Europe (ii)

January 7, 2012 - Pátrai, Greece


My first day of riding in Europe (cough) was almost perfect, a quiet road, flat and about a metre from the clear ocean. It could have only been improved by a reduction in the amount of rain and the strength of the wind coming off the snowy mountains, however this did add to the drama of the scene.
Trouble struck when I arrived at Diakopto, a small village really only of interest because of a unique mountain railway. I had thirty two euros, soaked and frozen the only hotel open in town was thirty euros. With neither bank being open, neither ATM taking my card and with no open restaurants or cafes with card facilities, lunch and dinner were derived from my new staple of orange which was freshly stolen from local back yards. Orange presse, jus d'orange, orange surprise and zest of orange all featured. It was rather fortunate for the overabundance of oranges in the region, potentially the only unit with less value than the Greek euro. Needless to say the railway trip was out, however I was consoled slightly but the horrendous weather likely consealing any views.
Despite its dire economic straits, I have identified a couple of business opportunities within Greece, the first would be opening a cafe. The number of failed cafes versus the number of failed supermarkets must be around 1:8, food being a lower priority commodity than coffee drinking, what else are they supposed to do with their working day. It's the only type of greek business that is happy to turn down my custom because I'm too wet and dirty, always packed they are able to be choosey!
Next would be as a general handyman, everything is broken, clocks, benches, signs, roads, walls, roofs, lifts etc.. This is likely little change from the pre recession Greece but non the less opportunity. I notice as I ride along the coast that the Greeks are ambitiously trying to tunnel through the mountainside in more than five places between Athens and patras. None of the attempts are finished or operational but that has apparently not dampened their optimisium to start again somewhere else.. The realisation of any of these tunnels is looking highly unlikely. At a fleeting glance it looks like greek construction is booming, as when riding through china there are cranes and building sites everywhere. The major difference being of course that these projects have probably been in a similar state for the past ten years and likely the next ten too!
My final infallible business plan would be as a dog pound owner, Greece is probably a world leader on the number of stray dogs per capita. I was chased a lot in Asia particularly Thailand but Greece is more than excelling. Certainly potential to export, with the growing Chinese market and a local delicacy it is perhaps the only thing that could save their economy.
Today after an orange boost, I happened to spot a twenty euro note on the roadside. I almost felt giddy with the spending power, fairly desparate for anything non citrus based but I sensibly decided to save it, in case of further bank card issues. High on my windfall I sailed along the stunning coastline towards the port of patras. Whilst at James's I had taken the liberty of raiding his iTunes library. Aquisitions include Charles Darwin's 'origin of species', Richard Dawkins 'the god delusion' (bizarre listening tthread this over the deafening Muslim call to prayer, and also passing a baptism and funeral on the seashore!) and 'how to win friends and influence people' (apparently the author is not James Gill!). But James, all of the IQ points gained by merely downloading these intellectual hard hitters are more than all lost in the surprising extras inclusive of britney spears 'hit me baby one more time'!!!
Now in the Greek port I discover that I am stuck here for over thirty six hours until the next available ferry to Bari. I was offered an alternative ferry to Ancona (a good 500km closer to home) but rejected this as cheating. I am now typically condemning my dedication as I wander down to the port and see the huge ferry boarding! Only twenty six hours to go!

Sent from my iPhone



tim johnston:
January 7, 2012
Hmm, that could be a decision you'll regret, as you battle the wind and snow blowing off the Abruzzi Mountains. Still, all credit for taking the tougher option! Love your description of Greece. Dogs could be really big biz, as they eat them all over Asia, can't get enough! They're particularly favoured in the Philippines, diced small, as a snack with beer.

I guess each of those 5 tunnels was begun with a grant from the EU, then abandoned when the money was spent. Amazing how long they got away with it!

How's your skin colour? They say that if you live on a diet of carrots, you turn orange and gradually fade away. Hope the same doesn't apply to oranges... At least you're unlikely to catch scurvy!

Good luck for the next leg! The local Abruzzo wine is said to be very warming...


Liz Stott:
January 8, 2012
Charlotte, mAybe apply to Tango for sponsorship? Seacombe to New Brighton into a F6 yesterday was hard, we admire your stamina, keep going...Liz xx
January 13, 2012
Hi Charlotte,
you may have already seen this - here is the link for you to see the edition of the Chester Standard where you are featured on the first and third pages (no jokes about page 3 girls!). Keep your spirits up, the last bit is always the hardest, but the sense of achievement afterwards will be worth it. Lots of love, Catherine
Andy W:
January 13, 2012
I have just read the article in the Ellesmere Port Standard. I have never felt compelled to comment on a story before, but i was Really impressed with your determination to get back into things - don't give up on your Olympic dream - 2016 will always be there! I hope the rest of your journey goes well and you have a great homecoming.
Make sure you have another goal lined up, otherwise you will end up in that horrible 'post event void'
Go girl!
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