Greece – Mountains, Sea and a lot of History

Greece was not on my travel plans at first. Because actually I wanted to drive through Turkey. And from there via Bulgaria to the north. Because an entry into Turkey was not possible, I had decided to visit Greece instead.

Map of Bulgaria and Greece

From Burgas to Athens, Corinth, Cape Sunion, Delphi and the Meteora monasteries. And from there to the Peloponnese again. 2,850km in total

I’ve always wanted to go there by car. The first time after my high school graduation. But that wasn’t possible at that time, because I was not yet of legal age. And later on there was simply no time for a longer car trip there. So now the side trip fitted very well.

The headline of this post is Greece. But after my arrival in Europe I first spent three days in Bulgaria.


Three days in Burgas / Bulgaria

Flag of Bulgaria

Flag of Bulgaria

The passport control still on the ferry was done in two minutes. Because I have an EU passport. Then I had to park the Landcruiser on a customs area. And to organize the import of the Landcruiser into the European Union in the customs office.

I had unbelievable luck. Because the customs officer spoke German. His parents had probably immigrated from Austria. So I could explain to him without any language difficulties why I came here with a car registered in Australia.

Hummer and Landcruiser

The ‘Hummer’ next to the Landcruiser was also on the ferry across the Black Sea. But the owner not. He was flying…

He then asked me if I wanted to pay tax and customs for the car right there. Or only later in Germany.

I have decided for Germany. Because I didn’t want to take the risk that the tax paid in Bulgaria would not be accepted in Germany later.

The license plate and the car were entered into the computer and a short inspection of the car took place. Without an accurate control of the interior.

Then I was allowed to drive into the city. And there I should also take care of a border insurance. There were no insurance offices on the port area.

Problems to get a liability insurance for my car

I got cash at an ATM. A SIM card in a phone store. Also the purchase of a motorway toll sticker was quickly done at a gas station.

But the vehicle liability insurance for the European Union for my Landcruiser was difficult. The next day I went to at least five insurance offices. Bulgarian and international ones. But none wanted to insure the Landcruiser. Everywhere they said to me that they did not have that type of insurance in their offer. At a land border it would have been easier.

International liability insurance certificate for vehicles in the European Union

Finally I had a international liability insurance for the Landcruiser, valid in the European Union

After all, a helpful employee of an insurance company was on the phone for quite a long time. And finally sent me to the insurance office of the Bulgarian Automobile Club.

There they wanted to issue me a liability insurance policy for the EU. In the meantime, they wanted me to get some cash.

The currency was now called Lew, in plural Lewa. And 1 Lew is 100 Stotinki. 200 Lewa should the insurance cost for a 3 months period, so about 120 US dollars. If I had known that it would later be three times as expensive in Germany, I would have taken out insurance for 6 months in Bulgaria.

But anyway, after a few hours I finally had a green insurance card. Valid for all countries of the European Union. And my trip could continue.

Jassas Ellas – Hello Greece

Flag of Greece

Flag of Greece

It was about time. Because the weather in Burgas was getting worse day by day. While the sun was still shining on the day of my arrival, two days later it was raining incessantly. And it was foggy as well. So it was no longer fun to walk around outside.

So I got into the car and drove towards Greece. First over a highway. But later it turned into a country road. After 300 km I reached the Bulgarian-Greek border. In the middle of the mountains. Rainy and foggy. I once hoped that this weather would change at the latest at the coast.

The passport control was done in two minutes. I was inside the European Union. And nobody asked me about my car registration. There was also no customs control.

Kavala, Greece

Also in the north of Greece it’s already autumn

So I drove on towards the coast. And I had booked a guesthouse for one night in the small town Kavala 150 km from Thessaloniki. Because I did not want to drive into the big city.

The guesthouse was quickly found. But empty and closed like the one in Gori/Georgia. But this time there was no friendly neighbor to be seen. Because the streets were empty. It had probably rained a lot here shortly before.

