Riding in Tuscany

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tagesk, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. lefteris

    lefteris fat daddy

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    284
    Location:
    Athens, Hellas (Greece)
    Hey Tage!

    Your report is extraodrinary, your ability to pass your view of the things to us amazing... Although I have visited all of the places you have passed (till this update of your report) I find reading your texts very interesting. You are not just describing a ride, your are presenting yourself to us and I believe everybody in here likes what he sees...

    I have some objections on few of the conclusions about things in Greece or Greeks themselves your way of thinking leads to, but I will state them after your report is over.

    Still thinking of how unfortunate it was that I didn't get a chance to meet you, as I learned too late that you were coming this way...

    Lefteris
  2. Roadscum

    Roadscum Long timer

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,177
    Location:
    SW Florida
    You are a very generous man and I'm honored by your invitaion. I will do my best to take you up on that offer.

    Regards, Paul
  3. GiSpot

    GiSpot Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    63
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    I am Italian too, but live and ride BMWs on the other side of the world and have just subscribed to your RR thread...I am looking forward to catching up with all the posts...for now I am at page 1 :lol3

    Great RR and photos...thank you!!!

    All the best with 2011! :clap
  4. the darth peach

    the darth peach eats crackers in bed

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,400
    Location:
    N.California
    :wave

    Happy New year!
  5. plonkomaticus

    plonkomaticus Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    25
    Location:
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I really like the way your own personality comes across, making your contributions somehow more than “just” ride reports.

    Having ridden down to the Peloponnese in September, I have vivid and fond memories of the experience, perhaps especially of the Mani peninsula. And after your disappointments with thin watery wines, I hope you managed to try some of the Mani’s outstanding Monemvasia reds?

    Like you, I also found Nafplion, and in particular San Gimigniano somewhat synthetic in their too-immaculate state of restoration and preservation. In San G. I had a close look at the sheer craftsmanship of the paving stones and gutters; a bit like the perfect hair-do that leaves you wondering if it’s really a wig...

    Look forward to the rest of your Greece trip!
  6. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,231
    Location:
    Tuscany, Italy
    [​IMG]

    If we refrain from looking at the lady sleeping next to me in the bed,
    the best thing one can imagine looking at when waking up in the
    morning, that is a veranda and blue, Greek ocean.

    It is Thursday 25th of March on our 14th day of vacation in Greece.
    We are in Gythio. The plan for today is to ride to the End of the
    World, and then to Kalamata. In Kalamata we hope to meet
    Mr. Castrionhead from ADVrider.

    The table is waiting for me and a glass of water. Sitting there I can
    watch the ocean, and the people I can hear going about their lives out
    on the street. But then again, my woman is here. The bed is warm.

    The nagging needs of the body requires me to get up, regardless of how
    much I would like to remain under the sheets. Then a light breakfast
    where we meet a Swiss couple. They've seen our Italian bike, but are
    disappointed to hear that they can not improve their Italian by
    speaking to us. We let him improve his English instead :-)

    The host tells us is the Liberation Day today. But not the end of
    WW-II but rather liberation from the Turkish occupation (but I am
    sorry to admit I forgot to ask when that happened). We are also told
    that summer time will come in effect Saturday. But, if you recall,
    two weeks ago (Third
    day of Riding in Greece"
    a member of the crew stood looking at
    my morning-stiff private parts as I got out of bed. That happened
    because of summer time. Our host explains that Greece starts summer
    time two weeks after the rest of Europe. Oh - OK. So maybe the ferry
    to Igomenitza was on time, after all.

    [​IMG]

    When we arrived in Gythio yesterday it was raining. We didn't notice
    they have problems with a Napoli-style strike here too. We haven't
    seen anything like this anywhere so I assume it is a local problem.

    But notice, please, the building behind the orange machine.

    [​IMG]

    Just as southern Italy, Greece is full of half-finished and abandoned
    buildings. It is ugly, ugly, ugly. Here, as in Italy. I am willing
    to bet a above-average bottle of Chiantio Classico that capital that
    are left to rot like this, that capital comes from the black sector of
    society. Here, as in Italy. I can not envision how white money,
    already taxed, would be wasted to such a degree.

    But what do I know?

