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Archive for May 8th, 2012

Greece is the Word and a One Eye View

Posted by TravellingStrom on May 8, 2012


Mayan Prophecy Countdown 

Places I have Ridden


I had a great sleep and cooked myself some tea(black no milk, the last milk I carried broke and stunk the top box out!!) and some cake that I now carry, for just these occasions.  I was not in any hurry and even thought about having a rest day here, but when it came down to it, the lack of power and internet would make it wasteful, so I packed and was on the road by about 9.30 or so.  I dropped in to see Dimitri at his shop, but it was not open yet so I left a card and a message.

I had no real clue as to where to go today, but there were a number of geocaches between me and a town down the road called Thessaloníki. It was only 350km or so, and with a full day to get there, it should make the whole day more enjoyable. The first one was from a Greek myth about the Cyclops, so off I go and find the track, go slowly up here, but not as slowly as the other little fella, and get as close as I can before walking the last 100m uphill. I found the cache and there was a great view of the small harbor at the bottom.

Makri – Cave of Cyclops Polyphemus

Makri. Cave-Neolithic settlement. The cave on the coast at Makri, near the present village of Platanos, known by the locals as the Cyclops’s Cave, was used for habitation in prehistoric times and as a place of worship later. Above it, on the site of Toumba (= tumulus) is the Neolithic settlement of Makri, one of the most important in the Balkans. Traces of Bronze Age and Iron Age installations have also been located in the same area. In historical times there was a small trading post here, where commercial transactions between Greeks and Thracians were conducted. The rock-cut structures (niches, rooms, channels, cisterns, stairways etc.) east of the cave are difficult to date but, nevertheless, bear witness to the exploitation of the rocks of the region over the ages.

In front of the entrance, there are large natural boulders which folk imagination has connected with the rocks that Cyclop Polyphemus threw to the ship of Odysseus. The cave has two spacious chambers, with interesting stalactite decor, and a third one on the second floor. Access to the above floor can be found through a narrow hole on the right wall of the entrance, above a carved niche, which indicates Christian worship to the site of the cave. An exploration by the Hellenic Speleological Society in 1970 has shown that the chamber of the upper floor has an earthen ground of good thickness, which someway must be connected with its use during the ancient times.

Read more (in greek):

Cyclops Polyphemus in Homer’s Odyssey

In the story of Homer’s Odyssey, during the titular character’s journey home, Odysseus lands on the Island of the Cyclopes. He then takes eleven other men and sets out to find supplies. The Greeks find a large cave. They enter and proceed to feast on rosting sheep they find there. Unknown to them, the cave is the home of the Cyclops Polyphemus, who soon returns home to find Odysseus and his men there. The cyclops then rolls a great stone in front of the entrance to his cave, trapping the Greeks within. Odysseus then devises a very clever escape plan, true to his character throughout the Iliad and the Odyssey.

To make Polyphemus unwary Odysseus gave the cyclops, who had never had spirits before, very strong unwatered wine. When Polyphemus asks for Odysseus’ name, Odysseus tells him “Outis” a name which is translated as “Noman” or “Nobody,” but which has been used allusively by later authors. Once the giant falls asleep, Odysseus and his men use a spear that had been hardened in the fire to destroy Polyphemus’ only eye. He yells out to his fellow Cyclopes that “Noman” (“Nohbdy” in Robert Fitzgerald’s translation) hurt him; the others take this to mean that Polyphemus has lost his mind and stabbed his own eye out. They also conclude his condition is a curse from a god, and so they do not intervene. In the morning, Odysseus ties his men and himself to the undersides of Polyphemus’ sheep. When the Cyclops lets the sheep out to graze, he feels their backs to ensure the men aren’t riding out, but doesn’t feel the men underneath.

