Before leaving Athens, I have a little more business handle. So after a nice breakfast on the rooftop at the A for Athens Hotel where I was happy to join Dimitri’s family, but Dimitri is still sleeping. Since he drives back to his village in the Peloponnese today, they let him sleep in. Today, I will drive further and without the comfort and convenience of air-conditioning. But before I go, I walk the streets of Athens to tackle a few errands.
I head to Kokkoris Optics just a few blocks away from where I meet another old friend, Minas Kokkoris, the owner. I stopped here a couple of weeks ago looking to see if they carried frames from my friend’s company, DITA Eyewear. They do.
The owner is an energetic and fun guy who is happy to adjust my DITA eyeglass frames and tries to fix my IZIPIZI readers. They are beyond repair, but because he is the Greek importer of the French company, he sells me another pair.
Soon I’m done with my errands and on the road.
As I make my way to Patras, I battle strong headwinds from the sea.
About 70 miles outside Athens the reserve fuel light catches my eye. Good timing, there’s a rest area in just 5km. But when I get there the gas station is getting refilled. The manager tells me it will be a 30 or 40-minute wait. The next rest area is 49 km (about 30 miles) down the road.
I know Doc. I know that I can get about 40 miles, maybe more, on reserve. But I’m sure these strong headwinds are taking a toll on fuel economy. Could I make it? Or, will I run out of gas. I take a chance and go.
I am easy on the throttle, cruising slowly, about 50-60mph, often drafting behind big trucks. I’ll do anything to make sure what little fuel I have left will make it to the next rest area. I do not want to be stranded on this road.
It’s still hot, and I’m climbing a big hill. Doc is loaded, and the bike hesitates for a few seconds, then again. My heart skips a beat, maybe two. Shit! Am I running out of gas? I goose the throttle, the engine smooths, and then purrs. It’s Doc letting me know it is hot, and we are under a heavy load uphill in this heat.
A few minutes later I see a sign: 5km to the rest area. It’s a satisfying celebration. I made it.
A Greek motorcycle rider on a Ducati pulls up as I’m gearing up to leave. He’s on a short 100km ride, tells me that Lefkada is beautiful.
Just before he puts his helmet back on, he tells me “Be careful.” His tone turns serious and eyes look deep into mine, and says, “The Greeks are not good drivers.” He pauses a moment and with a shake of his wrist and index fingers says, “but they are good!.”
Yes, the Greeks are good. I experience this every day. I also agree with the driving, and that experience I wish only happens every few days. It’s always good to hope, to dream. But it’s also good to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.
The Greeks are good.
I roll into Lefkada, and into the parking lot at the Hotel Konaki where I meet Nick, one of the friendly owners and a friend of my brother Jon, and cousin to one of his co-workers. Nick tells me that on Lefkada I will soon experience and learn that this Greek island is a slice of paradise. Happy to be out of my hot riding suit and boots, I’m comfortable. I feel like I’m home—with a cold beer and an old friend.