Friday, 1 July 2011

Does It Get Any Better Than This?...

And so into Greece.....
Ioanninian street Greece

My Brazilian friend, Ana, who I met on the train to Rome

Fishing boats at Igoumenitsa -Greece

Brindisi harbour Italy. Next stop - Greece

The long and winding road. I had cycled from beyond the mountains in the distance. And this was only 23 miles into a total of 57 miles that I eventually and very slowly cycled that day from Igoumenitsa to Ioannina.

The columns marking the end of the Appia Antica in Brindisi harbour , Italy

Ruins of a monastry in Ioannina Greece

Byzantine church in Ioaninna with the mighty Pindos Mountains behind

my favourite combination, a gorgeous Greek, (Constantinos), a camera shop and a fellow cyclist.

Ioaninna Greece

The long and winding road: top of the mountain from Igoumenitsa onward to Ioaninna


Well, I had to transport the inflatable somehow by bike to the beach!

I thought that cycling the Appia Antica, the original Roman road leading from Rome to Brindisi was the highlight of my tour. The history of the road was all encompassing with the cobbled surface, the ruins of elaborate Roman tombs lining the road, this, the Queen of Roads, that the Romans built to travel south east to Brindisi on the coast. The Via Appia Antica was also the scene, now marked by a small church, St Peters, where the apostle was escaping from Rome

Does it get any better than this?

along the Appia, when he saw a vision of Christ and uttered those imortal words, 'quo vardis domine' (where are you going Lord?) The road was full of history but even this has been surpassed by other sights as I travel further on my journey. Every day there are new

Left to Right: Connie, Hollie, me, Peggy Rose the Pickler : my lively and wonderful American dinner companions

experiences and everytime I think to myself, 'it can't get better than this' : it does!

But this journey is a cycle ride and its not always easy. Sometimes, as in Tarranto where the temperature hit 37 degrees, I wondered why I chose to cycle. However, that feeling doesn't last long especially when, as yesterday, I cycled over the mountains up from the Greek port of Iougmenitsa, savouring the spectacular views. It was a very slow journey yesterday, as out of the 57 miles I cycled, 47 of those were uphill, with some very steep hair pin bends in oppressive heat in the afternoon. But I am a much fitter and stronger cyclist now and although tired by 7pm when I reached Ioaninna, I loved the ride, stopping to look at the mountain scenery, and having lots of refreshment breaks to give myself a breather and cool down.

When the cycling does get hard, I just cheer myself up with thoughts of all the great people I have met on the trip so far. When I hit a particularly long uphill section yesterday, I just thought back to when I stopped in Brindisi in Italy before catching the ferry over to Greece. On my last afternoon, I went to my favourite ' Betty's Cafe', a lovely harbour side restaurat and was invited over by three lively American ladies, Connie, Hollie and 'Peggy Rose, 'the Pickler' . We all had such a good laugh and I really enjoyed their company for a couple of hours.

I eventually arrived in the Greek port of Igoumenitsa at 3 am in the morning, so I spent a couple of hours chatting to the bar man in the terminal cafe until dawn and decided to catch the ferry over to Corfu. Just a day trip but needed more time and I had to get back to Igoumenitsa to book a hotel. Then I decided I needed a day off and found a lovely little sandy beach just a mile away from the hotel. So I spent the day on the beach (very unusual for me - I am not a beach person) and had the most wonderful day. While I floated and bobbed around on the clear aquamarine sea on my newly aquired inflatable,letting the sun coat me in its warmth,and then drying off on the beach, I just kept thinking to myself , 'does it really get any better than this?'.
I had probably one of the most relaxing days I've had in a very long time that day, finished off with a long cold beer and a club sandwich at the beach side bar.

Then arriving in Ioannina - a bustling charming town with a beautiful lake nestled beneath the mighty Pindos mountains- my next challenge -I am having a few days rest here, enjoing the lakeside cafes, the shops and the Byzantine churches.

So I'm resting up in preparation for my crossing the Pindos Mountains tomorrow. It will be 35 miles uphill with some steep hair pin bends: the roads cutting through the sides of the mountains. A hard day ahead. I'm hoping to leave just after dawn to get to Mestevo by early afternoon. Looking forward to the spectacular views. I'm really enjoying Greece and yet again, the people are so friendly and helpful. I bought a small camera here today and met the lovely Constantinos, the shop assistant who sold me the camera. Tell me somebody - does it get any better than this?!


(paintsandpedals and all photographs copyright Deborah Anne Brady; all rights reserved)

1 comment:

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