Earlier this year I was lucky enough to undertake a 4-week tour of Greece to reconnoiter the tour that Magellan are offering in 2019.
For those who don’t know the Magellan system, after all the route planning for a new tour is finally done, Magellan then send scout(s) to ride/drive the entire tour route, check the satnav files work, check out all of the hotels and coffee/lunch stops and to explore the places worth visiting, both en-route and on the scheduled days off the bike, to ensure the new tour is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
We discovered that Greece is almost ideal motorcycling country, with endless gentle twisty mountain roads, great views, and good road surfaces. Then there are the amazing ancient ruins and cultural sites galore, coupled with warm weather. When we were there in May the lemon trees had already fruited, and the lemons had ripened, and wheat was being harvested.
When you throw in the super friendly Greeks and superb food, what’s not to like?
So, in early May, we took Eurotunnel to Calais and headed into Northern France, and the Vosges mountains via the beautiful city of Reims. Then on to Flims in Switzerland and crossed into Italy via the iconic Stelvio pass. After a night on the banks of Lake Garda we headed to the Italian port of Ancona for the overnight ferry to Igoumenitsa in mainland Greece.
First impressions as we approached the Greek coast next morning were “wow… I did not expect so many beautiful mountains !” In fact, Greece is the most mountainous country in Europe, with almost 80% of its surface area classed as mountains or mountainous. The landscape of the Greek mainland can best be summed up as an endless vista of rolling tree covered mountains, punctuated by stretches of verdant valleys and plains.
From the ferry port of Igoumenitsa, we headed immediately up into the mountains towards the fabled hanging monasteries of Meteora, following a mixture of empty main roads and amazing twisty mountain sections. The monasteries are built on the summits of huge rock outcrops which just rise from a flat plain and which would not look out of place on the planet Pandora where the film Avatar is set. On the tour, you will have a full day off the bike to explore this fascinating place. Close by is the Cave of Theopetra, which it is believed is one of the oldest inhabited places on earth, containing evidence of human occupation dating back well over 50,000 years. The cave is also the site of the oldest man-made structure on Earth, a stone wall built to block off part of the entrance, dated to be over 23,000 years old.
Unfortunately, the cave was closed to visitors for safety reasons on the day of our visit.