Via the Dolomites to Greece - Traveling in times of Corona

Flashback: It's the beginning of October 2021. The number of COVID-19 cases is increasing again across Europe. We can probably forget our actual plan – a road trip to Scotland. Wales has already imposed a curfew, and the whole of Great Britain is considered a risk area.

So where are we going? A look at the map of the Federal Foreign Office shows only very few countries that are not classified as risk areas. Including Portugal, Greece, Italy or Norway. We can't decide, but we want to leave as soon as possible. As a precaution, we pack winter and summer equipment. In addition to the mountain bikes, there are also snow chains, a hammock and a grill in the fortunately very spacious garage of the HYMER T-Class S.

Yvonne Lesewa & Simon Beizaee

Text and pictures

Holiday destination
Dolomites and Greece

Spontaneity pays off
Our route

After researching the entry conditions and the weather report, we spontaneously decide to go to Greece! The ferry from Brindisi in southern Italy to Igoumenitsa in western Greece is booked for five days later. Enough time to discover new things on the way to the ferry port. After a stop in the Dolomites, we make a detour to Tuscany: Siena and legendary mountain bike trails near Punta Ala, which lead directly to the sea, sound tempting. After that, we still have a full two weeks in Greece before heading back via Italy at the beginning of November.

First stop: Dolomites
High alpine MTB tour along the Sella group

After only a 2.5-hour drive from Innsbruck we reach the metropolis of Selva. The Sella Ronda MTB tour has been on our bucket list for a long time: 60 km of riding fun with approx. 1,800 meters of altitude, some of which can also be covered with the help of lifts. The lifts have already closed, but that doesn't bother us. On the contrary: We choose the most beautiful sections and enjoy the trails all to ourselves, which we reach from the four valleys that surround the Sella massif - Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Buchenstein and Val di Fassa.

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Onset of winter at Passo Gardena -
Panorama of the extra class

The first thought when we look out the window after two sunny days on the bike saddle in the morning: Luckily we packed the snow chains! Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to get anywhere from the Gardena Pass at over 2,000 m. More than 30 cm of fresh snow fell during the night. All cars have disappeared, only a snow blower clears the way to the inn.

We too have to free ourselves from the masses of snow using a shovel. If only we had packed the touring skis! But even without skis, the next few days will be fantastically beautiful. The transition period between autumn and winter is particularly intense with the orange-coloured trees in the white deep snow! Nevertheless, we are now heading south.

Siena - The most beautiful city in Italy

Siena has preserved the medieval character of Italian Gothic. The old town has been a World Heritage Site since 1995 and is often advertised as "Italy's most beautiful city". A James Bond scene was also filmed at the world-famous racecourse in the central Piazza del Campo. No wonder thousands of tourists come here every year. It's October and rainy. We sense our chance to experience the city outside of the hustle and bustle and are not disappointed. Deserted, foggy streets - almost scary. Impressed by the architecture, we fortify ourselves in a small tavern before heading to the legendary Tuscan wineries.

Hellas Greece
By ferry to Igoumenitsa

We share the ferry with a couple of truckers. We hardly meet any tourists. When we arrive in Igoumenitsa at midnight, we only have to show our entry form and are allowed to pass. Easier than you think. We head for a nearby parking space. The users of the “Park 4 Night” app didn't promise too much: the place by the sea is completely quiet and the view of the natural beach is fantastic. Full of anticipation for the next two weeks, we fall asleep to the sound of the sea.

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Sea & more
Relaxing at Vrachos Beach

After the long journey and many uncertainties, we take it easy for the next few days. It can hardly get any nicer! We are surrounded by palm and olive trees directly on the white sandy beach. After a hearty breakfast in front of the mobile home, we go snorkelling, do yoga, explore the area on bikes or read in the hammock.

Do you have four bikes with you?

We have been asked this question more than once. But if you have the space for it – why not? Two mountain bikes and two HYMER City E-Bikes could easily be stored in the garage of our HYMER T-Class S. When we tried the e-bikes for the first time, we felt a little older than we are. Admittedly, we quickly learned to love the bikes. We often leave the almost 8 m long mobile home in a large parking lot, store provisions and camera in our bags and cycle to remote beaches, through small sleepy villages or even to the nearest supermarket when the milk is empty in the morning.

