Monday, 4 November 2013

127. Following the Via Egnatia

Our route out of Istanbul followed the Bosphorous northwards, past families, couples and fisherman thronging the shoreline on the Sunday afternoon. Turning inland and climbing up to the Belgrade hills that have supplied the city with drinking water since the Romans built the aqueducts and cisterns, we found refuge for the night by asking one of the park's watchmen if we could camp in the picnic area near his hut. Some of the forested area is threatened by the government's plans to build a contentious third bridge across the Bosphorous, near the Black Sea coast and alleviate some of the traffic congestion in Istanbul.

After a couple of days on Thracian backroads we returned to the main highway west at Tekirdag and followed the 110 across to the Greek/Turkish border at Ipsala. On our route through both Turkish and Greek Thrace we've been encountering remnants of the original Roman highway, the Via Egnatia, that linked Rome and Byzantium via the Adriatic. 

We camped by the Aegean at night. On our second night we were about to set up camp by an abandoned fishing hut when a small four-wheel drive with tinted windows rolled slowly past. On its return back up the sandy track the uniformed figures inside - two Greek coastguards - waved back and let us be despite the 'no camping' signs. Towards the end of 2012 Greece stepped up its border controls on its land border with Turkey. Many illegal migrants now choose the maritime option - especially to Lesbos island further south of Limnos and just 6 miles away from Turkey.

We rode through the harvested cotton fields, the remains littering the roadside with a trail of cotton. Once lively villages lay quiet in the autumn sun. Reaching Kavala we caught the night ferry to Limnos island, four hours south, to visit Ellie's brother Toby and have spent the past couple of days exploring its main town, Myrina and the surroundings. Yesterday we rode out with the local cycling club that Toby has started and visited one of the guys old family house in the hills where the almond, pomegranate and persimmon trees were ready for harvesting.

Tomorrow we return to the mainland to continue our journey across northern Greece over the following week, to Igoumenitsa on the Adriatic coast and our ferry to Italy.

Myrina, Limnos, Greece
Pedalled: 80,703 km

Many thanks for the latest donation to the Peter McVerry Trust, which brought the amount raised now over 1200 euros! If you would like to make a donation, you can do so via my fundraising page on the website (click here). Thank you!

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