Ancient History is Greece

Rolling through the northern Greek countryside we round a couple turns and high up on soaring rock columns are the Meteora monasteries. They change and disappear as different ones become visible with the turns of the road. Some are resort sized buildings cut into soaring rock columns and are balanced preciously hundreds of feet in the air. We have picked a campground with views of several of the monasteries from our campsite. As the sun sets, we sit back and watch the colors change on a large monastery just above us, so beautiful.

Sitting in the garden restaurant we meet another couple from Canada and spend time with them discussing politics. Drives me crazy. Why politics. Here we sit in a beautiful country and this is what people want to talk about???

The next morning we pack up in anticipation of visiting a couple of the incredible monasteries. Winding up the road thinking we may have beat the tour busses up the mountain, we are wrong. Lines of busses line the road, and even longer lines of tourists, literally hundreds. I don’t like cities because of the crowds and I can’t do this. We pull in and grab a few great photos of several monasteries, which is quite enough, and it is time to go.

The terrain south is mountainous with a valley running through the middle. We jump on the fast road and ride hard sorry toward the Peloponnese peninsula.

We stop for the night in Delphi. Finding a hotel in town we are able to park on the narrow street right in front of the hotel. The Yellow Donkey (the VStroms new name from later in the trip, stay tuned) attracts attention with people taking pictures or wanting their picture taken beside the overburdened beast.

Spending the evening walking about town, watching a beautiful sunset and a good meal at an outdoor cafe was a good end to a hard day.

The next morning we walked to Delphi. Just outside of the entrance we see a couple bikes from Europe. Inside we meet the riders, a man and his daughter (University age) riding two-up, and a friend. We talk for a while before walking through the ruins.

The Pythia was the time of the high priestess oh the Temple of Apollo at Delphi who also served as the Oracle of Delphi. The Pythia was established in the 8th century BC, and was credited for her prophecies inspired by the spirit of the God, in this case, Apollo. During this period the Delphi Oracle was the most prestigious and authoritative oracle amount the Greeks, and she was the most powerful woman of the classics world.

The ruins of the Temple of Delphi date from the 4th century BC. The temple survived until AD 390, when the Roman Emperor Theodosius I silenced the oracle by destroying the temple and most of the statues and works of art to remove all traces of Paganism. (Wikipedia)

Starting in 586 BC, athletes from all over Greece competed in the Panhellenic Games, precursors of the modern Olympics.

The next day as we were riding toward the Peloponnese peninsula we rode into the outer bands of a weather pattern called a Medicane. This is a hurricane type storm that forms in the Mediterranean.  There is a 2252 meter, cable-stayed road bridge, the Rion-Antirion Bridge, spanning the Gulf of Corinth connecting the Greek mainland to the Peloponnese peninsula.

The winds were fierce as we approached the bridge along the coast with gusts approaching 60 mph. The only way to cross, besides the ferries which weren’t running because of the weather, is this bridge. Pulling over at the base we evaluated our situation and options. Deciding that we really needed to get over the bridge, we decided to get up and over the bridge. Pulling out and moving forward was certainly puckering. The bike was all over the place, at time feeling like the front end was even off the ground. Our speed never exceeded 30 kph and that was super tough to even control. As we finally crested the top of the bridge we realized these winds were going to continue for the rest of our ride. Reaching the other side we were still very exposed to the gusty conditions and took the first exit seeking cover from the winds among building and a place to stop and recover. The first coffee shop we came across was our respite.  We finally made it to Olympia, but that is in the next post.



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