A Greek college student found himself stuck in Scotland after the pandemic shut down all flights, leaving him without a way to return to Athens.
Instead of locking down in in Scotland, Kleon Papadimitriou decided to make his own way home riding a bike.
“It’s just now dawning on me how big of an achievement this was,” the 20-year-old University of Aberdeen student said in an interview.
“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.”
Papadimitriou initially attempted to book flights home to Athens three times in late March, but all of his flights were cancelled.
“By the first of April I knew that I would spend at least the next month in quarantine in Aberdeen,” he said.
Itching for an adventure, Papadimitriou began researching about what it would take to make his trip on two wheels.
His parents agreed after breaking the news to them, but mostly because “they thought it was just an idea that I would eventually let go of.”
They set up an app and an Instagram page to allow his family and friends to constantly track him and know where he is.
He purchased a bike and all the equipment he needs and began his journey on May 10.
Papadimitriou travelled anywhere between 35 to 75 miles per day, crossing through England, the Netherlands, and along the Rhine in Germany for several days.
He then passed through Austria and along the eastern coast of Italy where he took a boat to get to the Greek port of Patras, then biked his way to his Athens neighborhood.
Throughout his journey, Papadimitriou would sometimes reach our to friends or acquaintances who would offer a bed and a shower.
“As a relatively introverted person, I was forced to kind of get out of my comfort zone in the sense that if I did not do some things, I would not have a place to stay, I would not have water,” he said. “It forced me to kind of have those interactions and reach out.”
He arrived home on June 27, nearly 50 days since he first got on the road, and was welcomed by his family, friends, and complete strangers who had been tracking his progress.
“It was very emotional. 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.”
“But I think if anything, they felt relief,” he added.