The sights of Greek capital as seen from the seat of a bike
For those of you that haven’t read the first two installments of Jet & Rent, let me fill you in on a few details. The first trip I went on was to Bosnia, while the other two adventurers were sunning themselves in glorious parts of the globe I was being chased by serbian gangsters (no, I really was). For the second round I was handed another short straw and sent to Libya, a country where being an evil dictator is still en vogue. If I’m honest, that is kind of how I like my trips though. Dodgy is never boring, ergo it’s worth a look.
So you can imagine my surprise when I was handed a BA ticket to Athens, a place where normal tourists go to holiday. No landmines or baddies or anything, blimey. What it does have though, thanks to the 2004 Olympic Games, is a fantastic infrastructure for visitors. The city caters for the lost and loaded alike. An easy to use rail network plugged me into the city within half an hour of landing. Even though the signs looked more like algebraic equations than directions I got a room and a cold beer without any drama.
Athenians view the tourist season to be over by early September, but they are up for charging a fortune if they can get away with it. I ended up with a room that once I had dumped my helmet and day sack was pretty much full. They didn’t advertise it as having a wet room but once I turned the shower on I found I had one, then two. Bike hire in a city that thrives on tourism is easy to find. You can book bikes online but I found that it was just as easy to walk into a dealer and hire on the spot. Honda Transalps are ten-a-penny, you won’t have any problems picking one up and they are perfect for the job. Expect to pay around €180 for a three day hire. There are cheaper bikes and there are better bikes but this is the bike I would recommend.
I hooked up with Greek bike magazine Moto, who kindly lent me a FZ1 and provided me with the kind of local knowledge that while extremely useful, is just as freely available in any local boozer. The Yamaha that I borrowed was ideal, unlike the roads, which are totally slick. After a quick ‘spin’ on the bike I mentioned to one of the guys that the roads must be lethal when it rains, when he told me that the last time it rained in Athens it was April I thought it best if I just kept my thoughts to myself.
On the first day of riding I took the opportunity to head for the temple of Poseidon, simply because it sounded cool and the road on the map looked inviting. There is something about coast roads that I find romantic. The sun beating on your back, a warm breeze, and a snaking tarmac trail that makes you want to stop time so that you can enjoy it forever. Nothing lasts forever though and unfortunately I found myself dismounting to have a look around a pile of stones that while interesting for a while, quickly lost my interest. Then again I am about as cultured as a coat-hook. This first proper ride highlighted the need for textiles. 38 degrees at four in the afternoon in September sounds delicious, not when your dressed for an autumnal commute across London, silly boy.
Continue the Jet & Rent around Athens
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