The last day abroad arrived. I do not want to say the " last day of the trip " as the journey continues long after returning home...
On this particular days we had no sights to see, only kilometers to cover until we arrive to Greece . We had not decided yet what we would eventually do , as we had proposals to sleep overnight at Mimi's house in Chalkidiki and and Achilles' house at Thessaloniki. The truth is that they were both equally enticing , but the problem was that we had more 500km to ride up to Athens and Monday was a working day.
Achilleas , Mimis and Giorgos Z woke up early and went for a coffee ride in the opposite direction from the one we followed the previous evening. When Stratos also got up , we went together to find the rest and take breakfast before we prepare for our departure. On our way, we found every road closed because of leitanias image of the city's catholics . The people who had gathered were not many, but had a pulse , organs and even mic - carried - facilities to make you feel their presence. Anyway, in this country the majority of believers are Kristians Orthodox with other religions having very small percentages. At 10pm we left the city of Nis.
Following one of the main streets, which crossed the river Nisava, we met the motorway E80 (Nis-Sofia). Then, following the signs to Skopje, we entered the highway E75, a road that starts from Athens and ends in central Europe. For the first 60-70km the highway gave us the opportunity to move fast, as it was wide and in very good condition. We paid a fee for the use of about 2€, which can be paid either in local or in foreign currency.
From there the road was narrower, but relatively comfortable. The scenery was beautiful, as the trail crossed an area with rich vegetation. We made a short stop to refuel and continued to the border. In total we covered about 160km from Nis till that point. Now was the time to say goodbye to beautiful Serbia and continue our journey to the south. Waiting for customs control -which was loose- I was thinking that we had a lot more to discover in this country. In this trip, it was only a region we had to pass through.
Soon we found ourselves in Skopjan borders. The first signs we encountered were «Welcome to Makedonja» and so... At the check point we found a queue of vehicles, but nevertheless, the control was not something special. The staff were polite and even spoke some short of Greek. Leaving the border, we entered the highway that crosses the country from north to south, called the "highway of Alexander the Great". A lot of signs were reminding us that, trying to make us believe it.
The highway gave us the ability to move faster without problems. We did not meet Police. In a large part of it, we could not detect the opposite way, as the framing was such that the two traffic streams of the same road, abstained kilometers apart. The route was impressive as it follows a canyon.
Along this road we met many gas stations, which were organized and had a way of payment by credit card. We had to pay tolls approximate total value 2,5-3€. The specificity was that if you paid with euros they did not accept coins, only notes. And they were giving change in local currencies (Macedonian dinars). The only solution was to use smaller notes of around 5€ so you won't end up with a lot of local currency.
We made a stop for refueling with gasoline at about 1,35€/liter and the rate of the local currency: 1€=62MKD. The aged employee of the gas station was friendly and even spoke some Greek words.
In total we traveled 180km in Skopje until we reach the Greek customs station Evzonon. Basically, I can not have a personal opinion for this country, as we just passed through it. However, what I can say for sure is that it is the most advantageous and convenient passage to head to central Europe. Towards the end of the route, the road stopped being a highway, but again was very comfortable, despite the fact that we met all kind of trucks. The drivers were on good driving behavior.
We passed the border at Evzones, we made a short stop to organize and at this point we decided finally to stay in Thessaloniki. To continue directly to Athens could be an overkill. To stay overnight at Halkidiki would just add more kilometers to the next day. We wanted to get arrive early the next morning at Athens.
So we started for Thessaloniki with guided by our friend Achilles. In the peripheral road of the city of Thermaikos, we made a stop to say goodnye to Mimis. We spent about 15 days together, taking pictures and shared experiences that we recall forever. To be honest I felt a little uncomfortable not continue together for Halkidiki, but it was not possible something like that... Greetings and an appointment to be together again soon... Words are useless in moments like this...
Taking the exit for Triandria we arrived at Achilleas' home. We Unload our stuff, had a bath and Achilleas suggested a dinner, either inside or outside the house. We thought that the best was to eat home, so we did. We ordered local delicacies which we duly honored.
NEXT DAY... 22-9-2013
The next day we had an original Thessaloniki's breakfast waiting for us on the table of the balcony! It was nice that Triada got up early in the morning and bought... bougatsa (local pie) with cheese, bougatsa with cream, bougatsa with minced meat and bougatsa with chocolate! All the goodies!!!
Some chitchat and the time passed without noticing. But it was time to go... We started at 11am. and first passed form the Hospital were Triada was working to say goodbye to her also.
The 530km to Athens passed with only one stop at Almyros, a place Larissa... It was the first time I did not feel tired or boredom from this road... Perhaps, all of what we had seen and lead, had given me so much energy that I did not feel tired from driving after 4.240km in total...
In the afternoon we arrived at the tolls of Malakasa... At that point we had to say goodbye to each other... A few words were enough...
"See you again next time"