Saturday 2 June. Day 15.
Thessaloniki to Xanthi 132 miles.
After a nice breakfast and "lots of it" in the nice, but little expensive hotel. I was loading up my bike with the panniers. All my phones and gps solar chargers were fully charged again after plugging them into the mains overnight. The porter helped me out of the hotel and was asking where I was going to and where I came from he was very impressed that I was carrying so much weight on my bike and also that I had come so far in so little time. I waved at him as I left the hotel, it was a long way out of the centre to get onto the motorway. I stopped at a little kiosk en route for water etc..
The weather was fantastic and clear blue skies, but when I cycled out of the shade of the buildings the sun was baking hot. It was a busy place Thessaloniki, and getting out of town was busy too. I eventually, get to the motorway and my thoughts are - Can I cycle along here ? Well, it's a really great road surface probably matching western european roads for smoothness, and after the initial climb out of the centre the motorway is very flat, and continues to be like this all morning with only a few gradual climbs.
As this motorway is elevated a little with fences running along side each carriageway I get the feeling I could be out of reach of any mad dogs along the way today. Having said that I was cruising along at about 25mph (easy miles) when in the distance I heard a little barking of a dog, I looked to my right over the fields and in the distance I see a dog heading over in my direction haha Oh no here we go again I thought ! Well, this time I had the fence and also there was a side road that run parallel to the motorway, the dog was flying and started to run on the side road but was looking up at me barking away at me, it was only a little dog but it couldn't half run ! I checked out my speed and it was about 28mph, and the little fecker was keeping up with me haha.. after a few minutes it stopped and turned around and went back in the direction it ran from, I was thinking at the time - why are these dogs finding me so interesting that they run miles to get to me ! I can remember tweeting I'm sure these dogs think I'm the "Pedigree chum" guy with my panniers full of dog food.
I plod on covering great miles today, its brilliant - sunny, smooth, flat roads. In the distance and from signs coming up I see there is a toll coming up ! Now... What do I do now ? do I carry on and maybe risk getting told to get off ! or do I launch my bike over the fence and carry on on the side road then after the toll booth launch the bike back over onto the motorway side ?
Well, just before you reach the toll booth there is a snack van and eating area to the right, so I pull in and take a toilet break, and also go to the snack van. Coffee please I asked the guy in the van, I also tried to ask if he knew if I could get through on my bike - He say - Maybe! Maybe not! Thats good then :-)
I decide after my cold coffee (Yuk!) to head towards the toll, I pull up at the end booth a young guy looks and I ask how much ? He laughs and gestures to carry on through no charge ! That'll do for me, so I must be Ok to cycle on the motorways. Brilliant!
I cycle on into the afternoon, and see a sign for a cafe/service area, so I pull off and follow the signs, when I get there it's a cracking place there is lots of hot food on display, and there is hardly anybody in the place, so plenty of tables to sit down and eat/chill for a while. It was certainly the best meal I had throughout the day anywhere, it was roast chicken, jacket potato, bread butter the lot… also plenty of coffee, water and sports drinks ! I even called Mrs F to say I've had the best daytime meal on the trip (makes a change from sandwiches, cake, crisps, chocolate etc). I must have stayed there an hour and had a great rest, and even danced with my headphones on the Abba gold on ipod :-)) Happy Chappy.
After my break I carry on heading towards Xanthi, this was the place I would be happy to make this evening. I was knocking the miles out much easier today and passed some brilliant views of beaches (Kavala) very nice sandy beach in my photos.
Just as the sun was going down I reach the turn off for Xanthi, it took about 30 mins to get to the centre from the motorway. I see a hotel on my left I pull in, prop the bike up outside and walk in and ask how much? 30 euros - it looks Ok so I book in, only one problem! no food... So after getting sorted shower/change, I take a walk down the main road, the guy on reception pointed me in the direction of a restaurant, after 10 mins walking i reach it - looks like a local - get together place - as its very busy. I take a seat and wait to place my order, the waiter comes over and takes my order - Spaghetti bolognese oh, and some wine. The waiter didn't bring a bottle over or jug.. just a single glass of wine. The wine went down very quickly and I kept on asking for another glass, after glass after glass :-) at the end he brought my a big glass of Red over and said One on the house sir ! Fantastic what a guy !! Needless to say after around 11.30pm I staggered back to the hotel very happy again for another night.