In route to Athens – Km 52,046

The ferry that I took in Italy left me in Patras, according to some people the city is an arrival point to the country and it doesn’t have many things to see. It was a weekend for this reason I disembarked with the idea of working, and to do some sells of my pictures or my dolls in the main street; but I couldn’t do it because their main streets were empty, it was cold and it rained of whiles.

So, on the afternoon when the weather improved, I came back to the route toward Athens. But several times I had to stop and to wait the rain allows me to advance. At night I arrived to Marathias, a small population on the sea and I stayed in a hotel where their owners and their clients bought me as many dolls as I hoped to sell that Sunday, then due to the bad weather I stayed there during three days, where I worked a little for the website. And they treated me like to a great guest, especially when eating.

In route again, I camped near Galaxidi, and the next day after a brief visit in Itea, I went to Delphi, the place which was considered the centre of the Earth by the old ones. Delphi was famous to be one of Apollo’s habitations and since final of the century VIII B.C. began to go faithful to surrender him cult and to consult the oracle. According to people, their ruins are considered among the most important in the country, but I could not appreciate all their history neither their big works because I visited them without a guide , and for some moments It seemed to a joint of stones with a couple of columns, for that I had to pay 9 euros to enter.

I remember to the Italian boys that I asked them about the ruins before buying the ticket, and they convinced me saying to me: “¡They are beautiful!!!”

The tourism in Europe is by this way; a lot of people travel and visit alone ruins, monuments, churches or palaces. And then they are very few who can really do a comment about the place. Obviously if they didn’t study art or history, most of people scarcely take and keep many pictures like memory, to the best Japanese style.

I find difficult to accept it, if the ruins, the monuments or galleries are national patrimony and the authorities are proud of their history, their revenues should be symbolic, or at least that for that price they include some type of extra service, like an informative recording in different languages, or guide’s service without cost. In almost all the countries of Europe, the revenues for each one of these places are about 10 euros.

In route again, my way to the capital was more difficult than I thought, because during almost 30 km, I cycled up hill, up to Aráhova, a small town with its majority of their houses built with stones, and it is located to 1400 mts of altitude. And I didn’t find its people kind. It was very difficult to find a place to eat, because its people didn’t like that I asked them in English.

But finally, after other two days of cycling with a lot of strong wind in my front, I arrived in Athens.

Athens

Athens is a giant city, according to the guide book it is inhabited since 7.000 years. And I was surprised to my arrival because I believed that I would find an old city, and it was just the opposite, because the capital city has big avenues, its public buildings all restored and many green places that beautify the city.

It was a weekend; so I went to Monasteraki, one of the main markets to earn some money carrying out some of my sales. But there I had some problems, because when I exposed my bicycle with my map and some of my pictures, the salespersons that were close to me, in spite of the fact that I didn’t block their shop windows, they ordered me to move. It was obvious, my bicycle got more attention than their shops windows and many people stopped to talk with me. In that way I had to move 5 times and to discuss with all of them each time. Finally I stayed in an open place, and although it was not good, I carried out several sales.

During the week I contacted to Nova, the cable TV whose owners are South Africans and whose they already had sponsored me in some countries of Africa. I had kept the contact from Kenya, and I called it, and from its marketing department in few days I got its support to the project.

Con Luis y NikoI also contacted the Argentina Embassy, where its Consul and its people treated me very well. Through them I met Luis, an Argentinean guy who travelled a lot, lover of the tango and who lives since 7 years in Athens. Luis has a dance academy, and recently he opened up “The Bandoneon” a fine restaurant, with tango show and where on Sunday people go to dance. And it was there when Luis organized a raffle and he sold as many numbers as persons were to collect the maximum possible money for my trip. And it was very amusing, because he stopped the dance, and I entered to the local with my bike, and he introduced me as a very important people. Luis was perfect.

Also through the Embassy I arrived to Mr. Lemos, another Argentinean who lives in Athens since a lot of years and who works as importer of several products. He also contributed with the project. But the best thing was that one of his products is a typical Argentinean sweet, and to eat one kilo of it in Athens was one of my best memories.

During my days in Athens I visited three newspapers and I was interviewed by television, and that bad luck I got, because in negligence while I was in the Argentinean Restaurant somebody stole me the photo camera. I had left 5 minutes the bike with all its baggage in the door, and somebody opened one of my handbags and he took the camera.

5- La AcropolisMy last days in Athens were good to buy a new photo camera, and also among a chaotic traffic due to the different protests that the city has, I visited some tourist place like the national gardens (what I liked more), the old town of the city: Plaka, Zeus’ Temple and also the Acropolis that was built as part of the city-planning project in the middle of the century V B.C.

I still remember that Greek guy when he became furious with me because closer to my bicycle I asked him if he spoke English. After some minutes of chat, he told me: “I don’t like to speak English, and I don’t like that we can only communicate in this language. These Americans and Englishmen want to impose us everything, their political and commercial model; it seems that they don’t remember that when they still lived in caverns, we were already civilized people, because we already had a city concept and we already sat down on the table to eat with cutleries.”

I also went to the embassy to thank, and that episode I lived there. Because the Ambassador, Raul Ricardes requested me to wait him, he wanted to know me. And I waited him half an hour and then we talked a while. At the beginning I found him very kind; although in spite of asking me things about my trip, he told me about his trips. So in that moment came to my mind the advice of one of the Argentineans that I knew in Athens: “when you have the possibility to be in front of an ambassador, don’t have shame, and ask him a contribution for your project“, and I did it, I called him to contribute; but the Ambassador became very nervous and he showed me his empty wallet and he told me in the most diplomatic way: “yes of course, I can do a contribution, but I should go to the bank and tomorrow you come here, but first you can call me”.

But then he didn’t answer my phone calls, in spite of I called him four times and the last day I found him for a moment at the embassy door and he didn’t greet me, like that he didn’t see me. According to the people of the embassy he was very nervous, because he was already returning to Argentina to work in the Ministry. I had preferred that he tell me: “Guy, I like what you do, but here, many times people come to ask me money and I cannot help all of them“. It would have been more sincere.

The Consul was who spoke with me, “it is always by this way” told me Niko an Argentinean who lives in Athens for many years, “She is the one who always face up everything”.

But I had learned a good lesson, is much better to contact the embassy to be introduced to some companies to be sponsoring by them, than to ask money to the ambassador.

If you wish to know more about my trip, get the documentary: The World by Bike