R&D Wept As There Was No More Greece to Conquer
Tough going again today into Alexandropoulis (our last stop in Greece) over plenty of hills, despite following the coast. The headwind did not help much either. Fortunately, we managed to make it to the town before a big storm broke. Despite sounding exotic as a destination, the reality is that because Alexander the Great named so many places after himself (or his sister, father, family dog, whatever) most of them are now just bog-standard towns.
A few thoughts on Greece -
Language - Well, it's all Greek to us! For a start "Nei" is "Yes" and "Okhee" is "No" - how are you supposed to make that instinctive? On top of that, B=V, P=R, H=I, n=I, w=o and that's hard enough to remember without having to pronounce words made up entirely of scientific and mathematical constants! Embarrassingly, we relied heavily on "meelate anglika?" as a key phrase, especially when the answer was virtually always "Nei".
Religion - The priests we saw on the boat to Greece were just the tip of the iceberg - they're everywhere...on the streets, in cafes, on the news - even in churches! Their influence in Greece is evident on TV where every news discussion programme would include a priest on the panel, regardless of topic. At the same time, all roadsides are lined with shrines, bus-stops have chapels and any town of any size has a significant edifice. Unlike Italy, the roadside shrines are not clearly related to road accidents but are placed every 2-300 metres with a couple of small plaques (often silver-plated) depicting Jesus and Mary, and a votive oil burner. They ranged in size and style from miniature chapels you could crouch inside, down to simple metal (rusted) boxes on legs.
Crime - OK, so we're not the official crime survey for Europe but Greece felt a lot safer than elsewhere. When we arrived somewhere, people would be a lot less concerned about the security of the bikes, saying we could just lean them up against an outside wall and they'd be fine. Of course, that might be saying more about the state of our bikes than the crime rate in Greece.
Geography - Greece is hilly...very hilly.
Flags - Maybe it's tied up with religion but there's clearly a strong streak of patriotism in Greece (although who wouldn't be visibly proud of their country if it was the European champion and had just cruised qualification for Euro 2008, unlike some other countries we could mention...). In any case, they like to display the blue and white stripes at every opportunity.
Food - Greek yoghurt and honey....mmmmm.
Day 68.4km (Total 3338.2km)