Winter cycling in Greece was very far away from the cliché pictures of beaches, sun and "umbrella" long drinks.
Visa: No worries for most nationals. Three months on the spot.
Costs: Very expensive! One of the most expensive countries in Europe.
Traffic and Roads: Lots of traffic, but the motorists usually take good care of you and keep the distance. Roads, good asphalt, the police doesn't seem to care if you cycle on the freeways. Smaller, gravel back roads also in good condition. A hilly country!
It felt really great to get out of Nepal, a place we had utterly sick of the last couple of months and it felt fantastic to start cycling again. The traffic was heavy, but on the other hand, compared to Nepali traffic it was a breeze. The Greeks knew how to drive, not like the Nepalese - find the steering wheel, find the horn and then full speed - regardless of other traffic, hairpins or road condition. Felt safe on the roads again.
decided early that we should try out the interior of the country and go into the
mountains. To find some nice back roads, passes and maybe even snow. We found
that and we almost got more than we asked for. Fact is: we had some of the
hardest days on the whole trip. Loads of snow in the mountains, cold and wet
anyone who wanna do something pretty tuff, can try out the evil Katara Pass in a
snowstorm. A killer!
|Some photos from the sunny days in the beautiful mountains in Greece.|
|The conditions were not very nice all the time. Nadine on a hillside on the climb to Katara Pass.|
|What you sometimes have deal with: Bad camp spots. The choice was between camping out in the open in a rainstorm or camping inside a cattle shed, floor full of shit. Nice odour and the morning after we were covered with small insect bites...maybe the rainstorm had been a better option...|
|Happy to be at the beach, in the sun at the Mediterranean coast, after quite a lot of hardship in the snowy, cold and wet mountains.|
Cozy villages, friendly people and relaxed back roads everywhere. Olives, Feta cheese, great bread, fresh veggies and huge oranges kept us going through the very hilly country side of Greece.
The plan was to go through Eastern Europe, but at the border of Albania we got a mail from a guy who wanted to employ us in the mountaineering business. As it turned out, that was one of our life's biggest mistakes ever to go for that option. We actually already knew that the guy in charge was a big time liar, but the opportunity to work as mountaineering guides in Asia was a too big carrot and we got blinded by it. The guy I'm talking about is the same guy who fooled us into going for a dead end route into the Kunlun mountains in the search for Karamiran Shankou. Of course Mr Heersink had never been there, maybe in his myth maniac, drug infused, wishful dreams, but never in reality.
We cut our trip short and went to Holland, to go for the "job". We realized quickly it was a big mistake. Heersink was nothing but a paranoid, alcoholic, pothead, looser with an ever changing mind. Hung over in the mornings (in his world at 1500h) the company was doomed and he was about to put everything that had to do with mountaineering to an end. Late at night, strengthened with x number of drinks and xx number of joints, the story was very different. Then he was babbling about climbing the north face of K2 solo.
The whole thing would've been very laugh provoking if we hadn't been caught in the middle of the mess.
One day when we were accused of being part of a world wide conspiracy against him, we had had enough and left the sinking ship of his bluff company behind. Death threats and loads of abuse followed...well, small dogs bark, big dogs bite...
The only reason I mention this sad part of the story is: 1. To explain why the journey had such an abrupt end and 2. I feel it's an obligation to warn people about this company. In the best case you end up loosing lots of $ reaching Muztagh Ata base camp, but the potential of a much worse outcome is large. Consider yourself ending up in a situation high up on a mountain side with full blown lunatic, who can't control himself under normal circumstances in the civilized world. His fraud company can be found on www.highalpex.com The site is usually not updated for moths, "the climbing manager" is probably busy getting fucked up on drugs and spamming mountaineering clubs around the world. If you have plans of going for a commercial expedition, go for any other company, any of them is better for sure - or even better: Organize it yourself with some good friends!
That said, that's it for now. Thanks for all encouraging mails, tips, questions, critique, help with info, photos etc. The Murphy Tour is over, but new plans are already taking shape and after only a month I really feel ready to get back on the saddle again. It's a BIG world out there and millions of interesting routes to go for.
So long, have fun, good luck, see you out there one day, Corax.
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