we just arrived in Trikala, Greece, a beautiful city in the central plains of the country. it's a lovely day and we're writting in front of a cafe in the center. we've had two days as interesting and wonderful as they were difficult and miserable. saturday we slept in an abandoned silver mine by the road about 20km east of Ioannina. we awoke under a treatening sky. the climb in the mountain was strenuous and in a bit the big tunderstorm arrived. we were on the mountain in the middle of nowhere and became drenched to the bone. without choice but to go up the mountain the bolt for the pedal crank on the tricycle came loose. i didn't have the proper tool to tighten it well so every 10m i had to retighten it. then the road came to a badly made bridge over a rouvin with metal rectangles laid in place but unconnected. with the rain it was slippery and a wheel of the tricycle fell between two of the rectangles. eventhough she fell only 20cm, Valentina had the sensasion that she was falling 100m into the rouvin. with difficulty we freed the tricycle but the wheel was badly bent (i've now straightened it well enough to continue). with the two problems of the tricycle in addition to the rain, we proceed with the bikes by foot. in all this trama and difficulty we saw some of the most spectacular landscapes ever. this isolated zone high in the mountains is a parte of the country little known by turists. during a pause we saw come in view from a curve behind us in the distance a bicycle loaded with baggage. the scene filled us with joy for the brotherhood of travling cyclists. we were no longer alone on the mountain. we had the feeling of being saved from the isolation. in a bit we saw two more coming up behind. the first to reach us was Enrike, a spaniard. following was Mercedes from Argentina and Izzy from New Zealand. Enrike had the proper tool to tighten the bolt well, it stopped raining, e the five of us went on together to a lumber yard just before the town of Metsovo where we camped with the permission of a truck driver. they had an alcohol stove and we made a great pasta and passed a wonderful time together. they had the plan to go south to Kalambaka to see the famous monasteries high on the cliffs. we insead had the idea to go north to Grevena - the road directly to Istanbul. at the cross roads, as the rain began to fall again, we said goodbye with the hope of meeting in Istanbul in two weeks. they headed toward Kalambaka and we stayed behind to wait out the rain uder a gazibo. the water fall though the roof and within two hours everything was drenched again. a VW camper from the '70s passed by slowly. Valentina said - look at that beautiful child! in a few minute the camper returned and inside was a beautiful italian family - Marco, Elena, Sole, the 4 year old girl and Davide, the almost 2 year old. they were headed as well to Kalambaka. they convenced us that eventhough the road to Grevena is shorter, after Kalambaka the road flattens out all the way to Istanbul. they insisted that we come with they to Kalambaka. the alternative to wait there in the rain seemed miserable so we found a solution to load the tricycle, the bike, all ourstuff and the two of us in the camper and road together and arrived in Kalambaka / Meteora just as it stopped raining. for the first time in the trip we became tourists and climbed by foot the path to the first monistery. i can't begin to explain the unusual beauty of that place. i suggest you find images on the internet to give you an idea of what we saw.
(downloaded from the internet)
we climbed down to the town to have a delicous baklava together and with reluctance we said goodbye to the kind and beautiful family also with the hopes of meeting up again in Istanbul. at dark we left to find a campsite. at the edge of town we found a patch of grass near a car wash to pitch the tent. this morning we awoke at 5am to the sound of rain on the tent. we hurriedly packed and rain-proof the bikes to hit the road. fortunately it was just a sprinkle that quickly ended and we proceeded effortlessly to Trikala (with one stop for a baklava at an enormous pastry shop in the middle of nowhere). here in this city we see so many bicycles - almost like holland, thanks to the flat plains in this region. how lovely is Greece! how lovely the people! how lovely the sun! how lovely is our life!