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J127 - Saturday, February 20: Messolonghi - Kallithea

65.55km – 9H43’
Altitude : 213m
Patras or how to run on eggs…
Fog wraps us in a fleecy coat and we can’t count on the weather to give us clear ideas.  The scenery is milky, the sea and the sky run together and we don’t see the Patras Bridge until we reach it, and even then we can’t see it completely.  It is a cable stayed bridge which spans the Gulf of Corinth, built in 2004 at the time of the Olympic Games.  The Millau Viaduct stole its thunder in December, since it is higher than the Patras Bridge, which has become the second highest cable stayed bridge in the world after Millau.  So we were not astonished by the majestic mien of this bridge.  For light vehicles like ours the toll is 11.80€.
On the road leading to the bridge we cross two globe-trotters with dreadlocks, dogs and staffs.  There are walking at a brisk pace and come from Saint Jacques de Compostelle, heading for Jerusalem.  We wish them fair wind and a good trip.
Today there was continuous rotation for the team.  Thomas went with me to the bridge and after asking the toll booth attendant learned that Serge can run across the bridge, since there are foot paths with a guard rail on either side.  After the bridge we will have to cross Patras, which makes me rather uneasy.  Thomas and RenĂ© follow Serge to Rhion (Pio), after the bridge.  During that time Daniel and I leave to reconnoiter Patras for the crossing  and think we can go as far as a place to camp, but no, we only have time to find our way in Patras, which like many coastal cities is long and populated with a built up area of almost 200 000 inhabitants.  17km and 2 hours later, we are back in Rhion at the foot of the bridge, where I pick up Rene to go find our stopping place.  Daniel and Thomas guide Serge in Petra and Daniel is thankful for his GPS, which corrects a wrong turn.
With an empty head today, I guide RenĂ©, who is at the wheel of the camper, toward Athens and all of a sudden we find ourselves on a toll road, unable to get off for 30km and with a 7€ toll to pay before we can return via the secondary road.  I curse and complain in silence, what an idiot!
Serge looks very strange today when he moves.  Unable to rest on the ball of his foot, he rests on his heels, which makes him walk like a duck.  He has a kind of bruise on the ball of his foot near the metatarsus, which gives the impression he is walking on a nail at each step.  Yesterday evening he was worried and could only put his right heel on the ground.  It’s pitiful to see him run in pain and I have the feeling that it will take some time to heal.  Serge asks us all to say a prayer and he is not kidding!
While the followers, Thomas, RenĂ© and I are as foggy as the weather, Daniel’s mood remains unchanged.  Serge is worried about his arrival in the Peloponnese: “Patras is not very pretty and I expected something else.  I hope that what comes next will be better”.  I reassure him that tomorrow the road is prettier and rural, but there will be more hills.
This evening we have trouble finding a place to stop and it’s near a work site which overlooks the road that we set up camp, without having been able to ask permission because there isn’t a soul around, only 3 stray dogs.  We hope nobody will send us away, and at 8:00 PM everyone is in bed.  It was a good day!

Town : Kallithea

GPS : N38.15578° E021.72701°