On the last November 16th (2019), after a great 3-day long weekend in Eilat, while coming home, actually while arriving home (we were two blocks from home), we were involved in a traffic accident that left my motorcycle unusable. A lady, who for her reasons (distraction, or just not being concerned about respecting the law) decided to do a left turn when the traffic light for her was red, and for me green, left me with no option but to hit her in the back right side of the car.
So, in any case, for me, Sapphira was dead.
As usual with these situations, the story develops to a new adventure, that I describe with words and pictures in the continuation of this post.
He promptly presented me with pictures and the details of a 2019 BMW R1250RT which was a test-ride bike belonging to them - so I would be first owner of a bike with just some thousands of Kms.
We agreed on all the details, and I began the process with our Ministry of Transportation. On the middle of December, I had the Import License for the motorcycle. Then I had to begin planning the trip, since the trip with the motorcycle in the winter can be challenging.
My dealer suggested that I would come to Darmstadt, do all the papers of the motorcycle with them, and then they would load it to a Sprinter and take me and the motorcycle to Italy through Switzerland. "In this way", they said, "you will avoid not only the snow and cold weather, but also the salt on the roads which causes corrosion at the motorcycle". After closing all the details, we arranged all the dates and the plan was ready.
When I landed in Frankfurt, I got a message from Achim, the co-owner of MCD - Motorrad Center Darmstadt, and one of my good friends there. telling me that he would meet me at the airport.
From the airport, Achim took me to an interesting place in Frankfurt, which rents slots to collectors cars for keeping them in a weather controlled environment, and is open for visitation. The name of the place is Klassikstadt and you can find their website with directions on this link.
Here are some pictures of the place:
Next day was procedure day. Early in the morning I was already at MCD, where my other big friend there, Manfred, the Sales and Logistics manager of the place, was waiting for me to begin the tour of the German offices to officialize the sale and the export of the motorcycle.
We began by the Transit Authority, where we registered the sale, made the temporary insurance for the motorcycle so that I would be able to ride it in Europe, and got a temporary number for the bike. Although a 9-day number and insurance would be enough, I decided to take a 15-day registration for covering any unpredicted delay.
From there, we continued to the Customs Authority, where the export papers were made. The export papers would enable me to put the motorcycle at the ship that would take it to Israel from Lavrio, Greece.
The whole process was very fast. I was already expecting it due to the experience of 2015, when it took us around 2.5 hours to do Sapphira's papers. This time, we were in luck, it was winter in Germany and nobody does these things at this time... so it took us around 1.5 hours to be ready and back to MCD.
The rest of the day was spent mainly in doing reservations of everything that was depending on having the papers done in time: the hotel in Ancona, the ferryboat from Ancona to Patras, and the hotel in the Peloponnese that would be my base for two nights while I explore the region - my first time there.
I needed to choose a name for the motorcycle. Usually my motorcycles had lady names, that were connected to its color. So my first BMW was Maryn, a reference to her Marine Blue color, and the 2014 RT LC was Sapphira - a reference to the Quartzbleu Sapphire color. But I couldn't find such a name that would reference "Carbon Black".
Then I decided to change strategy and go for a Greek Mythology goddess. My first thinking was Athena, since I would ship the bike from Athens, but I decided to look for further names. In a google search, one of the first interesting names that appeared was Circe, and I went to check who she was in Wikipedia. The following are the first lines you fine at the name Circe in Wikipedia:
Circe (/ˈsɜːrsi/; Greek: Κίρκη Kírkē pronounced [kírkɛː]) is a goddess of magic or sometimes a nymph, enchantress or sorceress in Greek mythology. She is a daughter of the god Helios...
Next morning (if you can call it morning... at this season this is still night) we left at 7:30, Manfred and me, in the direction of Italy, heading to Ancona. We had 1,076 Km ahead of us, and wanted to avoid the traffic jams.
We travelled around 3 hours to the south of Germany, and for our surprise traffic was quite fine. "OK, then we will have a traffic jam only in Milano", Manfred said.
At the very South of Germany, we crossed the border to Switzerland at Basel, and continued heading South to the direction of Lugano. In Switzerland, we had to go up 2,000 meters to Gothard, and there the scenery changed completely. Here are some pictures of the area - click on one of the pictures to expand:
The hotel was D'Ago48, a very interesting hotel, built on an old historical house, which, according to our host Oberdan was in the hands of his family for more than 150 years. He lived there in the ground floor, and built on the first floor 3 zimmers for rent. However, since he only had 2 bathrooms, he decided to put only two zimmers for rent. We were the only ones at the hotel. We asked him for a recommendation of some nice place to eat, and he recommended La Botte Restaurant & Pizzeria, a place he knew well. We said we would go there, and then Oberdan asked us how we would go there... "with the van", we said, for which he answered that parking would be difficult; he offered to take Manfred and me there, and bring us back after we finished dining. Well, OK.
In the following morning, Manfred and me woke up early, enjoyed a very nice Italian breakfast, and then went out for taking the bike out of the Sprinter.
