Kleon Papadimitriou, an electronic engineering student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, was coming to the end of his academic year when lockdown came into effect in the United Kingdom in March. With flights grounded due to travel restrictions, Kleon was unable to return home to his family in Greece—so he decided to make the 2,000-mile journey across Europe alone, by bike.
He embarked on May 10, taking a ferry to the Netherlands, from which point he cycled through Germany, Austria, and Italy. He took another boat from Italy to mainland Greece, where he continued cycling to his hometown of Melissia, near Athens. He was welcomed home by his family, who presented him with a laurel crown to celebrate his achievement.
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Kleon had to contend with all kinds of different weather conditions along the way, as well as the physical rigors of the undertaking (he was carrying a 30-kilogram backpack the entire time), throughout the 48 days it took to complete the journey. He survived on a diet of bread, peanut butter, and sardines.
“I like adventures so when I couldn’t fly home I decided to go by bike,” he told The Mirror. “I had a lot of punctures and had to put up with snow, hail, and intense heat along the way...Sometimes the bicycle tire burst two or three times a day, and that not only cost me a lot of time but it wasn’t good for my morale either. It was a lesson I had to learn to manage. I’m a bit saddle sore but it was worth it.”
The 20-year-old student has said that he plans to return to Aberdeen in time for the final year of his degree, but rather than making the epic odyssey again, he’ll be waiting for flights to resume.
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