A bicycle tour in Lefkada Island (a Photo travelogue)

This time, my friend and bicycle comrade Thodoros, offered himself to write the photo travelogue for this recent tour in Lefkada. So, I hope you will travel with us through his writing! 🙂

The route

The video: coming soon…

The phototravelogue:
Misery suspended

The euphoria created each time the thought of the five-day tour came to mind, distracted concentration for any other activity for more than two weeks prior to the departure date. This time the need to escape from the daily routine could not stand any delay. Neither the bad weather with heavy rains and low temperatures during the last week before the departure date could consist an obstacle for the tour realization. Fortunately, the weather forecast for the days of the trip was encouraging.

The fundamental problem to find an adequate bike for the tour was overcome easily as an eager friend lent me one of his (new) touring bikes. Some adjustments took place the day before departure from his place. Nikos, as usual, started preparing his bike late at night to find out that he had parked it above a petrol blot which eventually tattered its front tire. As he is a notorious rubbish collector he found easily another tire to replace the first one.

The positive aspects of unemployment were revealed in this tour. Nikos provided a warm bed for his homeless (in Patras) friend, thus avoiding any delays in the morning of departure. An early (?) wake up at 7:30 was followed by a full of energy breakfast, last time preparations and loading of the bikes with food provisions, winter gear, and sleeping equipment. Finally, we did start pedaling two hours later under a shining sun. The initial plan was the two of us to cover as many kilometers as we could during the first day. A third friend (Nikolas) due to limited available time and downgraded stamina caused by a knee injury some time ago, would join us at a later point to continue together the trip.

The distance till Rio was covered easily despite the wind which was blowing against us. The usually heavy traffic we ‘ve met in past time trips on the road traversing Klokova and Varasova mountains has now vanished as the new road is now in service. Heading to the west, the fair now wind helped us to reach Messologi where we had the first stop to rest, eat and enjoy the nice view to Patraikos gulf.

 

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Getting ready for departure outside Nikos house.

 

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First small stop at Messologi. A nice view of the lagoon and the mountains accompanied our break.

 

After Messologi we followed the coastal road to Aitoliko passing by the local salt pans. Arriving at Aitoliko we had a lunch break and then continued towards Astakos. Nikos felt some irritations on his knee which were overcome after a saddle adjustment. Some steep ascends later, the beautiful view of Astakos bay was revealed and compensated our effort, just before the sunset.  Leaving the village behind, we decided to call it a day and a small forest next to the road seemed to be a perfect place to sleep. The dinner and some shots of tsipouro helped us fall asleep almost immediately under the big trees which provided a cover for humidity but also an obstacle to the sky view.

 

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Lunch break at Aitoliko. Siesta was also needed after tasting pizza and spinach pie.

 

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A weird coexistence in an abandoned gas station close to Lesini village.

 

 

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Wake up at Astakos after a warm night for that season. No humidity, no cold no sky view.

 

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Nikos is relaxing in peace till I get ready.

The other day we wake up early, tried unsuccessfully to get ready fast and after a breakfast, we started pedaling towards Mitikas village. The amazing route next to the sea with the numerous beautiful beaches could be a wonderful summer tour. Though late December is not the best time to have a dive at each stop, thus we covered the distance without many stops as we had enjoyed this route during a previous tour. After a quick stop at a chapel close to Mitikas for lunch and another one few kilometers further at a small tap, to brush our teeth and renew our water supplies we continued pedaling towards Palairos. The same scenery with beautiful beaches along the road continues. A stop was imperative at one of the most beautiful beaches I ‘ve ever seen. Olive trees creating a shady spot are followed by a white pebbled beach and amazing waters. Summer vacation in this beach seems to be very attractive! A few moments later we crossed Palairos and decided to follow the flat road to Vonitsa to finally reach the town of Lefkada. There, we met Nikolas and after a stop to salute Valia we continued in the dark to find a place to spend the night. Ten kilometers later Ayios Nikitas beach offered a nice sandy mattress to sleep.

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Grassy fields in conjunction with the sea. Perfect combination

 

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This chapel outside Mitikas provided a lunch table for that day. Unfortunately, the nearby tap was not working

 

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Numerous beaches aside from the road are calling for a summer trip along the west coast.

 

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What else to ask for?

 

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After a stop and a tsipouro shot in Valias house we started pedaling again heading to Ayios Nikitas Beach.

 

Next morning after having breakfast and taking a dump on the top of a rock with a nice view of the sea we started preparing to start the trip for that day. The addition of a tent in the sleeping equipment retarded further the departure and gave to Nikos the chance to make a new friend. Our futile intention to start our pedaling day early was demolished once again as Nikos found out that he had lost the second battery of his camera and returned to the beach to search for it. In vain. About an hour later we did start the trip heading to Kathisma beach few kilometers away. The attracting beautiful beach calling us to come closer fought for some time with the steep road inclination and finally lost, so we enjoyed the view from above and continued traveling along the west coast of the island. After some small stops to fill up with water and enjoy the breathtaking view of the Ionian sea, we reached Hortata village. Its picturesque square invited us for a lunch break we couldn’t deny. Some kCal richer we started our way to Porto Katsiki passing through some nice villages. Approaching the desolated beach, the tranquility of the place woke up memories of a past visit a few decades earlier. Walking up the stairs to the parking lot at the top of the cliff, the sun was setting behind the clouds painting the horizon with beautiful colors. The last kms of that day route were covered under the moonlight adding some mystery but hiding the beautiful landscape. Riding in the dark for several kilometers, we reached Doukato lighthouse where we decided to spend the night. The lighthouse premises, provided a wind stop at its north side where we opted to sleep.

