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Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Our Four Month Trip on a BMW 310 GS: Part II- Northern Greece

If you are a history buff, or even if you’re not, the majesty, the beauty, the significance, and the amazingness of northern Greece cannot be underestimated! And since this site is geared towards motorcycle touring, I’m going to introduce you to a part of the world that definitely needs a closer look.

Northern Greece just does NOT get the love that it deserves. When people say, “I want to visit Greece,” their go-tos are Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos, or some variation of that that may include other islands. 

But regardless of where in the world you are, you have probably learned about or studied or seen movies about ancient Greece. Alexander the Great, Mount Olympus, ZEUS, Hercules, and Aristotle are all part of our culture. Add in the religious aspects like the Baptistery of Saint Lydia, where John the Apostle baptized the very first European named Lydia, or visit the one quarter mile pinnacles of Meteora, with half a dozen monasteries perched on top, where scores of monks died building them, and I think it humbles you.

Our 88 day trip on two wheels started on July 4, as we left Antalya Turkey, where we lived for nine months, and rode up the coast into Greece. Along the way we added two Greek island side trips to Chios and Lesbos, and finished up almost three months later after 35 different rooms and 35 different mornings to pack up, and later on unpack our little BMW 310GS—Max. Considering Max only spit out 43 hp, he did a great job, even with two people, two backpacks, a duffel bag, and a winter bag over 1500 miles/ 2400 km throughout Greece.

Since this IS a motorcycle touring site I want to highlight that horsepower in comparison to my first bike from 1973. That Suzuki GT550 was a three cylinder two-stroke (vs four stroke which all bike gasoline engines are these days) with a claimed 50 hp, which was considerable in those days. It was carbureted and if you rode one today you would be disappointed by the power curve, the handling, as well as the styling. In today’s world of “bigger is better,” that is not always true, as I started discovering when I primarily rented SCOOTERS throughout Europe. They have little horsepower, but bikes today are extraordinarily efficient.

We entered Greece at the Kipi border on a very hot Saturday afternoon, and because Turkey is NON European Union, and Greece IS, that border crossing was more cumbersome than most. Add in the fact that Turkey is ridiculously bureaucratic, they gave us a hard time about exiting due to a very heavy tax we had recently paid when we left Turkey for a month. After about two hours of oppressive heat we finally got on the road and journeyed to our first Greek stop, the city of Alexandroupolis. This city, along with dozens of others, is named after Alexander the Great and is significant since it was the site of Alexander’s very first military victory over the Maedi, a small tribe trying to usurp the Macedonian empire. That took place in Alexandroupolis; he was 16 years old. And he died a mere 16 years later after conquering most of the world at that time.

That is just a hint of the history in this region which was the home of the Macedonian tribe, run by Alexander and his father, King Phillip II. They eventually ruled over Europe from Egypt to India, as well as all of Greece, so throughout Northern Greece there are historical ruins, museums, and artifacts. During our 31 days we visited 17 ruins or museums and were continually awed by where we were walking.

These are the cities we visited:

  • Kavala (seaside resort, stayed at the Lucy Hotel)
  • Volakis (a mostly ski resort which we visited off season)
  • Drama (amazing lakebeds, stayed at the Hydrama Hotel)
  • Serres (site of major ancient Greek battles)
  • Lake Kerkini (the best bird watching site in Europe)
  • Goumenissa (a significant part of Greece during WWI)
  • Thessaloniki (the cultural capital of the country)
  • Edessa (the City of Waterfalls)
  • Veria (site of Alexander’s father, King Phillip’s tomb)
  • Ioannina (with gorgeous mountains and canyons)
  • Meteora (the one with monasteries on top of one-quarter mile pinnacles)
  • Litohoro (home of Mt Olympus)
  • Olympiada (home of Aristotle)
  • Psakoudia (a resort destination)
  • Pallini (part of the famous Halkidiki Peninsula resort areas)

Most of those cities are probably unknown to anyone outside of Greece, but if you’d like to read about some of the specific details, you can look at my archives at www.TravelYounger/blog. I also have more detailed reviews at my personal Norm Bour Facebook page.

When bikers think about or plan “bike trips,” most of them/us have iconic locations in our minds, like the Alps, riding through Italy or Switzerland, or maybe for the Southern Hemisphere crowd, South America, Australia, or New Zealand. Since 2019 I have been a nomad and lived in 27 countries and have ridden bikes in many of them. Croatia rocked, as did Ecuador. Thailand was fun on scooters, as was Italy—even though a larger bike would have made it even better. This year I lived in Turkey, then Greece, and now Albania, and my last two stories on RnT highlighted two of those. If you want to combine history, nature, adventure, and awesome bike riding, add northern Greece to your diet. 

Here is a video I created on the Top SIX places in Greece that rocked: https://youtu.be/M2nTmTZ7w00.

Norm Bour
Norm Bourhttps://travelyounger.com/
Norm Bour left the USA permanently in February 2019 at the age of 64. His goal was to travel the world six weeks at a time, which he did, and wrote two books about his experiences. He visited 25 countries along with taking countless plane trips and many motorcycle trips, and is getting a BMW bike so will have wheels for the first time in years while he explores the country of Turkey. You can follow his journey at www.TravelYounger.com along with his Facebook blog by the same name.

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