Brussels to Kefalonia Part 4

Day 19: Limni to Lefkimmi, ferry to Igoumenitsa and then 85 km ride to Ligia

2 Lefkimmi (Corfu) to Igoumenitsa (mainland) ferryThe 50 km ride across Corfu was powered by the finest bakery products available in the first bakery I passed on route, which was after about ½ km. No more cheap, plasticy, 7Days croissants that were what I’d been buying in The Balkans. Oh no, not now I was somewhere civilised. The fine bakery products provided the perfect pacing and I arrived in Lefkimmi minutes before the ferry departed.

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Brussels to Kefalonia Part 3

Day 15: Barbullush (Albania) to Tirana

 

Sunrise near BarbullushI left my little Dutch oasis before 7 am in order to cover as much distance as possible before it got too hot. The sunrise was stunning and made getting up early worthwhile. The old communist factories were very photogenic too. Unfortunately, after Milot things deteriorated. I had decided not to ride the main highway down to Tirana because other cyclists said it was very busy, so instead I followed a parallel road. After Milot this road turned into a track. I ended up riding a lot of it at not much more than walking pace, but I did see a lot of Albanian life. The kid on a donkey with granddad moving the goats and cows. The two guys who’d managed to get their lorry stuck in some mud. The son and mum (or grandmum?) who were busy picking blackberries. The kids sitting in the field under a tree to hide from the heat. And a tortoise, although he kept hiding in his shell.

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Brussels to Kefalonia Part 2

Day 10: Szeged (Hungary) to Šabac (Serbia)

3 Leaving HungaryToday I would leave the EU and head into territories that, to me, would be new. However, first I had to enter Serbia, which wasn’t a foregone conclusion because I hadn’t been able to get a definite answer about whether I, as a non-Hungarian or Serbian citizen, could use the border crossing between Tiszasziget and Đala. The early morning ride down to Tiszasziget passed through some pretty villages, and perhaps because I was leaving Hungary I was granted a quiet road with a good surface. Signs were appearing for the border crossing. Continue reading

Brussels to Kefalonia Part 1

68 Road near NagykaracsonyI had never done a multi-week cycle tour before 2014. Nor had I ever been to Greece. These things needed rectifying, so in April 2014 I booked a budget flight from Kefalonia to London. Now I needed to figure out how to get to Kefalonia. After some consideration I decided to take the Eurostar from London to Brussels and start riding from there rather than riding across Kent. The planned route would then see me ride across Belgium, into Germany and picking up the Danube River in Regensburg, which I would follow until Vienna. From there I planned to head south-west to Szeged, in Hungary, before turning south to cross Serbia and Montenegro, then enter Albania, my final country before Greece. There is a ferry service from Sarandë to Corfu, which seemed an interesting way to approach Greece.

On Monday 28th July 2014 I dropped off the bike at St. Pancras station and crossed my fingers it would be put on the correct train the following morning. I cycled home on one of the London cycle hire bikes and spent an apprehensive evening wondering what was in store for the following three weeks. Continue reading

The final days – riding into Los Angeles

215-the-end-of-highway-1-where-we-rejoined-highway-101After a lot of fog induced misery down the US coast we pondered completing the final leg of our 9 month cycle tour by train.  Philippa came up with lots of good reasons why that would’ve been a sensible decision and yet it wouldn’t have seemed like a fitting end to our tour and so after receiving an encouraging email from a Brit who’d cycled to LA a few weeks earlier we opted to carry on by bike.  Before we left San Luis Obispo we had lunch with Neil and Ali, who luckily were also in town on their road trip.  We won’t see them again on this tour, but it gives us another set of friends to visit in the Brisbane / Gold Coast area.  Continue reading

Is this the end? Redwood City to SLO

191-view-of-big-sur-from-kirk-creek-campgroundAfter an amazing time off the bikes in the Bay Area we reluctantly left Jon and Sal’s house and continued the journey southwards towards Los Angeles.  The luxuries of things like fridges, kettles, decent showers and electricity would once again be left behind, although it’s only a short hop to LA compared to what we’ve cycled since January.  We’d been recommended a route by Joth to Pescadero, although work meant he couldn’t cycle with us, but luckily Emma had been able to jiggle her shifts around to allow her to accompany us for the day.  To rejoin the Pacific Coast we first needed to cross the Santa Cruz mountains, which meant a 500+ m climb to ease us back into cycle touring.  In New Zealand this would have been a major worry, but we’re now so use to lugging our heavy touring bikes up hills it wasn’t too bad.  The cool of the redwood trees, beautiful landscape and empty road certainly helped.  We’re jealous that Emma and Joth have this on their doorstep; cycling from our flat in East London to Woolwich isn’t the same. Continue reading

The best and worst of times

141. Lake TahoeThere’s been a bit of a gap since our last post, mainly because there’s not been much cycling to report.  Instead we’ve been having some time off the bikes, which has been much needed because since arriving in North America at the start of June we’ve not had two consecutive rest days.  We’ve been hosted in San Francisco by Manik & Rowan, spent two nights in Napa Valley wine tasting with Neil & Ali, had a weekend in Redwood City with Jon & Sally, met up with cycling friends from the UK who now live in the Bay Area and we’re currently in Truckee, which is in the Sierra Nevadas. Continue reading

Some days are just crap

090. This is probably beautiful when it is sunnyWhilst on tour we’ve discovered that some days we expect to be good can turn out to be different. That may be because of a whole host of things, such as the weather, especially if there’s a headwind, the attitude of the drivers, the quality of the road surface, the view we may or may not see from the road.  Yesterday, Wednesday, was expected to be good day.  We’d heard Highway 1 would be pretty devoid of cars, coastal views would be spectacular and it was only about 65km to Gualala Regional Park where’d planned to camp for the night.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of the worst days, often feeling like we were partaking in the Hunger Games. Continue reading

California Dreaming

005. Redwood Highway south of Cresent CityOn Monday it was our last full day in Oregon, and only because we were having a day off in Brookings.  Being a rest day we had a leisurely breakfast, a lazy morning, a slow amble into town and some beer tasting at Chetco Brewing which we stumbled upon before ending the day with a roaring campfire.  There were a lot of other cyclists at the Harris Beach State Park all heading south and as we’d heard the next campsite (Mill Creek in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park) had a small hiker/biker area we were away nice and early.  Pretty quickly we were in California, our third and final state in our fourth and final country on our nine-month cycle trip. Continue reading

The ups and downs of the Oregon coast

066. Bridge over Coos BaySouth Beach, where we were on Monday night, was a bit odd because there was a group of “transient” people staying there who were clearly not hikers or bikers, but possibly homeless people.  We’ve seen similar people trying to hitchhike along the highway and it’s likely that’s how these guys were travelling.  We’re aware there’s a huge wealth gap in the USA, but we weren’t expecting it to be evident on the hiker/biker campsites in the State Parks.  The cyclists kept to themselves and the transient people kept to themselves and it was all OK, although it was a different atmosphere to the other hiker/biker sites we’ve used. Continue reading