In a bad mood, I called the number given on the website of the hotel booking engine in Frankfurt. And after half an hour I got an upgrade in a hotel, 5 km away. During the phone call it turned out that the guesthouse had already closed. Without the accommodation in the hotel portal having logged off.

The next morning I got first a SIM card in Kavala and then I went on to Athens. I didn’t need to exchange money here, in Greece the currency is Euro.

Towards Athens
Highway to Athens

On the way to Athens…

During the drive I noticed for the first time how good motorhways in Greece are. All newly created or expanded. Likewise the many tunnels. Perfect, and much better and emptier than in Germany!

Sure, there is a motorway toll. Every 30 – 80 km you have to pay a small amount at a toll station. Between 1,80 and 4,00 US dollars. Depending on the distance you drove. This may be a bit annoying for someone in a hurry. But I had time. And after all, these toll booths also mean jobs. And frequent drivers can probably also pay electronically.

Mount Olympus, Greece

Mount Olympus, residence of the Greek gods

The weather towards Athens got better. And I passed the highest mountain in Greece, the Mount Olympus. 2,900 m high and in ancient times the seat of the Greek gods.

I didn’t want to drive the entire 700 km to the capital of Greece in one day. Therefore I stayed in Lamia for one more night. Also a small coastal town.

Lamia, Greece

End of season in Northern Greece

In the afternoon of the following day I reached Athens. That means, actually, I just drove past it at first. I had consciously looked for an accommodation outside the city. Because with the Landcruiser I didn’t want to drive through the narrow streets of the Greek capital. And there would hardly be any parking spaces for the vehicle either.

Accommodation in Mati

A right decision, as I have seen later. So I stayed for a few nights in Mati, a coastal town 40 km east of Athens. Here I had unsuspectingly booked a hotel online on the way. Because there were outdoor parking spaces shown in the booking engine. And there was a subway station a few kilometres away where you could park your car as well to take the subway into the inner city.

Mati, Greece

The fire came from the top of the mountain and went down to the sea

When I turned off the main road and drove through the town I was surprised about many burnt trees and empty properties along the way (also shown in the video).

Police were on patrol and had set up a mobile guard. There were mobile toilets in front of the ruins of houses as well.

House in Mati, Greece

Burnt house in Mati, October 2018

Only later did I learn that two months earlier a giant roller of fire had destroyed everything up here from the mountains to the sea. TThere were also likely many injuries and deaths. But I hadn’t noticed anything of that on my road trip. The Ramada Hotel directly at the waterfront was one of the few buildings that had been left standing. Even the neighboring building no longer existed. And when there was no wind, the whole area still smelled burnt. Spooky.

Athens, capital of Greece

Of course, you can have a 14-day holiday in Athens without any difficulties. And always discover something new. Or just stroll through the city. Or visit another museum.

Street in Athens, Greece

And suddenly you are standing in front of ancient buildings again

The city is a cultural and historical center. With many ancient locations and buildings. And is considered the origin of our democracy.

By the way, also a Greek word, δημοκρατία (demokratia, rule of the people). Composed of δῆμος (demos, people) and κράτος (kratos, rule). How good that I paid attention in Greek at school back then 😉

Unfortunately I didn’t have 14 days time. Because I only wanted to stay there three days and then I wanted to see other parts of Greece.

First the Landcruiser, then the sightseeing
Street in Athens, Greece

That’s why I didn’t want to go into city with the Landcruiser!

But before I could explore the capital of Greece I had to take care of a service for the Landcruiser. The last one was 10.000 km back.

That was in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Since nobody could give me a hint which garage to take, I used the reviews in Google as a guide. With the result that the best workshop was exactly on the other side of Athens.

Graffiti in Athens, Greece

Discussion of the Greek financial crisis…

So I drove there the next morning. And I did not regret it. It was really a first-class service. The master took 2 hours to check the car. Even all 4 tires were removed to check the condition of the brakes. And the rear ones actually had to be renewed.

This has probably never been done before. I should come back two days later, by then the spare parts would be there.

Flamiatos Toyota Athens, Greece

Great job, the service at Flamiatos Toyota in Athens

Actually, I was hoping that the service would be done on the same day.

