CHRIS & GABS FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER
Author: Chris & Gabs – March 12, 2019
Cycling for… 255 days
Pedaling over… 6225km
Through… 14 countries
Currently… in Greece!
Raising so far… £4,741.85
This month we’ve visited… Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria & Greece!
At the beginning of February we were still in Albania. We cycled from Prrenjas over the mountains to Lake Ohrid and then made our way around the lake to cross the border from Albania into Macedonia.
We then continued around the Macedonia side of Lake Ohrid to the town Ohrid and continued to Bitola just 9 miles from the Greek border. We entered Greece, our 13th country, with a warm welcome.
Gabs had her head shaved in Greece!
Before… and after! Follow this link to watch the video: https://chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com/2019/02/18/gabs-charity-head-shave-in-greece/
The most beautiful area has been…
The Ohrid Lake is the largest and, in our opinion, the most beautiful out of Macedonia’s three tectonic lakes. Lake Ohrid is about 30 kilometres (18 miles) long and around 288 metres (945 feet) deep.
Lake Ohrid has a rich history and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Ohrid town is an absolute jewel! Here we found churches galore. It is believed that Ohrid once had 365 churches, one for every day of the year (it also has a medieval fortress!)
There are natural wonders here too. Not only is the lake beautifully framed by hills and mountains, but it is considered the most biodiverse in the world for its size.
A Bronze Age stilted village has been reconstructed on the shores around the lake. In prehistoric times Lake Ohrid was home to a settlement of pile dwellers. They lived literally on top of the water on a platform supported by up to 10,000 wooden piles anchored to the lake bed. The remains of the settlement were gradually excavated by an underwater team between 1997 and 2005; the museum is an elaborate reconstruction of the settlement as archaeologists think it would have looked between 1200 and 600 BC.
A sad experience this month was Valentine’s Day…
We arrived in Bitola on Valentine’s Day to find a very somber village, as that day the bus taking people from Bitola to Skopje had crashed and killed fifteen of their people. So all celebrations for valentines had been cancelled and the village was in mourning for two days to pay their respect.
The most challenging part has been…
We woke up one morning whilst wild camping in Macedonia and we had left our damp clothes hanging on our bikes to dry but in the morning, they had ice on them, they had frozen in the night with the cold temperature.
Gabs: ‘A particularly challenging time for me was when we were cycling from Elbasan and were only 5 miles in and my body and mind just had had enough. I had no energy and was cycling so slow, but we had to continue another 20 miles to find a place to stay. Prrenjas was the town we came to first and we found a warm hotel with a hot shower and comfy bed. It was heaven.’
A special highlight this month has been…
When we were in Düsseldorf last year we met a guy called Nicos who has been following our journey ever since meeting us at his hotel. When he saw we were getting close to Greece, he kindly invited us to stay with his daughter at their family home in Thessalonika. His daughter Ellen is studying English at University so she spoke perfect English. We had a great time here with Ellen. We went to see her sister sing at one of the Bazzuchi Halls. We also tasted lovely traditional Greek food as the neighbors, Monica and Gessapa, invited us round for a family Sunday meal. Monica had also recently battled breast cancer a few years before. They are a lovely family and made us feel very welcome in their home. It was very sad to say goodbye.
One of my favourite camping spots.
We were given permission to Camp right down by the Lake Ohrid. The owner of the restaurant kindly let us camp on his land. We went into his restaurant to eat but he had to close up early as it is winter and not busy at all. However, he said to us we could stay in the restaurant for as long as we wanted and that there was no rush for us to leave as the security guy was there and would look after us which was really kind of him. It was a great camping spot. We now say Albania is at the top of our score board.
Next, we are heading to…
We will be heading to Istanbul in Turkey for the beginning of March. Then it’s the start of our race with visas! We have three months to get from Turkey across to Georgia.
Thoughts and feelings?
Our friend, Priest Arian, asked us a few weeks back what our main interested is when we go to all these different Countries. Is it the art galleries, history museums, architecture?
When I (Gabs) was cycling up the Galicia Pass in Macedonia, it occurred to me half way up this mountain that it is researching what the most dangerous mountain pass is in the area and then going and cycling up it! We like cycling through national parks and going along routes that not many people would go to. It is incredible the things we come across and historical sites we see – places that we never knew existed.