Found: Arnaia to Olive Grove. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

January 22, 2014

Found: Arnaia to Olive Grove.

I TOOK, well I found out later that I'd taken a wrong turn. Remember thinking at the time, this is confusing. I had swept down a hill and past underneath another road, swung round and rose to join that road at a tee-junction, with a sign for Lerissos pointing left, which I turned for. A nice road follows, serpentining down through pine forest with a coastline and water visible though the trees below on the left, which I took to be the lake or inlet, seen from the high ridge the afternoon before. But further on as the road levels out by the coast and the pine forest recedes, I could see it was really open sea on my left. I'm cycling east, or supposedly. So, the sea at this point should be to the right.

I've now reached the seaside village of Ierissos down along the eastside of the peninsular, where I sit on a concrete quay breakfasting on muesli in warm sunshine. Ah, now I see. Lerissos faintly marked on an old map of Greece bought at a street stall in Tirana and which I had clean forgotten about. It also shows Stavros, which was on the sign pointing right back at the turning. Located where the peninsula's east facing coastline turns a corner with the coast and highway from Thessaloniki continuing east. The road I should be on.

There's a clang of cowbells, seems to come from the scrub covered hillside on the opposite side of the road where an old farmer waits at the roadside bent over a shepherd's staff. Then out of the cover of the bushes come a big herd of goats. The farmer turns them right as they enter the road. Some of the goats freeze and look at me sitting by the bicycle opposite, but the farmer shouts for them to keep moving. There must be a few hundred, mainly black but also blown, white and grey. The tail end pass and are followed by a young man, the older man's son who says something to the father as he passes then continues to the rear.

I double back and reach Stavros by noon looking out for a Lidl on entering town. It's a beach resort which at this time of year is empty, but on riding through the centre having not spotted a Lidl to buy lunch, I warm to the idea of stopping at one of many cafes. I lean the bike outside one on a corner, glass clad on two sides and looks to have a reasonably priced menu. Then while waiting for my order of spaghetti Bolognese, use the WIFI and sip coffee already on the table; which is, as I've said before about Greek coffee, good and served by the mug full with a big glass of complimentary water, so there's no need to waste money on soft drinks. And about forty minutes later, when paying the bill of eight euros, good valve as there was so much on the plate, the young woman sitting rapping homemade chocolate cookies in silver-foil, with a friendly smile gives me one for dessert as I turn to leave.

I've one human encounter on the coastal highway after joining it a few kilometres north of Stavros. Climbing up a headland with the sea below on the right, when a red Seat Ibiza screeches to a halt alongside. The driver a young goatie bearded man barks angrily at me in Greek. He nods his head disapprovingly, then abruptly accelerates off, leaving me puzzled to what his meaning is.

Then I meet a woman walking her dogs. This is a more pleasant encounter. On a long straight with a beach on the right. She shades her eyes from the sun. I must appear silhouetted approaching from the west. Her four dogs have already reached me panting and checking out the grass verge.

HeeHee. We meet lots of cyclists. Even if you're moving we won't run after your wheels.
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He's okay. We've checked him out.
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The plump red faced woman about seventy starts to speak German when we come face to face. But she soon gets the hint I don't understand. We then have a very short conversation in which I tell her I'm from Ireland and on my way to Istanbul. Her eyes widen, then she chuckles and says something which finishes with ".....langsom!" And then strolls on after her eger to move dogs.

I continue onwards until five when the sun sinks behind mountains to the west. I had thought this afternoon that the day would end camping near the beach, but in the last hour, the road has swung inland, passing underneath the parallel motorway. The countryside thereafter comprises totally of olive groves and fruit orchards.

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The beach would've been nice, but the olive grove I push the bike off the road into is equally nice with a level short grassy sward between rows of olive trees. There are farmhouses in close proximity all around: the nearest being the other side of an orchard adjacent the olive grove, where the dogs are yapping.

I have the tent up and using the top-bag as a seat, sit down in the remaining dusk light to eat what bread and salami is left, then see through the corner of my eye, two large black dogs approach in the next row. They stop at a distance looking toward me. I remain still and don't turn to face them. They remain still too. After about what must've been two minutes which seem a lot longer, I turn round and see they're gone.

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Today's ride: 103 km (64 miles)
Total: 9,775 km (6,070 miles)

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