The next day we set off well before our usual time of 12pm. I think it was about 9am when a lorry pulled over that looked vaguely familiar. We hopped aboard to see Mamoot, a young lad that had been the fifth person to pick us up the day before. He had a curious habit of studying us from his position in the driver’s seat, as we were the strangest beings he’d ever encountered.
After about ten minutes of driving, we pulled over for a tea break. After a few pots, we heard some distinctly British accents behind us. If they ever make a Hollywood film version of Cluedo, which I can only assume they will, this bus would provide the perfect cast. Michael went over and introduced himself to the group of six.
“We’re a BBC film crew making a documentary about St Paul and the birth of Christendom. This is the actor David Suchet. He played a famous Belgian detective for 25 years”
The group looked at us with expectant faces. Michael and I scratched our heads.
“Oh no! How droll. Poirot of course!”
It turned out that they were heading across the border to Kavala, in Greece. Martin, the director, offered us the opportunity to join them.
You just don’t say no to the BBC.
“Right-e-ho ladies and gentleman, before we set off we have an important matter to discuss,” said Paula, the producer, looking serious. “We need to determine whether to stop for another tea break or shall we just soldier on into Greece? All those in favour of stopping?”
Only Lawrence, the cameraman, with his endearing veneer of arrogance, put his hand up in favour of stopping again. He looked like an aristocrat nonchalantly bidding for a precious work of art
“Well, that settles it. Are you okay with that Lawrence?”
“Oh, I suppose I shall survive,” he grumbled, as put on his earphones and pressed play on his ipod.
Listening to the conversation in the bus felt like an audition for Mastermind; everyone seemed so erudite on every subject imaginable. The highlight for me was when the topic of St Paul’s Cathedral came up. Michael gave me what I thought was his “I’m going to ask BAFTA nominated actor David Suchet to pull my finger” look, but thankfully I was wrong.
“Designed by Christopher Wren, I believe?” is what he came out with.
“How’d you know that?” I whispered, giving him a covert low five.
“Common knowledge mate”
The BBC bus dropped us off in Kavala, Greece, and told us that if we were willing to wait a day or two they’d be able to drive us to Thessalonika, a city 150 km west. We thanked them for the offer but confidently assured them that we’d be well on our way by then. Greece’s neighbour, Turkey, had, after all, proved to be one of the most favourable countries to hitchhike in, right up there with Thailand and Malaysia: the cars were willing to stop, the people were generous, and not one person had tried to charge us.
Surely now, on home territory, in the EU, and in Greece, the first Christian nation on our journey, we’d have no problem.