Dec. 25 Merry Christmas in Larissa!
On Christmas Eve I was taken out by Val. She wanted to show me Larissa and show me traditional Greek drinks. We drank rakomelo. Which is a liqure made from grapes that the put honey in and serve it to you warm in a small jar. You keep pouring “shots” to sip. Yamas! After a few rounds of these.. it was beginning to be a great Christmas.
In the morning we hung out and about 1 the whole family got together for a feast. I am not joking about feast. There was rosted pork, chicken stuffed with peppers, turkey, stuffing, soup, bread, home-made wine, beats, and of course tziki sauce! We chatted for a while. A few of the dozen or so that were there spoke English. Its always interesting to have people ask questions through a translator then wait watch them light up when he/she explains to them. Then 5 more questions come back. I'm getting a very good feel for the order of questions people ask. Where are you from? Where have you been? How long have you been traveling?.... If I can explain those.. its usually followed by How rich are you? I explain that I am a bank robber and I go from city to city until the money runs out. This usually gets a laugh and they don't ask that question again. But in this family, they didn't care about that. They wanted to hear about where I have been and where I am going. What Morocco, Italy, Scotland, Canada and the US is like. Later in the day I noticed the little ones playing Legos. I am a firm believer that Legos are the best toys on the planet and they teach so many basic skills about spacial knowledge. The little kid was 6 or so? But we made this huge tower together. After a few rows he understood to overlap bricks to make the structure stronger and could finish any row that I started. We built the tower as tall as we could then made it into a wind turbine. The next day his mother said he wouldn't stop talking about what we had built. That night Val and I met her sister out for a few more drinks. We walked around the city and took some picture. I even caught my family back in Minnesota at my grandparents house just before their feast. If I couldn't be with my own family, this was certainly the best alternative ever. I now feel like Greece is another spot I will need to go back and visit.
|Part of my xmas family.|
|Ms. Greece and family|
|This guy is from Russia apparently. I think I will have to pick one up when I am there.|
|She likes the way these flowers smell.|
We said our good byes and Val signed Greece on the moto. I was on the road by about noon and got into Thessaloniki about an hour before dark. I tried to stay off the toll road but its actually quite hard to do. I found “The Little Big House” hostel in the internet the night before and put it in my GPS. Finding it in real life proved to be much more difficult. Thessaloniki is full of one-way streets and all sorts of craziness. The more you get into the hills the less reason or rhyme they have. They get very small also. The hostel didn't have private parking but it was a dead end street so I locked her to a pole out front. I met a kid from Australia at the hostel the plan was to get dinner. He was supposed to catch a bus at 6 or 7 in the morning. I was not the instigator but 1 turned into many and we didn't get back to the hostel until 3 in the morning.
|I really like this beer.|
Dec. 27 Thessaloniki
I slept in then walked around the town some. Got a hair cut and some things I needed. That night I went out with another guy from the hostel. Prithu is from India but was living in Germany. Again it turned into a late night. Later then anticipated. I think Thessaloniki is a time warp. If you go have dinner at 7 or 8.. before you know it.. it's 4 in the morning. No regrets. This was a fun town.
|The trash collectors were on strike. There is a dumpster in there somewhere.|
|New friend Prithu|
|Our friendly bartender.|
|Old school KTM 640 ADV.|
|Had quite the interesting convo with these guys.|
Dec. 28 Thessaloniki to Asprovalta Greece. 193 km
Around mid morning I checked out of the hostel and started to ride. I wanted to get some spare tubes because after the flat in Albania, I had no spares. I found a motorcycle tire shop called “OK Tire” and I ended up buying new tires and tubes. The price was right. T-63 in the rear and a Karroo 2 up front. I felt a bit bad taking the 908 off the rear because it still had a couple thousand kms left in it but I was told by a friend that Turkey is very expensive for tires. The guys at the shop were great. They fed me and gave me coffee before I left. Thanks!
I wanted to do motorway toward Turkey but I took a wrong turn leaving Thessaloniki and didn't realize I was driving south instead of west for about 80 km. This took me onto a peninsula that actually had some very nice mountains. When the sun was out, it was warm but closer to evening it started to get very cold and foggy. So I ended up only going about 80 km from Thessaloniki after riding 190. I stayed the night in a side-of-the road cafe/hotel.
|OK Tire Crew.|
|They even fed me.|
|If I ever start drinking espresso.. I will have this cup.|
|New Karroo 2 up front|
|T63 in the rear.|
|The TKC 80 had 14,000km on it and the Dunlop 908 had about 8,000km. I felt bad about changing it but tires get expensive in Turkey.|
|Fog creeping through the trees.|
Up early to rain. When the rain stopped the wind started. There were times when my bike was at 45 degrees. I left the motorway and went on small roads for most of the day to try and stay in shelter. I found a hotel in Feres Greece. The hotel had a court yard with a locking gate so the moto was safe. Dinner was brick oven pizza made from a fat-bald German man who chain smoked like crazy. He would light one cig then start talking and it would burn down to the butt and he would light another. Quite funny. It was very windy and cold that night.
|Kavala Greece. Stopping for coffee.|
Dec. 30. Feres Greece to Istanbul Turkey 286 km
It was about 15 km to the border when I started. I made sure I got fuel in Greece. As expensive as the fuel is in Greece, I knew that Turkey has the highest fuel prices in the world right now. It was not as windy as the day before but still very cold. In the evening I made it into Istanbul and found my friend Tolga's (Mudfrog) house. Istanbul is a crazy place to ride. Very steep hills and very small streets. Not many people ride motos so the cars don't really respect the space. One would think with fuel prices the way they are, more people would ride motos and scoots. But its mostly just the delivery people on scoots.
|This guy is on his 2nd year peddling. He rode from south Africa up through the continent and is now headed toward Asia. Keep going man!|