In an encounter I was learning to be typical of Greece, I was being welcomed, questioned and advised in the warmest, gentlest and most genuinely enthusiastic of ways . The fact I was at a cashpoint and trying to concentrate was irrelevant, and the chap behind me was so keen to engage in his role as Greek Ambassador (specialist subject Tourism) he even forgot to withdraw his own money 😊
His pride in Greece and welcoming nature was so genuine and his enthusiasm was infectious. I wondered later if there was a link between this kind of pride and “ national ownership” and the problem of litter. Previously in Sicily and Italy I’d speculated about the reasons for all the litter and wondered if lack of pride was a factor. Greece was spotless in comparison and noticeably “cleaner”. I don’t know the answer but I just can’t imagine people having such obvious and outward pride in their place and then dumping litter all over it. Maybe a simplistic view but it just seems there can’t not be a link.
I left Astakos fairly early. Although most of todays 35 miles was reasonably flat, the first hour was steadily uphill and I wanted to do that before it got too hot. After skirting around the bay the climb kicked in and I was soon looking back at where I’d come from..
The route today took me inland, the first time I’d lost sight of the sea for any length of time,with todays end point being Messolonghi
This area was a National Park due to its freshwater lagoons and marine life (pelicans and flamingos allegedly) but actually there wasn’t much evidence of either as I cycled through,mostly with a warm and welcome tailwind
I cycled past some massive piles of white powder . Seeing as I wasn’t in the middle of an episode of Breaking Bad, I assumed it was salt or some other mineral maybe . In any case, it was impressive to see
I was back to Greek towns with no obvious tourism presence. Apparently Messolonghi was popular with holidaying Greeks but there was no other visitor group of any significance or number .
I liked this, it felt authentic and genuine and secretly , I enjoyed the novelty of being the only foreigner in town.
This was also reflected in the paucity of available accommodation, with Pinpoint Rooms having a distinct bail hostel feel . But actually, thinking of what was required of it (cheap/comfy bed/hot shower/Wi-Fi/power/air con/breakfast ) it only fell short on the last one so in reality, mustn’t grumble.