The Greek say ‘Neh’ to say ‘Yes’ and ‘Ja’ to say ‘Hello/good-bye’. Pretty confusing for me, since the first word in Dutch means ‘No, not really’ and the second means ‘Yes’.
Learning languages has not been our strongest skill in this trip and even though we stayed in Athens for five months, in the end we could still only say a few words.
We are in Italy now since 4 weeks and it has been very helpful to recognise the letters (Latin alphabet instead of Greek) and to be able to talk to people by sort of guessing what a conversation is about.
Greece I think, was the last country we went through that didn’t have a ‘European’ feeling to it.
Here in Italy rules seem to work, the cars seem to know how to deal with cyclists on the road, they even have cycling paths! Rubbish is less dumbed everywhere in nature and there is an actual working recycling bin system! They know how to make good coffee, the supermarkets have so much more choice and prices are pricey. Contrary to all previous countries the cornershop and bakeries are more pricey than the supermarkets.
The Italian landscape is also more familiar to me than in Greece; trees are like the ones at home (sometimes we even pass by a totally flat countryside!),and the old cities and towns are not destroyed by centuries of warfare.
Maybe it makes no sense but this familiarity gives me funnily enough more the feeling of homesickness. I miss people and places from the Netherlands more than before, because I feel that I am so close to home now.
Greece still felt far away from home, in almost all facets. It’s in Europe but it definitely feels different. This difference made it easier to stay in Greece during the Corona time, cause it all kept feeling like an unknown adventure. I enjoyed the nature, the beaches, the passionate people, the white houses and the many ancient sites. I loved the craziness of Athens, the many friends we made there and the amazing things we did together to raise money and to help as many people in need in Athens via the organisation Khora. It’s only been a month since we left, but it already feels like ages ago.
Here are some pics and stories of our memorable times before, during and after corona, to close off our ‘non Europe’ chapter to start with the final ride home in which, I’m sure, we’ll have many more memorable times!
Before lock down we were surrounded by other world cyclists who also had their winterstop in Athens. We had some crazy dress up events with them and the crew of Khora. We even joined a fashion show to promote the re-use and recycling of clothes!
Then Corona lock down hit us and it all changed. No more big events, a big challenge at Khora to feed as many people as possible and living together with Ben and Roseanna (two other stranded cyclists) in our bar.
As all hairdresses were closed we got ourselves some lockdown haircuts. Kiran ran to the barber when they were open again to correct my efforts 😜
As a distraction we also decided to do a ‘come dine with me’ dinner contest, where all of us had to cook a 3 course fine dining vegan dinner, that was heavily judged by each other. The video will come later!
We also got very creative making soooo many masks for all the volunteers at Khora, our bar became a little factory sometimes. Next to that we did a crazy mask-a-thon to raise money for food. Sewing for 24 hours with a crazy Khora crew can make you absolutely high!
We also did an Art event to raise money. For two weeks we’ve made so many art works, props and costumes! It was incredible what a vibe there was and I learned so much from the people around me!
There are so many stray cats in Athens. We really wanted to help out. One I tried to help died because it was too sick, but Kiran and I found also four one day old kittens!
We learned on the internet that you have to feed them every 2 hours all day and night long! And that they can’t pee or poo out of themselves. You have to help them with everything! This needed a professional! We met Carmen, a saving angel who raised 3 of the kittens (sadly one didn’t make it) together with her boyfriend ♥️
After the kittens left we became foster parents for a cat help organisation and soon after we got a cat: Fatzo! It was so big it didn’t even fit properly in the cage it came in! To lay on your lap it would just put its front legs on your leggs cause it was to big to fit fully on it! But Fatzo left already after 2 days 😢 because the organisation found a home for him.
To comfort us Ben took a stray cuddly toy dog home. We happily took him in and named him Shitey 😜
When the lockdown became less strict, once in a while we were able to go out and enjoy the nature in and around Athens.
Then it became time to go. We felt sad to leave, to say good bye to everyone. We organised a good bye party which was really hart warming♥️! Ben and Roseanna cycled with us to the ferry in Athens to say bye ♥️. We will miss everyone loads!
Please support us in our last part of our cycle trip to raise money for the school fees, food and renovations to the building of the 26 Burmese refugee children in Mae La Oon refugee camp in Thailand.