The Greece is different than the Balkan countries we noticed shortly after the border. There was a lot of traffic on the main road, so we tried to avoid smaller streets. On the fields drive here top modern tractors. Even in Switzerland, many farmers can only dream of having such a machine. Everywhere one sees also large photovoltaic plants, which are however all no longer in enterprise. One probably forgot to explain to the Greeks that one must also maintain and maintain the facilities.
When shopping for the first time in a small village, the shopkeeper gives us fruits and water right away. Unfortunately this should have been the last time we were invited to anything in Greece.
The drive through the rural area to Thessaloniki leads us over many dirt roads. It is really fun to drive through the many waterholes. We make it a small competition. If you get stuck, you pay for the next coffee.
In Thessaloniki I see the sea for the first time on my journey. At the port, the second largest in the country, we learn that no passenger ferries operate from here. The nearest port with connections is in over 100km away Kavala. So we climb again on our steel horses and cycle there in 3 days.
To find a place to sleep is in this country no problem at all. On the second evening we meet Judith and Joshua. They are on their way to Asia with their bikes. Together with them we lie down with our sleeping bags directly to the beach. Starry sky and sea rushing to fall asleep. What more do you want?
Auf der ganzen bisherigen Reise bin ich noch nie mit Flüchtlingen in Kontakt gekommen. Andere Reisende haben mir nur immer wieder von Begegnungen berichtet. Am Hafen von Kavala, als unsere Fähre eintrifft, ändert sich das schlagartig. Die meisten Passagiere, die das Schiff verlassen sind Flüchtlinge. Die Szene wirkt völlig paradox. Zwischen Wohnmobilen, Lastwagen und schwer bepackten Touristen laufen Familien mit Kindern und junge Männer durch denen man bloss in die Augen schauen muss um zu begreifen, was sie schon alles erlebt haben. Dies ist jedoch nur ein kleiner Teil von Flüchtlingen, die uns hier begegnen.
Bei der Ankunft in Mytilini auf der Insel Lesbos denke ich zuerst an einem Openair Festival teil zu nehmen. Der ganze Hafen ist überfüllt mit Zelten. Selbst auf der Strasse stehen welche. Jedoch gibt es hier anscheinend überhaupt keine sanitären Einrichtungen. Es stinkt bestialisch nach Urin.
Our next ferry to Athens will only leave in 2 days. So we decide to drive a little the island. Outside the city suddenly no more refugees can be seen. Even tourists are barely visible. We enjoy a relaxing day in a small village directly on the sea. We can not miss a visit to the fortress of Mytilini. Presumably in the 6th century AD during the reign of Justinian I, the fortress was built over the remains of an ancient acropolis on the former island of Kioski (Κιόσκι). After a 27-day siege, the fortress was conquered by betrayal in September 1462 by the Ottomanns.
After a night crossing, we finally arrive in Piraeus, the port of Athens. Right next to our youth hostel we can have our laundry cleaned in a launderette. The owner is a Pakistani. We ask him how he copes with the current situation here in Greece. "These are the colors of life", he answers us. He is sure that somehow everything will get better again. If only the Greeks would think so too. Helpfulness seems to be a foreign word here. Tania has to organize her return flight to Switzerland and the transport of her bicycle at the airport the next day. At the same time I try to find a ferry connection to Israel at the port. We both come back to the youth hostel quite resigned in the evening. Nobody here seems to have competence for anything. Tania, like me, has the same experience. As soon as you need an answer, people simply respond with "I do not know". No wonder here economic crisis!
At least I get a 3 month visa at the Jordanian embassy in no time and the Israeli embassy assures me that I do not need a visa. After some internet research I realized that there are no ship connections to the east from Greece. Even Cyprus is not accessible.
We decided to enjoy our last day together with a city tour. Athens is the most populated and largest city in the country. It was settled about 5000 years ago. Of course we started at the Acropolis. The oldest part of the city of Athens was Perikles after the destruction by the Persians under the direction of the famous sculptor Phidias by the architects Iktinos and Kallikrates and Mnesikles rebuild.
On a flat, 156 meters high rock stand between 467 v. Chr. And 406 BC Built in the 3rd century BC, the Propylaea, the Erechtheum, the Temple of Nike and the Parthenon Temple, which contained a statue of the goddess Athena. After that followed a few more very impressive monuments. I liked the view from Lycabettus, the city hill of Athens. To climb the hill at 40 ° C was hard, but you will be rewarded with a great view at the top.
In good visibility conditions, the entire metropolitan area of Athens and its basin location between mountain ranges and the Saronic Gulf in the south can be seen from here. After this day, it was time to say goodbye to Tania. Thank you Tania for your visit!
For me, there was only one way to get further east: by ferry via Rhodes to Fethiye in Turkey. Actually, for me, such situations are exactly what makes traveling. You always have to develop new alternatives. In Rhodes, I waited an extra day, because the next ferry to Fethiye only continued one day after I arrived. I would not have wanted to stay a day longer on this island. The beaches are paved with hotel complexes and umbrellas. No place for individual travelers like me.
I was quite happy to leave Greece. The country and its people made a rather resigned impression on me. In addition, I am very allergic to mass tourism. Somehow I did not succeed in making friends with this country. Too bad, because there are many interesting things to discover here.