Few months ago, a friend suggested the idea to cycle over to the city of Thessaloniki, spent one or two days there and come back by train. I said no at the time because I was swamped under work and couldn’t take more than 3 days off. Coincidentally, 2 months later my girlfriend booked a flight to Thessaloniki to see her best friend who studies music there. That meant that I had one more reason to ride my bike and see Thessaloniki! Because of the train schedules, I decided to go by bike to Livadia city (180km), catch the train to Thessaloniki, spend the night there and come back by bike again. It was a 900km journey in total. And I had to be back in 7 days. The real test though wasn’t the distance in total, but the first 180 km that we had to do in one day so we could catch the early train to Thessaloniki. Unfortunately, the last 50 kms were the hardest with steep climbs, rain, wind, lack of sleep and lack of light. The first night was quite hard. While still far away from the train station city (Livadia) we were knackered, the climb was endless, cold, the sun had set long time ago and we could feel thick droplets on our heads. And no camping site in sight! But I should stop here and show you some photographs first like a proper photo travelogue!
At the end of the post you can see a video montage of our trip and the original route we followed!
On the way to Livadia (close to Aghios Nikolaos Village I think). Clouds are threating us with rain…
Darkness is falling, we are way behind in schedule and there’s a higher probability of raining! We have to hurry!
This was a horrible night! It was raining and we could only find a flat space to sleep right next to the road. And ofcourse, we didn’t have tents 🙂 We slept for 2 hours and woke up to start cycling again to the train station in Livadia.
Finally the rain is over and the route is flat enough! But we have only few minutes to catch the train.
We always find awesome sociable dogs in bike tours. And we always stop to play with them, even when we have only an hour to catch the train! Look at those cute puppies!
Thesaloniki was magnificent and we had a great time going out with friends and walk around the city. Sleeping on a cozy bed was also nice. We couldn’t stay long though, we had to start early in the morning! Ofcourse, we had to taste the famous delicious ‘mpougatsa’ (cream pie) before we left this hospitable city!
After few kms on the national road we turned left on the road to Ancient city of Pella – The capital of Alexander the Great’s Kingdom. We would love to go and see the ruins and the museum but we had many kms left to eat!
Easy ride, no car in sight !
As we are passing the not so nice city of Yanitsa a beautiful sunset gives us a boost to continue cycling until we reach the city of Edessa (before which we had to climb a grueling steep hill)
In Edessa, we found a school to rest our tired bodies. The big building offered us a nice shelter from the relentless wind and gave us the chance to sleep magically for 9 hours.
This is a dream come true. My passion for waterfalls is deep and endless and here we stand before the famous Edessa waterfalls!
Stathis standing Imperiously on this beautiful area. We have agreed to make small stops only after we completed 20 kms. I had to stop sooner to take that photo!
I loved that part. I am so used of hills, mountains and zig zag roads that a flat road like this seems so alien to me!
Finally a big break to eat our lunch. We found this quiet gravel road next to the big national road and decided to sit and eat in the middle of it. We had few more kms until we have reached the Industrial city of Ptolemaida.
This is a tiny church (2m x 2m) where we spent our night after a freezing cold night in a mountain after Ptolemaida.
I had serious doubts that 3 people could sleep in it, but it wasnt that bad after all! These small churches (they are called ‘xoklissia’) are all over Greece and are usually open. They are extremely valuable for Bicycle tourists.
I found these random cute chairs and table in a very quite village (I think it was called Sideras)
Going to the beautiful Alonakia Village. Always through quite small roads with beautiful scenery and a magical cloudy sky.
A football field in the middle of nowhere. I’m guessing few decades ago where they built it the villages around the are had more kids to play 😦
Palaiokastro (it means old castle) village. They say it’s the oldest village in Greece. It’s poor but beautiful with amazing 360 view on the mountains!
Ready to roll down the hill from Palaiokastro!
Majestic view on the hills around the quiet gravel road. At this point we probably were a bit off the route I’ve originally made. But you can always ask some villagers for routes that google maps doesn’t know…
After some guidance from the locals we took a beautiful shortcut to Nisi (=Island) village. The whole distance on this gravel road was as beautiful as it could get!
We stopped here to fix Mitsos’ bike and asked a local for some directions. He gave us many valuable information and wished us a safe journey. The sun light was magical and I took some nice pictures!
Look at this sun light! This is an unedited picture. A beautiful sunset was in the making
Same place, same light. How about this picture as a wallpaper for the new windows?
This picture can’t do justice to the magnificent sight of this sunset. I still remember vividly those moments.
We found a hill full of red poppies and decided to have a break there. We found wild asparagus as well and cook them later along with cretan ‘trachana’.
It’s amazing to think of how many stray dogs we have encountered on those bicycle trips over the years. A 95% are so friendly with us that my heart breaks the time I have to leave them behind. Here, Mitsos enjoying the company of his new friend.
The majestic rocks of Meteora (have a look at google). These huge rocks host many old monasteries with hundreds of monks living in them. It’s a spectacular view!
One of the last breaks before we seperate ways with my friend Stathis who had to leave us earlier and take the train to Athens.
We met a very nice guy in Lianokladi city and he took us to this cabin where he spent time with his friends. At first we were hesitant as we were following him in the dark to this weird DIY building. But his friends were also very friendly and the cabin was very warm inside. Super sleep!
After a good Sleep in Lianokladi we started climbing the majestic Iti mountain. I was feeling tired and sick so we took a small nap to regain our energy levels!
I took this photo to remind me this incident. I found a small natural gate with flowers and thorns next to the road and decided to explore it. A clean path was unveiling itself in front of us. I could hear the waterfall sound behind all this thick and thorn covered vegetation calling me like the sirens. I couldn’t resist and follow the man made path (I was sadly mistaken). As we were walking deep and deeper into the bushes the sound of the waterfalls became very clear. But following this path it was impossible to find a way to the water without having to climb down a scary steep cliff. So we decided to go back. But to find our way back was almost an impossible task because it wasnt just one path (as we originally thought) but countless little routes that kept us confused and disoriented. After an hour or so of skin ripping bush walking, we have managed to find the way back to our bikes. I have months to feel my heart beat so loudly from the adrenaline rush! This gave us a lesson. Not all beautiful looking paths in life end up in nice places!
I’ve done that route before and I will do it again. It’s one of the best bike routes I’ve ridden on! Magical mnt Iti!
My camera’s battery died so I didn’t take much photos from the beautiful traditional village Sikia (it was dark anyway) and the place where we spent out last night (Lidoriki). This is the Mornos Lake early in the morning!
This is the last photo I took with my Go Pro before its battery died out. A beautiful route around Mornos lake.
Batteries from my both cameras died out so I don’t have any other photos from the journey home. After Mornos Lake the route was easy enough and we ‘ve managed to reach our home at noon the same day. This was a beautiful bike trip full of wonderful places. I am grateful I had the chance to do it and fill my brain with images and memories that will keep me company for the rest of my life.
You can see the oiginal route Thessaloniki – Patra
here. It was a very nice route with very few dangerous national road parts. Patra – Livadia was straight forward national road route. Ask me if you have some questions!
Here is a video of the trip if you want to watch it: