Καλώς ήρθατε στην Ελλάδα: Welcome to Greece
We arrived in Greece. It was totally dark. And super unexpected: Stormy. The first country on our trip that did not welcome us with sunshine.
Talking about the arrival. As I mentioned here, we took a ferry from Italy to Igoumenitsa in Greece. The ferry ride was already an adventure itself. Fortunately, it wasn’t stormy by then. But the people were truly, let’s say, interesting. We arrived on board pretty early – as Germans do. So, we sat down in a good corner in the board restaurant and made ourselves comfortable for the next hours. As it was totally out of traveling-season, the ferry was not crowded at all. But still, you felt very strongly that you’re not alone. People were spreading out everywhere. It strongly smelt like alcohol and energy drinks. And there was loud music everywhere. People were gambling on their smartphones – with music turned on loudly. Later during the ride, an elderly man took out his radio (yes, a real old radio!) and turned some Greek music on. Another one was discussing something on his phone, not quietly. Let’s put it this way: It did not get boring on board of the ferry. Plus, the people around us definitely got drunk. We were wondering, how they got their vehicles down the ferry after the arrival.
The first day in Greece was super wild. Even just stepping outside for going to the toilet was being outside too much. There was thunder, lightning, heavy wind, mixed rain and hail. But it was not cold, at least. Actually, we more or less spent the first two days inside the van because of the weather. Still, as we were driving along the shores, we admired Greece’s beauty. Clear, blue ocean water and green hills everywhere. Here and there olive, orange and lemon trees.
Eventually, the weather got better and we enjoyed some unforgettable spots:
When the weather got better, we again entered Peloponnes and spend lots of our time outside again: for jogs, walks, swims, talking to friends and families on the phone back home (you have to be outside while doing that since we only have one “room” for three people) and Tim improved his bouldering skills:
During one expedition-tour we passed this place which looked really Greek to us:
Quite shocking and new for us was the huge amount of street animals everywhere. There were dogs greeting us, wherever we got out of the car. And we learned, that the street dogs were usually way friendlier than the dogs who had owners. They usually barked aggressively when we passed the property. The maximum of street dog friends we made were three at a time (the one in the back belonged to another camper):
Since it was still raining every now and then, we used some time to discuss our filming project. We talked about our further steps for the documentary, gained new knowledge in a new cutting program we are trying out and started to create a first trailer version. This way, we saw what is still missing (which questions for the interviews and which kind of drone videos). So far, we can say that we are satisfied with how everything goes!
One day, let’s call it “The productive day”, we were interviewed by a friendly journalist from ZEIT-Online in the morning. That was really exciting, since we are regular readers of that newspaper and enjoy it a lot. To actually read an article about yourself is a bit weird but for us it’s enriching to read the comments underneath it and realize that there are people out there who are interested in our project. For the press publications about the project we created a new rubric here on the website: Press commentaries.
But, back to the productive day. Besides being interviewed, we also transformed one of the inside van walls into a planning board for the documentary. We hold on to our thoughts and try to connect fitting messages from different people we talked to. This way, we always have the documentary ideas right in front of us – right vis-à-vis our EU map. Since this is really helpful and mostly productive, to plan to talk about our project for a few hours, we decided that we “meet” every now and then to regularly do that.
In the evening, Tim made homemade burgers which were delicious and quite many! We had those for dinner three days in a row. And if Felix is hungry, he can really eat a lot.
The next day, we thought since we are in Greece, we could visit some ancient ruins. So, we drove to a nightspot with an Amphitheatre:
As you can see, the ancient theatre was nothing like a ruin and except its shape it didn’t look that ancient. But still, it looks incredibly nice and the view from the spot was amazing. The weather was great that day and there were both a soccer and a basketball field right there, so Felix and Tim played both of it. Meanwhile, I was going for a hike. At first, I stepped by ancient springs with an old bath (and yes, this time it even looked ancient). After that, I was passing an old Greek town which looked more or less abandoned but still really charming. I walked further down the hill, following a hiking path. The way was perfect – I had a stunning view the whole time, walking between olive trees and passing cactuses. When I reached the sea, the trail ended at the “Island where Helena of Troy were born”. That was actually just a rock and not really fascinating. But the hike certainly was. The only bad thing was, that I had to walk the whole way back up. With some good music even that was a pleasure.