    [​IMG]

    Gythio is at the north-eastern end of Mani. Mani is a peninsula
    sticking out towards the south from Peloponnese. At the end of Mani,
    where the World as we know it ends, there is a temple. I haven't
    found anything on Google about it so it is a fair assumption that we
    will not meet any (other) tourists there. So, let's go there.

    [​IMG]

    The main road on Mani follows the west coast. That is why we are
    riding on the east coast. The road is of varying quality, but well
    paved. We like the ride along the sea. The terrain is barren, rocks
    and some grass, and then the blue sea.

    Notice abandoned building.

    [​IMG]

    We managed to roll from the hotel at nine thirty. It has rained all
    night but now there is some sun. The road is drying up fast. When we
    arrive at Kotronas it is time for coffee (even though we don't expect
    to get anything but "coffee").

    There is only one "bar", and the old lady seems surprised that we
    prefer to sit outside. There is no-one inside, but a large TV on full
    blast. It is nice and warm and even if there is no sun right now,
    the ocean is calling for us to watch it.

    We have stopped talking about the "coffee". Instead I dream of
    smoking a cigarette. These quite mornings are dangerous. If She
    wasn't here I might not have been able to resist.

    It is very, very quiet. Kotronas is at the bottom of a deep bay ---
    dare I use the word fjord? --- the beach looks fantastic even though
    it is too cold now. If you're in Greece on a warm summer day, punch
    N36.61954 E22.49442 into your GPS and go there!

    [​IMG]

    After "coffee" we continue south. On our way out of the village we
    meet to donkeys (on their way home?). Donkeys? Let me tell you about
    the [TaSK]-indicator of agriculture. Based on empirical
    studies of the world as seen from my bike I conjecture that the profit
    you can make from agriculture, and thus the possibility of making a
    living from it without subsidizes, is inversely proportional to the
    number of donkeys you see. This accuracy of this economic indicator
    increases with gross national product.

    Where did I last see a donkey? In Sicilia.

    QED.

    [​IMG]

    There are countless villages. All on hills, a good distance away from
    the sea.

    [​IMG]

    Look at the two images above. One shows a village on Mani, the other
    a similar sized one in Norway. Two things are immediately evident:
    Even though the weather on Mani is much, much, much better, if you
    intended to live from fishing, Norway was a better place to live.

    [​IMG]

    No-one would have carried stone after stone all the way up on a hill
    unless it was really, really necessary. Or, if you like, life here
    was probably dangerous. Pirates and what-not would probably arrive
    and wreck havoc on your life. For no good reason other than greed.

    [​IMG]

    Then it is obvious that even far, far north the rain and generally bad
    weather "works". It is green. Lush green (as opposed to Mani, at
    least). We ride south on Mani and I think about the hardship. Living
    here, being tormented by pirates while you try to scrape food for you
    family from those barren rocks.

    There is no luxury here. Not a single house is painted or plastered.
    I feel lucky and privileged as I am able to ride and watch this on a
    motorcycle in the 21st century.

    On a different note: This is how I envisioned Greece: Dry and barren.
    Fortunately I have seen lots of mountains and forests to balance the
    image.

    [​IMG]

    If you again check out the image from Norway above, the water you see
    is not a lake but rather the ocean. In Norway, the word "coast" means
    a deep strip of land. That is, "the coast" starts far in land and
    continuous far into the sea. In Italy, and Greece most places, the
    coast is a beach. A line. On one side of the line there is land, on
    the other the ocean. In Norway, most places, when you first meet the
    salt water you are 100 km (or more!) away from the ocean. The fjords
    makes the sea and the land meet. Land changes gradually into sea.

    How nice it would have been to be here in summer, park the bike, walk
    down to that little beach just there, undress, take Capa's hand, and
    walk together into the blue-green water!

    [​IMG]

    Two more economic indicators. These two stood idle outside a
    half-finished and abandoned building.

    But there is something else strange here. We have ridden all the way
    from Gythio down on the east coast of Mani. Where are the bars?
    Where are the sources of income? Where do tourists stop and depart
    with their money? Is this a natural reserve?

    [​IMG]

    Finally we arrive at the End of the World. Temple on the left, bike on the right.
    As it should be.

    [​IMG]

    If you travel to the other end of the world, you end up at
    Nordkapp, Norway. There, in 1988, I had to pay 150 NOK (about 20
    euro) to get in. In 1988. There is a large installation, a hotel (I
    think), a restaurant, an underground tunnel leading all the way to the
    cliff, and so on. Here, it is free. I don't know if I like it or
    not. Yes, I like that it is free. But I should have been required to
    pay something. Maybe no-one comes here?

    [​IMG]

    There is no space for parking so maybe no buses with tourists arrive
    here. How can you go to Greece and not visit the End of the World?
    Well, when I think about it, most of all those who visit Greece
    probably have other things on their mind than the End of the World.

    [​IMG]

    This is an "old place". By this I mean that people have been coming
    here for more than 2.000 years. The first thousand probably to talk
    to the oracle. The last thousand years to see the place itself. In
    contrast Nordkapp is a (very) modern place. People started to venture
    there only about 1900. As "a place" it is about hundred years old.

    Here is a suggestion for a book (named "From one end of the world to
    another"): A couple starts their vacation at Nordkapp (a new place).
    As they drive south towards Greece and Mani (an old place) they start
    to talk about more and more things in their past. We understand that,
    basically, they are (still) together because they are so used to it,
    and any line of thought in any other direction leads to
    unpleasantness. When they are at the New Place we get the impression
    that their problems are new and life just needs some adjustments to
    make it. As they slowly approach the Old Place we understand that the
    root is, well, older and probably not "fixable". At the very end, she
    leaves him and walks away. The ending, of course, is Ibsenique.

    [​IMG]

    The book needs to be written as a Ride Report where the unraveling of
    their life must be carefully woven into the report itself.

    Any takers?

    [​IMG]

    It is not true that there is nothing at the End of the World. There is
    a small trattoria and bar. It looks closed, but a lady sits in the
    yard working; making preparations for lunch, I guess. While the
    First Officer takes pictures of old things, the Captain talked to the
    lady and arranges for us to have a coffee and a piece of cake.

    [​IMG]

    There are, however, things that indicate She needs to work on her
    Greek. We get bread, "coffee" and freshly boiled cabbage.

    I take it the old lady has a amazing story to tell her family over
    lunch: There was this couple here in the morning. They insisted to
    have cabbage and coffee; I offered her cake but she insisted on
    cabbage! I will never understand those foreigners.

    [​IMG]

    After this little snack we start on our ride north. We're on our way
    to Kalamata. There we'll meet (yet) another ADVrider. There are many
    things to be said about meeting in Reality your Internet friends. But
    one thing is for sure: It is exiting!

    The west coast looks like the east coast: Barren with small villages
    as eagle crests on the peaks. We start to worry about lunch. Nothing
    is worse than worrying about lunch.

    [​IMG]

    Finally (finally!) we find a trattoria (taverna). It is ultra
    simple. To the right you see the daughter serving the grand
    children. The grand mother is cooking while the grand father is
    setting the tables.

    One table for the two grand children, one for us, and one for the
    adults in the family. That is all.

    [​IMG]

    As I sit at our window table I think about those who travel to, say,
    Creta. If you Google "hotel crete" you get 2.370.000 results (I'm not
    joking; try it!). Nothing wrong with Crete (I guess), but I prefer
    this.

    [​IMG]

    There is no menu, and if there was, we wouldn't be able to read it.
    After the cabbage an hour ago I am a little skeptical to let the
    Captain negotiate the terms here. But she does just fine.

    [​IMG]

    First we get fried chicken, then fried fish. This is the best fried
    chicken I have ever tasted. It is perfectly fried! Not greasy at
    all, but still cooked all the way through. With a lemon and herbs
    from the garden. Oh my, oh my. Then the fish: A large filét
    perfectly fried, served with potatoes potatoes and lemon.

    The tastes are full, natural, not too many, and distinct. The
    food hasn't been "designed" on the plate. No fancy artwork. Just
    food. Served without frills, fully confident that the food speaks for
    itself. No need for silverware or well groomed waiter.

    The best meal in Greece! By far!

    [​IMG]

    After having eaten the children run around and play. Obviously,
    talking to travelers is fun. The little one is getting ready for his
    after-lunch nap it seems.

    [​IMG]

    How nice it is to see children. In Italy you don't see children any
    more. Because there are (almost) none. It is an understatement to
    say that the current political leadership in Italy is not known for
    it's analytical abilities. Italy has outstanding highways, but almost
    no kindergartens. Good pensions, but no support for students.

    Not long ago I spoke with a young woman. She is a doctor. She told
    me that the statistics showing the number of children per woman, which
    is already alarmingly low, is utterly misleading. The point is, she
    said, that no-one under 30 years have children any longer. The
    age-curve for first birth is severely scewed, and it is getting
    worse. She said that less than 20% of all women under 30 have had
    their first child.

    "I", she said, "would love to have children". But then I must give up
    my dream of getting a fixed position here at the hospital.

    Tragic.

    [​IMG]

    having eaten such a good meal we don't want to end it with "coffee".
    We are approaching a big city so it might be possible to find coffee.
    And, lo and behold, after a few kilometers we find a trendy bar. With
    coffe (not "coffee") and a cake (not "cabbage" and not "cake").
    Bliss.

    [​IMG]

    We approach Kalamata, and after some SMS-ing we meet the Honorable
    Mr. Castrionhead. He rides a mighty fine 1951 BMW. He even wears a
    helmet! That alone makes me happy.

    [​IMG]

    He even sports a beard, like me. We're probably the only two bearded
    men in Greece at this time. At least, we haven't seen anyone else.
    But then again, he wears a helmet so maybe he isn't Greek after all.

    He'll take us to the hotel where he has booked a room for us, and then
    we'll meet for dinner. On the way into town he occasionally points
    out some house or a piazza. I try to remember them, but after a while
    there are simply too many. When we pull up outside the hotel I tell
    him that if he want's to guide us to the city, riding in front and
    pointing at buildings isn't the way.

    "Pointing?" he says. "I was blinking". My bike is so old that I
    don't have indicators.

    [​IMG]

    We obtain some advice on what to do tomorrow. Talking to locals can
    be a pain: Some say "Everything is wonderful - you must see
    everything." He doesn't say that. He says "Go to Olympia. Easy to
    find, an UNESCO site, definitely worth it". So we decide to go. Even
    though this isn't a "museum and ruin"-tour. His non-emotional advice
    tips the scale. It shall turn out to be an excellent advice.

    [​IMG]

    The hotel offers WI-FI. But the guy in the reception doesn't know the
    access code. So no WI-FI.

    During dinner, which start with filled peppers (paprika) we get a
    sober presentation of the crisis. This time, Germany is not blamed.
    Not USA. Not EU. Only the Greeks themselves. He draws a much
    grimmer picture than I had previously understood.

    [​IMG]

    During the last decade, the Greek have had an increase in their
    standard of living that far surpassed the increase in Germany, for
    example. He points out two important factors: First that that this
    increase has been funded by loans, not production. Second, what is
    important is not how much money you have, but if you have more or less
    than yesterday. If you have more or less that people in Germany or
    Italy, well, that is mostly an academic observation. Or, in other
    words: Using less money in Greece will mean that the standard of
    living must go down. Not only the growth must stop, the standard must
    go down. And that is not a prospect of the future that will go well
    with people.

    [​IMG]

    Furthermore, anyone who is sober will understand how these things are
    connected. We are 12 million people and we have raked up a whopping
    300 billion (milliardi) euro in debt. That is 25.000 euro per
    person. This means that first of all we must go down in our standard
    of living to a level that can be sustained by the economy, and then,
    to add humiliation to injury, we must each of pay back 25.000 euro
    that has been borrowed in our name. These two things at once!

    [​IMG]

    In this situation it is a real problem that the Greek speak English,
    and also other languages. You create a crisis in Italy, Spain or
    France and no one can leave. But here, youngsters can leave the mess
    behind and start some other place. We have a long tradition of
    emigration from Greece, but we really need all the brains and hands
    here now.

    He says he is very sorry that the word Macedonia is not kosher, and
    that nothing good will come the obsession many Greeks have with that.

    [​IMG]

    We eat mezdhes. In Italian it is called merenda and
    means "a tiny bit of food, outside of the time of a meal". We would
    not under any circumstances have been able to get hold of so much good
    food without his help.

    In the end, Castrionhead tells us that it is the birthday of his best
    friend today, and that he really should be there. Knowing that we are
    even more grateful for the time he has used on us.

    Thank you for your time, for talking to us about Greece, and advice
    and insight about many things. Your old BMW is indeed nice!

    Readers Be Aware: The above opinions are mine, and mine alone. Mr
    Castrionhead might have said something completely different, but this
    is what I recalled that he said. You can not hold anything you have
    read here against him!

    [​IMG]

    We rode 196 km today. An interactive map with the photos can be found here.

    Tomorrow, on our next to last day in Greece, we'll ride to Olympia.
    There we'll meet another ADVrider.

    Thank you for your attention!

    [TaSK]
  7. avkan

    avkan jester

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    12
    Thank you for sharing with us a nice trip ..

    :clap
  8. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,231
    Location:
    Tuscany, Italy
    Sir,
    I am grateful that you have taken the time to read this far!

    [TaSK]
  9. atermon

    atermon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    100
    Location:
    Αthens,Greece
    just jumping in to wish a happy new year.
    hoping 2011 is another adventure another trip more places and different people.
    maybe 2011 will be the turning point and Bamsefar (correctly spelled?) will retire, maybe it will carry on for yet another year.
    time will tell, the future is unwritten and I'm grateful for that.

    cheers to an interesting couple and their spirit for travel. :1drink
  10. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,231
    Location:
    Tuscany, Italy
    We're off on our annual New Years Ride tomorrow morning. We'll ride to Cosa, and then we'll see.

    Remember: From where you are, it is about two hours to Patras, six hour to Bari, and then a
    mere eight hour to where I am.

    I have not forgotten that I owe you a (very!) large Italian dinner!

    All the best!

    [TaSK]
  11. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,612
    Location:
    vancouver bc
    Thank you, sir, for your fine commentary.
    Best wishes for the new year.
  12. Elder_Rogue

    Elder_Rogue Loser Gone Wild

    Joined:
    May 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    139
    Location:
    Alvord, TX
    TaSK,

    Your reports are a wide open window for me to view your world, no window dressings, no rose colored glasses, just the plain and sometimes painful truth as seen through your eyes.

    I have enjoyed them very much. Maybe someday , life will allow my wife and I to cross your path in Italy or here in Texas.

    Happy New Year! May you be healthy and happy.:freaky
  13. atermon

    atermon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    100
    Location:
    Αthens,Greece
    so that means no snow.
    I was under the impression that snow chaos in France and Germany has partly affected you as well.

    what's the new year's special dish for Tuscany/Italy?
    for Greece a traditional but gradually forgotten dish is Coq_au_vin

    have a great time!
    post back some pictures if you like.
  14. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,231
    Location:
    Tuscany, Italy
    [​IMG]

    Sorry to be so late in wishing all of you, who honor me by using of your valuable time, wishing all
    of you all the best in the new year. I am late because I have been out riding.
    We try to start every year with a ride. This year we rode 637 km in the south of Toscana.
    To give you a hint, I will use the stunning and unbelievable! beautiful town of Pitigliano as my New Year Greetings-card.

    [​IMG]

    The greatest fear of anyone here on ADVrider is to have his Ride Report dumped from Ride Reports
    onto the "Day Tripping"-pile where it will vanish.
    Thus I will refrain from reporting from this tiny two-day adventure-meager but food-filled trip.

    For business-related reasons (which I will refrain from discussing) we have decided to explore Tuscany
    with an unprecedented degree of thoroughness in order to locate places which might interest us.
    Needless to say this detailed survey will (have to!) include quite a few meals at interesting sites.
    I will need to find a way to weave all those rides that will be the consequence of that strategic decision
    into this Riding in Tuscany-thread. Stay tuned for a avoiding-"Day Tripping"-Ride-Report-design.

    As part of this New Year Greetings-card I include Capa Superiore della Famiglia, after an above average
    dinner in Pitigliano.
    You know: Yet another day at the office.

    Yours sincerely,

    [TaSK]
  15. Deuce

    Deuce Crazy Canuck

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2001
    Oddometer:
    3,039
    Location:
    Vancouver Island, Bitchin' Columbia, Canada
    Thank you for taking us along on your explorations. Great photos and commentary.

    I was in Italy about 7 yrs ago. Unfortunately I was in a rental car and not on a bike :cry. I can't wait to return on 2 wheels next time. :1drink
  16. OneOff

    OneOff Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    S.E.Qld
    [​IMG]








    OH MY GOD, she's looking at me with an obviously deep and enduring love.... oh... wait, no... she's looking at the photographer like that. Darn, some guys get all the luck.

    Have a great 2011, Tage and Sissel.
  17. quicktoys2

    quicktoys2 ADVrider junkie :)

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    632
    Location:
    Patras, Greece
    Lovely pictures (both of them) ...................

    HAPPY NEW YEAR. I wish you both the very best with lots of success (and a GS1200 Adventure in the garage)

    Soto
    (Regards and wishes from Dimitra)
  18. Falgaroth

    Falgaroth Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    36
    Location:
    Hvidovre,Denmark
    Godt Nytår Tage & Sissel (Happy New Year's)

    Thank you for your fascinating and insightful "tale" from your trips around the Mediterranean :D

    I have enjoyed it from day one and till now and hope to "live" a little through you in the coming year of travel.

    But I must say that your to "blame" for me being convinced that I too am an Italian born in the wrong country (DK), but not to worry I will not hold it against you, but the Missus might ;)

    All the best to you from the Frozen cold region of Denmark.

    /Lars
  19. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,231
    Location:
    Tuscany, Italy
    It is Friday 26. March. It is the 15th day of our vacation in
    Greece. We are in Kalamata. Tomorrow the ferry departs from Patras
    to Bari.

    [​IMG]

    After a night with Greek Parking, I am not alone!, we prepare for
    another day of riding. Two things on the agenda: Visiting Olympia (as
    suggested by Mr. Castionhead yesterday), and meet another ADVrider.
    This time it is Mr. Quicktoys2 who has offered to meet us. And not
    only that, he has said that we need not book a hotel because he would
    be happy to host us.
    An offer we can not refuse.

    Or?

    The general rule says that you can trust someone you pick at random;
    most people are honest and mean well. If someone picks you, you
    should be more careful. In this case, he has picked us.

    [​IMG]

    Which reminds me of something that happened in Spain last year. We
    arrived in the city of Lleida in the evening, without having made any
    reservations. We ride up and down the main street following
    suggestions from Mr. Zumo. After a while we give up and ride to the
    railway station; we have noticed a (boring) hotel there. Capa goes in
    to check it out, while I sit on the bike and wait. It is dark and the
    railway station is like railway stations most places after dark.
    Then, suddenly, a large man appears from nowhere. He asks "Do you
    have a problem?" I say "No" as uninviting as I can.

    [​IMG]

    I realize that if this large man gives me even the smallest push I and
    the bike will crash to the ground. I see the scene: He gives me a
    slight push, I fall, two "friends" appear from nowhere, and suddenly I
    have big problems. He is large, that is true, but I am larger.
    However, I am seated on the bike, side stand not extended, and I am
    seriously stuck. Another figure appears out from the dark; much
    smaller. The large man says "We have seen you ride the bike on the
    street several times - are you sure you don't have a problem?"

    [​IMG]

    I don't know what to say, so instead I take my gloves off with much
    ado, and very discretely extend the side stand.
    Then he says: We also have a GS!
    What model?, I reply to keep him talking.
    We had a R1100GS but had to sell it. Now we ride a VStrom. We are
    bikers too. Can we help you?"
    Now I notice that the other person is a lady, and I relax a little.
    He says This hotel is no good. Come and stay in our house
    instead!


    As you can see from the pictures, if a large man picks you out on the
    street in Lleida and invites you to his house, say yes!
    Daniel: If you read this, know that you scared the shit out of me :-)

    Anyway - for all we know Mr. Quicktoys2 is a predator hanging around
    here at ADVrider. But, at the end of the day, we are delighted to
    accept his invitation. We know we shouldn't do these things, but we
    love to talk to people, hear their stories as it were, and can you
    phantom a better place to hear The Story than told over dinner? Me
    neither! We decide it is well worth the risk.

    We send some SMSes and make an appointment at
    the parking at Olympia. He says that he'll find us.

    [​IMG]

    We ride north, and Capa says that one thing is strange here in Greece.
    There are letter boxes all along the roads, but you never see any
    houses. It takes some time to understand that she is talking about
    these things. After having examined one we conclude that the intended
    recipient of messages left here don't need a letter box at all. We
    only hope they are set up without the need for a fatal accident; they
    are all over.

    [​IMG]

    As we ride north from Kalamata we can not fail to be impressed by the
    upgrade that is forthcoming on the road. It is now a normal two lane
    road (one lane in each direction; is that called a two-lane road?),
    but there are huge works in progress to make it into a four or six
    lane highway. Yesterday, the Honorable Castionhead explained that the
    (relative speaking) poor road makes it harder than necessary for the
    business to grow in the Kalamata region. But there is very little
    traffic; it is Friday and as far as we understand a normal working
    day.

    "Greek ruins" with a modern power station in the background. This is
    how it is to ride in the Mediterranean: The new and the old lives
    together.

    The weather is exactly as it should be in Greece: The sun in
    generously shining from a blue sky.

    [​IMG]

    We visit the town Karitaina. It has a nice fortress and has a
    commanding position. But we fail to locate a store for groceries (not
    to indicate that there isn't one, because the town is not a small
    village). We want to have lunch outside, and with no food we'll have
    to ride on.

    The next town is Anditsaina.

    [​IMG]

    It is some sort of vegetable marked. Either there is something we
    haven't understood, or the economy here is very poor. The man shown
    above, for example, has a single white bag of beans for sale. All the
    boxes are from the shop next door.

    [​IMG]

    A lady offers some eggs and two or three types of vegetables.

    [​IMG]

    Check this photo from the marked in Ceccano (first day of our
    vacation). I would guess Ceccano is about the same size as
    Andritsaina. The difference is striking. Maybe this is an enthusiast
    marked for super-bio-dynamical groceries, or something. It is odd,
    whatever it might be.

    I said the other day that the Greek come in two models: The large and
    the small. Here, all seems to be small.

    [​IMG]

    Just outside town we find the perfect place for lunch. Fresh water
    from the spring, sun, nice and warm. Can you ask for more?

    [​IMG]

    I don't know how many tourists that come to Greece (or Italty, for
    that matter) per year. It must be in the millions. Many of them
    travel on tours. In comfortable buses they glide through the
    landscape. From one "sight" to another. From one ruin to another.
    When do they talk? When, on such a tour, do you sit and lit the
    silence sink in? Vacation can't be all happening, and no thinking.
    When, on a bus, do you talk to your partner about Life, Universe, and
    Everything? Beats me.

    We sit and talk, we admire the proud profile of the bike against the
    town. We are happy we are Riding in Greece and not "Busing in
    Greece".

    [​IMG]

    We ride on, and after an un-eventful (non adventure?) morning we
    arrive at Olympia. There is space for many buses on the parking, but
    there are none. We're in low season (to say the least). We are easily
    spotted by a man on an Aprilia Capo Nord. Mr. Quicktoys is the large
    Greek model.

    He has seen the ruins before, so we agree that he'll take a coffee
    while we submerge our self in history. Now, what to say about Olympia?
    I am an engineer and my vocabulary for these things are fundamentally
    flawed. For example, in the picture above you see Phillipeion. It
    is, well, a monument. I can tell you that it was built 338 BC and
    later restored by Alexander the Great (no less!). In the background
    the temple of Hera. It was built 590 BC and was destroyed by an
    earthquake a thousand years later.

    [​IMG]

    Or this: It is corridor leading to the Olympic stadium. They used to
    arrange The Olympic Games (TM) here. In fact, they arranged Olympic
    Games for no less than 1.170 years. The current incarnation of the
    Olympic Games has been arranged for 100 years. See you again in 900
    years.

    So there you have it. Just as you need to write a novel to understand
    "The End of the World", you need to write one about Olympia as well.

    It isn't huge like Colloseum in Rome. Or impressive like The Lion in
    Amphipolis. But knowing what it was for many people, for how long,
    can not fail to impress. If you don't feel anything at Olympia you
    need to have your head examined.

    We were not prepared, and that was probably a good thing. Olympia
    isn't about facts, I think. It is about people. Like you and me.

