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March 3rd, 2007 | categorizilation: all categories,Greece

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Sorry to keep things hanging for a few days…

So in the end I didn’t end up having to sleep out on a cold, wet park bench. Once again things worked out better than I could have imagined.

Ailsa, a friend from motherland England, emailed me a while back to remind me about couchsurfing.org. This is a community website that allows people willing to have travellers stay in their houses, to meet travellers wishing to have a place to stay.

I signed up on the 27th of February (Day 219, the day when I was sheltering from the rain in Thessaloniki in an internet cafe), and managed to get a spot on a couch the very same day. My wonderful host, Nasta, replied to my email 10 minutes before I was about to leave to look for a park bench to sleep on.

It’s great how things work out.

The rest is history, and I have had a wonderful time here at Nasta and Vasilli’s place. They are both students, and are very active in the Couch Surfing scene. I didn’t realise it at first, but apparently there are over 100 Couch Surfing hosts here in Thessaloniki alone.

I have spent the last few days hardly even leaving the house, reading a great adventure novel by A. B. Guthrie, Jr. called The Big Sky (Bantam Books, 1975). A story of living wild out in the open against the elements.

The Big Sky by A. B. Guthrie, Jr (read in Thessaloniki, Greece)

However, all good things must come to an end, and I am planning to leave Thessaloniki tomorrow to head towards Macedonia and Albania. Whenever I mention to Greek people that I am planning on going to Albania, my words are met with raised eyebrows, and sometimes “Are you sure you want to do that?”

Apparently all Albanians are thieving criminals.

Looks like fun times ahead.

Speaking of fun times ahead, I have been in contact with Peter (website), a fellow recumbent rider from Slovenia who is very active in promoting recumbents in Slovenia, and we have arranged to cycle together during my time in Slovenia. He has a great route sketched out.

This will be a trip of lakes, brooks and history and Kras – a very interesting landscape with vanishing lakes and brooks and many, many caves. A very well known red wine and dried pork meet – they have special weather conditions here that allow drying meat in the wind – only in this section of Slovenia.” – Peter, from one of his emails.

I should be in Slovenia in less than a month, so do keep tuned!

A spot of maddness in my Couch Surfing host's place in Thessaloniki, Greece

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    Permanent Link     Comments (23)

Comment by Lee — March 4, 2007 @ 3:08 am | post a comment

Wonderful, wonderful.

God is the master juggler. Works it out better than we ever could. Thankfully. I'd've dropped all the balls completely by now.

And you'd probably be… well. Frozen and discarded in a drum. Or snipered along the pipeline. Or Bear lunch.

Mmmm, lunch.

Comment by Satoshi — March 4, 2007 @ 3:56 am | post a comment

wrong e-mail address, it's http://www.couchsurfing.ORG – yours would take you to a dodgy commercial search engine

Comment by Rob Thomson — March 4, 2007 @ 5:22 am | post a comment

Oops, thanks Satoshi.

Comment by Martti Leppänen — March 4, 2007 @ 8:30 am | post a comment

There's also another very good service like couchsurfing. I think it has a whole lot more members, too. You can find it form http://www.hospitalityclub.org/ – joining is free, and I'm sure many of the members have already heard of your journeys!

Comment by Rob Thomson — March 4, 2007 @ 9:00 am | post a comment

Martti, thanks for that. I have sent in my application, so now I wait for the reply. I think Couchsurfing has scored a point in the ease of use though. With Couchsurfing, you are surfing right away.

Comment by Aunty Jenny — March 4, 2007 @ 10:10 am | post a comment

So Rob, once again, what’s with the glasses? They do add a certain something to your image though!

Comment by Joe Palolo — March 4, 2007 @ 10:23 am | post a comment

I love your new look!

Comment by Uncle Peter — March 4, 2007 @ 4:02 pm | post a comment

Looking at your food through rose tinted spectacles must add to the flavour. You may need that all too soon once you leave the fetid (whoopse, feta) cheese behind.