We didn’t stay at that spot longer than at the others but in many ways, it was special there. The view, the sport possibilities, the hiking routes and the people we met. Greetings to the two of you, Anja and Peter – we had an amazing evening with you! To tell the rest of you what happened: When we just arrived at the spot (which we found over the app park4night as all the other spots we are staying at) a Steyr military truck drove up. We were curios and watched the van parking – a German license plate, we realized. We were waving and the couple was waving back. After parking, Anja and Peter came over to say hello. We were chatting a bit and then everybody did their things. In the late afternoon, we sat down to watch the sunset over the sea. The five of us, drinking tea, chatting. As the sun was gone, it got chilly outside and we decided to go inside (not that it is much warmer in Oswald, but at least cozier). But, before everybody started their dinner, we wanted to have a closer look at Jumbo – Anja and Peter’s van. So, we went inside with them and were impressed! They converted the military truck themselves into their home on wheels and it looked really nice, like a real little home. While inspecting their constructions, their heater warmed the place up and we opened a bottle of wine. The evening started. More wine and crackers followed. In the end, it wasn’t just a quick look into other travelers’ tiny home, it turned out to be a long night with incredibly nice talks. The two of them had tons of interesting stories to share, since they already drove by bike from Germany to Singapore in 1 ½ years – we were impressed. Since they are older than we are, they are looking at some things differently than we do which was super enriching. And with the same humor and sense for life, I guess, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can always connect in lots of ways. That’s what happened. Otherwise the hours wouldn’t have flown by and we wouldn’t have escaped the cold in such a comfortable way. We had a lovely evening and realized how nice it is, to connect with other travelers and exchange stories.
The next morning, we slept in and left somewhen during the day. While driving to a new sleeping spot, we randomly drove by this shipwreck. So, we took a little walk on the beach to gain a closer look. It was worth it. We don’t know anything about this particular wreck but we found it really cool that it was just lying around there and wanted to share those pictures with you.
Time for Athens! Three years ago, I was in Wroclaw, Poland, for an Erasmus semester where I got to know Vissaria from Greece. I spent lots of time with her (and Maria – maybe you remember her? If not, here’s the article about when we stayed with her in Manchester) and some other really cool people from different European countries. We will meet more on our further trip, if you stay updated, you’ll meet them, too.
Back to Athens. We stayed with Vissa, her boyfriend and their cute cat Simba in their flat in Exarchia, which is a really hip and arty part of Athens. There is a lot of street art and little art galleries. I went inside CAN gallery which presented a super cool exhibition from a Cypriot artist. Since I was in that gallery all alone, the gallerist had lots of time for me. She explained me the artist’s work, the thoughts and feelings behind it and everything about his background. So, we ended up talking a lot about Cyprus and the people there which was really interesting for me – since it is an EU country as well and it was exciting to hear more about it and the conflict on the island from a person who is, let’s say more involved. The gallerist travel there a few month ago and talked about the Greek feelings for that island – which are actually not too strong.
Okay, Athens was not just about arts. We also got the chance to finally take a warm shower again and to wash our clothes. Of course, this was not the highlight, either. It was just very nice, to spent time together, wander around Athens (unfortunately, we missed taking pictures of the city – but you can look pictures up online: e.g. Acropolis, that’s one of the things we saw), went out at night and had interesting talks about the EU. Probably, I already said this way too often, but I have to say it again, sorry. It is always very enrichening to talk to people of all those different countries about their feelings, lives and political views, disappointments and wishes. Thanks Vissa, to talk to us on camera about that!
A highlight was definitely Saturday evening – we went out for dinner. It was surprisingly cheap and so delicious! We had vegetarian souvlaki – the most Greek food we could get. Plus, later this evening in some bar, I randomly met an old friend which was unexpected but therefore even nicer. Sunday at noon we continued our life on the road. We drove up north. Direction: Bulgaria. All in all, our stay in Greece was really nice. We were able to gain so many different experiences and all of them were great. Okay, that’s not 100% true – the weather in the beginning was terrible. But you forget that easily, if so many nice things follow.
As a brilliant end of this post, we have this picture for you. For sure, it is not one of the best pictures but we were so fascinated by the cristal clear water, that we wanted to share this impression with you:
As always, you can follow our route through Greece here:
Tomorrow we will enter a European country none of us had been before. We are super excited about our stay in Bulgaria. We heard, it’s beautiful there. Well, we will tell you about it soon!