It was a cool and crisp morning when we left our hotel in old central Athens. Lindsay had made arrangements for a bicycle shop to give us a van ride out of the busy part of Athens. Those narrow heavily traveled streets would have taken us many hours to navigate our way out of the city. Lindsay had counted 168 turns we would have had to navigate to get through the cobblestone maze. The driver had a keen interest in our bicycles and gear, and also stories of previous trips. Having only bikepacked a couple of times himself, he was especially interested in how we packed our bikes. No shortage of willing participants for that topic in this van.
Although we had spent quite a bit of time on our route, you don’t really know how it will be until you ride it. We were so pleased to find ourselves on small streets, rural roads, double track pathways and peoples’ backyards on our way along the Adriatic coastline. Beautiful sea with undulating coastline, orchards and orchards of olive trees, constant hills to navigate, and mountains behind them with enough height to still be snow-covered. Lots of blue. We had a breeze in our face but not so sharp that it was tiring. Temperature around 60F. In short it was truly a delightful day and so good to be on the bikes.
We stopped in the small community of Kiato. It’s off season here now but easy to imagine how bustling and crowded it might be in another month. We had been riding on a quiet small 2 lane road along the sea when we decided to call it a day. 80 kilometers was enough for our first ride. Most of the accommodations are closed for another couple of weeks, but we were directed to an apartment which was great for us. We drew lots out of my hat. I won the bed, Brian got the couch, and Lindsay had to put his mat and sleeping bag on the floor in the kitchen. Some great pasta and seafood a couple blocks down the road finished off a great day.