Chapter Five: Meeting Rainbows / 14.01.13


Thessaloniki. A college town on the coast of Greece, full of shopping, frappe, and social unrest. We arrived late at night with our loaded bikes after an 18 kilometer walk from the airport outside the city. Without a host, we found ourselves tired and in search of a cheap hostel to rest for the night. While waiting by a lamp post for devin to return after backtracking to find my lost bike lock cable, I made some new friends. First a boy about my age with a similarly loaded bike came over to me to introduce himself. His name was Gus, and he had been cycling by himself from his home in France for five months. Not a moment later another young man walked up and introduced himself, Martin was his name and he too was solo cycling across Europe. We all exchanged information, and within minutes were connected swapping stories of our travels, checking out each others gear, and wondering where the others were staying for the night.

After a difficult and seemingly endless day, this meeting of cycling tourists gave us a new energy and let us know we were not alone in our mission. Others just like us have the same ideas and curiosity- we were not crazy for stepping from our day to day lives to explore and let circumstances take us where they may. We really had no idea what circumstances had in mind for us later on in Greece, but it ended up being a colorful experience that would be hard to forget.

For the rest of our time in Thessaloniki we stayed in the hills on the edge of the city with a friend named Gael, a Frenchman working in Greece with his cat named Dennis (a modern female cat). And also for one week with a local host we met named Kostas, a “student” with aspirations of being a gypsy and a pharmacist. At Kostas’ house we let ourselves in with the key in the mailbox, and made ourselves at home at his request. The apartment had one bedroom and was small but cozy. The decor consisted of a pot leaf taped to the wall, and a poster of Mr. Bob Marley himself, on the table there stood an ornate hookah in place of a lamp ( more useful I guess). After sitting with Kostas for a bit we understood his laid back demeanor, open minded philosophy, and easy going lifestyle that allowed for so many guests in his home at all times.

His other guest that night turned out to be Wouter, a friend from Holland ( the real Holland) which Kallie and Andrew had already met on the road. The next day more guests arrived- eight to be exact which eventually turned into a house full of fourteen people. The European Rainbow Caravan had arrived to Thessaloniki and was welcomed into Kostas’ home along with Devin and I. Kostas left to hitchhike to Belgrade the next morning, and what we thought would be a a quiet weekend with a home to ourselves quickly turned into a gathering full of bodies, nudity, and smells- oh so many new smells, for these new friends of ours were not only hippies, they were hippies on bikes.

In the week following their arrival, we got to know this group of people from all over the world. We got to know them very quickly and very well. We got to know that they love to eat, and all food in the house was fair game. We got to know that in the Rainbow philosophy whats yours is mine and whats mine is everyones and this is true for food, clothes, and the bathroom- even when the toilet or shower is in use- no knocking required. We got to know that sleeping is better done in a pile and cooking is better when naked- along with everything else for a few of them is better done naked…. like actually naked. We got to know that for Vicente- a Spanish hippie about 50 years of age, “pissing your pants” is impossible- even when you want to and that if your english is too good it’s really not good because then nobody can understand you (that was a problem Devin and I faced often).

We learned that they lived off of the kindness of others and ate what they were given. If not given anything they would reach into the group fund called “the magic hat” and if there was money there was, and if there wasn’t then there wasn’t … I didn’t quite understand the concept. They cycled ten kilometers some days, and then other days about fifteen kilometers- depending on how they felt. They wake up around noon and enjoy chanting and singing, movies, and anything free. Amazingly enough, Thessaloniki treated them well and they got tons of free food, and even took in a few stray hippies they met into Kostas’ house. We got to know this group well, and even went back to all of the smelly chaotic glory to visit our friends after we moved on to a different host. Oddly enough, the horribly bizarre and uncomfortable conditions we faced in that house bonded us, and when we left the conversations discussing if God was a woman, and if its possible to piss your pants if a bottle was in your pants to pee in- we wished we were with our Rainbow friends again- kind of.

We left Kostas’ house and went to stay with Gael to await the arrival of the rest of the Fueled By Rice group in Thessaloniki. They finally arrived as we all packed into the one room apartment on the third floor. Gael, Dennis the Cat, Me, Devin, Lindsey, Peter, Kallie, Andrew, Pria, and later two english cyclists named Nick & Alex lived together happily. We celebrated Thanksgiving together with mashed potatoes and Gyro, and mastered the art of Sleeping Bag Tetris each night. We got to explore the old city and walls of ancient Thessaloniki, see riots and protests by the locals, and experience the life and leisure of this beautiful city by the sea. The days were sunny and bright, the sunsets were breathtaking over Mt. Olympus, and I cannot wait for the day when Greece and I will meet again.

SleepingBag Tetris

The best Sweets in the world- always eat your dessert first!

We found Wouter!

Devin and the White Tower of Thessaloniki.


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