Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 42 (Greece): spot near a tower on the coast - Koutso

today’s distance: 112km
total distance: 3369km
riding time: 5-6h

The night had been rainy, but in the morning things had cleared up. I was slow to get up though, maybe because of the long ride yesterday.

I slowly moved to Kavala, after treating myself to wonderfully rich and moist cakes in a bakery along the way. Then the unmistakable Bavarian accent in a Greek’s English came through as I was held up by a construction worker. We quickly changed from English to German, he asked me where I was coming from, where I was heading and the like, then waved me through.

Kavala was pleasant enough despite the first drops of rain for the day. I waited most of the rain out and then set out with a good tailwind until Xanthi on good roads.

Xanthi received me with more rain, but also with the first road biker in Greece who goes by the name of Yanis (or John as he introduced himself, and he was not the first to use that one). He called me a little crazy, but we had a good talk on the last kms to Xanthi.

In Xanthi I walked through the old quarter of town with its many remodeled houses. I came upon an art gallery and when taking a picture Yanis and Alexandros approached me and we got into a conversation about the town, the people living there (a good number of Turkish people, but also Pomak with their own unwritten language) and more.

When I left town, I was chased by what I can only describe as the dogs from hell. Using my waterbottle usually is a good way to get rid of dogs. For some reason, the dogs here in Greece go nuts … and much more so than in other places so far. They seem to have a cerain gusto for bikers If worse comes to worse, you squirt them with water and things are good. Not this time. I was in city traffic. Oncoming traffic on my left, dogs on my right, behind me and one running around to cut me off from the front. They were also unperturbed by my water bottle. It must have been quite a sight. If anyone can tell me why animals (dogs, goats, sheep and donkeys) go nuts when they see a biker, but are not even bothered by cars, trucks or tanks, I would certainly appreciate any suggestions. Up comes a red light, the dogs still chasing me. Stopping didn’t seem like an option, so I careened around the only car standing there and ran a red light - the dogs still on my heels. Then a bridge came up and this was the saving factor. Outdoing them on speed wasn’t an option in the city and for some reason they really were after me. No sausages in my bags … didn’t really understand why I was their target. Regardless of size or color.

I had hoped to find some place to pitch the tent outside of Xanthi, but that wasn’t to be. A t-storm had hit the area just before I got there, there was water standing in the fields and no good places to put the tent up. The places I tried out were a no-go. Muddy as you can have it. The storks that I started to see in good numbers sure liked it.

Eventually I turned into a town, saw three youths and asked whether there was a place for me since there were apparently no hotels and it was essentially dark. Eventually and aftera good while, Christos’ mother who had seen us talking suggested the former workshop of the family. 5 minutes later she brought out potatoes, cheese, bread, tsatsiki and something to drink … yum, yum.

And since some people have asked about my future job that I mentioned a bit back and since it is not really a secret, here we go. I will be starting a position as an associate professor at the University of Miami. The biking situation doesn’t seem to be the most friendly there, but seems managable regardless (thanks to Mike, a student at the law school for sending this).


1 Yiannis { 05.08.08 at 9:00 am }

Thank you for th pictures and i hope the next time you pass through Xanthi the dogs treat you more friendly. Have a nice trip

2 Nopi { 05.11.08 at 8:52 am }

Good morning, Marcus! How are you? How’s your trip so far? Where do i find you? I’m writting you from my work (Photography Museum of Thessaloniki). I hope you’re ok with your health. Thank you for sharing with me your thoughts and your CRAZY enthusiasm for this journey of yours!!!!!!! I’m looking forward to hearing your news. KEEP ON CYCLING !!!

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