Ein Panoramablick von der Akropolis hinab auf die Stadt Athen, während der Rhein2Ganges-Charitytour

Part 16: When You Arrive in Attica…

…ask that your way be long.

Well, that may not quite correspond to the original poem. But our version accurately describes our last days of travel, with exciting trips to Mount Olympus and late-night arrivals.

So no wonder we delayed waking up a little in one of the oldest cultural centers in the world. The journey to the Greek capital had taken its toll on us. Our fingers hit the snooze button on our smartphones with some satisfaction.

But when the day finally arrived, we greeted it with an invigorating breakfast, flanked by a glass of sunshine-yellow orange juice. Prophetic, because we couldn’t complain about the weather in Athens on our first day. Perfect conditions for immersing ourselves in this exciting city and visiting a few cultural monuments.

Wait Just a Little Bit Longer

So we headed straight for the ticket counter for the Acropolis. The temple castle dedicated to the goddess Athena has stood on its site for over 2500 years. But we had to wait a little longer to be able to visit it. The staff there told us that the World Heritage monument could only be visited at certain times. There was no other way for the stewards and helpers to cope with the thousands of people who flock to the castle hill every day.

So until we were let into the castle around midday, we let ourselves drift a little through the city at its feet. Athens has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age and is also the place where democracy was invented and tested. And even today, thousands of years later, it is an exciting city with character.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t linger for long, as we were due to continue straight away in the evening. We parked our motorcycles next to a busy intersection – a little on the edge, on the advice of a friendly policeman who was also motorized. We had left our helmets and boots with the bikes so that nothing would hinder our ascent to the Acropolis.

The Acropolis of Athens – An Ancient “Best Ager”

Sunshine isn’t always fine. (Today we have it with the poems, hmm…)

This statement certainly applies to Athens’ oldest temple mount. One reason why visiting times are strictly regulated is the heat generated on site. The Acropolis is exposed to very strong sunlight, which means that it can quickly reach over 30 degrees even in milder temperatures. If you don’t drink enough and don’t have sun protection with you, you’ll be on your knees up there – and not out of reverence for the temples.

But, boy – they are awe-inspiring too! As we climbed up the hill on foot, the detailed description boards told us the history of the Acropolis. Temples large and small lined the way to the highlight of the complex, the Parthenon. Anyone who thinks of the Acropolis usually has this ancient columned building in mind, which once served as a temple for the goddess Pallas Athena Parthenos. Translated, Parthenon therefore means maiden chamber – the goddess Athena was known in ancient times for her wisdom and martial prowess, not necessarily for her love affairs. But there were plenty of other gods responsible for that – the world of Greek legends was sometimes like a single “who with whom”.

In addition to its sacred significance – which did not end in antiquity, as the building was later also used as a church and mosque – the Acropolis was also a center of culture. The steps of the Amphitheater there can seat several thousand people – and the acoustics are still as clear as a bell 2000 years later. The Acropolis is still a popular venue for concerts today. One of my personal favorite concerts, “Scorpions Unplugged 2014” also took place between the Doric columns of this place. When we get back home, I think I’ll have to pop the DVD into the player again.

The view proved to be the icing on the cake for our trip to the Acropolis. The capital of beautiful Greece fanned out before us as far as the horizon. The Acropolis of Athens is not the only acropolis in the country – acropolis is actually nothing more than the name for mountain fortress or upper city. But having been there, we understand why the Athenians – and not only them – speak of THE Acropolis. You will hardly find so much ancient Greece in one place anywhere else.

Through Athens – With Perspective

After the many hours we spent on the Acropolis, it was time to fortify ourselves before making our way to the night ferry. We found a nice restaurant where we struck up a conversation with a local over sheep’s cheese and dolmadakia. It was the local letter carrier who had inspected the German license plates on our parked motorcycles. Dimitrios had delivered the post in the Ruhr area for many years before returning to his parents’ city and now works as a letter carrier in one of the oldest districts of Athens. It is precisely these encounters that make our journey so wonderful.

After the delicious meal, we still had some time to rummage around in the souvenir stores in the city for a few stickers for the aluminum boxes on our BMWs. However, Berthold had a more specific purchase request. The extreme sunlight on the Acropolis made him realize that he needed something stronger “in front of his eyes”: really good sunglasses with UV protection. We promptly went to a glasses store. At EYES Optic Shop, we received better advice than we had ever received before. Berthold tried on around 20 pairs of glasses, and one was the one. To find the right pair of glasses for someone with angelic patience and still have a smile on his face even after the fifteenth model impresses me. I acknowledged my amazement with a top rating and a positive online review.

To Crete on the Night Ferry

But time was slowly running out for us in Athens. On the way to the night ferry to Crete, we stopped off for a short rendezvous. We had met up with Karsten and Petra Korn, two motorcycle professionals and Greece veterans who have been to Crete many times.

We met up again later at the harbor. We were two hours early – and they were already there before us.

Disembarking did not cause any time problems at all. The Minoan Line staff were quick to lash down our equipment and machines. But we also developed a certain routine when packing and repacking our belongings into the luggage rolls – after all, we do this all the time.

All around us, the city went back to sleep as we looked forward to a new morning on Crete.

Rhein2Ganges and the Aktionsgruppe Kinder in Not e.V. – we are collecting donations. And you can make a contribution!

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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