 

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First morning view from Ayios Nikitas beach

 

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Sleeping set up at Ayios Nikitas beach. The prince is sleeping inside the tent while two guards are dozing outside.

 

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His new friend

 

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Kathisma beach from above. The steep descent would become a difficult ascend on our way back and the limited time we had for that day prevented us to get closer.

 

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Rejuvenating stop at a local spring. Eating-shitting-procrastinating

 

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A selfie without a stick between Kathisma beach and Hortata village.

 

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One more steep hill tests our stamina.

 

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Lunch stop at Hortata village

 

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The basketball court at Komilio village. It could also serve as a sleeping spot if we were more delayed

 

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Desolated Porto Katsiki beach. In full contrast with summer period when it is one of the most crowded beaches of the country.

 

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Donkeys during dusk have a rest enjoying the view

 

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Light my night.

 

The next morning revealed the amazing view from the lighthouse and the tremendous scenery around it with fjord-like steep cliffs ending in the sea. Our way was the same we had made last night till a local man we met in a crossroad shared with us the existence of a gravel road that leads to Vassiliki village shortening delightfully the route we had initially planned. In a slow pace, we moved along this path to avoid any shift of our baggage that could lead to a fall. Moving towards the east coast of the island we stumbled upon a spring at Marantohoria village where we stopped for some time.  After some kilometers of ascent, we had a lunch break at the road junction leading to Syvros. There a car stopped and the driver got closer to us, on foot. He proved to be an enthusiast cyclist who participated in long distance races but without any load on his bike, and the view of three snails moving on bikes impressed him. An injury of the Achilles tendon on the right leg made us take a conservative decision to follow the easy road to Lefkada town rather than to go towards mainland to visit the villages of Karya and Egklouvi.  Reaching Lefkada, we allowed Nikolas got into his car and make his way back to Patras easy and relaxing. As the rain had started the remaining of us decided instantly to cover some more kilometers as the weather forecast was somehow ominous for the next day.  The end of the day found us at the ghost village of Palaia Plagia which we had visited again back on Easter 2016 tour, hoping to find a hospitable place that would provide dry accommodation for that night. While the rain had stopped at that time, we were searching unsuccessfully for a house with a roof. Finally, we decided to try our lucks under a great olive tree with dense foliage believing that it will prevent the upcoming rain to fall right through to our corps. Unfortunately, this did not work and the first raindrops reached our faces forcing us to move during a rain halt to the narrow vestibule of the second church of the village. However, the tall ceiling and the small width did not prevent totally the rain to reach us and drenched all of our sleeping equipment during the night. A strange premonition we had at the time we laid down to sleep came true when the light of the bike parked in front of us, suddenly flashed waking us up. Maybe a short circuit due to rain, maybe a ghost. Or an illusion?

 

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The amazing view from the lighthouse location helped us to start that day earlier.

 

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Evolution

 

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Wild rocks calm sea. View from lighthouse

 

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Unwilling to get pictured with this annoying guy next to him.

 

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On the road quitting Doukato lighthouse

 

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A shortcut  leading to the village of Vasiliki

 

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Vassiliki bay

 

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Spring at Marantoxoria (renamed to mantaroxoria). A needed stop for personal sanitary

 

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Manger for the night.

 

Next morning the rain had stopped but with our stuff wet no other choice had left rather than to cover the whole distance back to Patras at that day.  Till Palairos the weather was cloudy while heading south the clouds were gone revealing a blue shiny sky which accompanied us for some time. However fifteen kilometers before the town of Astakos a heavy rain started while mist covered the atmosphere from road level, preventing us to see even five meters ahead. Reaching the first houses of the town the rain had almost stopped and a pause to change with dry clothes and cooking was imperative. The local high school provided a shelter and hosted us for a two-hour break. Dry and rejuvenated we started pedaling again as the night was falling. Eventually, we met no heavy rain on our way to Aitoliko. There we had a quick stop for a coffee and started again our way to Patras. The ride was interrupted at Mesologgi in order to repair a puncture on Nikos rear wheel tire.  The remaining route consisted of crossing the usually dangerous road crossing Varasova and Klokova mountains. Happily enough, this issue has been alleviated due to the new road, and the problems we had to overcome were the physical and mental fatigue as well as the rain that started again just before the ascent of Klokova. Soaked to the bone once again, we reached the Rio-Antirio bridge while the rain had ceased and wind had stopped facilitating our way to the other side of the canal. The last boring kilometers back home were covered quickly without any contingency.  

 

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The return day begins under heavy clouds but without rain. A zombie is packing his equipment


 

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Just before leaving from the ghost village



 

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A stop to cook and dry after heavy rain in Astakos high school. Changed our drenched clothes and tested Nikos cooking skills.



A nice tour around Lefkada island was over. Five days close to nature vanished any thoughts and concerns about artificial needs and problems, concentrating our effort to cover only the fundamental human needs. Thus plenty of time and favorable temper was available to enjoy each moment of the journey. Our physical and mental capabilities were tested once again by the encountered difficulties and seemed to succeed. Tremendous pictures and memories filled our minds helping us to stand the upcoming everyday routine till the next escape.

 

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