Bremen 14-March-2000

We've been in Bremen almost 3 weeks now. We will be leaving
the day after tomorrow to reconnect with the group in Athens
Greece. Its been cold and raining most days we have been here.
We took 3 short bike rides (40 - 50 Kilometers)while we were
here, been too cold and wet to do much more.

One morning we had snow!
Snow on the
      street in Bremen

Monika´s father came home from the hospital for a few days shortly
after we arrived, but had to return. His condition continues to
deteriorate slowly.

One day we took the train to Hude to visit an old school
friend of Monika's that she hadn't seen in 25 years.

Monika's school friend
      in Hude

There seems to be a new tiny car popular here called the
SMART which I heard is a joint product of Mercedes and Swatch.
(Its about the size of a swiss watch, so this sounds correct).
This is one of the larger models:

There was a big glass display case full of these at a shopping mall near here, 5 or 6 stories high. Looks just like a watch display case. Sorry I didn't get a photo of that.

We took one other side trip to Hamburg overnight, to visit
another old friend of Monika's.

Friends in Hamburg


March 17, 2000 - Athens Greece

Flew in from Bremen yesterday, stored our bikes at the airport
for the day and shared a taxi into a cheap hotel in the middle
of town with a couple of other tourists at the airport.
The driver looked like Bruce Willis and tried to charge us
double the meter rate when we got there, but we all refused
and he finally left with what we gave him.

The rest of the Odyssey group arrives today (a day later than originally scheduled) from South Africa and we all ride out of Athens tomorrow. We used this morning to take the subway and walk up to the Acropolis, very windy up there.

Dan in front
      of the Acropolis, Athens Greece
On the way back we ran through a huge museum next to the hotel
before we had to check out. Then carried our bags about a mile
through town to the bus terminal and took a bus out to the hotel
(out of town) where the group is arriving. After finally getting
a room (they said they didn't know we were coming even though
we called the office in Seattle twice and told them we would be
there), took a bus back to the airport to retrieve our bikes from
storage and ride back to the hotel.

March 18, 2000 - Epidavros Greece

A number of riders stayed in Athens so they could see
something while we rode out to Epidavros, mostly following
the coast, A fairly easy day but I was really dragging near
the end after not riding for about 3 weeks.

March 21, 2000 - Pylos Greece

During the last 2 days we rode through Tiros Arcada,
and Sparti. The first day along the coast and the second
up many switch backs into the mountains, past a high

Monastery on the mountain:

Little did we know when we looked up at it that we would be riding up there!

Part of the charm in riding through rural Greece:

Today we got to the top of a high pass and it started snowing, on the way down turned to very cold rain, had to stop once to thaw out my fingers enough so I could hold the brakes. On the last part we got into very heavy rains, gear trucks were held up in customs out of Athens because no one was here ahead of time to claim them, and since we arrived on a weekend it would not be possible to get them until Monday. So I was worried about our bags already sitting in the rain when we got to the campsite. When we did arrive it turned out the trucks weren't there yet because of some other delay, so we joined everyone else down the street in the restaurant where it was warm and dry.

When gear arrived later we had a couple of roofed porches so it could be unloaded out of the rain. I hurriedly put up the tent in a lull where the rain slowed to a light drizzle and we climbed in just before the intense storm resumed. Didn't bother with a shower today because I would not have been able to keep dry
walking back from the showers to the tent. Would have been a beautiful day with better weather, but the weather can make all the difference.

Most of the places on the coast we have gone through have been near ghost towns this time of year. Not much is open until summer time here.

March 22, 2000 - Olympia Greece

It was our good luck that it stopped raining about 3AM and the wind had made the tent mostly dry by daylight. Today we had a much easier ride of about 65 miles into

March 23, 2000

We took our first train ride with 28 other riders to Patra today so we would have time in the morning to look at the ruins. Olympia being the site of the first Olympic games. At Patra we boarded the Superfast ferry and after an hour or two's
mix up in waiting for our room and a comfortable overnight cabin for the journey to Italy.


March 24, 2000

Pushed our bikes off the ferry at Patra and rode out of town to Alberobello. Italy is rather nice riding. People seem to like seeing bicycle groups on the road here and we get a lot of waves.

March 25, 2000 - Lido di Metaponto

Took a short cut today and had fun finding our way through a town midway. The roads were not marked,  and we had trouble finding the way out of town. Stopped by a park to study the map, and three old guys sitting on the park bench came over to offer help. Each one had a different opinion of which way to go. We tried one way, which turned out clearly to be not what we were looking for, so doubled back past the park bench to the interest of the men sitting there and proceeded in a direction none of them had indicated (which turned out to be right). The campground we were supposed to stay at today didn't know we were coming because TK&A never reconfirmed with them that we would be there, and they were closed (still pre season) when the first riders arrived. It being a Sunday made it hard for them to buy the food to feed us, since stores are closed on Sunday. Didn't eat until late, and the quantity was lacking. Bought the last three sets of brake pads from the bike mechanic as ours were wearing thin. They had not had any stock of break pads when people started wearing them out (with all the mountain terrain and riding in rain we have done, they wear quickly), so I decided we better grab these while we could.

March 26, 2000 - Scalea Italy

Today was a 100+ mile day over the pass across the instep of the "boot" of Italy. A long gradual climb for 112Km which was not too difficult then an exciting steep and winding descent.

March 28, 2000 - Scalea to Marina di Camerato (Italy)

Beautiful ride. Midway we passed through a small town which was a very tight squeeze for the gear trucks to get through the street with only inches to spare.

tight squeeze for
      the gear trucks in Italy

March 30, 2000 - Paestrum to Pompeii (Italy)

Today's DRG routes us along the Amalfi Coast. Since this would be a very narrow road with a lot of traffic, it would make it difficult to enjoy the view. We'd like to get to Pompeii in time to see the ruins, so we decided to take a short-cut. Checked the map and then asked a local about the route and took off. A bit of a challenge finding our way through Pompeii to the campground, but managed to arrive before noon. We were the first ones in. Ruins were right across the street, and just out of luck this happened to be a day with free admission. Spent the afternoon walking the ruins of Pompeii.

Dan & Monika
      in Pompei

Above, some of the restored ruins of Pompeii. Below Monika on the streets of Pompeii. The large stone blocks were set to block standard width chariots from entering so you would have to rent a special Pompeii chariot for your visit. (They thought of everything back then).

Monika in Pompei

March 31, 2000 Pompeii to Sperlonga Italy

Today's route goes through Naples. Almost everyone arrived after closing time in Pompeii yesterday, so many are staying behind to view the ruins then taking a train to catch up. We are in the group of only 50 riders riding the route through Naples. It turns out we have to go over 20 kilometers of cobblestone road in Naples. There is a lot of traffic, but we can get through the city faster on a bicycle than in a car. I'm starting to understand the Italian system of driving. Cars generally don't stop for stop signs, only lights, and scooters stop for neither most of the time. We just follow the scooters. The cobblestones make your bike vibrate so much you can't read your DRG while riding on them (because its just a blur from the vibration) so we have to stop to read it. Got my wheel caught in some tram tracks running parallel to the road, but I'm starting to enjoy the challenge. Days through big cities should be shorter mileage (they are not) because the city traffic and finding your way really slows you down.

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