Final kilometres to Athens
The closer I got to Athens, the more excited I became. The days were long, hot, and I’ve had some serious issues with my butt for the last 10 days. So, I was really looking forward to getting to Athens to treat it and give it time to recover. On both sides of my cheeks I had inflamed spots, that made riding seven to nine hours a day really tough. I did a detour to the island of Rovies, which has a beautiful costal line as well as country side, but it turned out to be hillier than I thought.
On my last day before arriving in Athens I got caught up in a big thunderstorm and sought shelter in a warehouse filled with beer and soda. Unfortunately, I still had 40 km to go, that meant no beer for me yet. The guys running the warehouse were very friendly and provided me with water until I couldn’t drink anymore.
I was glad that after an hour of heavy rain, I was finally able to hit the road again. People keep asking me what I do when I need to do number one or two. I highly enjoy doing it somewhere in the nature. At least then I don’t need to worry about how dirty the restroom might be.
Riding into a big city is usually pretty stressful, cars, motorcycles and reckless drivers. Ten kilometres away from downtown, I was able to pick up a cardboard box to ship my bike. I wrote a few e-mails to bicycle shops around 2 weeks ago and Serkosbikes immediately replied me and offered me a box for free. So, I got that settled. However, I tend to be uneasy until I have everything prepared. Taking the bike apart was straightforward, like always if you take stuff apart you believe that it makes sense the way it is assembled. Putting the bike together again needed some more braincells, haha. First, I didn’t believe that the whole bike would fit into the box, since I was told that I should only take off the front wheel. However, it all worked fine until I had to take off the pedals. My mini 22 tools broke while taking them off. I then had to walk for a about a kilometre with half a bike and everyone kind of looked at me like I were a thief. The bike shop was in the middle of a market, so I was able to get the pedals taken off, some extra Allen® keys and pliers.
Personally, I enjoyed Athens. The Acropolis is not that spectacular because there is a lot of construction going on and there is not that much left of it anyways. It looks way better from far away. What I really enjoyed about Athens were the many cosy restaurants and bars. The food was amazing, and I definitely regained some kilos, Gyros for breakfast was just too delicious. I also needed a lot of rest. I had to catch up so much sleep. The first two days I was constantly tired.
What did I do during my 7 day stay? I slept a lot, walked around the city, did some sightseeing, went to a close by beach and lake but what I probably did most was eating. It also rained very hard a couple of times, which I guess is unusual for that area during the summer months.
On one evening I also met Markus, the cyclist I had met three weeks ago in Croatia. While he was checking in at his Hotel, his whole bike was stolen with all his equipment. How sad is this, who would do such a terrible thing? I am very glad that everything went well for me up to now. However, this incidence makes me even more careful when it comes to the question of where to park my bike. For sure, I always lock it to a pole or tree if I can.
The closer I got to the departure date, the more I started to realize that I will soon be doing my first steps on African soil. What a feeling! However, the uncertainty of the unknown also made me kind of nervous. When all my stuff was packed I thought I was doing just fine with the weight, didn’t seem to be too much. I could take two 23kg bags as a free allowance. Once arriving at the airport, I had the chance to weigh all my stuff. The scale stopped at 60kg, which was a little bit too much… What should I do now? I tried to put as much as I could into my hand luggage, since airport staff almost never checks that. Nevertheless, the bicycle box alone was 5 kilograms too heavy. I guess with a friendly, innocent smile and telling the check-in lady that the bicycle is only 23.5 kg, I got through everything without paying any extra money. Still can’t believe it, but somehow it worked out well!
Arrival in Cairo
My flight was 2 hours delayed, the line at the customs was extremely long and once I got to the front, the officer barely looked at me. As usual they always try to act super serious, either they are very bored, or they are just never in the mood to smile. He asked me where I was coming from, I am like dude, you are holding my passport, what do you think??? Of course, I didn’t say that. He still didn’t like me and told me to wait aside. So, I waited and waited for at least 20 minutes until another guy showed up and asked to follow him to a small office. I was asked a lot of questions; what are you doing back home, why are you in Egypt, for how long, do you have friends here, are you Muslim, why do you wear such a big beard, is your purpose of the trip really traveling and not working? It all seemed kind of ridiculous, and in the end the other guy sitting in the room told me that there was some confusion with my name. I guess Lukas Caesar Steiner does not look as Arabic as my appearance…that confused them. In the end they let me go. Luckily my bike and the bags survived the trip without any damages. To get from the airport to downtown I thought to be super smart and order an Uber, however, it turned out that I got super unlucky and I got like the smallest Uber ever. Of course, my luggage didn’t fit in and I had to take a regular taxi downtown, with the bike being placed on top of the roof. Finally arriving at the Hostel, 4 hours after I had planned, I walked up to the elevator and saw a sign attached saying: Out of service. As you can imagine it was very enjoyable to carry three heavy bags up to the fifth floor.
Cairo itself is very hectic, a lot of traffic, honking and people everywhere. Nothing seems to be organized but it still works. I felt comfortable right away, those are the places that I enjoy most. The bigger the difference to Switzerland the better. The food here is amazing too. It is about time for me to hit the road again, otherwise I will soon need some bigger pants. I will head towards the coast of the Red Sea on Sunday morning. it is roughly a 130 km ride to the coast, and I don’t think I want to push it too hard on my first day after the break. I need to get used to sleeping everywhere, all by myself in a country I totally don’t know. It is not as easy as I thought it would be and it needs some time to get over the worrisome feelings. I will sleep somewhere along the road in the desert on Sunday, but since there is nothing out there it is my only option. I will take around 15 litres of water with me as well as 2 kg of food, so it should all be fine. Temperature is around 38 degrees Celsius with a slight breeze going here in Cairo. I am still not sure if I should take the desert road to the Red Sea, or if I should cycle along the Nile. Along the Nile is a very busy road, lots of opportunities to get water, food and shelter, however most cyclists are also escorted by the police on the whole stretch. The desert between Cairo and the Red sea will be very hot (40-45 degrees), as well as no villages and people. I think I will escape the busy road, head towards the coast and do some scuba diving in Hurghada. It is supposed to be one of the nicest diving spots worldwide, and I have time so why not. The people here are highly welcoming, and I feel very safe. Of course, as always in the big cities, many people try to get to your money, that’s why I love traveling on a bicycle, so I have the chance to meet the people outside the big cities.
Fundraising for Green Ethiopia
Until now, more than 2,000$ have been donated. Seriously, you guys are great. Every day I get so many warm-hearted messages, which really pushes me. It is such a nice feeling to know that people at home care about what I am doing here and that they enjoy reading my stories. As of now I have already written more than 10 post cards, and there are hopefully many more to come. Some people even ordered a post card from every African country I will travel through. I love writing them and I would be more than happy to write a post card to you as well!! You will find all the information about Green Ethiopia and what 100% of the money will be used for HERE: