DAYS 8-9: Thessaloniki to Alexandropolis

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NEWS FROM THE ROAD...

DAY 9 – Monday Dec 14 ’09

Convoy: Yalla! Yalla! They’re waiting for you on the Bosphorus…

Time for a coffee and baklava in the Grand Bazaar before VP3 arrive? I reckon so… in the shadows of The Blue Mosque. Istanbul looks, sounds and smells amazing. – @linsayc

PICTURES! TeacherDude has some great pics from Thessaloniki…

Midnight: @Zhat and the Solent crew are a little further along…

Its midnite, in a campsite near gr/tr border n its bitterly cold! Heavy snow frcast for tmrw. First real border xing so all paperwork to do… @Zhat

9pm: It’s cold tonight, wrap up warm… good to know the accident caused no injuries…

Its freezing by the beach. We’re at the camp parking space. Sleeping in ambulance. Morning we stocking some aid from accident van into ours… other vehicles also taking some in theirs. We’ll have more space to share when the USA and TUR vehicles join us in Istanbul. @juanajaafar

Just fetched clean dry clothes from laundry. Feel better. Also been on TV, pics of convoy here & in Salonica + intvw w yrs truly. @YorktoGaza **Send TV links if you find them**

@CorktoGaza leaves Greece:

6pm: First mishap, but all safe:

Oh dear, just got news 1 of the vans in another group got hit by a cement lorry from the back. Alhamdullillah, people inside are okay but van cannot be salvaged. We’re reassigning the passengers tonite and packing aid from the van into other vehicles@juanajaafar

5pm: Look out for Greek TV interviews:

Just did Greek talk show interview with Thrakinet tv station! Was okay, partnered Muhamad from the UK. We had a girl translate for us. @juanajaafar

4pm: Carry On Camping…

At Alexandropolis. Camp site by sea, cool but dry. Good place. Only trouble is, gee whiz, Heather & our ambulance ain’t here yet! … Lost sheep found! Phew! Not too worried as she was in gd company… police were on case. Tent up. @YorktoGaza

3pm: The lead groups have arrived in Alexandroupoli:

Half the convoy wandering around tiny beachside villages looking 4 elusive campsite of Alexandropoulis nr Turkey border.@Joti2Gaza

We just arrived at the camping site in Alexandroupoli. @juanajaafar

2pm: Oops, I hope they haven’t been using our map for directions:

Near the gr/tr border. Whole convoy lost n ended up in tiny backwater village with 80plus vehicles n traumatised locals! @Zhat

11am: Malaysia’s New Straits Times report & a new tweeter from the same place…

.. and we’re off to Istanbul! Viva Palestina pushes forward! 1 lead car window stuck. Still in Thessaloniki getting it fixed so the driver won’t freeze to crisp while driving in this cold – @juanajaafar

9am: Police V-escort and giving back to the locals…

Farewell 2 lovely people of Thessaloniki. Mayor waved us off + police escorted us 2 mway. V strange 2 c cop give the v sign! Stopped 2 help car that crashed on mway. Now hoping 4 T by the sea in Kavala. Nice man giving us the victory sign. All good. – @Joti2Gaza

Sunny pm yday at Salonica’s port. Smart cafes Pea & spud supper tx to hosts. Now on road east to Alexandropolis on Gk/Turk border Escorted – @YorktoGaza

6am: Leaving their new friends in Thessaloniki

Convoy leaving Thessa as we get a wave off by Mayor and escourted out of city by police. Driving east to Alexandroupoli today. – @Pal_S_Campaign

After the rest day in Thessaloniki the Convoy will head East for Turkey and the big rendezvous in Istanbul tomorrow. Antipodean, Khamal is on his 2nd VP Convoy and has posted a diary of Week 1:

… the drive has been going very smoothly so far with vehicles divided into groups of 10-12 vehicles with a team leader for each group keeping tabs on progress and doing the coordinating. Also, the European motorways have helped to speed things along providing stops at huge service stations where everyone can have a good meal and showers. In Belgium, about 70 people came out to welcome the convoy and two cars with seven people joined them. News has it that a stack of vehicles and people will be joining the convoy in Istanbul, Damascus and Cairo. When the convoy arrived in Greece every second car was either beeping the horn or drivers showing victory signs. The mayor of Thessaloniki Polichni and two local members of parliament welcomed the convoy and hosted a semi-reception at a basketball stadium which was later made available as sleeping quarters. Morale is much higher than on the first trip because drivers are able to stop more frequently rather than being pushed to the point of exhaustion. There was some media coverage when the convoy set off from London with George Galloway MP holding a press conference at the houses of parliament. The Greek media has been taking photos and holding interviews and an embedded Press TV correspondent has been sending updates while filming a documentary. Two freelance photographers are filming the journey and two journalists from Malaysia are reporting back home.

DAY 8 – Sunday Dec 13 ’09

7pm: Tweet of the week: (and it hasn’t even started yet!)

Correction: York’s Mayor & MPs were there for the YorktoGaza send-off. So, only 8 countries, 2 time zones and 2,038 miles to find another Mayor and/or MP

How do you know when you’ve left Western Europe? When local mayors and MPs turn out to greet the convoy! Thessaloniki rocks.