So I had to cross the city twice. And on the day of the inspection I had to go from the workshop by subway to the center. And to pick up the Landcruiser again in the afternoon in time before closing time.

A bit complicated, but there was no other way.

A journey through the ancient world

View of Athens from Lycabettus Hill

From Lycabettus Hill you can see the whole city

I could write an own post about the city and its historical sites.

But I don’t want to make a travel guide for Athens here.

That’s why I only tell about some places I have visited here. But that doesn’t mean that other places are less interesting.

View of the Acropolis from Lycabettus Hill

And have a look to the Acropolis up to Piraeus

For example the Syntagma Square in the center. But you will pass it from the subway station anyway. Or the districts of Plaka and Monastiraki for strolling, eating and shopping.

And of course the local mountain of the Athenians, the Lycabettus. From there you have a great view of the city, the Acropolis and the sea. At least when the sky is clear. But unfortunately that was not the case during my visit.

If you want to experience history and Mediterranean flair, then I can definitely recommend a city trip to Athens!

The Agora and the Temple of Hephaestus
Hephaestus Temple on the Ancient Agora, Athens

At Hephaistos Temple on the ancient Agora it is not quite as crowded as on the Acropolis

If you want to put yourself into the life of the ancient world, you should visit the Agora (ἀγορά). The more than 2,500 year old market place of the Athenians.

But it used to be much more than that. Meeting place, place for discussions and elections, fairground and social meeting place. So to say Instagram and Facebook of the ancient world. Except that here people spoke with each other personally.

More than 30 buildings once stood here. Today there are unfortunately only two of them left. One of them is the marble temple of Hephaestus. It is one of the best preserved temples in Greece.

Roman Agora in Athens Greece

It was the same 2000 years ago: Because the ancient Agora was too small, the Romans built their own larger Roman Agora

The area is quite large and there are far fewer visitors than on the Acropolis. If you feel like it, you can go on a journey back in time to ancient times there.

By the way, please do not confuse the ancient agora with the Roman agora. This one also exists in Athens. But it is “only” 2,000 years old, from Roman times.


Dionysus Theater
Theatre of Dionysus Athens, Greece

Would you like to sit in a place of honor in the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens?

Another ancient building is the Dionysus Theatre. Down in front of the Acropolis, on the southern slope of the mountain.

Tragedies and dramas by the famous Greek poets Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were performed here.

Every year in March and April during the 8-day festival of Dionysia there were new plays.

Theatre of Dionysus Athens, Greece

And see a new tragedy by Sophocles there?

Sit down on a row of seats and imagine what it must have been like in the past when a new play was premiered.

By the way, in the first row of spectators there are still the stone seats of honor.



Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Odeon of Herodes Atticus Athens

The show must go on – in the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Another theater. Or rather an opera house. Herodes Atticus had it built as a memory of his wife at the turn of the ages. Also at the foot of the Acropolis.

Here, performances and competitions of artists in music and singing took place. Or poetry readings.

And as you can see on the photo, that has been preserved until today. Because a musical performance is currently being technically prepared.

By the way, all the ancient sights of Athens are spread pretty close around the Acropolis. And therefore also easy to reach on foot.

The Acropolis
Acropolis Athens, Greece

The Acropolis, the landmark of Athens

156m above the city. Castle hill and fortress, ruler’s palace and ammunition depot, church and mosque.

The Acropolis (Ακρόπολη) has been a lot. And today, of course, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But best known is its time 2,500 years ago as a temple complex for the Greek gods.

Parthenon Acropolis Athens

It is is probably never really empty here

The largest building on the Acropolis is the Parthenon. A 70m long temple made of marble. Dedicated to Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom. And patron saint of Athens.

Her statue has unfortunately disappeared. And an explosion during the time as an ammunition depot destroyed large parts of the Parthenon. From the rest, the English ambassador abducted statues to London. They are on display in the British Museum today. And Great Britain does not want to give it back to Greece either

But still you can still guess how magnificent the building must have been.

