Waking to the sound of the waves rolling along the beach and the sun rising was nice, pushing and carrying our bikes up the steep rocky path back to the road was not so nice. But of course it was worth it for getting to camp in such a beautiful spot.
But before we packed to leave we went for a swim in the ocean, again. Nice and cool, great start to the day.
After approx 20kms we came to Mellisio, a town with a post-office (were we sent some more things home), an internet cafe, two bike shops (the first we have seen in Greece) and a nice little supermarket.
All of a sudden it was almost lunch time so we headed off, only to be greeted by another incredible head wind. Wow, it is so hard riding into this kind of wind... so we stopped on the side of the road at an abandoned beach cafe, and went for another swim, and laid on the deck overlooking our own private beach...
When we got started again it was almost 5pm, and still the wind was strong and the sun high and hot. But after an hour or so of riding we rode through an incredible little village were the waves that had been strung up by the wind were crashing into the side of the road as we rode along, spray streaming through the air and sprinkling us as we rode past.
After a while we looked at each other, smiles on our faces, wondering at the amazement of such a road, by the ocean... if you close your eyes for a moment, maybe you can picture it too, the wind and the water spraying you through the twilight of the evening sun, the centuries old Greek villas lining the road on your right side, nothing but ocean on your left...
Distance: 25km riding, lots more on a ferry
We attributed Sam's fever to our lack of sleep for a couple of nights and his ongoing health problems, and the itchy rash to one of the noxious, spiky plants we'd cleared for our tent the night before.
When we woke we rode back to the small shop Sam found the night before and bought some cereal and yoghurts for breakfast. We went to a nearby deserted beach and ate, before spending some time swimming in the clear water. We decided to relax for the day and just enjoy the beach. We found a small water trough and tap nearby and washed a lot of clothes, towels and our sleeping sacs and hung them to dry in the hot sun while we swam.
It was a great day and we enjoyed going back and forth between the water and the rocks (not sand). We ate some delicious bananas and more yoghurt, and happily packed away our dry laundry a few hours later.
In the afternoon we headed back to the port to eat some food and get ready for the overnight voyage. Onboard the ferry we locked our bikes in the hull and took some of our bags up with us. We had bought the cheapest tickets which entitled us to a seat outside on the deck all night. Again, the ferry was well below capacity, and we happily sat on a deserted section of deck watching the sun lower in the sky as we sailed out of the port.
A scout of the ship to find a place to sleep revealed a deserted foyer inside with carpet and a power point! Both cameras, the video camera and laptop were all out of power! So we set up and started charging things. A couple of hours later a noisy group with many adults and children (Arabs yelling at each other incessantly for no discernible reason) decided it was a good spot and started to set-up in our corridor too. We didn't hesitate - we packed up our things and moved to the next foyer. We didn't want to be kept awake by their noise (and they were SO noisy already).
Around this time Sam started to get the shivers again. He said he was freezing cold and we pulled out one of our sleeping bags for him. For a while he was ok to sit there in the sleeping bag, but the shivering got worse (even though his head was burning) so I blew up one of the mattresses for him to lay down. Despite ear plugs, an eye mask and head rubs from me, he was unable to fall asleep. I got some panadol to try and bring down the fever, and I was very worried! Some children started running around the corridors and up and down the stairs (even though it was well after 10pm by this time), Greeks and Asians were determined to yell at each other, and when I walked around the ship I couldn't find anywhere quiet to go. The best place was outside on the deck - where the strong cold wind prevented people congregating, except to smoke by themselves.
We moved our things outside - careful that nothing blew away in the wind - and set up on the deck. The noise of the wind drowned out any other noise and we were able to get a decent sleep for the rest of the night protected in our warm sleeping bags and comfortable on our mattresses.
When we arrived in Pireaus the plan had been to ride away from the city and start our journey through Greece, but Sam was exhausted and weak, so instead we found the cheapest hotel we could find with a shared bathroom- but still $30 Euro per night... expensive by our standards.
For a few hours we explored the streets of Athens and in the afternoon we watched a football game in a public square surrounded by expensive (for the cool people...) cafes while we surfed some free wifi.
That night the mad fever came back and the rash got worse... So it looks like we'll be staying another day.
Thanks to everyone for all of your support and positive comments on the site, it really keeps us going.
Distance: A very difficult 42km
Just so you know, the tıtle of thıs post has nothing to do with its content.
When we awoke it was hot. Not hot like Thailand but still hot. And we were sticky from not having showered since our swim yesterday.
Shanna has a t-shirt she has been wearing for almost a week now. Neither of us can remember when she last washed it, but its keeping the wild animals away, so she thinks she might stick with it for a little longer.
