After disassembling and packing up our trailers for the third and final time we felt relived and went to the airport expecting flights with no bigger issues as we had brought our luggage trough security checks all over the world already.
But the security at the Melbourne airport had a different idea.
So far, we only had a problem due to the batteries in Fiji so we double checked the airline regulations before booking our flight. However we could both tell that we were going to face a lot more trouble than in Fiji by seeing the face of the security officer who opened up our bags. First we were told we are carrying too many batteries, than they disliked the cables of the batteries and finally the claimed it the word “lithium battery” must be written on the batteries. After insisting on checking the regulations n-times and involving tho whole hierarchy of airport security. They finally agreed that indeed our batteries were within their own set limits. As frustrating as it was we tried to be as friendly as we possibly could. Up to this point we have been standing at the security check for over an hour.
Never the less one security officer who was giving us a hard time to start with then decided to call the airline to recheck if our hand luggage was too heavy.
So we were escorted back to the now closed airlines counter to weight our backpacks which were indeed about 2kg too heavy. All we had in them besides the batteries was basically clothes and as we did not want to throw them away we decided to put on as many as possible. (Yes at some point we were standing in front of the airline counter in nothing but underwear while hectically putting on three pairs of socks). Johannes had to throw away a few cloth as he was additionally carrying the laptop. But at the end the day the weight was spot on. So two hours after our first security check we successfully mad it through the security control. At this point I was wearing multiple layers of socks, trousers, and shirts. With all these cloth on we got escorted again to the gate as our plane was about to depart. This time the escorting involved running, but we made it to the plane just in time and by that time I was just short of passing out due to overheating.
24 hours later we landed in Athens.
Greek heat and breaking news
Coming from the cold and wet Australian winter we needed a couple of days to adjust to the temperatures in Athens. We explored the city for 4 days before our luagge arrived and we had to go back to the airport.
Getting the luggage through the greek border control took several hours mostly due to the fact that being able to speak the English language was not as useful as it had been in the countries we had visited before. But we eventually received it in one piece, assembled everything for one last time and off we went again.
The next day while we were just about to leave Athens I heard a weird sound from Johannes riding behind me and his trailer seemed to look weird when I looked back. We soon figured out the reason for that: for the first time something serious was broken: the aluminium drawbar connecting the trailer to the bicycle. Our first thought: that’s it, end of the journey. But the second thought was: there is a fix for everything.
It was not going to be an easy fix, either we had to order a replacement part (the company building the trailers we are using does not sell them anymore so that could be difficult) or welding the rod together but for that somebody who is able to weld aluminium has to be found.
We decided to go for option B and started to search for a specialist who is able to weld aluminium. Luckily we broke down next to a hotel and a very friendly receptionist helped us translating and we found someone who seemed to be able to help us. As we were still in Athens a cab to that specialist was affordable and after a lot of google translating what I wanted and showing the broken part to the welder he managed to make our part look like new!
We were kind of lucky that this happened while we were in Athens and not somewhere remote. Any other place and this could have cost us days or weeks. That day we actually managed to do an incredible 100km after the incident.
Route wise we decided to cycle more or less along the Mediterranean sea through the Balkan states back to Zurich which will take us about a month.
The late summer sun here makes our life a lot easier again. We get a good amount of energy, we don’t have to worry about freezing hands and we even get a nice tan.
Something else is different to what we have experienced so far: the rules on the roads here in south-eastern Europe. Speed limits seem to be more of a recommendation, overtaking can take place anywhere and anytime and it is not unusual to see a donkey, free running chicken or some cows or goats in the middle of the road.
Still it seems to work, the manoeuvre are a bit crazy sometimes but drivers seem to be able to complete them successfully which makes it less of a threat to us cyclists.
Another thing that takes some time to adjust to are free running dogs, while most of them are friendly we already got chased by not so friendly ones quite a few times.
But this is not the only dog threat. Once we came back to our tents after showering and realised that two of our cycling shoes were missing (funny enough one of each of us). Probably also the work of a dog that must have liked the smell.
We decided to look for them the next morning as it was dark already and it only took us two hours of hiking over horsefly infested fields to find them. We actually gave up on them but - last minute - a local farmer helped us searching and found one of the shoes after 5 minutes. This was enough motivation to keep on searching for the second one.
So far during our trip we have rarely met other cyclists. Which is maybe not surprising when cycling through the outback or being on the highway. But since we left Athens we meet several on a daily basis which is refreshing.
Right now we are in Bosnia, looking forward to the last few weeks of cycling and also slowly but surely looking forward to having a stationary home and a roof over our heads again.