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J124 - Wednesday, February 17: Igoumenitsa - E55 (Marker 21)

70.62km – 9H28’
Altitude : 0m

Greece Here we are !

After a night which was far from calm and a one hour change from France’s time zone (at 8:00 in Greece it is 7:00 in France), we are not really fresh and alert but a new stage is waiting for us so everyone is up and off we go….in sudden showers!  But we had been warned because on the ferry we watched TV, with the weather forecast for today, presented by a beautiful and lightly dressed creature whose body undulated to the rhythm of temperatures, as clouds appeared over different parts of the country.

We arrived at 3:00 this morning and as soon as we were outside the harbor we parked the vehicles and went back to bed for a few hours before sunrise.  It was a bit tight and Spartan but nobody wanted to start the stage of D124 at this late or early hour, in the dark and rain.

At km 10 Serge decided to have a « short »stage of 65km maximum.  The route won’t be difficult because we are taking one road: the E55, not far from the Ionian Sea, where we will sleep tonight at a camp site managed by a French woman and her Greek husband, who speaks perfect French.  What a relief, because for the moment we are at the point of being able to say good morning, thank you and goodbye in Greek and it’s not easy.  Tomorrow we have the problem of a tunnel at Preveza which does not allow pedestrians but which is the only way to get to the other side, since the sea come inland to form the bay of Amvrakikos.  This evening Serge will choose his itinerary, either to take the tunnel by car for 1,600 m, or to make a detour by Arta and lengthen the route by a full day of race.

The plan for Greece is becoming clear; we will pass by Olympia, and then head toward The Peloponnesus, before reaching Athens the weekend of February 27.  Géraldine, an expatriate who lives near this large capital city has been in touch with us for several months and crossing Athens should take place with a few runners: nice!

I take this opportunity to thank Thomas for all the beautiful photos he has taken every day, even with inclement and gray weather. His professional eye worked miracles, short only of bringing us some sunshine and for that the pictures will have to be changed with Photoshop.  An aside concerning currency: we found a bakery with excellent bread which we pay for in euro (the country’s currency since 2002).  This common currency is highly appreciated by travellers and it also allows us to compare prices: 3 loaves of bread = 2.40€.  A liter of diesel fuel fluctuates between 1.049€ and 1.159€. And lastly, Greece is a mountainous country, without very high peaks, nevertheless there are 120 peaks over 6,500 ft and plains represent only 30% of the territory.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed and Serge will just have to swallow the uphill miles.  Serge found the day so beautiful that he continued his route longer than planned and he was even able to enjoy the scenery.

Town : E55 Borne 21 (Epire)

GPS : N39.09049° E020.66225°