a field across from the lake Orhid.

Sandra heading for her booked room for the night

Albanian/Macedonian border check point.

Turning right to Macedonia from here.

 

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53ml. After leaving Tonin’s family I ride towards Peshkopi. A lot off climbing again today and manage to get to Shupenze. I don’t fancy wild camping as the towns spread out Peshkopi is still too far to reach as it’s going dark and also the weather looks like heavy rain on it’s way so i have a meal in the village, a lovely chicken  with salad and homemade chip’s, again a massive portion. Then i book a room at the gas station for 10euro.

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45ml. After a break of 4 days in Shkoder i set off towards Peshkopi so i head down to Tirana and turn off at Lezhe and head for Burrel.It’s a lot of climbing and some tunnels and after filling up with water at what seemed like the middle of nowhere an old lady ask’s if i like to eat. It looks like an old restaurant what no one uses anymore. There’s no sign up, so i ask for a beer and sit at a table facing the river with a beautiful view. Then the rain comes so i have another beer and decide to eat. The meal is massive, 3 fish, salad and a basket of bread. Then the husband comes who speaks no english but talks to me for a long time even though i don’t really understand. I then ask if i can camp in the garden and the son comes home who speaks a little English and they make a bed for me in the house for no charge and i stay the night. They also fill a table with food later that evening for me and the husband to eat but i am full from the meal earlier. They were so kind, charged my devices and free bed.

Me with Tonin the son

Great cook and lovely, Tonin’s mother

Lovely house at the river where i stayed

Roadside view of Tonin’s house

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64ml. After the 10ml to the ferry jetty it was 20ml down Komani lake. A most spectacular journey with beautiful scenery all the way. The cost was 12 euro with the bike and took 2hrs. After exiting the ferry and filling my bottles with water i Headed for Shkoder which was another 35ml on a fairly hilly road which followed the rest of the river. My garmin temp reading was 40* so was a hard ride in the heat with no escape from the sun. I heard of a hostel on warm showers where you can camp for free in the garden but i forgot the name and ended up at the wrong hostel paying 7euro a night foe an outside bed. I should have gone to green garden hostel but the warm shower app stopped working so i couldn’t find the name or address. I stayed in Shkoder for 4 nights for a rest and weather was also bad with rain on 1 day.

on the Komani ferry