Day 8 Arta to Ioannina

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Up at 6:30 again. Hotel curtains are not exactly blackout material, and my room faced Eastish – the first rays lit up the room like it was on fire. I had an equipment failure – a bolt securing my Ortlieb pannier’s  bar that connects to the bike frame was missing – lucky I have several types of tape, plus velcro  strips. The velcro saved the day.

Breakfast was ordinary, though cereal made it’s first appearance; sugar coated chocolate frosty bombs – two serves, please; no muesli. sliced cheese, various meats (mortadalla sounds so much like what it must taste like), sweet bread, and some mini croissants. Sweetened OJ, luke warm coffee. No wonder the Greek Empire died a while back – civilisations are built and maintained on proper breakfasts – plus, as they’re part of the price, it’s like a free meal….

The hotel had a huge lift to get cars into it’s underground carpark. Seemed like overkill for my Trek; but there you are. Got my bike out of there, paid my bill, velcro’ed the pannier, and set off – first a quick look at the old bridge.

bridge

Fairly chilly, though clear blue skies, so I put on my light cotton jumper. And headed North. It started out OK; fairly level,  wide road, but then it started to climb; subtley and sneakily. It was 10km before I realised I hadn’t had a rest – gentle pressure on the pedals all the way. And it got steeper. And colder. It’s Spring here, and it’s been pleasantly warm – 20+ degrees Celsius or so. As I climbed it dropped towards 10, and with the howling head wind, felt like 6. Progress was slow.

tree

I stopped for coffee a coupe of times, but failed to find anything to eat other than junk – that’s one of the problems of being a non-meat eating, nightshade intolerant person; there’s often sod all to eat. Not even spanakopita, which I’m getting fairly sick of, as it’s been my go to meal for over a week now.

So I ground on, enjoying the quiet, and getting into the grind, not thinking about it, just loosely focusing on the next bend, or landmark, and steadily pumping away. Getting steadily higher, and colder; a bit like the Snowies in late May.

mtn

After some 50 km, I crested the last hill; there was a slip road to a new stretch of motor way heading South and endless road works on my road – plus lots of traffic coming from the end of the motorway onto the Ioannina road.  Not fun. The metre separation vanished, and I had trucks and buses so close that they brushed my elbow, plus the road surface was crap, and poorly maintained crap; on my right either a steep drop, or a guard rail, so no escape. Not a route for the faint hearted cyclist – but, with no alternative I carried on, always slightly concerned about some truck or bus trying to have anal sex with me….. It’s a bloke thing, unless you’re gay, I guess – and even then a bus or truck is a bit extreme. Especially if you’ve not been introduced.

Hungry and weary, I got to the outskirts of Ioannina. Traffic madness, worse than Athens. Very, very scary. I got off the bike and pushed the last couple of Km into the centre – terrified by the lack of care drivers showed. I booked into the first pub I found in the centre – it was after 4:00pm, a very long day, and I’d not eaten forever, and was cold and I needed a hug. Settled for – you guessed it  – spanakopita, a glass of red, and a hot shower.

Feeling slightly better, I walked down to the lake that the town hugs. Cold and windy, and the surrounding peaks are snow covered. If I lived here I’d move.

I’ve got another day of what looks like chilly climbing tomorrow, but I hope to find Eurovelo 8 just North of here. With any luck that’ll mean a less frantic route. We’ll see. I’ll definitely pull out my Winter gloves and a thicker jumper. Glad I packed them 🙂

All in all a trying day, though my legs are loving it, and I must say it was mostly fun. The journey is always a learning experience, if not always the greatest. A poor day’s cycling is better than none 🙂

See you down the road.

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