Thıngs arent a whole lot better for me... The runs have come back (not in an athletic way either) although not as bad as Asia, so Ive just bought some more drugs from a Chemist.
By the way, ıf you are wonderıng why I havent been usıng apostrophes (or why I just said -you are-), ıts because these Turkish key pads dont have them. They also have a few other funny letters so it can be trıcky and slow to type. Well I will stick to this excuse anyway.
Gettıng back to the day.
By mıd-morning we had hit the slopes. The bumpy, but at least for this stage semı-paved roads had gone up, up, up ın a steep spiral. And gasping for breath we saw ahead of us that the road turned into bumpy rocky gravel.
Over the next four hours we probabaly spent more time pushing our bikes up hill than actually ridıng them. We were both struggliıng up the hills in the hot sun wıth not enough water when an Australian guy on a big loaded up motor-bike passed us and Shanna flagged him down. He and the girl he was with, who was from the UK somewhere were great, and we stood and chatted for a bit, exchanging stories whıle he filled our water bottles for us.
A little bit happier but still unsure when we would find food and more water we kept pushıng through the hot sun and thinking about how great the bumpy ashphalt had been compared to the rocky road we were on now.
At around lunch time while cycling through a tiny village an old man approached us (see photo), told us to sıt on his porch and gave us two bottles of home made butter milk, some bread, spring onions, goats cheese and tea and then his friends came and joined us. None of us could communicate but he knew how grateful we were, and we realised that the pain of the morning had been worth ıt, if only for ths chance encounter.
An hour later and the road turned back into ashphalt. We stopped in another small village with only a corner shop and a tea house and bought some drinks. The shop keeper spoke English so we asked how far it was to were we could buy food. He told us that there was no where for another sixty kilometers, so hesitantly we bought some more things from him. (We later found our it was only 10 kılometers!!).
Flying down the street and the road once agaın met the beach. We were exhausted, so seeing a beautiful place we stopped to camp.
Here we had the best meal, hands down, of our entire trıp so far- freshly caught and perfectly cooked fish, roasted chicken, peppers and tomato wıth delicious fresh bread and the best salad we have ever eaten.
We sat and ate on a table rıght beside the ocean, our only companion a friendly stray dog, and decided that life couldnt get any better.
Shanna got spooked in the night, thought maybe there was a ghost under the house in the cellar we were sleeping next to. I agreed, then she was angry...!
Lost an important part from one of our bags in the long grass somewhere...
Luckily we found it... phew!!!
Hungry now, starving actually.
Breakfast: Yesterdays salami, cheese, tomato and bread. Ayran Turkish buttermilk, Limonata Lemon drink, dried cranberries and apricots.
Back riding on the main highway after throwing our bikes over the fence.
Itchy form the grass.
There is a cycling event on here by the water, looks like professional Turkish cycling teams. First time we have seen proper bicycles (enthusiasts) in Turkey!
The beach looked beautiful, and we were sweaty, so we put our bikes in the bushes and ran across the sand into the cool water. Ayah.
Got lost form each other for a little while again in the last busy town before we turn off the main road. No worries.
Very bumpy road, feels like I need suspension on my bike, the family jewels get whacked on my seat!!
Very hard to find somewhere to camp.
Eventually we found a cemetery high on a hill. You could see the water, and hear a party going on far into the distance.
We said goodnight to Mustafa, who slept underground whilst we slept above.
The illegal fishermen seemed to want to talk to us, even though it was clear we spoke no Turkish and they spoke no English. We'd been awoken by loud talking and the rickety motor on their boat.
When they noticed the tent they came over to investigate... we were happy to communicate in sign language at first, but when they came back for a third visit we made it clear we were trying to sleep.
When their boat left at 3am after dumping it's diesel fuel into the bay it was a welcome return to silence.
The quiet of our solitary spot enabled us to sleep in later than we expected, and the day was already warm as we rode out, past the horses being bathed nearby.
It was another beautiful day of riding along the coast. Small waterways, crumbling buildings and ornate bridges dotted the road. There were some steep, long climbs during this day, and the heat of the sun made for some sweaty riding. We'd often be flagged over by people on the side of the road, eager to welcome us to their country and shake our hands in approval of our journey.
As the sun started to dip we decided to try and find a place to wash and camp. A village approached so we exited the highway and made our way towards the coast. It was a Turkish tourist town though, and the land was developed all along the water. We kept riding out of the town, but the development continued.
We found a small market and bought some bread, cheese, salami and tomato to eat once we found a place to camp, but it was looking increasingly hopeless.
The road led us back to the highway. The town had given us no options. We rode along, not sure what to do... We could try to find a place to camp inland, but we really wanted a swim to wash the sweat off.
