We flew to Athens from Turkey where we had 10 days until our daughters and their friend arrived so we decided to catch a ferry to the Peloponnese and do some bike touring.
We booked an Airbnb for our night in Athens so we would have somewhere to assembled The Bucket and safely store it until we left the next day. Assembling the bucket is a task that usually ends up with me hot and dirty and in the heat of Athens this time was no exception.
The room we took was a bedroom in a shared apartment but luckily it had a balcony big enough for me to lay the pieces of The Bucket out and start connecting her back together.
Several times we were visited by the house cat Chewbacca. He seemed to want to know what all the noise was about in his house. He climbed into Kathy’s suitcase, came out on the balcony, hid behind the bushes and then would run away if I made too much noise. I got the strong feeling that this was his normal bedroom and he did not think we should be there.
After getting The Bucket together we headed out to a local restaurant recommended by our hosts and dropped the bike boxes off at the hotel we would be meeting the girls at in 10 days time.
The restaurant recommendation was spot on. I had some delicious lamb while Kathy got her now favourite Greek dish, Moussaka.
We strolled around the streets and then went back to the apartment for a very hot, noisy and mosquito ridden night. It was no problem waking up for our early morning ride out of Athens as I don’t think either of us really got to sleep.
Riding in Athens is not something I would recommend. We had the route mapped on the GPS but still managed to get misplaced. As we stopped on the side of a 4 lane road trying to figure out where the nice quite back road was, a guy in a car speed past, pulled a U-turn across the traffic, parked and then ran back to us. He asked if we need some help. He was very impressed with The Bucket and asked all the usually questions, including does Kathy always pedal. He eventually said the busy road would lead us to the port, we just had to keep going. We headed off with a big thank you to our guide and eventually worked our way to the port, arriving an hour early.
Bike riding is not popular in Greece and a Tandem is definitely unusual. We got many good-natured calls from people we saw on the streets and all the drivers were, in fact, very courteous.
The ferry was one of the small, high-speed, people only boats that ply the mediterranean from island to island. We turned up at the ticket office and the girl in the glass booth took one look at our extra long bike and said NO. We then explained with English and gestures that it came apart and could easily fit where a normal bike fits. After a few minutes of pantomime she agreed and issued us with tickets, including one for The Bucket.
We sat down to wait for the ferry and got approached by an old woman begging by selling small packets of tissues at a high price. As the cost was still not much Kathy bought a packet from her, paying her double her asking price, and returned to sit with me. The old woman followed Kathy and got excited looking at The Bucket. With a few words of English and some gestures she explained that she rides her bike to the ferry terminal each day to get to her job of selling tissues. She was very sweet and we were glad that we had meet her.
We josselled our way on to the ferry and bungee tied the two pieces of The Bucket to the railing out the back with all the other bags of food and household goods.
It is interesting how different countries handle lining up for something. Some countries are very orderly while others are basically every man for himself. If you come from one of the former it is a shock at first to experience the latter. Once you know the rules it is pretty easy to adapt and I was soon swinging my elbows and pushing like a native to get on that boat.
As we settled in our seats for the couple of hours ride across the bay I got a reply to the email I sent to the ferry company yesterday asking if they take bicycles. Luckily we did not get this reply until after we got on because they said they did not take bikes. Greece seems to be a country where offical rules are one thing and what actually happens is totally different. Just look at the drivers and road rules. After a week of riding in Greece we decided centre lines on the road were just a guide for most drivers along with speed limits. Interestingly enough, this actually made it safer on the road for us as the drivers gave us plenty of room even if they had to cross the centre line on a blind corner.