Tour05 Day 2

A Church on the Agean Sea

This was the day when I decided whether to go to Bulgaria or Greece. I decided to go to Greece. Then I spent the next hour lost in Edirne, after experiencing my first, and last, incident with a Turkish driver. After the first incident, I was much more careful about staying out of cars way!

Less than 15 minutes after I started riding in Turkey, I was forced into a high curb by a driver that passed into me on a narrow street. To be fair, he allowed enough room for a bicycle, just not enough room for a bicycle with panniers. He had probably never seen a bike with front panniers!

I didn't go down, but my pannier was knocked partially off and my handlebars were pushed out of line by about 30 degrees. Neither the pannier or the rack was seriously damaged - I'm glad I have the Blackburn lowrider with the hoop which is much better able to take this kind of impact - but I was a bit shaken up. As a result, after stopping to inspect the pannier and rack and remount the pannier and straighten the handlebars, I turned in the wrong direction. It was quite a while before I realized that I wasn't heading for Greece, and then that I didn't know where I was in Edirne. I finally figured out where I was when I reached the train station.

I got back to where I started by following the main road into town back up - lots of up! - to the big mosque and then heading for Greece again. That took an hour of my time much of which was spent riding on very rough streets. When I did find my way south of the river, it was by crossing bridges that I didn't know existed ;-{, so I stopped to aska fellow if I was going in the right direction. He spoke German, and said I was and that I should turn 'rechts' at the end of the second bridge and that I would reach Greece in three kilometers. It didn't quite work out that way.

Half a dozen miles later I finaly left Edirne and was riding on a nice, but almost deserted, country road that seemed to be heading for Bulgaria instead of Greece.

I turned back, decided I would just get lost again if I went back into Edirne, and turned around again deciding I would go wherever the road led me. It led me to Greece, and I'm typing this in my room in Alexanderoupoli on the Agean Sea.

Getting through Turkish border control was a bit strange - the visa gut wanted to sell me another Turkish Visa and all four (!) stages of the process had trouble with the fact that I didn't have a car, but it was all resolved in a friendly way and, after a brief stop at the Greek Border station, I made it into Greece.

The expressway with a great shoulder

The ride down was long - 130 km from the border - 95 miles for my days ride including almost ten miles in Edirne - and moderately hilly, but the hills were gentle and I had a good tail wind almost all of the way, so it was fast riding.

The road was an expressway which , mostly, had good shoulders and very light to light traffic. Road quality was highly variable, going from new, divided, four lane with great shoulders to rough, narrow, two land with no shoulders. Mostly the shoulder was good and, even in the worst parts, I had no trouble with the other vehicles. Greek driver are much better than Turkish drivers. Even riding through downtown Alexanderoupoli at rush hour was easy after riding in Edirne.

A Curch in a small town on the way down

A stork's nest with a baby stork peering out'

The biggest problem I had today was lack of places to eat in Greece.In the first 50 miles in Greece, it seemed like all the cities and towns along the way were empty of people. Strange, especially compared to Turkey were people are everywhere walking and talking and eating. I figure those Greeks starved to death since their didn't seem to be any places to eat!

At just about 50 miles from the border, I found a place that actually cooked food. The owners wife spoke German, and with her help, I managed to order a large, late lunch. Shortly after that - in the next valley - I came upon several restaurants and a small, nice looking, hotel, so it would be practical to ride south from Edirne and have a nice place to eat and to stop for the night after less than 60 miles. There was also an internet cafe in that same small town, which, I think, is at the crossroads of two major highways.

'Expressway' with small shoulder in the area adjacent to the military base

A good bit of this route is adjacent to a big military area and there are signs forbidding picture taking for what felt like about 25 miles. There was also a lot of military traffic on the road. On of the first 'jeeps' I saw today beeped its horn to get my attention. The driver waved and smiled broadly.

The expressway near Feres, the other border crossing from Turkey

I got a lot smiles today and a lot of friendly horn beeps. The only times I got frowns were when people ask where I was from . Being from 'America' used to be a good thing, getting smiles and friendly comments. Then, after Bush, I heard 'your goverment is bad, but your people are OK.' Now, after Bush's re-election, I get frowns and silences, or, at best, friendly condolences.

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