Fantastic hospitality from our Greek friends. Food, shelter, reception, press interest and a big parade thru the town. – @Joti2Gaza

Lots of great NEW PICS from Joti2Gaza…

6pm: DELIGHTFUL pictures from Thessaloniki on demotix:

Thessaloniki pics: Convoy pt1part 2part 3

5pm: York2Gaza gets answers to some great questions:

What has brought them here? What has been the hardest part so far?

Bit of noise on waterfront. Exuberant rally, explaining our action to Gks. Urging political support, not money. But a man gave us 20 euros.@YorktoGaza

Viva Palestina convoy received a warm welcome by well wishers this morning! The Major of Thessaloniki Costas Theo Dorides along with two members of Parliament arrived along with crowds of happy people. Representatives from the Palestinian community organisation, flocked to greet the convoy too. televised meeting was watched live on ‘national Greek TV along with many at the warm sea front of Thessaloniki!@georgegalloway

We’ve missed these Gaza Dispatches from @TheSitch:

2pm: Greece really is the WORD!:

Sitting on the coast relaxing-had a group photo of the team behind VP banner-chanted Ελεύθερη Παλαιστίνη! Level of consciousness about Palestine here is AMAZING! Locals really supportive-got a free meal fromPizza Hut bcos of support for our mission. Given out all the Free Palestine badges out and some volunteers are taking off their t-shirts to give away. Loving Greece!@Pal_S_Campaign

PICTURES! a few from Cork2Gaza #prayer#brrrrrrrr#thessaloniki and @Zhat from the Solent crew has plenty more…

weather is v v cold… staying 1 more night in Thessaloniki (in a basketvball stadium) and then onward to Turkey – @Zhat

Tony sent a couple of pictures and a Press Release from Bristol Gaza Link:

Convoy and the Mayor of Thessaloniki

L to R: Kevin, MP Litsa, MP Tassos, Mayor Theodoridis, MC, Nice Man, Very Nice Man

Sunday 13th December, Thessaliniki, Greece – from BGLink on the road to Gaza.

WALLACE AND GROMIT MEET SALONIKA MAYOR

Bristolians carrying desperately needed aid to the people of Gaza in Palestine have arrived safely in Greece . The convoy they are driving in, organised by the charity Viva Palestina, left the Greek port of Igoumenitsa early yesterday morning, and travelled up to Salonika to be greeted by a delegation that included the city’s mayor andtwo Greek members of parliament, Kourakis Tassos and Amanatidou Litsa. The mayor of [the municipality of Polichni], Konstantinos Theodoridis, welcomed the convoy, pointing out that Salonika is a city that, like Bristol, celebrates diversity and welcomes refugees. Today the convoy’s 79 vehicles toured the city, with an official police escort. It was received with cheers and smiles by local people, who came to show support for the people of Gaza and for human rights. Bristol group member Dave Cole was vocal in his appreciation of the Greek welcome. “It’s nice that the mayor and two MPs have given up their time to speak to us. Their hospitality and their friendship, as well as the demo today shows the commitment from the people and politicians of Greece. We only hope some word of this will get back to the people in Britain.”

Wallace and Gromit

Wallace and Gromit

For the past week the Bristol group have been camping in sub-zero temperatures in parking lots and lorry parks as they travelled through Germany and Austria. Three days ago they drove up through the mountainous Brenner Pass and into Italy, where the whole convoy boarded a ferry at Ancona. Even among the other 78 brightly decorated vehicles from all around the UK the Bristolians’ 44-tonne truck with its painting of Wallace and Gromit (thank you Aardman Animations !) turns heads in towns they travel through.The long lifeline of vans, ambulances and trucks keeps on growing. Sixty-six more vehicles will join in Turkey, and 47 from American supporters, at the port of Alexandria in Egypt – a total of 192 vehicles in all. One group has come all the way from Malaysia. Said Cliff Hanley, a Bristol-Gaza Link member from Bedminster, “This all shows the solidarity with the people of Gaza around the world. We feel proud to be part of it.”

10am: Parading through Thessaloniki…

It’s great that we are here! as ‘Great minds think alike! – @georgegalloway

NOW the parade! Sirens, blue lights. People stop & watch. Man, woman, baby on balcony. What’s going on? Ashe on roof of van taking pics! – @YorktoGaza

Forming up to parade thru city. Fixing Yorks & Palestinian flags to mirrors. Fingers too cold to tweet! Police escort promised. – @YorktoGaza

Convoy and the Mayor of Thessaloniki

L to R: MP Tassos, Mayor Konstantinos Theodoridis, MC, BGLink Roadie #1, BGLink Roadie #2

9am: Wonderful support from the Greeks…

Have a great reception in Thessa. Had press conf with Mayor, 2 MPs and rep from local Palestinian community. Slept in Basketball stadium. The convoy has just been escourted by the police to centre of Thessa. Locals really friendly and supportive of cause. No driving today. – @Pal_S_Campaign

The whole convoy being paraded under police escort. Greeks r v v helpful n supportive of the convoy. Public stopping n offering money… – @zhat

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