Erechtheum on the Acropolis

The girls hold the roof of the vestibule of the Erechtheum with their heads

There are also smaller buildings on the Acropolis. For example the Erechtheion. Originally, the palace of the mythical King Erechtheus stood there. And he is said to be buried under it.

The roof of the vestibule is not supported by pillars. But by 6 girl figures. Which, from the point of view of the builders, play a key role with their heads.

Nike temple on the Acropolis

The small Nike temple on the Acropolis

Also the entrance gate to the Acropolis, the Propyläen, can still be admired. And the little Nike temple.

In Greek and in German, it is not pronounced like the sporting goods manufacturer. But something like [ˈniːkə] 😉


Eingang zur Akropolis AthenSure, every tourist wants to see this highlight of Greece. Or just enjoy the great view over the city from the Acropolis.

And it is correspondingly crowded. But I really hadn’t imagined it to be that crowded.


And the Acropolis Museum
Acropolis Museum Athens, Greece

Actually, you weren’t allowed to take photos in the Acropolis Museum

The very modern new building is also located at the foot of the Acropolis. It also includes an excavation site that was found here.

And has its own subway station.

Only finds from the Acropolis are shown in the museum. And you can also spend many hours here.

The Corinth Canal

Eingang zur Akropolis AthenAfter so much culture it was time to get back to nature. I had picked up the Landcruiser the evening after my visit to the Acropolis. And the next morning I was able to start for Corinth.

Actually that was a bad idea. Because I should have gone to Cape Sunion first (see below). And only then onwards to Corinth. So it was a detour of 100km.

But I had planned a road trip from Australia to Germany. And not a sightseeing tour in Greece. So I didn’t have a fixed route. And I didn’t get all of the tips for sightseeing in Greece in time.

Corinth Canal, Greece

Behind me you can also bungee jump in the Corinth Canal

The channel of Corinth is an eye catcher. From above, 85m deep on the water surface.

And probably also from the bottom of a boat to the top.

It was opened in 1893. And saves ships the 400km long trip around the Peloponnese. But only small ships, because at the level of the water surface the Canal is only 24m wide.

Cape Sunion

So the next day I headed back from Corinth 80km west of Athens. To the tip of the Greek mainland, 70km south of Athens. Here on the cliffs, directly at the sea, stands the marble temple for the sea god Poseidon. Or better what is left of it.

Cape Sunion, Greece

The Poseidon Temple at Cape Sunion in daylight…

But even that is still beautiful, especially at sunset.

At the top of the cape the ruins of the temple, on one side the blue Aegean Sea and on the other the rocky coast and mountainous landscape.

And Cape Sunion is also mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.

Cape Sunion, Greece

…and at sunset

By the way, the temple of Poseidon is made of a special marble.

Which is not so ferrous and therefore does not turn brown.

You should definitely go to Cape Sunion when you are in Athens. It’s really worth it!

On to Delphi

Delfi, Greece

The small town of Delfi is also located on the mountainside

After these experiences at the sea I went back to the mountains. To Delphi, approx. 200km northwest of Athens. In ancient times, this place was the center of the world for the people.

The legend tells that the god father Zeus let an eagle fly from each end of the world. And they met in Delphi. So here had to be the center of the earth.

The Oracle of Delphi
Apollo Temple Delphi

In the Apollo temple in Delphi there were the oracles

In ancient Greece, Delphi was also known for its oracle bekannt. A priestess here predicted the future.

This was used mainly by rulers and rich people before making important decisions.

It probably wasn’t quite cheap either. But the wealthy clientele received detailed answers. Which, however, could sometimes be somewhat ambiguous.

Apollo Tempel DelphiFor example, King Croesus asked whether he would win his war against the Persians. And got as answer: “If you cross the Halys River, you will destroy a great empire.”

Croesus saw this forecast positively and thought he would win against the Persians. But something else was meant. He lost the war and his own empire was destroyed. So even then, forecasts were difficult – especially when they concerned the future 😅

View from Delfi into the valley

Will there be another sausage tonight?

Poorer people were only allowed to ask one question that could be answered with “yes” or “no“. For the answer, the priestess pulled one out of a container with black and white beans. If she caught a white one, the answer was “yes.” But if she pulled out a black one, the answer was “no.”

I would have liked to asked if I would get home safely with the Landcruiser. But unfortunately all oracles were already banned by a Roman emperor in 391. What a pity!

And the historical site
Treasury of the Athenians in Delphi

The sanctuary was pretty rich too

From the temple of Apollo, where the oracles took place, only a few columns remain today.

But you can still see the treasure houses on the so-called “Holy Road”. There the individual Greek cities kept their gifts for the Delphic Apollo.

To explore the whole area you should be able to walk well. Because it stretches over 300 meters in altitude along the mountain.

Ancient theatre in Delphi, Greece

Perfectly integrated into the mountains: The ancient theater

In addition to the temple remains and treasure houses, there is also an open-air theater in front of the mountain backdrop. And a stadium at the top.

Both were used for the Phytic Games. There were not only sporting but also musical and acting competitions.

Ancient stadium in Delphi, Greece

You’re already done before you even start the competition: The ancient stadium at the top of the mountain

In order not to collide with the Olympic Games, the Phytic Games were also held every 4 years. Always 2 years before or after the Olympic Games.

While it was still quite crowded down at the Apollo Temple, it became more empty the higher you got. And from the very top you have a great view of the landscape around you.

Museum in Delphi, Greece

Museum in Delphi. What is he dumping there, spaghetti?

As at the Acropolis, there is also a very interesting museum next to the site. There you can see excavation pieces from ancient Delphi.

In any case, you have to plan a day for the site and the museum together. That’s why I stayed in Delphi for 2 nights.


Floating Monasteries

Landcruiser in the mountains near Delphi

Time for photos in the mountains near Delphi

After my visit in Delphi, I went 250km further north. To the Meteora monasteries near the city of Kalambaka. Originally there were 24 of them, which were built on tiny sandstone rocks up to 500m high in the middle of the landscape. That looks pretty exotic. But today only 6 of them are left.

Kalambaka, Greece

The way to Kalambaka is awesome

Some speak of floating monasteries. Because when it is hazy or when the clouds are low, you can’t see the rocks. Then the monasteries seem to float in the air.

One of them, by the way, was used in 1981 as the location for a James Bond movie.

Meteora Monasteries Greece


When they were built, the material had to be pulled up onto the rocks by ropes. And the monks probably climbed up on rope ladders.

Well, that wouldn’t have been for me! Today there are of course streets, paths and stairs up there.


Meteora Monasteries Greece


Meteora Monasteries Greece



And a lot of tourists
Guesthouse Arsenis, Kavala, Grieece

At the entrance to the Guesthouse Arsenis, the signature of the German flag has slightly shifted

Because I wanted to go to the monasteries as early as possible in the morning I looked for a guesthouse nearby. With the beautiful name “Arsenis”.

Getting there early is important for two reasons.

First of all you can avoid the tourist rush a little bit.

Meteora Monasteries Greece

It’s also lunch break in the monastery

And secondly, the monasteries have different times for the lunch break. If you want to visit more than one. By the way, every monastery is closed on a different day of the week.

So even though I was at the monasteries at half past eight, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Buses and cars were parked all along the street. The Japanese were already there before me. You can also see that in the video below. So maybe be there at 7 a.m. next time?

Blick ins Tal

Ausblick vom Kloster ins Tal

While the outside view of the monasteries is already a highlight, you have a great view into the valley from the inside or above. And sometimes also on the other monasteries too.

Meteora Monasteries Greece

In the monastery courtyard

Nevertheless, I only visited two of them. Because somehow it looks similar inside in the monasteries.

Meteora Monasteries Greece

Former residents

But remember if you want to go inside: Men only with long pants. And women are best with long skirts. In some monasteries the ladies have to borrow an apron at the entrance and put it over their trousers. Oh yes, arms and shoulders must be covered as well.