Comment by Mum — March 4, 2007 @ 7:33 pm | post a comment

I was going to ask the same question as Aunty Jen. New Sunnies? Special accessories to go with what you're eating?

Comment by Rob Thomson — March 4, 2007 @ 8:10 pm | post a comment

Mum and Aunty Jenny, the glasses act as an additional deterrent against camels. I heard that camels spit.

Actually, they were just some glasses that were at my Couch Surfing host’s place, and I put them on and I was eating and someone took a photo.

Comment by Rach Callander — March 5, 2007 @ 5:15 pm | post a comment

it just has struck me once again…. I am part of one crazy cool family…. don't any of you change…

Comment by Rach Callander — March 5, 2007 @ 5:15 pm | post a comment

by the way Rob.. the new look 14 degrees website is hot!!

Comment by Jonny Rev — March 6, 2007 @ 2:00 am | post a comment

Nice work Rob

good to see you alive and cycling and still posing humourously for photographs. Tell me is the bike chain lubricant called greece in Greece

Comment by Rob Thomson — March 6, 2007 @ 3:04 am | post a comment

Jonny, there is a bicycle lubricant called White Lightening. In Greece it is called <a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODFzTRf-Nns">something else.

Comment by Cornell — March 6, 2007 @ 1:46 pm | post a comment

Rob, when you mention Albania, my mind went back to a book I read years ago. It was about a woman who rode her bike through the Balkans, in the early 1900s. She was attacked by a pack of wolves! Maybe thieving Albanian gypsies is not your biggest problem. Some years ago I researched that area of the world when I was contemplating taking a UNESCO contract job in Bulgaria. I found out that Albania had not moved into the 20th century as quickly as other Balkan nations and quite insular to rest of the world. Anyway, I look forward to that part of your "fun times ahead" journey!!

Comment by malcolm — March 6, 2007 @ 2:08 pm | post a comment


this might be fun too

Comment by ryan — March 7, 2007 @ 4:05 pm | post a comment

hey rob. last time i heard from you (til you wrote my blog) was when you were telling me about this idea at Sam and Rachs wedding!! mate great stuff. loving the pics, esp from the "stans", what a cool desolate place. ok, might check your progress now and then now i've found your website

Comment by Joeru — March 7, 2007 @ 8:44 pm | post a comment

Glad you found a couch. Enjoy some good food now that you are in good food territory!

Comment by carl w. — March 8, 2007 @ 6:28 am | post a comment

smashing sunglasses…. very retro

Comment by Lil — March 10, 2007 @ 5:13 am | post a comment

Hey Rob,

Finally caught up on some reading! (Sorry). It's been ages. Looks like you are dominating Europe! And I don't care what anyone says, those glasses make you look hot! Oh and I am SO jealous you have seen the pretty little white churches IN REAL LIFE! So so jealous. Words can not express! I always wanted to go to Santorini just to see them coz they look so cool!

Comment by bent but not broken — March 13, 2007 @ 2:34 pm | post a comment

Hey Rob :)

I've been following Your blog for some time now .. great stuff .. great photos! :)

Anyhow,You should take that "eyebrow raising" seriously.

Albania is not a very nice place,especially for a lone "western" cyclist sleeping out in the open ..

It might not be like Avganistan or Iraq,but it's not far off ..

Keep 'em spinning ! :-)


Comment by Rob Thomson — March 14, 2007 @ 7:24 am | post a comment

Lil, you'll see yourself a nice white Greek church someday! No worries.

Comment by Rob Thomson — March 14, 2007 @ 7:26 am | post a comment

bent but not broken :) , Albania was OK in the end. Admittedly, I was only there for a few days, but from what I experienced, everyone seemed nice enough and keen to help out. Even when I was searching for a spot to sleep off the main road, people would stop and show me where I was, pointing at my map. Perhaps I was just lucky… ;-)

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