Sam spotted a dirt track and we decided to follow it. We were disappointed to find houses, until we realised they were incomplete houses. It was a whole village of house shells, abandoned long ago and now crumbling and overgrown. Perfect.
We headed towards the water to wash before returning to set up camp. We were stopped by a group of people who were a little too excited to see us. We got hugs, kisses (gropes!) and were invited to sit and eat with them. It became clear why when an English speaking lady arrived to offer us a place to stay and have some food, 'money no problem.' When we pressed them to let us know how much the favor would cost they replied a little sheepishly 'only $100 Euro!'.
Ha! We laughed, wave some fond good-bye's and left.
Along the coast we jumped off the path into the cool, clear water while a group of children sat watching us on nearby rocks. A young girl spoke to us in her best English, asking our names and how old we were. A nice elderly man came out of his house with juice and glasses to offer us some refreshment. And as we rode back to the housing estate ruins we heard a bike bell and saw the young girl from the beach riding her bike behind us, waving furiously.
Difficulty- Shanna 8, Sam 9
Weather- Sunny with some cloud 31c
Distance- 48 km
Well, we've experienced our first two days of real cycle touring!! And made it to Newcastle.
On Friday we arrived at Pete (Sam's brother) and Rochelle's late in the afternoon. We spent the evening going through our stuff to eliminate any unnecessary weight and we packed and repacked the panniers.
In the morning we loaded our stuff into the car and got driven to the ferry wharf at Palm Beach where the tour would begin for real. We were running late and got to the ferry less than a minute before it was leaving. Pete and Chelle helped us run all our stuff onto the ferry just as the boat was leaving the harbour. The next ferry wouldn't have left for almost two hours so it was a close shave and the adrenalin was still pumping by the time we finally sat down (kind of, Sam had to stand at the back of the ferry with the bikes).
The ferry arrived in Ettalong on the Central Coast and when we finally got all of our gear off- in front of a massive audience waiting for us to remove our things so that they could get on- we packed our bikes and tried to ride... It was the first time we felt the weight of the loaded tour bikes and wondered how we could even make the bikes move, let alone push them up mountains!! After wobbly starts (getting used to the balance) we set off up the coast towards Newcastle.
The day was spent tackling the hills around Kincumber, Avoca and Terrigal and while it was tough going, it was easier to keep the bikes moving than we'd feared. It also took some getting used to with the gears and Shanna's chain came off about 5 times on the first day.
It was hot and we hadn't slept much for days so Sam took advantage of a beckoning slab of concrete under a tree right next to a busy road to catch up on some much needed sleep.
On the first day we made it from the very south of the Central Coast to the northern point at Nora Head. At Nora Head we found a nice beach and picnic area to have a swim and cook our dinner. The swim was short-lived though when Sam looked down to see a sting ray right where he was about to plant his foot.
After eating we decided to set up camp so we found a nice overhanging tree where we could set up without being seen. Unfortunately it was close to the road though and all night we could hear the bogan drivers and drunkards of the area (of which there are apparently many).
Difficulty- Shanna 9, Sam 8
Weather- Hot and Sunny 35c
Distance 55 km
In the morning we loaded up to head to Newcastle. On the way Sam made friends with a magpie that was eying off his bike. Despite our initial fears, that it wanted to open his pannier and eat our food (if you've been to Wilsons Prom you'll know what we mean!) he soon realised that it had actually spotted a huge huntsman (spider) on his bike. Sam and the bird made eye contact and had a silent understanding that the bird could approach and eat the spider while Sam was still holding the bike. The magpie circled the bike and followed the spider, eventually jumping up on the handlebars and grabbing it. It then jumped off the bike and promptly munched it's snack.
It was a tough day of riding. Very hot and some big hills on the Pacific Highway between Lake Munmorah and Swansea. Shanna lost a pannier at some traffic lights but everyone politely waited for her to collect it from the middle of the busy intersection, rather than honking or running her down. All in all - the facilities for cyclists on the Central Coast and Newcastle have been great - lots of wide shoulders and marked bike lanes. The drivers have also been very considerate - much better than Melbourne.
We arrived in Newcastle at Stewart and Michelle's (Shan's sister) mid-afternoon, about five minutes before a torrential down pour. We've since caught up with Shan's school friends, family and enjoyed sleeping in a bed for the first time in about a week.
We'll spend a couple of days catching up with people here before setting off for Brisbane.
A couple of weeks before we left Melbourne we gave stealth camping a practice run and tested our gear. Lessons learnt - try to set up before it gets dark! And make sure you've always got some food that doesn't need to be cooked in case your stove doesn't work (you won't always be able to drive to the nearest servo when you realise you've forgotten the lighter).
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia