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

Day 7: Skye and Bye

090 Islands from MallaigWith his broken spoke it was decided that I would carry more of Adam’s stuff, so I filled my panniers and off we set. My bike still did great, with even more weight and I’m sure it could take a lot more.

We took our penultimate ferry from Raasay back to Skye and made our way along the main road towards Armadale. It wasn’t quite as sunny and blue skied as previously, but it was still warm and only a very light drizzle. Once again, with a ferry to aim for, we just sort of got on with it.  Continue reading

Day 6: Are we in France?

080 Ferry in Tarbet, HarrisIt was with something of a heavy heart that we left Harris behind as it had completely captivated me and I wish we had spent another couple of days there to go and see the west coast, which we were told was also very beautiful. But leave we did on the ferry to Skye.

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Day 5: The tweed run

056 North UistIn the morning as we were getting ready to leave Berneray, Adam donned his yacf jersey at which point we discovered that the bloke on the orange Salsa Veja who had been stalking us all the way was in fact billplumtree.

We left the delights of Berneray behind and took the ferry across to Leverburgh on Harris. We had two choices here; the main road on the west coast, or the more interesting looking road on the east. We opted for the latter, aka the Golden Road.  Continue reading

Day 4: Where Pippa looks miserable in a bus shelter and gets some wine

8925204103_c8aceb5238_zWe had established last night that most of the cyclists staying in the Gatliff (and there were quite a few) that were heading north were all headed for the same place as us – the Gatliff in Berneray. The Gatliffs don’t take bookings and operate on a first come first served basis, so in my head at least it was kind of a race to try and get there before the others in order to secure a bed.

So we were upski, offski and outski before 8am and today was the longest day with 60 miles ahead of us. Thankfully the wind was still being windy and pushed us along. We didn’t go straight up the main road as Adam needed to fulfil his explorer’s gene so once again we went off onto the small lanes at the side, which were lovely. Continue reading

Day 3: Gone with the wind

017 Monday on South UistWe woke up and padded round the tiny room with the other two people we had just slept very closely with. It was still windy and raining so we tried to delay leaving for as long as possible but eventually had to accept our fate. I put on most of the clothes I had with me.

We set off into the rain and after about five minutes it stopped. We battled on along the tiny lane until we reached the main road at which point I thought we might turn onto it and head north with the wind at our backs. Adam wanted to go exploring so instead we carried straight on and cycled on the little roads to the side of the main one (which to be fair were lovely, but hard work with the wind).  Continue reading

Day 2: Hebrides or Maldives?

009 VatersayWe set off from our B&B and as we had a while before our ferry to Eriskay, we decided to go and explore Vatersay. We winched ourselves over a 12.5% hill and I was super glad the B&B had let us leave most of our luggage there for us to pick up later as I couldn’t envision how I could manage this fully loaded.  The sun came out and we saw beach after beach after beach. Golden sand, glimmering seas, we could have been in the Maldives. Continue reading