The walk is done – for us. We are in Xanthi, our last stop on this route. We can go no further without taking more buses and taxis than walking to reach daily destinations where there is accommodation.
This is bitter sweet. We are disappointed that our walk was not the ideal we’d hoped for. The guidebook was far too optimistic about availability of unofficial accommodations. People here are very largely uninterested in the concept of B&Bs. However our journey has been interesting and we’ve traveled far in our understanding of how crippling this Greek crises is for many people of this region and the tourist trade. We wonder if tourists aren’t coming because the infrastructure is failing and because it is quite expensive here. The infrastructure will most likely continue to fail without the income generated by visitors.
Our parting thought about the feasibility of this route as a doable enjoyable walk is that Albania and Macedonia hold all sorts of potential and it will probably work there with a bit more effort to route through places with official accommodation. Here in northern Greece – it’s not even reliably viable as a camping route. Maybe cycling? But some very major changes are needed. Additionally a large part of the area we travelled through in this part of Greece is not all that scenic. I feel it is nice to get some joy from one’s surroundings. Abandoned buildings, garbage, feral dogs, motor ways – not much joy in any of that. Even if a person is camping, there needs to be places open for buying supplies, there needs to be water, there needs to be space upon which to put one’s tent. This is all lacking at this time of year – maybe at other times as well.
That said, our final walk and our stay in Toxotes was everything we wished for.
Our host of yesterday joined us with some of her homemade wine and we three decided the walk from Toxotes to here would just be another dull noisy drag along more main roads. So instead she told us about a beautiful local walk along the river. We did this – and it was very pleasant. We had the company of a cute dog who came as our guide. Later our host met us outside her brother’s shop and drove us here to Xanthi as she was coming herself to the big regional Saturday market. She is the first hotelier we met in Greece who showed any interest in the Via Egnatia as a walking route. Amazingly she’d not heard anything of or from the VE Foundation people when they were in Toxotes marking the route. This too is not a good indication of how well it is being promoted with local people.
We spent the remainder of yesterday strolling around the busy market, exploring the old town – finally a pretty town, and having a late European lunch. Buying wine and snacks for the evening then spending the evening in our quite nice hotel preparing for the next stages.
On 23 Oct we’ll be meeting Jan in Porto Portugal to walk the northern half of the Portuguese Camino to Santiago.
On 4 Nov we three will head off to Morocco for some good old touristing around some of the major places of interest. Tangier, Marrakesh, Fez, etc.
As for today and the next week of so. Well friends – that is a surprise. All will be revealed tomorrow.