Out and about in Crete – by motorcycle on the Greek island

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Out and about in Crete - by motorcycle on the Greek island
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Out and about in Crete - by motorcycle on the Greek island

Out and about in Crete - by motorcycle on the Greek island

Out and about in Crete - by motorcycle on the Greek island

Out and about in Crete - by motorcycle on the Greek island

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Out and about in Crete - by motorcycle on the Greek island
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Out and about in Crete. The motorcycle paradise attracts with curves over the sea, mountain passes, gorges, dramatic panoramas and hospitable people. Here: olive tree near Agia Galini.

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Wall at the Vrondisiou monastery.

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Always towards Agios Pavlos: ingenious coastal curves.

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There’ll be olives and cheese soon: lunch break.

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Mountain surfing: curves hard on the rock near Kroussonas.

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Only flying is better: the mountain road from Agia Galini to Melambes.

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Remnants of snow high in the Ida Mountains.

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Kourtaliótiko Gorge on the way from Spili to Preveli.

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Everywhere: white villages.

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Kokkinos Pirgos fishing port.

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Curving pleasure in the fertile Amari Valley.

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Crazy George’s father is playing.

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Adventurous bridge over the Aradena Gorge.

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Panorama break at Orne.

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Grandiose: Kourtaliótiko Gorge.

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Frangokastello – legendary Venetian fortress.

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Out and about in Crete – by motorcycle on the Greek island

With the motorcycle on the Greek island
Motorcycle trip in Crete

Crete is the crisis-free motorcycle paradise: curves over the sea, mountain passes, gorges, dramatic panoramas and hospitable people. When Achilles shows you the best routes, you never want to leave.

Markus Biebricher

06/06/2012

The road winds steeply over the sea. Every stroke of the Tenere single cylinder throws a good mood into the mind. The engine pushes forwards with full force from 3000 tours, now stay on the gas, even if the subsoil resembles a volcanic crater landscape. Are these still remnants of ancient asphalt, or is it already a wild stone slope? The fork and strut swallow holes and upheavals with a smack. Three huge vultures circling high above the adventurous mixed surface, deep down the surf thunders against the rocks. Intense smell of herbs and flowers mixes in the salty air, it takes some time before the brain believes the optic nerves have this breathtaking view of coastline and mountains.

Shortly before the total sensory overload, the next bend. Full concentration, lightning-fast decision for the only line that avoids a fall, instinctive shifting maneuvers, bring the rear and front back under control, storm off again. Man and machine are one, the Tenere thunders with double heartbeat rate, all feeling creeps into the mechanics, feels the force of the large piston, the rotation of the shafts, chain rattling, valves ticking, tingling happiness moves up the spine, then maltreated coverings bite again in hot brake discs.

A place-name sign perforated by bullet holes appears, whitewashed stone huts, black-clad grandmas, three kafenions, in front of them all older men. Traces of life on the dermis, as deep as the gorges in southwest Crete, faces of characters, enough for ten new films in “Alexis Sorbas” format. Dented Japanese pick-ups on the streets, most of them transporting a dog on the loading area. The younger the owner, the more ostentatious the pick-ups get, a real island macho needs wide tires and stickers with horsepower on the rear and sides.

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We need Achilles. Thanks to his impressive appearance, the not exactly skinny man looks like a Greek god. Born in the seaside resort of Matala on Crete’s south coast, where until the early 1980s real hippies droned on cannabis in rock caves, he has given his life to the service of guided motorcycle tours after working as a truck driver, pub owner, cook and cutter captain and is now showing us the most beautiful routes in his homeland. It has an infinite number of streets ready, peppered with countless curves, dramatic rock gorges and poignant views. His portfolio of enduro slopes is even larger. Achilles therefore has a real treasure trove of routes that he can draw from, depending on the weather and the needs of his customers.

Even more important than his route knowledge, however, seem to be his ability to give foreign motorcycle travelers an insight into the soul of Crete: the islanders and their hospitality that has grown over thousands of years. This impresses even Dani Lengwenus, the chief guide of the MOTORRAD action team, a tour guru himself. The feeling of being welcome in the ranks of the rural population, the endless spaghetti paths, the passes and panoramas give him just as much fun as our new friend Gunther from the deep north of Germany, who combines the charms of Crete with demanding driver training.

