Day 7 – Agrinio to Arta

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Up and about at 6:30; rain spattering on the window.  Packed carefully, and headed down for breakfast. Amazing! No muesli or cereal, but: fruit, coffee, mini pizzas, scrambled egg, hot pork sausages, sliced cheeses and meats, toast, bread, and Orange Juice. I had a good feed; scrambled eggs and toast, then a couple of mini croissants, washed down with 2 glasses of OJ and a coffee. It rates a 7+ as a breakfast – if they’d had muesli it would have been a solid 8. I paid the bill, rugged up – it was cool, as well as showery, and got ready to hit the road.

I’d been worried about getting out of Agrinio, and onto the road North;  The inner city is designed like the Minotaur’s lair – and I’d not left a line of string to follow on the way out. Fortunately  the hotel manager, a delightful young woman with fluent English and a keen desire to assist, told me – take that street; bear right at the church, left at the police station, continue for 200 metres, turn right for Neapoli; then follow that road. Easy.

The road was a bit of a goat track. Rough, potholed, and barely visible lane markings. That, coupled with the rain and the gloom, and the heavy early morning traffic (and we’re talking Greek drivers here; they want to stop, they just turn on their hazard lights and do so, regardless of where they are; blind bends, narrow streets where they block traffic, whatever. It made me chuckle a couple of times. The other drivers seem relaxed enough about it – presumably their road behaviour is as bad.

The road was fairly flat, and the showers didn’t mean I had to break out the wet weather gear; a light long sleeved cotton jumper kept me warm enough, and I was blessed by a strong – 2 gears worth – tailwind all day.

I hummed along. Greek roads tend to have a White line about a metre into the carriageway; stay right of that and you’re fine. As is usual though, when the road narrows for rocky bends the metre disappears. Traffic is still very courteous towards distance cyclists, so I never felt unsafe. I got lots of encouraging toots and waves – no-one threw money though. But… you still feel nervous on tight bends – I’m made of meat, and the buses, trucks and cars cutting the corners on the sharp bends are made of metal…..

At Amfilochia the road forks; I turned right. Amfilochia is on an almost landlocked chunk of sea known as the Ambracian gulf. Not a pretty resort town, but hey – 17k people live there. Just glad I’m not one…… If I’d turned left, I’d have needed to catch a ferry to cross the gulf. After about 20 km.

A long, steady grind along roads that hug the cliff face. Absolutely stunning cycling, even in the damp, rainy gloomy midday. It makes the Great Ocean Road look like a trip through Fyshwick…. almost 🙂

Coffee and a bar of chocolate at a random stop. then on to Arta. 86 km, and I’m weary.

arta

Arta is built on a couple of hills above a river, and  has a 13th Century castle (interestingly, the guy who built it won several battles at a massive cost – he gave us the Pyrrhic victory), and a 15th century bridge – there’s not much else of note, though there’s a fair sized pedestrian only series of streets – one of which had what I thought were river-worn rocks – but it turns out that it’s the ruins of a temple to Apollo. I’m not sure myself.

 

Grabbed a beer at a tavern 🙂

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Then found the Hotel Cronos. Good and cheap, with great views from the rooms;

hotel view

I booked in, and did some laundry – cycling gear as it’s all I’ve worn  since Athens; walked the town, rolling like a drunken sailor – tight legs and back, and I walk like a zombie when my legs are not tight 😦  Grabbed a chunk of spanakopita to munch while I walked, then back to the hotel to update this.

Tomorrow looks like more damp weather, and even cooler – 14C is the projected high. Bummer. I’m heading for Ioaninna, where I hope to meet up with the Eurovelo 8 route again.

See you down the road.

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