Bongiorno Italy! We are really close to Holland now, or so it feels at least. We took the overnight ferry from Igoumenitsa (Greece) to Brindisi (Italy) and after a relaxing sleep on the public benches on the ferry we made it to Italy!
There is not one place in Greece that is more than 100 km away from the sea. Quite a difference from e.g. Urumqi (China). This city, with over one million inhabitants, is the furthest away from any ocean!
We drove through Greece, taking the coastal roads towards Igoumenitsa. From Igoumenitsa we will take the overnight ferry to Italy, country number eight that we visit during this journey!
Athens is back on track to receive many tourists, after years of a debt-struck crises and news reports. The city was vibrant, youthful and very welcoming to us. The Acropolis, simply put the most important ancient site in the western world, is an ever-changing construction site but awe-inspiring giving its 6000 years of history.
With very sore legs we drove along the coastline to Athens where the magical Acropolis welcomed us to this ancient and modern city.
Hellooo Greece! And helllooo world! It took one hour of ‘klettersteigen’ (read: using hands and feet without ropes) to reach the highest point of Greece and enjoy these magnificent views. Enjoy them with us!
Mythical Mount Olympus, rising 2918 meter above sea-level and being the highest peak in Greece, has been a destination for us ever since planning this trip. The Greeks believe that Zeus, yes, Father of Gods and men, had his throne on the second highest peak of Mount Olympus, from which he could oversee the entire world. Well, let’s check for ourselves!
We made it!’ This ow so simple sentence has become an important part of our journey. After each border crossing there was this moment of ‘hallelujah’. We expected the worst for entering the EU, driving an (unknown) Chinese car, especially after our Turkey customs experience where literally the car was inspected inside-out! However, the EU was very welcoming to us, after an x-ray scan on the Turkish exit, the Greek entry literally took 2 minutes and we made into the EU! Home, or so it feels!
After 73 days 24/7 together we both felt the urge to ‘not be together’ for a day. No, this doesn’t mean our friendship is over, some people even call it ‘bromance’, but we felt the need to spend a day alone in this big city. At 8pm we met up again and had a lot of stories to share with each other over dinner, normally by dinnertime we have exhausted our sources of conversation. Who knows, maybe suitable for repetition in future?
Talking business again with the very passionate Mrs. Turan, professor in urban planning at Ozyegin University in Istanbul. While Istanbul seems to be a tourist oasis, she provided us with an insight into the lives and struggles of the citizens of Istanbul.
We also used this day to explore this bustling metropolis and were overwhelmed by the amount of people. I mean, we are used to the vibrancy and population density in Shanghai but this was of another order. Or should I say chaos? Lots, and lots of people on the streets as it was also the Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) in the Muslim world.
Istanbul, where Asia meets Europe. We made it across the Bosphorus bridge and drove now officially from one continent to the other! We are super excited to discover this metropolis of 15 million people that always has been on the crossroads of cultures and people.