One The Road Again: Eastern Europe 2018

Two layovers! You get what you pay for sometimes. A nice glass of wine to start the trip was in order: three legs, two layovers; took me 20+ hours to get to Greece. 

I didn’t get much sleep the last few nights. Even on the long flight to Frankfurt, I couldn’t sleep much. Mind you, I usually fall asleep seconds after takeoff. Even on short-hop flights, I catch a few bonus winks before landing.

This isn’t an overly long trip. While I’m heading to some unfamiliar territories, especially to most North Americans, it’s not an especially dangerous adventure.

“You better be careful,” my taxi driver warned me as he shuttled me back to my hotel from the BMW shop here in Athens. “Albania,” he said, “it’s dangerous. Watch the people.” His eyes piercing and serious as he stared me down through the rearview mirror of his cab, describing a litany of offenses his neighbors to the north might befall upon me.

I was in Albania less than two years ago. As I navigated the logjam of cars and trucks; the bottleneck of traffic at the Albania and Greek border, an Albanian truck driver jumped out of his

 truck and ran to catch me so he could give me a sticker. He failed to spot the flag of his home country, blood red with a double-headed eagle silhouetted in the center, on my panniers. With the flag sticker in one hand, he shook my other and gave me a bump of a shoulder hug then returned to his truck.

I’ll be fine in Albania.

No, I wasn’t apprehensive about the dangers of traveling a few months by motorcycle in Eastern Europe. No. The things that robbed my sleep and had my head spinning were organizational, logistical, and practical.

Dar, I’m going to miss her perhaps more than she misses me!

Or, maybe it was Dar, my cat. Was I feeling guilt and sadness over leaving her alone?

It’s not like I haven’t done this before.

There is a lot on my mind. Leaving on a long-term journey means making sure everything at home is in order: the cottage is ready for the house and cat sitters, everything needed for my bike and me is packed, and clients, banks, and credit cards have been alerted to my travels.

Brittany & Pan enter the room to join the reception outside Vancouver Canada in June 2018. This was only Part I of their wedding celebration

Then there is the new television show. It seems the merger between Scripps Networks Interactive, (owner of Travel Channel and Cooking Channel, and others) with Discovery Communications has forced my show and others into limbo as the new company shuffles and reevaluates things. They might greenlight the show any day, or they might take a pass. I hate wondering and waiting. No news is good news, right?

I’m in Greece and this weekend I’m heading to Part II of the amazing Greek Wedding of the shows producer/showrunner, Panayioti Yannitsos with his lovely bride, Brittany. I was in Vancouver at the end of June for Part I, which was amazing. Yet, I’m sure Part II, held in a small village in the Peloponnese, will be a fiesta, celebration and cultural experience I could only have in Greece. Yes, it will be a party. I’ll report here after.

So far I’ve yet to get into the flow of travel. True, I’m not yet on my motorcycle. After 20 months stored in a garage in Athens, I discovered what I expected: a dead battery and an old bike needing TLC. There are several issues I must deal with including new fork seals, new tires, and oil.

Doc is looking a little road worn, but soon to be started and counting kilometers beginning in Greece.

There was barely any oil in the bike, and none in the reservoir—500ml in the crankcase. There’s no sign of leaking, so this concerns me. Where did the oil go? How long was it so low? Then there might be a problem with the water pump.

I’m planning on riding some 10,000km (about 6,000 miles) over the next few months. I need to depend on my trusty steed. So the time and attention here in Athens before I embark is key.

The wonders of airline travel. To be sure, overland is the way to go—on a motorcycle.

 

The notion of airplane few no longer is a staple in modern lexicon, on Lufthansa, at least there was food—sort of.

I faced these realities with that limited sleep and still recovering from about 20 hours of airline travel yesterday. Several months ago, knowing I would come to Greece this summer for Pan’s wedding and to reunite with my bike, “Doc”, I booked a free flight using airline miles. I either forgot or just didn’t pay attention, but I was surprised that I had two layovers—in Frankfurt and in Munich. I arrived in Athens after midnight. And thanks to the wonderful people at Grace and Aria Hotels, who have been storing “Doc” in the garage of their corporate offices, I was greeted with a friendly smile and keys to a wonderful apartment in the center of Athens with a stunning view of the Acropolis—especially beautiful at night as the Parthenon is bathed with dramatic lighting.

BMW dealer and BMW motorcycle service and repair shop in Greece, S.A. Vagianelis—these guys are great

Loved this table made from an old air-head BMW boxer engine. Take a closer look, too. Yes, those are ashtrays.

The view from the Aria Hotel’s Athens Suites

The Plan

It’s all Greek—especially this version of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s “Long Way Down”

I’m off to Kiveri on the Peloponnese later this week where I’ll connect with Pan and Britteny for the wedding along with a posse of others from Vancouver who will witness and experience this celebration together. From there I’ll make my way over and around, following the coastline, through the entire Peloponnese before heading north along the Adriatic coast. I’ll head to Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bulgaria and beyond.

Stay tuned to these pages for stories, photos, updates and more. And if you’re not following me on Instagram, head over and check out the photos and stories as I post them along this journey.

One last thing. If you’re subscribed to updates from this WorldRider Blog, you will get an email once or twice a week with a list of my updates. You will only get these emails when I’ve posted something new. So please check them out—encourage others to subscribe. I hope to post new podcasts, vlogs, and more along the way. So join me. I like the company.

3 replies
  1. Katy Bendel
    Katy Bendel says:

    Hey Allan, Have a great trip and if you get a chance check out the village of Pilos on the southwest corner of the Peloponnese, and of course, Lantides Winery in Nimea. If you make it there, say “Hi” to Andrew and his Dad Paniko, a talented winemaker, for me. Ciao, Katy

    Reply
    • allan
      allan says:

      Katy, That sounds like a great plan! I’ll do it! Leaving Athens this morning and heading to Peloponnese—weddng tomorrow. Then exploring the Peloponnese! Thanks for the tip and I’ll be sure to say hi! Maybe I’ll see you up North in August! 🙂

      Reply

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