20-year-old college student Kleon Papadimitriou was born in Greece to a pair of adventurous parents.
After all of the havoc caused to global travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the young man has come to thank his lucky stars that he inherited his parents’ audacious and intrepid spirits.
Stranded in Aberdeen, Scotland, about 2,500 miles from home, Kleon was able to find his way back home to Greece using nothing but a bike.
The story of how he did it is astonishing.
Across Europe on a Bike
When the COVID-19 pandemic was still in its early stages at the beginning of 2020, Kleon Papadimitriou had been studying electrical engineering at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. His thirst for travel and adventure drove him to go far from home in his quest to complete his studies.
By 2020, Papadimitriou was in his third year at the university, and things were going well. However, as COVID-19 began ravaging the world, he, usurpingly, longed to be back with his family.
At first, as things began locking down, de decided to remain on campus so as not to miss any classes. But as March turned into April of 2020, Papadimitriou realized that he could be staring down a very long stretch of quarantine indeed. He wanted to be with his family. If he was going to go back home at all, he realized, he would have to do it either very soon or not at all.
As the other students at the university had cleared away, he found himself marooned alone on the campus, thousands of miles from home as the world hurtled toward an uncertain future.
Even worse, he had tried buying plane tickets back to Greece. On all three occasions, his flights were canceled. Airplane travel had all but shut down as part of a global effort to mitigate the pandemic.
Boredom and loneliness began to eat away at him as he waited. He longed to feel alive again. “I wanted something big, a project for the year,” he said while speaking to the New York Times.
And the inspiration for that project came from a mordant joke from his father. Speaking to his parents over the phone one day and explaining the unfortunate situation to his parents, Kleon’s father laughed and said that since no other transportation options were available, Kleon should just walk back to Greece.
That would be much too crazy, but it got Kleon thinking. He had had cycling experience and had entered a cycling competition the previous year. Perhaps he could bike the 2,500 miles back home.
Kleon got the approval of his parents, carefully planned his route, charted all of his rest stops, made sure that he had plenty of food, water, and other necessary items — like a tent, sleeping bag, and some clothes — and set off on his incredible journey.
He studied the weather patterns of all the places he would be traveling through so that he would be prepared for any eventuality. He made sure that he’d be able to purchase more food and water along his route. He even started an Instagram page for the sole purpose of regularly updating his parents, friends, and relatives about his progress on his journey.
Amazingly, after nearly 50 days of grueling travel, he made it!