This college student spent 48 days biking home after he got trapped abroad during lockdown

Dillon Thompson

For Kleon Papadimitriou, staying home during lockdown wasn’t an issue — getting home, however, was a little more of a problem.

The 20-year-old, who was studying at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen when the pandemic began, spent the last two months biking across Europe to get back to his family.

His journey lasted 48 days and spanned more than 2,000 miles, finally ending on June 27 when he reached his home in Athens, Greece.

“It was very emotional,” Papadimitriou told CNN of the day he finished his ride. “Coming from a family from two parents that were very adventurous in their younger years, seeing me kind of follow in their footsteps, I think is very emotional to them and obviously gives me a lot of meaning.”

Papadimitriou’s trip home was never supposed to look this way. Originally, he planned to fly home after finishing his second year of school. That all changed this spring.

“By the first of April I knew that I would spend at least the next month in quarantine in Aberdeen,” he told CNN.

After a few weeks, he had a new plan altogether. Papadimitriou set out from Aberdeen on May 10, armed with his bike, some snacks, a tent and little else. He started riding south, eventually crossing the English Channel and continuing through the Netherlands until he reached Germany.

The 20-year-old recorded each step of his journey on Instagram, sharing photos from the English countryside, the Italian Alps and Rhine River Valley in Germany.

His route took him from Germany to Austria, and finally into Italy, where he rode along the eastern coast until catching a boat to Greece. A few days later, he was home.

“I think I improved as a person,” he told CNN of the journey. “I’m more confident in myself, I’m more confident in my abilities,” he said. “If I didn’t know that I’d done the trip and you asked me now if I could it, I would say no, how could I do all those things?”

Even though Papadimitriou admits the idea began as a “pipe dream,” he’s now beyond glad he made the effort. He told CNN the seven-week trip taught him a lot about himself, and forced him to come out of his shell. Now, he hopes he can inspire others to do something similar.

“It’s just now dawning on me how big of an achievement this was,” he said. “And I did learn a lot of things about myself, about my limits, about my strengths and my weaknesses. And I’d say I really hope that the trip inspired at least one more person to go out of their comfort zone and try something new, something big.”

If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s article on the former sanitation worker who’s now headed to Harvard Law School.

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