Once the sheep (and men) are safely out, Polyphemus realizes that the men aren’t in his cave. As Odysseus and his men sail away, he boasts to Polyphemus that “Noman didn’t hurt you, Odysseus did!” Unfortunately, Odysseus didn’t realize that Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon; Odysseus had already earned the enmity of that god, by defiling his temple in Troy and devising the sack of Troy, a city that held Poseidon in greatest esteem (although Poseidon had largely fought on the side of the Greeks during the Iliad). Polyphemus then casts a curse upon Odysseus, spiced with a hefty rock that he throws after the ship; for this, Poseidon causes Odysseus a great deal of trouble throughout the rest of the Odyssey.

There you go, a bit of culture 😉 Now for a bit more, up the road a ways was another cache, called Via Egnatia. This was an old Roman road made from cobblestones. I parked the bike at the bottom and hiked to the top, about 400m, the condition of the track meant foot, not Vstrom! I did find the cache, a bit damp so dried it out and repaired the covering a bit, you can see the old Via, it does not look all that level now though like it would have been a long time ago.

Just for your edumecation, the word VIA means road and a bit of trivia for you, whenever three Roman roads met(like in a T junction for example) there would be a noticeboard placed there and news and events that have or are happening would be on it. Thus, Three Roads became TRI VIA or trivia and that word today is still in use, a bit of trivia 😉 Off I go again and head down to a nature reserve where I found the cache location, it could not have been more easy, there is only one tree there, but no cache, bummer. I searched around in case it had moved but no go. I have since found this cache has been disabled, oh well, you win some you lose some. It was a nice ride though, so not a total waste.

By now I was a tad starved, my stomach was thinking my throat had been cut it made so much noise!! When I turned off the main road earlier, I had spotted a roadside canteen, so I headed there and met up with some nice truckies and had a great feed, meat vegies and chips 🙂 A pity the smoking rules are so lax here, everyone smokes inside 😦 But, they were nice people, and a tip here, if there are workers eating there, it is worth eating, they know!

I was cruising away from here when I remembered it was Monday, so I stopped and tried to contact the Kazakhstan embassy, but it just rang out, I will have to keep stopping and trying again. Just after I had stopped and taken off again I came across a truck rollover, it had only just happened and I was going to offer my 1st Aid services or my 911 button, but the driver was out and although walking around like a chook with its head chopped off, seemed OK except for a sore arm.

I have no idea how he managed that, but he hit that guard rail with a heck of a wack!!! It was now 3pm and I still had 200km to go to the town of Thessaloniki, so I gave up on the fun and just decided to go and find a camp site near that town. This turned out to be futile after 2 hours riding, it is a crap city with heaps of dingy hotels and I ended up in the middle of the city, before I decided, nope, this is not for me, get out of here. So I chuffed it on west and south until I came to a rest stop, where I had a coke and spoke to the owners. They said no camp sites anywhere close, and not many hotels!! I wandered around for a while, looking in small towns and eventually asked a town local, he told me of another town about 20km away. So, by now I was mentally out of camping mode and decided on a cheap hotel(and I mean well under 50 euros if I can). I did end up finding one, only 35E with a full brekky, so that was good and as it was well after 6, I was glad to find one. It had a nice room, fast internet, what more could you ask for?

There were quite a few dining places up the street, so I picked one and grabbed a beer and a pasta dish for dinner 🙂 There were three bikes parked outside, 2 beemers and a 990KTM, so once I had finished I introduced myself to them. One of them had a Dakar jacket and it turns out he rode in 2011 Dakar, good on him 🙂 From left to right we have Ronnie, Armmin and Roland(KTM). They are Austrian and they had their bikes shipped down to here and are riding north to home. There were another 4 riders who had been here a day or so, they turned up after a short while. Many beers were drunk, nuff said, I decided here was my rest day 🙂 Life on the road can be tuff, occasionally it is nice to not have to worry about tomorrow, I can do some washing(a bit wiffy in the clothes department) and chase up the Kazak and Kyrg visa situation.

Posted in Around The World, Eurasia | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

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