|1980: By Bike From Greece to Paris...|
y 1980 bike trip stretched over six months, and five countries. It started with my flight from Vancouver to London at the end of March. In London I traipsed around from one bike store to another, eventually deciding on a light-blue touring bike from F. W. Evans' shop, just behind the Waterloo train station. I bought it, along with a nice Brooks leather seat, and some black cotton-duck Carradice panniers, into which I packed everything I'd brought with me from home, getting ready for the road.
I set out from London in early April on a night-train to Paris, and stayed for a few days exploring on my own. Then another long night-train ride through France, and Switzerland, down the eastern coast of Italy to Brindisi, at the heel of the boot. In Brindisi I picked up a boat to Corfu, and spent a week exploring that sweet green island, limbering up leg muscles. Then to mainland Greece, pedalling to Athens, which became my base for 2 side trips: one by boat and bike to Crete. The other hitchhiking with a fellow traveller to Istanbul, my bike left locked in the luggage room of one of Athens' many guest-houses. The long return began when I turned my back on Athens, and set my sights on Paris.
The trip lasted all through that summer of 1980, and it was what you might call a "peak" experience for me. Wild-camping two nights out of three, and youth-hostelling on the third. Complete freedom to choose where to go and how long to stay there. Carrying everything I needed with me in my panniers and handlebar bag. I'm not sure that I've ever felt quite so self-sufficient since...
Pedaling along the quiet backroads of Greece, and southern Italy. Slowly up the isolated western coast of Corsica, the air filled with the scent of the maquis. Quickly away from the crowded Mediterranean coast of France and through the Provençal hills. Following the banks of the Loire from its source high in the Massif Central. Finally breaking away at Orleans, towards Paris, which became my "home" for a while.
It was a wonderful ride...