It’s warm… as I rolled up my tarp at 8am this morning on the little patch of sand on which we spent the night my thermometer was already showing 30 degs C… and by 2pm this afternoon it was above 34 degs in the shade… about 10 degs warmer than normal for this time of year… it makes riding a sweaty business but I’ve endured much hotter so really just a case of slowing down and carrying lots of water. Hopefully in the next couple of days should be up in the mountains of Lasithi where it ought to be a bit cooler than the last few days down here on the sweltering south coast… However I’m getting ahead of myself, it’s been a mellow, albeit warm few days navigating village to village eventually dropping down to the south coast and pedalling east along the mountainous coastline. Yeah I know I said we’d probably go west.. we changed our minds :-)
From Zaros a cruise west and north into the Amari Valley… some dirt and some asphalt.
The Amari Valley… rather green and lovely at this time of year..
numerous villages dot the valley, stopped for icecream in this one…
..there are also a very many little churches..
..some of them feature rich internal frescos.. like this one dating from the 14th century. They also make shady spots for a break from riding.
Fourfouras is a rather lovely hill village situated high on the eastern slopes of the Amari valley.
From Foufouras a long dirt road descent to the coast at the little harbour town of Kokkinos Pyrgos..
..arriving in the heat of the midday sun to find, happily, a little harbourside taverna serving local fish and cold beer :-)
Kokkinos Pyrgos… plans went a little awry in the afternoon as 10km out of town Ash’s rear rim failed.. it was apparently near the end of it’s useful life and perhaps something of a gamble to bring it. However things worked out well… there is a very good bikeshop in nearby Timpaaki with a very enthusiastic owner.. he was closedf for siesta so we trundled back to Kokkinos Pyrgos for a siesta and a cheap harbourside room for the night. Meanwhile Ash sorted himself out with a complete new wheel for about the same price as a rim back home.. leaving the evening free for beer and chips instead of wheelbuilding :-)
Kokkinos Pyrgos… a pleasant stopover and entirely untouristy.. at least in May..
there is also a large beach… but I find harbours more interesting.
some folk on the other hand like beaches and taking pictures of sunsets on them with their iPads….
Not just in Kokkinos Pyrgos.. evidence of Greece’s financial problems is everywhere in the form of closed businesses and unfinished projects. Times are hard.
From Kokkinos Pyrgos then.. some mellow cruising through olive groves…
…and quite a lot of climbing..
..to return to the coast a bit further east at Kali Limines..
the emerald blue of the Libyan Sea is rather captivating. My bike parking skills are right up there…
From Kali Limines there is a mountainous dirt track heading east… it’s hard work on a hot day..
… but the views are fabulous.
There are a number of tiny communities along the way, mostly nice and scruffy. The local economy is an agricultural one.. there are numerous greenhouses tucked into the valleys along the way.
The reward for what was quite a stiff day… a beach camp on a deserted spot of sand tucked away at the bottom of a valley..
..featuring crystal clear water, albeit a bit chilly, perfect for washing the dust of the road away.
A room with a view… the moonrise at about 11pm was phenomenal.. a dark orange, presumably as a result of dust from the desert lands to the east..
..of course a photo never fully communicates the full reality.. it was a baking hot and humid night, buggy too, so the climb back up from the coast was done slowly with somewhat heavy legs… :-)
…but once up there a terrific ride gently descending to the heat of the valley just north of the coastal range…
…followed by a baking hot, but not unpleasant, afternoon of navigating village to village through olive groves to reach the small town of Pirgos… which is where I am now and is also where my late afternoon beer is rapidly getting warm… see ya!