June 12, 2013
Distance: 55.6 miles Climbing: 2231 ft
We woke up early with the sun and hustled to get on the road. Chandler made breakfast while I broke down the tent and deflated the sleeping mats. We have a pretty good system at this point and things move along efficiently. Once I am done putting everything away, Chan had the food ready. We ate and hit the road.
Chandler got ahead of me right away as I was slow to start and get my muscles loosened. I was a little surprised when I noticed Chandler stopped for a break so soon after starting. Then I noticed a tiny little animal wandering in the middle of the street. It was a kitty and Chandler had stopped to ensure its safety. I immediately got off my bike and scooped the kitten up for a cuddle.
I also noticed that the kitty had a friend lingering on the sidewalk. I put down the first next to her friend and said goodbye. The kitty had another idea and followed me back into the road. If we had been at home, I would have taken these sweet kitties home or to the animal shelter, but those options were not available to us. There was nobody around, so I could only assume these were strays and knew there was little I could do for them. After several attempts to keep the kittens off the street, Chandler finally ripped off a huge chunk of bread and threw it into the bushes, which the kittens promptly attacked. We pedaled off quickly with hopes that the kitties would be ok.
Our ride continued along the coast on a heavy traffic road against a strong headwind. We tried to remain positive but it was frustrating with giant trucks thundering past us at top speeds and every other vehicle passing too close. At one point, a semi pulling two trailers passed us around a curve and its rear wheels cut across the edge of the pavement and forced us off the road. Not cool!
During trying times like that, I tried to focus on reading the signs in Greek or pretending they are math problems. Due to all the math/physics/engineering classes Chandler and I have taken, we are pretty familiar with the Greek alphabet and surprised ourselves with how easy it was to sound out the words, not that we have much idea what they mean most of the time. It dawned on us after seeing lots of signs that said: καφέ. Kappa, alpha, phi, epsilon sounds like k-ah-fee… coffee!
At some point, some large dark clouds filled the sky as Chandler and I were taking a snack break. Deciding it was probably going to rain, we put our raincoats in a place to grab them easily. Chandler decided it was a perfect opportunity to try out his new bicycle rain poncho, which he purchased back in China. After trying it on, we had a little photo session which included lots of laughter and for some reason, jumping.
A short while later, the rain started. Chan was pretty pleased with himself in his poncho. Then we passed a few teenage boys riding quickly through the rain without any protection, but were very friendly and in good spirits. I was ahead of Chan at the time and stopped when the short shower passed over us to remove my jacket. I asked if he had seen the boys and he replied that he was never wearing his poncho again because the kids had made fun of him.
I laughed the rest of the way into the town of Rio. We stopped to take some photos of the large cable-stayed suspension bridge connecting the mainland to the Peloponnese. It had started raining again by this point and we were eager to get to the campground in the center of town. When we pulled up to the gate, we were informed the campground was closed forever and the next one was 100km away. He was friendly, but said in a gloomy way that “this is the new order of things.”
The whole area was pretty developed and the couple of vacant lots by the ferry landing were occupied by camped out Gypsy families who always tail us around asking for money. So we started to look for a hotel for the night. We swung by both hotels in town, but they were both 40€, which is way out of our price range. The GPS had another hotel a few kilometers outside of town and figured to head that way.
The hotel outside of town turned out to be a super swanky hotel and casino. We didn’t bother asking the price, it was obvious we couldn’t afford it. The rain had stopped again, so we hung out in the parking lot for a snack and to go over our options. We could either go back to the first hotel or try a few other hotels listed in the GPS. Not wanting to back track, so we moved to the next hotel.
The next hotel turned out to be 45€ and the one after that was 50€. I was getting quite discouraged at this point and just wanted to head back to Rio, but after our experience on the highway we were strongly considering ferrying out of Greece and the port at Patras was just a couple miles further. As we continued down the road, we came upon a huge park, but there were people everywhere running, walking and biking. The GPS listed another hotel nearby, so we headed in that direction. The price was again out of our range, but Chan promised we would try one last place before we made a decision. The next place ended up being a quiet little hostel with a more budget friendly price of only 24€.
The hostel building was an imposing old masonry structure that was apparently Nazi headquarters for the region during WWII. We were glad to be off the bikes for the day, and to have a shower and wifi. Our room had a nice little balcony overlooking the harbor where we sat and munched on olives and drank cheap rough wine. We watched the sun set and decided to take the next day off while we figured out what to do.