Because the streets are exciting here. Sometimes slippery, sometimes blessed with grip, often extremely worn or broken away completely. Braking readiness helps enormously. There can be sheep or goats in each bend. Achilles drives with feeling. And finds a delightful mix of driving and partying. Our multilingual guide seems to know almost every Cretan personally. No wonder, after all, almost everyone is related to everyone here. In all those villages where the ignition key is turned “off”, you can feel the warmth of the warmth of the people who seem to do nothing better than to entertain travelers with tasty delicacies. Olives, onions, tomatoes, peppers, oranges and tangerines. All of this tastes like the sun – and so much more intense than ours. Our hosts not only show benevolent generosity, but also indomitable pride and an iron will for freedom. The 6000 year old history of Crete is full of examples of the consistency of the islanders, who endured numerous occupiers and finally provided the German armed forces with a bloody example of Cretan resilience.


Out and about in Crete - by motorcycle on the Greek island


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Adventurous bridge over the Aradena Gorge.

While the older men knock cards, let the Cretan national drink raki flow through their throats and prayer bracelets through their hands, Giorgios enters the pub. He verbally praises the best wines from his own vineyards. Everyone gets a bottle of this as a gift. In gratitude, the raki glasses are filled and “Jammas” (cheers) are shouted. There is hardly a man here who does not own his own vineyard, an olive grove or a sheep farm. That is enough for a passable survival. Other Cretans do tourism or run a monastery, like the priest from Moni Vrondisiou. Of his umpteen monks, three are left. The monastery has always been able to rely on generous donations from the population, and rumors linger that the priest still likes to shoot around with exhibits from his Kalashnikov collection. In the history of Crete, rich in occupiers, monasteries were often armed nests of resistance. In the mountains of Crete and the secrets of the Greek Orthodox Church, too, much goes together that would be outlawed as a contradiction in more fearful regions.

The clocks on Crete run differently, not only in social, but also in traffic psychological terms: You lose the sense of distance. After an estimated 10,000 bends and countless ascents and descents, we are surprised by the low number of kilometers covered. Is the speedometer broken? No, it’s the oversupply of impressions, the rapid change of scenery, the ongoing tension, the heat of the plains, the cold of the mountains. All of this strains our senses, makes our strength dwindle and the happiness hormones bubble up.

On the road from Pitsidia to Matala is the bar of “Crazy George” on a hill, who combines a BMW Wehrmacht team and various English vintage motorbikes with a magnificent sea view on his veranda. George loves motorcycles and raves about Cuba and Fidel Castro. He doesn’t say why. Even our Achilles doesn’t know why George always yells “Viva la Revolución”, but he can at least credibly assure us that many Cretans like George show a penchant for historical vehicles. It’s not that Achilles doesn’t own any vintage cars: a fleet of very old Mercedes, an original Willys Jeep and several old Harleys, including a roadworthy one from 1947.

We have been ready to drive for a long time, so we dynamically screw the motorcycles up into the heights of the Psiloritis Mountains. Shift down, bend to the right, flip left, accelerate out, the roar of the engines is thrown back from the rock faces. Soon, walls of snow move closer and closer to the piste, then the passage is hardly wider than the handlebars. The end comes in front of a five meter high wall of snow.

We fare better on the flanks of the White Mountains (Lefka Ori), about a hundred kilometers of steep curves further west: Idyllic paths meander through cozy villages to Hóra Skakión. Ferries to Loutro or Paleochora leave from there. But there are also grandiose serpentines along the steep coast into the wilderness of the White Mountains – in the middle of a stone landscape removed from the earth. The narrow bridge in front of the Tenere leads over the Aradena Gorge. Wooden planks rattle when passing. It is better to look ahead, because between the woods you can see the abyss 200 meters below.

Yannis sits in a kind of kiosk on the edge of the gorge, right next to the old monastery of Archangel Michael. Jet black hair, wild beard, flashing eyes. Obviously pleased with our visit, the character head digs out the raki bottle. Sheep counting has finally come to an end.

