I cycled the straightest way towards Thessaloniki. I got off the main road at some point to avoid the traffic. From then on I went through the northern Greek country side. I had to take some smaller roads which were in mediocre condition as well as a few short dirt tracks connecting a few villages. It was a good and peaceful ride and there was also barely any traffic. The only saddening part was to see all the abandoned factories and other business facilities. It sort of created a ghost town atmosphere in the villages. I assume the majority of them were shut down during the financial crisis. However, those villages were everything else but ghost towns. There was so much life happening. People were sitting outside of the cafes, restaurants and especially sports bars. There was a live football match on the screens.
'Can we see your passport please?' they asked.
'Of course', I replied a bit nervous expecting a strict monologue now about trying to 'escape' from the police isn't a smart idea and handed it to them.
'Where are you going and where are you coming from right now?' they asked in a serious tone.
'North Macedonia and Thessaloniki.'
'Do you've anything illegal with you such as smokes or weapons?'
I think I never heard the term 'smokes' before but assumed they meant cigarettes but since I didn't have any with me and of course no weapons - besides my pocket knife - I denied. Their tone changed immediately from serious to super nice after they checked my passport and we started to have a nice little chat. Phewww! One of them told me proudly that one of his relatives lives in Germany and how much he liked it there when he went to visit.
'Doe's your bicycle have lights?' they asked when I was about to continue.
'Of course', I answered positively surprised because nobody ever asked me about that thus far and nobody ever also seemed to care. I showed them that it was working.
'Please turn it on. It's getting dark.'
I did and continued my way to Thessaloniki.
I checked into a dorm room at RentRooms Thessaloniki which is well located for exploring the city and the place itself is clean, it provides really good breakfast and the staff is very kind.
I spent a few days in Thessaloniki to explore the city. One day I joined a free walking tour to find some hidden gems because the beauty of the city is more about the things that are not obvious to see and to find. That day I also ended up in an absinth bar with an Austrian and an Australian guy. I never drank absinth before and had no idea that there are so many different kinds. And since it was my first time drinking it, I tried a few of the bars' selection. It really is some fine stuff.
I got a bit pissed off another day. I spent the whole day walking around the city and didn't eat since breakfast. Thus I was really hungry when I got back to the hostel. Luckily I had my plastic container with pizza leftovers from the previous day plus a plastic bag filled with grapes from North Macedonia in the dorm rooms' fridge. I was really excited to shuffle that into my mouth.
I opened the fridge and it was all gone! No way! Really? I went down to the reception to ask if the cleaning staff might have removed it although I labeled it as it's common at hostels. They assured me that they didn't which meant that one of the guys in the dorm must have taken it. So whoever it was...seriously! Just ask! I'd would have shared it with you since it was more than enough for two persons. Although the value of those things was low, the fact that someone simply took my stuff made me a bit mad. Even the plastic container was gone. At least that one could that person have left behind. So I walked a bit hangry to the nearest supermarket with a deli and got a big portion of moussaka. Luckily it even came in a solid plastic container.
Wild camping in Greece is very easy and I camped in some amazing spots on the way to the Turkish border such as on the beach or on top of hills. Wherever I camped the sunsets were beautiful. The red glowing sun slowly disappeared behind the horizon on the edge of the sea or behind another hill. Sometimes I could even hear the prayers coming from a mosque in some distance. Soon I'd enter the Islamic world.
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