Meteora monasteries
Medieval skyscrapers

After four extremely relaxed days by the sea without moving the motorhome, we are ready for more adventures. As we come across the complex of 24 monasteries to the east of the Pindos Mountains, we wonder how the monasteries were built hundreds of years ago on the huge sandstone hills. Six of them are still inhabited by monks and nuns, the others are either in danger of collapsing or too difficult to reach. The facility is not only known as a James Bond film set (“For Your Eyes Only”), it is now also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Depending on the weather conditions, the monasteries look as if they are floating in the air when it is foggy. According to tradition, the first monks came to the area as early as the 11th century. Around the 14th century, the first monasteries were finally built in the most unimaginable places. Some of the building material was pulled up by the monks themselves using ropes and nets. Only later were bridges and paths built to make the ascent easier and to make the monasteries accessible to tourists. The inhabited monasteries can even be visited!

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Caribbean feeling in the Ionian Sea

The island of Lefkada can be reached easily and quickly from Preveza via a causeway. It is the only Greek island connected to the mainland. We are thrilled: blue sea, steep white cliffs, fine sandy beaches. It doesn't get much better than this! 

On top of that there are numerous hiking opportunities, sleepy mountain villages, 2,000 m high mountains, miles of beaches and on the west side of the island sunsets of the extra class. Even the best windsurf spots in Greece can be found in Vasiliki in the south. For five days we circle the island in a relaxed manner, passing cypress forests, olive groves, figs, bushes of catnip and thyme.

Porto Katsiki
To the most famous beach by bike

The Porto Katsiki can be found in the midst of high, white cliffs. The water could hardly be nicer. The beach is world famous for a reason. A steep road leads down, the last stretch leads up a flight of stairs. We leave our HYMER near the main road and take the bike downhill instead. After so many hours in the motorhome, we take every opportunity to cover distances by bike.

In the high season there are umbrellas and beach bars with loud music and even a delivery service brings pizza to the beach; but now it is wonderfully quiet. The scenery with the white cliffs and the turquoise sea is really unique! Equipped with a picnic, you can endure the day wonderfully. Strengthened and refreshed, we get out of the sea onto the bike saddle and start the return journey. Thanks to the e-bike, even the 300 meters uphill are not a big challenge.

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Southern Cape
Legendary Lighthouse

A lighthouse towers in the very south of the island. This is where the ancient poetess Sappho is said to have thrown herself from the cliffs out of lovesickness. Not far away, like every evening, we find a wonderful pitch with a sea view without having to search long. While the fishermen catch dinner with their boats, we are served the most beautiful sunset of our lives on our “terrace” in front of the mobile home with freshly grilled fish and Greek salad.

Sheep, Olives & Pomegranates
At home with a Greek farmer

Another highlight awaits us back on the mainland: an invitation to visit a Greek farmer. At 76, Zacharias runs his small self-sufficient farm all by himself. In addition to olive, orange, mandarin and pomegranate trees, there are also sheep, chickens and four dogs at home here. 

When he suffered a factory accident in Germany at the age of 30, he returned to his Greek hometown, where he has since built up a small farm in the mountains despite a handicap. Every day Zacharias takes care of feeding the animals, watering the plants and collecting the eggs. Now in autumn the olive harvest is just around the corner. He has to harvest about seven kilograms of olives to get one liter of olive oil, which he has pressed in a small factory in the neighbouring town. 

His son Nikos owns a restaurant with guest rooms in Vrachos Beach and can therefore only support his father in the off-season. After a short tour, we are only allowed to leave the property with fresh eggs, oranges and pomegranates - we are already looking forward to the next breakfast and are enthusiastic about so much hospitality and warmth!

Our conclusion: Our unplanned road trip could not have gone better. Greece has turned out to be a camper's paradise - at least in the off-season. With an average of 25 degrees, 8 hours of sun and pleasant bathing temperatures, we escaped the October weather at home. With over 13,000km of coastline there has never been a problem finding a pitch for the night. No hotel room could ever have been nicer. Every sunset we could enjoy in our camping chairs was indescribable! And not to forget the Greek cuisine: grilled feta, breaded aubergines, pita bread and fresh fish, with a glass of house wine - what more could you ask for?

The HYMER T-Class S -

Comfortable storage miracle on four wheels

The inviting feeling of space and the generously dimensioned rear garage make the HYMER T-Class S the perfect companion for your travel experiences. It doesn't matter whether it's a city trip or an active holiday lasting several weeks - in the T-Class S you will find everything you need to feel at home after a long day.


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