The sun is up early today and basks my room in a glorious glow. So I roll over and cover my head with a pillow. It’s time. Not to get up; instead, it’s time to go home. In less than a week, I’ll be clutching my own pillow and soothing to the purring of a cat—my cat Dar. Three months ago, I started this journey. And in the coming days I will reflect, write, review, and likely wander and stray away from the doldrums that will chase me as I pack and prepare for yet another journey—the journey back.
I look out my window at the lake. There is a cat lounging on the tile roof. She catches my eye and squints in the sun. It’s uncanny, she has marking just like Dar, my feline Bengal in California. I try to coax her to come close, but she’ll have none of that and just rests her chin on the roof.
I meet Mahsa and Gerald on the patio for the last breakfast, a quick interview for an upcoming podcast, lots of photos, and many hugs. We agree that this is not just the first nor the last time we get together. Somewhere, somehow, and sometime we promise to force our paths to cross again.
The ride out of Ohrid is lovely. The fall colors of trees blanketing the hills shimmer in the sunlight. Tractors and trucks pull trailers full of ripe red apples. There’s a bristle of energy, and a rhythmic hum in the air and my ears as I motor south. I want to stop and fly the drone over these hills. But I don’t know how long the wait will be at the border. I have several hours to ride today.
I turn on the SENA Prism camera and film and voice my thoughts that help remind me of the glory of color and provide more context for when I write this (it’s now months later, and I’m still catching up). If you have watched none of my riding footage on my YouTube channel, you may find it interesting (or boring!) but my Albania ride, overheating in Italy, and crash in the vineyard are three good videos to start. Let me know, and please subscribe to that YouTube channel.
At the Greece border, the customs and immigration officer asks me how long I’ll be in Greece. This is a good question. But his curiosity stems from the fact he notices I’ve only good two more days before my Green Card Insurance expires. It will take me two days to get to Athens. Yes, Athens again. It will be my fourth time visiting the historic city. Athens is like home. When I leave home in California, I arrive home in Athens. When I arrive in Athens, I leave for home in California. My friends in both places always welcome me. I will see Panos and Iža at Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro, Michael at Libra, and there will be new friends, too.
A few hours later, I am back in Ioannina and make my way through the walls of the old city and secure a room at the same hotel I stayed two months ago. Later I dine at the restaurant where Patricija and I shared a bottle of wine and compared notes about Zagoria. After I head to the DryOino, the wine bar where we first met Jenny and her husband Panos who carefully packed my last bottle of Greek wine—the bottle some Croatian hooligan stole from me in Split. Sadly, by the time I get there, the wine bar is closed. I stick my business card under the door — next time.
The next morning I hope on the bike and head to Athens. My bike is filthy, showing signs of the long journey we’ve been. Today, It’s a long ride to Athens, so I take the highway. I’m surprised how well they maintain the roads in Greece. The rest areas are spanking clean, and maintenance workers in shiny new trucks aid travelers and keep the places clean.
It’s dusk when I roll into Athens and meet Stratos who works for Michael at Libra. They offered me to stay in Marina Zea near Piraeus—he gives me the key and shows me the apartment. It’s cozy, convenient, and comfortable. So begins the unpacking and repacking.
I’m home—sort of.
Do All Roads Lead To Athens?