The organization of this moto travel event had us faced with many challenges during the months of this trips preparation, bearing in mind that our client was Honda…one of the largest manufactures of motorcycles worldwide and this was the first time that anything of this grandeur to be organized in Greece!
Our task was not limited to finding routes from point A to point B, instead we searched for the best possible routes with spectacular views, ideal photo stops, fun activities, cultural tours as well as distinguished venues for lunch and dinners. You see that was an exclusive motorcycle trip!
Numerous hours where spent over maps and notes, we pre-scouted all the routes many times to make sure that roads where not closed-off due to weather conditions or unplanned roadworks, we stayed always a step ahead of any unexpected mishaps and altered aspects of the trip accordingly. The final journey included additional details other than the routes, such as refueling stops, asphalt quality, weather predictions, emergency rooms and hospitals, spare-parts shops and alternative routes for everyday to be used in case of emergency.
The logistics of bringing 36 motorcycles from Switzerland is a challenge in its self, it was arranged in cooperation with Honda Swiss, who took care of the dispatch from their side and our team along with 2 mechanics took over once the African Twins arrived in Greece.
The size of the group was demanding, so we separated the riders into 3 teams all with Alternative Road Trips staff as leaders (“Marshalls” as the Swiss would say) and 3 “sweepers” to chase-after the last riders of each group.
So the journey began in late September… our on-site team from Alternative Road Trips consisted of 3 motorcycle tour leaders/guides, 3 moto tour assistants, our action Photographer, 2 support vehicles, a mobile workshop with mechanics, a van with luggage, 2 cameramen and of course 36 Honda Swiss dealership owners…the Africa Twin Raid Greece 2016!
Day 1, 17th September 2016: Our guests arrived from Switzerland with afternoon flights and were immediately taken to view Athen's most known landmark...The Acropolis. In the evening a briefing was held in their hotels meeting room where we shared important information about riding in Greece as many of our guests had never experienced Greek roads before, let alone ride in such large numbers. Our evening ended with a welcoming party on the Athenian Riviera.
Day 2, 18th September 2016: Just after sunrise we met our riders in the hotels parking area and our 3 team leaders each took charge of their "followers". We left the busy capital behind us, stopped briefly for a few photos on the Corinth canal and after enjoying the coastal spiral downhill road, reached the ancient theatre of Epidavros. Snacks and refreshments awaited our guests, followed by guided tours in both French and German of the magnificent ancient theatre and soon we were off on the road again. Lunch was arranged at the fishing village of Paralio Astros and after a scenic ride along the eastern coast of the Peloponnese, we reached the picturesque village of Kosmas were we enjoyed a brief coffee stop under the luscious green skyline. Sunset found us descending towards Monemvasia castle, which was also the final destination of the day.
Day 3, 19th September 2016: After breakfast our visitors where offered the option of spending the day on the beach with various water sports and a BBQ lunch or riding their motorbikes for short visit to the Greek "fjords" named Gerakas, both activities where separated evenly. The afternoon found us enjoying a luxury dinner within the fortress of Monemvasia under light Fall rain. Bus transportation was arranged to and from the castle, as with all evening outings so as not to jeopardize the wellbeing of any rider.
Day 4, 20th September 2016: Our morning departure was once again with rain showers but left us dry until the ancient city of Mystras where a guided tour in both languages was arranged. From there we continued through Argos, passing through the green landscapes of Chrysovitsi, to reach our lunch destination, the stonebuilt village of Dimitsana. We continued for Kalavryta town, on the beautiful mount Helmos which was chosen for our overnight. A nearby walk to a traditional Greek tavern ended another fulfilling day.
Day 5, 21st September 2016: An early departure marked this day but with a flare of excitement as an off-road route was at a short distance waiting to test our riders’ dirt road skills. At the end of the route a snack and refreshment station was arranged whilst riders enjoyed views of the Corinthian Gulf. Our journey soon led us over the Rio bridge which joins the Peloponnese with the Western mainland of Greece. We rode with views of lake Trichonida leading us through winding tree covered roads, to our stop just outside Prousos village. After removing motorbike gear, our guests enjoyed a picnic lunch by the riverbed and soon after geared-up again, to begin a river trekking activity named Via Ferrata to the Black Cave. After the activity, we made our way to Karpenisi where we would overnight. Evening concluded with dinner at a small tavern with freshly caught and cooked trout, traditional dancing and a lesson in smashing dishes like the Greeks!
Day 6, 22nd September 2016: A challenge awaited us the following morning! The heavy rain from the previous evening continued till dawn, accompanied by thick fog, forcing us to follow a (pre-planned) alternative route to that which was planned. We passed by lake Smokovo and continued for lake Plastira with next to nothing visibility. Our lunch stop was a pleasant brake to dry off before continuing via Elati to our final destination for the day, Kalambaka...home of the Meteora rocks.. The evening found us gazing at the stars after a hearty portion of moussaka and a lit fireplace.
Day 7, 23rd September 2016: The early risers where taken to descend via rappel the lower of the Meteora rocks and once completed, met the rest of the group for a guided visit of the Meteora monasteries. We continued our last riding day at the footsteps of Mount Olympus, with an incredible ride, leading us to our final destination of the day, the seaside town of Plaka. The African Twins where then lined up waiting to ascend into the giant truck before returning to their home in Switzerland.
The arrival of our VIP guests who joined the riders in Plaka was a highlight in itself, Mr. Nomura Hiroshi -President of Honda Swiss, Mr. Jean-Christophe Muller – Director of Honda Swiss and Mr. Horst Frerichs-the Honorary President of Honda Swiss, all were eager to greet and express their gratitude to the A.R.T.team of Alternative Road Trips for organizing and safely escorting this “Premium” motorcycle Roadtrip.
A farewell dinner-party at the Hotel sealed the seven-day motorcycle adventure with wonderful remarks from our guests making us feel proud to have successfully completed and to have been part of this wonderful motorcycle travel event.
Day 8, 24th September 2016: After a late breakfast, our group bid us farewell and continued by coach for a brief encounter with the 2nd largest city of Greece, Thessaloniki. After touring the city's highlights, an evening at one of the most popular restaurant- bars was arranged for our guests final dinner.
Day 9, 25th September 2016: Smilling faces board the plane back to their Swiss homes.
This event was more challenging on every level...body...mind and soul then anything we could have ever imagined. Would we do it again? Yes in a heart beat!
The conclusion is that we organized, planned and executed an exciting guided motorcycle travel event for a demanding group in size and essence, yet every detail was planned to perfection, combining traditional with luxury, ancient to modern, sea to mountain, travelling from South to North, keeping always in mind our guests every need.
The Honda African Twin Raid was indeed a unique event for Greece’s motorcycle tourism, we believe that Alternative Road Trips may have opened the door to many more such events to be hosted in Greece.
Check our photo gallery to see and share sme photos from this one of a kind motorcycle travel event!
Visit our YouTube channel to see the day by day videos of our latest Motorcycle Travel Event, Africa Twin Raid Greece for Honda Moto Swiss! If you need any further information, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Image courtesy of A.R.T.team - Alternative Road Trips