    I have visited The Mall (a park) in Washington (the capital of
    USA). It also sports monuments. The only one that is impressive is
    the one that is sunk into the ground. The others are like monuments
    all over the world: Probably important to those who are related to the
    events, and to those who elected the politicians you can see there.
    But for the rest of us, not much.

    The same goes for the column on Trafalgar square in London. Or the
    hideous independence monument in Rome.

    Olympia is a different league. Not (only) because of the age, but
    because it was the focus of everyone for a thousand years. And that
    is a loooong time.

    [​IMG]

    In my next life I will not work for a decade to obtain a doctoral
    degree in electrical engineering. Rather, I will obtain one in
    archeology or in history. Then I'll come here and look at the complex
    with different eyes. I will be able to look at Olympia the same way
    that I now are able to look at the iPad. I know twice as much as you
    would ever want to know about how the iPad works, and can enjoy it
    even more. Now I stand in front of Phillipeion and see a monument. I
    don't know anything about monuments, so I don't see anything "more".
    I want to see "more". I find great pleasure in
    finding things out.
    Imagine how much you can "find out" here at Olympia. I get dizzy.
    Better go riding.

    We turn away from the Old Greeks to get to now a Modern Greek. The
    Honorable Mr. Quicktoys2 has a proper name, it is Soto. He is ready.
    We are ready. Let's ride!

    He rides like most other Greeks we have we have met (with the exception
    of Mr. Castionhead on his 1956 BMW). I will never, ever become
    accustomed to ride from the 90 km/h into a 50 km/h zone at 100 km/h
    without slowing down. Never, ever! Like Mr. WannaBe before him, he
    rides far out to the right. Again I refuse to follow suite.

    First we go to a hot spring. It is surrounded by Roman ruins. Or, in
    other words, we're not the first to come here. The smell of sulfate
    is strong, but there is a lot of hot water coming out of the ground.
    I would have liked to soak in the water with a large Dry Martini in
    one hand (shaken, not stirred) and a long Dutch cigar in the other.

    Maybe a hot spring with Roman Ruins is "just a thing" for the Greek.
    But I love it. I love such things.

    In almost no time at all we arrive at his house. Think about it: We
    follow a complete stranger who guides us to a house somewhere in the
    vicinity of Patras in Greece. Let us hope he had good intentions :-)

    [​IMG]

    His intentions are any ADVrider worthy: He introduces us to his wife
    Dmitra (the small model). As "all" young couples they live in her
    parents house. When they got married, her parents moved downstairs
    and let them have the upper floor. The house is newly restored. We
    get our own bedroom.

    Dmitra is just home from work, but has still managed to cook dinner
    for us. It is lachanodolmades - meat rolled in cabbage, and
    then boiled. The cabbage is strong enough in taste to make the whole
    thing very pleasant. A perfect balance between a meat and a vegetable
    dish.

    After dinner we talk for a while about our trip, about, um, Macedonia,
    the crisis (no one here blames Germany!), and about being young in
    Greece, about riding an (Italian!) Aprilia Capo Nord, and other
    important things.

    How can I say this: What is the value of sitting in the home of a
    young Greek couple, in Greece, talking about Life, Universe and
    Everything? In our Western culture the Credo is: If it has no price
    it has no value. But being allowed to sit here with them is so
    valuable that it can not be priced. Inviting someone you have "met"
    on the Internet to your home, cooking dinner for them, and using an
    evening of your private life to entertain them - words can not convey
    how high we value this.

    [​IMG]

    The evening draws to a close. I look forward to sharing a bed with
    Capa. I look forward to get up in the morning and have coffee
    ("coffee"? We'll see) with our hosts. I look forward to ride around
    Patras tomorrow. I look forward to the rest of my life. I am happy!

    304 km today.

    Tomorrow we'll eat a exceptionally good cake, see a fantastic bridge,
    get hold of a sticker, and cross the ocean.

    Thank you for your attention!

    [TaSK]
  20. Spinalcracker

    Spinalcracker former redriderofma

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,093
    Location:
    Western MA
    Hi Tage

    I read this several times, not to just understand the words, but to get the feeling of it. It is what this type of travel is all about.

    Thanks for this report.
    Mike