Greece

Posted in: English Okt 1 2015

Greece is different to the Balkan countries. We realized that just a few kilometers after the boarder. Due to heavy traffic we tried to use byways. Modern tractors are driving in the fields. Even in Switzerland many farmers can only dream to own such a machine. Everywhere you can see also photovoltaic power plant but all of which are no longer in operation. They have probably forgotten to explain to the Greeks that they have to cultivate and maintain the facility.

During the first purchase the owner of the shop gave us water and fruits for free. Unfortunately, that would be the last time that we were invited in Greece to something.

We took a lot of dirt roads until Thessaloniki. It was fun to go through the many waterholes. We turned it into a little competition. The one who gets stuck is paying the next coffee.

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In Thessaloniki i see for the first time on this travel the sea. At the port, the second largest in the country, we learn that no passenger ferries go from here. The nearest port with connections is located in Kavala, more than 100 kilometers away from here. So we go again on our steel horses and cycle in 3 days there.

On the second day we met Judith and Joshua, a cycling couple from Switzerland. They are on the road to Asia. Along with them we lie down with our sleeping bags at the beach. Stars sky and rushing sea to fall asleep. What more do you need?

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On the whole travel i have never come into contact with refugees. Other travelers have just always told me about them. At he port in Kavala, as our Ferry arrives, changes that abruptly. The most passengers, which are leaving the ship are refugees. The scene seems completely paradoxical. Between Caravans, Trucks and heavily laden tourists run families with children and young mens. In their eyes you can see what they have undergone. However, this is only a small part of refugees we encounter here.

At the arrival in Mytilene (Lesbos Island) i think first of an open air festival to take apart. The whole harbor is crowded with tents. Even on the street are some standing. However, there is apparently no sanitation. It stinks beastly of urine.

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 Our ferry to Athens was only leaving in two days. So we decided to cycle for a while on the island. Outside of the city are seen no more refugees. Even tourists can be seen barely. We enjoy a relaxing day in a small town directly at the sea. We can not miss a visit to the castle of Mytilene. The first castle on the site may have been erected during the time of Justinian I (ruled 527–565). The 6th-century castle may have been built on top of an already existent fortress. In the late Middle ages, the castle was the residence of Francesco I Gattilusio and his successors, especially the tower known today as the Queen’s Tower. There is also strong evidence that the original acropolis on the site may have included a sanctuary to Demeter, Kore and Cybele.

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After an overnight crossing we arrived finally at Piraeus, the port of Athens. Right next to our hostel we can wash our clothes in a laundromat. The owner is a Pakistani. We ask him how he copes the current situation in the country. „These are the colors of life“ he replies. He’s sure that everyting somehow is getting better. When the Greeks merely would think so! Helpfulness seems to be a foreign word here. Tania needs to organize her return flight and the transport for her bike the next day. I’m trying at the same time at the harbor to find ferry connections to Israel. In the evening we both come back to the hostel pretty resigned. Nobody here seems to own competence for something. Tania made exactly the same experience. Once you need some informations the people answer easily: „I don’t know“. No wonder there is here the economic crisis!

At least i get a 3 month Visa in the shortest time at the Jordanian embassy and the Israeli embassy assured me that i don’t need a visa. After some Internet research, I realized that there is no boat connections from Greece eastward. Even Cyprus is unreachable.

We decided to enjoy our last day together with a sightseeing tour. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world’s oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years, and the earliest human presence around the 11th–7th millennium BC. Of course, we started at the Acropolis. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. This was followed by some more very impressive monuments. My favorite part was the view from Mount Lycabettus, the mountain city of Athens. While climbing up the hill at 40 degrees was hard, it will be rewarded with a great view above.

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Lycabettus appears in various legends. Popular stories suggest it was once the refuge of wolves, (lycos in Greek), which is possibly the origin of its name (means „the one that is walked by wolves“). After this day it was time for me to say goodbye to Tania. Thank you so much for your visit Tania.

There was only one way for me to continue eastwards: by ferry via Rhodes to Fethiye in Turkey. Actually, that’s exactly the reason of travelling for me. You have to develop new alternatives repeatedly. I waited another day on Rhodes because the next ferry to Turkey was leaving the next day. I did not want to stay longer on this Island. The beaches are plastered with hotel complexes and parasols. Not a place for individual travelers like me.

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I was quiet happy to leave Greece. The country and its people made to me a rather resigned impression. Moreover i’m very allergic to mass tourism. Somehow it didn’t suceeded me to befriend me with this country. What a pity, there would be many nice things to explore.