Part 15: An “Olympic Journey” to Athens

We have already ventured up high many times during our charity tour – to the Mangrat, the Oberalptal and most recently to Meteora. What could be better than to add another popular mountain representative to this list? It may even be the most famous mountain in the whole of Europe. Let’s see how that went…

Departure from Meteora

It was hard to say goodbye to such a wonderful place as the Meteora monasteries, which crown the almost surreal rock formations of the Pindos Mountains. However, the next famous mountain massif was already beckoning from afar. The highest in all of Greece, in fact – inhabited by the “highest” in all of Greece, the ancient Greek gods.

So, off to Mount Olympus! Accompanied by the sound of bells ringing down from Meteora at midday, we hopped on our motorcycles. We opted for a route that took us along many country roads to enjoy the rural beauty of Greece with its fields and pastures. Pep, a Spanish motorcyclist we met on the route, also appreciated the Greek idyll. He set off from Barcelona, took the ferry to Civittaveccia in Italy and from there made his way through Tuscany and via Patras to Igomenizza. Now Pep wants to travel through Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan and over the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. Pep was delighted to meet us, as he had already noticed us on Instagram (on that note: keep following us, friends!).

To Olympus: First Try

However, as beautiful as the landscape was, we had to take the highway in order to make faster progress – and pay a hefty toll. The good thing about it was that in the 30-degree heat, the wind kept us pleasantly cool at around 120 km/h on the speedometer (a Greek word, by the way).

At the village of Kallithea Elassonos, however, we turned off the highway and took a winding route along the sea. This route quickly took us to Leptokarya, right on the Thermaic Gulf, and finally to the village of Litochoro, right at the foot of Mount Olympus.

But there was no question of taking a break yet. We still had some energy left in our bones and wanted to take on the mountain of the gods that very evening! Our BMWs wound their way up the serpentines of the Olympus Mountains for around 20 km before we had to abandon the attempt: we had completely underestimated how quickly night can fall in the mountains. This can be particularly dicey on mountain routes, as the roads at higher altitudes can become brittle, sloping or potholed due to the colder weather and falling rocks. In poor light, we would advise against taking a tight bend on the inside that slopes outwards.

So we played it safe and carefully felt our way back to Litochoro at a snail’s pace. There we stopped off at a family accommodation, the Villa Pantheon, and first stumbled into the hot shower and then completely knocked out into bed.

But now! Once Again to Olympus… Right?

Conquering the Greek mountain of the gods is not that easy – Heracles had an easy time of it, he could easily take an elevator made of thunder and lightning. There are a few more things to consider when traveling on a motorcycle. It’s a good thing there are experts who can help. While we stocked up on mountain-appropriate bags and clothing in an outdoor store, we asked a local mountain guide about the condition of the route. We learned that only the first 25 km up the mountain are paved. Behind that is a gravel road, which had also been softened by heavy rainfall in the previous days.

Sometimes you have to admit defeat: We decided not to challenge the gods again and instead took a detour and visited Athens.

Carrying the Old to Athens

By that, of course, we mean our “old bones”. 362 km, approx. 5 hours riding time with breaks – saddled up and off we went. On our tour, we noticed that many Greek motorcyclists were a little more courageous than us – they liked to weave their way between the other vehicles in order to make faster progress. We still need some practice to make sure we can do this safely.

Our “entry” into the Greek capital in the evening twilight was a great experience! We even managed to find great accommodation at the last minute: just 500 meters from the Acropolis in Plaka, one of the oldest districts in the city. As ancient as the old town around us was, our booking experience was completely digitalized: we didn’t meet anyone in person, but received a door code and a link to an electronic unlocking system for our apartment after booking. We were able to open and close our doors easily using the Bluetooth app. This is how digitalization works!

Hunger then drove us through the streets for a while, where we ended the evening with tasty Greek cuisine – we were so exhausted, we didn’t even take any photos! The next day was to be different: The Acropolis is just so insanely photogenic! Especially in the light of a new Rhine2Ganges day, of course.

We cannot rely on “gifts from the gods” – we depend on you to actively support Rhein2Ganges and the action group Aktionsgruppe Kinder in Not e.V.!

Berthold and I want to collect at least 1 euro in donations for every kilometer we drove – in the end this would be around 50,000 euros. The money will be used by the action group Kinder in Not e.V. to set up educational opportunities that will benefit children from poor population groups in India. We look forward to your donation!

Spendenkonto: DE40 5745 0120 0030 5199 46
Verwendungszweck: Rhein2Ganges

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