Our road ends at Agios Ioannis at a height of well over 1000 meters. The desolate, romantic environment offers space for further adventures, and intense spicy scents ensure an olfactory sensory overload. In addition, the aroma of the wine from the previous evening swings back to the palate. The silence after turning off the engine is tremendous, and a low sun is reflected in the Yamaha paintwork. Far away the sea glistens, in the heart the wish is growing that this island exploration may not end.

Info


Out and about in Crete - by motorcycle on the Greek island


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Travel time: 6 days. Distance covered: 1000 kilometers.

General:
Crete is the largest Greek island, is located 100 kilometers southeast of the Peloponnese and extends over an area of ​​8261 square kilometers over 260 kilometers in length. It is crossed by four mountains over 2000 meters high. The island width varies between twelve and 60 kilometers. All major cities are on the north coast, international airports are Chania in the west and Heraklion in the middle. Most of the hotels are also on the north coast, which explains the charm of the less accessible south coast with fewer beaches. Socially, Crete is still characterized by patriarchy, because hardly any social reforms took place and industrialization (which often offers women more economic independence) made slow progress throughout Greece. The main industries of the Cretans are tourism and agriculture, especially olives, fruit, vegetables, wine and cheese. Almost the entire population of Crete belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church, which traditionally has a great influence on island life. Throughout history, the church was responsible for maintaining culture and replacing state authority. The church opposed the numerous foreign rulers not only with spiritual means, but also with armed force, which is why many monasteries on Crete have been developed as fortress-like nests of resistance. Easter is the most important festival, there are pompous processions, firecrackers as in Germany on New Year’s Eve and culinary feasts for which many a lamb gives his life.

Story:
After the island was about 6000 BC. Was settled from Anatolia, revolutionized from 2800 BC. The copper production life. From 2000, the Minoans, now named after their legendary first king, Minos, began to unite under powerful kings and build magnificent palaces, the remains of which can be seen today in Knossós, Festós, Mália and Káto Zakrós. From 1450 BC Crete was dominated by the Mycenaean culture for 300 years before Roman influences prevailed. In 59 the apostle Paul visited the island and installed his disciple Titus as the first Christian bishop of Crete. Crete spent the following millennium under Byzantine influence, interrupted again and again by attacks by Muslim Arabs. From 1204, Crete fell under the rule of Venice for 465 years. The island was then conquered by the Turks, under whose rule it remained until 1898. Then the company became self-employed and joined Greece in 1913. During the Second World War, the Cretans offered fierce resistance to German and Italian troops from 1941 to 1944. The Wehrmacht wiped out entire villages in acts of revenge for Cretan partisan activities.


Out and about in Crete - by motorcycle on the Greek island


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Kourtaliótiko Gorge on the way from Spili to Preveli.

Activities:
Crete offers great experiences for all areas of interest: for nature lovers partly untouched and easily observable flora and fauna, fantastic hiking routes, many stalactite caves, thrilling bike trails, the most winding motorcycle routes on and off-road as well as all imaginable water sports on the coast. Those interested in archeology will get their money’s worth thanks to ancient cult sites, palaces and monasteries from a 6000 year old cultural history.

Motorcycling:
If you don’t stay on the island long enough to bring your own machine, you can fall back on an extensive range of motorcycle rentals. Most have poorly maintained material. The best of several exceptions is Yannis Michalakis. Info: www.eurodriver.gr. He has already been named the best motorcycle rental company in Crete by several media. Its model range includes the Yamaha XT 660 R, Yamaha XT 660 Tenere, BMW F / G 650 GS, Suzuki DL 650 V-Strom. Yannis works with Achilles, who in turn offers a range of lightweight Kawasaki KLX 250 for tougher, pure enduro use (also as part of his guided off-road tours). Crete is less an island for speed-oriented sports drivers than for connoisseurs. The quality of the asphalt ranges from slippery and extremely damaged surfaces to brand new roads that offer plenty of grip. In general, particular caution is required when it is wet, traffic rules are interpreted rather generously by the islanders.

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