Greece is far more prosperous than any of the Balkan countries I have passed through – even though it’s broke and having to undergo ‘austerity’ it’s not apparent. The country feels very much like being back in Western Europe – including the prices!
Mavi and I had breakfast (cheese ‘tost’ and coffee) on a balcony that overlooked that great flat plain that leads to Thessaloniki. I shall depart a little later this afternoon, after going to see the famous waterfalls – where the river Edessaios throws itself from the cliff onto the plain below. Maybe I’ll take another day to reach Thessaloniki as it’s 28˚C hot and I’m in no rush. Mavi reminds me of Leah (Edwards) – did similar course at Uni, similar age, similar temperament, similar grace. Mavi is wavy though – as she talks, she snakes her hands and her body to illustrate what she’s saying, in a mesmerizing, dancing fashion. Mavi says she is inspired to take a bicycle with her on her next travel adventure – yippee! I have made a convert to cycle-touring! We say goodbye. Maybe we’ll meet again in Thessaloniki – though that really would be something of a miracle.
After packing up, I go find the waterfalls – they have been channeled by man (to create energy, amongst other things) but are still quite impressive. Tourists can walk behind the falls and get damp too. I get given a peach, sliced open, washed and ready to eat, by the man selling them in the carpark beside the falls.
Edessa exerted its magnetic force - or maybe I’d melted and stuck to the chair – whatever the reason, I didn’t get moving until gone 6.30pm. The ride down hill to the plains was fabulous – the warm air and movement combining to create a pleasant breeze. I’m a bit concerned that place names are beginning to sound like James Bond enemies: ‘Skydra’ is off to the right. I’m only aiming for Giannitsa this evening – the largest city in the Pella region by all accounts. Every now and then, a large lorry stuffed with boxes of peaches will pass me, wafting peachy aroma all around which has my mouth watering.
I arrive at Giannitsa at around half past 9 and find the centre of town quickly enough. I had a much welcomed and rather tasty berry smoothie in the nearest café/bar. The barwoman was really helpful once I’d established there were very few places to stay around here – no campsites or hostels. She told me that the Hotel Istron was probably the cheapest place around – although it was unfortunately situated 5km outside of town. This meant that I wouldn’t be returning to explore the city before moving on (being too lazy), which was a shame. The Hotel was €30, but included breakfast, double bed and air conditioning (ie not quite such a rip off as the hotel in Edessa). Greece is not cheap.