The evening at the Guesthouse Arsenis passed by quite quickly as well. At dinner with two Dutch couples who were on tour in Greece with their mobile homes.

On the Peloponnese again

Actually, this was the end of my tour through Greece. I had seen everything I wanted to see. Nevertheless, I didn’t really feel like driving further north now. Greece is beautiful, the people are friendly, the food is excellent and the weather was good here. While it was raining in the north.

Sunset at the sea

Back to the sea again

In a phone call, my son suggested that I take another week’s vacation in a resort on the coast. Good idea! Not that I didn’t feel like driving anymore. But now for half a year in a different accommodation almost every day, plus the daily planning of the route and the next place, I didn’t really feel like doing that anymore.

So I booked a week at the Robinson Club in Kyllini Beach from the next evening. The only disadvantage: It was 400km south on the Peloponnese. If I had already done that from Corinth, it would have been only 200km.

Kyllini Beach
Robinson Club Kyllini Beach, Greece

Space to relax

So the next day I went back to the south. First through the mountains and near Patras then over a great bridge to the Peloponnese. And later on small back roads to the sea.

In the afternoon I stood in front of the gate of the holiday complex.

And of course caused a sensation among the mostly German guests with the Landcruiser, its stickers and the Australian license plate.

Robinson Club Kyllini Beach, Greece

Along the beach

Incidentally, that had been the case before.

I was approached by German tourists in several parking lots on the motorway in Greece, who were also traveling here with rental cars or mobile homes.

In addition to the beach, the sea and good food, there was something else important for me here.

Washing day

I was finally able to wash all my clothes properly in a washing machine again. And not just in the hand wash basin, a lake or in a river.

For one day I also went on a small excursion here. To the ancient Olympia, only 90km away.

Olympia, Greece

There are still a few ancient columns in Olympia as well

Unfortunately it was a bit disappointing. Because in contrast to Delphi there are only old stone remains to visit.

And on one afternoon my Landcruiser was even allowed to go to the hotel beach.

For a few photos in the online club magazine.

A week later I had to say goodbye to Kyllini Beach. The holiday complex also closed a few days later. And I made my way north again. Towards the Bulgarian border.

One last stop in Greece

I drove north over the great Greek motorways, the Patras bridge and later through tunnels and mountains in the north of Greece.

Veria, Greece

Bye-bye Greece

Since it was almost 700km to the Bulgarian border, I made a last stop in Greece for one night. In the small town of Veria, 70km southwest of Thessaloniki.

In the evening I strolled through the town again and had a good meal in a Greek tavern. But I noticed already here: The weather is autumnal. After all, it was almost the end of October.

And to the Bulgarian border

The next morning I went to the border between Greece and Bulgaria. That was only 200km and I was there by noon already.


Another breakfast and then on to Bulgaria

However, there was a new task for me before crossing the next borders. In Veria, I was strongly advised to check the Landcruiser before the border. Whether a stowaway is hiding somewhere on or under the car. Because even an unintentional taking along of migrants could become expensive.

I should do this at the borders to Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. From Hungary onwards then there are no more border controls with the next countries. As Central Europe is a common customs area without any controls.

Perhaps this advice was a bit overly cautious. Because the border formalities were at least not a problem at all on the border with Bulgaria. The whole process took only 10 minutes. And I was back in Bulgaria.

What I experienced there, I’ll tell you in the next post.

Cheers, Ruediger 😎

Here is my Dashcam video of Greece (4m 20s, 809 MB; Music: Tracks of my Fears – John Deley and the 41 Players, YouTube Audiolibrary).

  • Burgas / Bulgaria
  • To Greece
  • Kavala
  • Athens
  • Mati
  • Cape Sunion
  • Delphi
  • Meteora Monasteries
  • Kyllini Beach
  • Back to Bulgaria

As in previous videos, I have found that it looks better on the cell phone than on the PC. Try it.

I will release the link to my YouTube video from 2019 in a later post. Because there I have shown together most European countries.



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