With the bike out of the Sprinter, it was time for Manfred to depart back to Germany. Here our ways parted, he left back and I stayed two more hours at the hotel to wait for the time of my ferry boat to Patras.
The trip was supposed to take 24 hours. We left at 13:30, and arrived in Patras at 12:50 the next day. Considering that there was a 1-hour difference between Greece and Italy, the total trip took 23:20 hours. The boat was very comfortable, except for the most important place: the seats. They offered the trip for 89 Euros + 10 Euros for 1 Air Seat. It seems as an upgrade for the regular trip, so I took it. At the end, the Air Seat is less than an intercity bus seat. Less comfortable, less reclining, less space, less everything. It would be better not to order anything and to stay all the night sitting in the bar chairs. Anyway, the ship had 2 very good restaurants, 1 very good bar (and probably other bars in the other decks, a very nice reception, and a very good lounge with another very good bar inside of it. The lounge is where I spent most of the trip, and from where I took the pictures above of the view. The problem is that they close from 23:59 to 06:00, so I didn't wait for it to close and went to find elsewhere to seat. I did use my 10-Euro Airchair for about 2 hours that night, and it seems I wasn't the only one, the hall of the Airchairs was almost empty.
So, at 12:50, I leave the boat at Patras, and begin travelling in the direction of Derveni, the village where my hotel is placed. I had around 120 Km to get there. It took around 1hr, and I was in this nice place called Alissachni Luxury Apartments in Derveni. It was a nice apartments hotel, with a great smiling crew of owners/workers, who really made my stay very nice.
I got arranged and left to walk a little and see the town.
I chose to go to the Greek restaurant, and at 19:30 I was there, at the Restaurant I Mikri Plateia. It was a very nice place and, as all in this area, a family business with husband, wife, and probably the cousin, sister or sister-in-law of one of them, exchanging roles conforming to the needs.
For dessert, the hostess suggested a typical Greek compote, and I accepted it. I received two plates, one with a preserved tangerine (or one of the tangerine genres, that they call pergamonde), and the second with a conserve of plum - both of them seemed to have come directly from heaven to me.
The next day was my free day at the Peloponnese. This was a Saturday, and the ship that would take the motorcycle to Israel would leave only on Monday, so I could arrive to Athens on Sunday afternoon to be at Lavrio port on Monday morning at 10am.
In the morning, the hotel brought me to the room my breakfast, which was extremely big:
After eating what I could and saving some sandwiches in the refrigerator for an afternoon snack (suggestion of the hotel hostess), I left the hotel to ride to Kalavryta.
Kalavryta is the Pelloponese sky resort. For arriving there, I had to ride back around 30Km to Diakopto, and from there go up the mountains nearly 20Km in a small, twisty, and beautiful road.
I arrived there around 11:00. Since I had no intentions to do any skiing, and there was no cable car up to the mountain, I decided to just walk around the town, which reminded me very much mountain towns which would host us at summer vacations in my childhood in Brazil.
However, it was winter. And it was 1 degree Celsius there. I was very well dressed, so I could cope with the weather, which was cold but beautiful. I walked around the city streets for nearly two hours, and stopped at a coffee shop in the center of the town for a coffee and croissant.
It was already 14:00, and when I arrived to sea level it was a very nice temperature there. I decided to take some minutes to visit Diakopto.
Diakopto has a beautiful sea shore, and is possibly very busy during the summer. But it was quite dead in the winter. Actually, the only place in the Peloponnese that showed movement of tourists was Kalavryta. I took some pictures, since the site I stopped was a beautiful site for a picture of the motorcycle, and continued.
The result was a beautiful trip of about 40 minutes, from village to village, until I got back to my hotel in Derveni.
In the evening, I returned to the Greek restaurant Mikri Plateia, and then decided to have something that I had put my eyes in it already in the first night, but couldn't understand what it was: the Kontosouvli.
Next day I woke up to a smaller breakfast, as I had requested. Instead of food for 5 people, they (the hotel staff) brought me food for 3.
But it was time to go and leave the Peloponnese to Athens. So around 10:00 I left the hotel, heading to the Corinth Canal.
I had a debt to close: 5 years ago, when I bought Sapphira, my previous motorcycle, I met my friends Shmil and Eitan with their wives for a tour of Greece. At the last day of the tour, in our way to Athens, we went to visit the Corinth Canal. We looked for it for many minutes, but couldn't find it. At the end we had a lunch in Loutraki and continued to Greece.
This time I decided that I was going to see it. I put the spot in my GPS (the Corinth Canal old bridge) and travelled to there. After some 40 minutes of travelling, I suddenly find myself over a steel bridge and spot the Corinth Canal on both sides of it. "Well", I said to myself, "it is time to park and take some photos.", and crossed the bridge to the other side to park. Then I find myself in a square which was well-known to me.
That was the moment in which the understanding struck my mind, I have been there 5 years ago, at the same square, looking for the canal, we went back and forth there and did not understand that we were 20 meters from the canal, all we needed was to park the bikes and go to the bridge by foot, or cross the bridge with the bikes.
I chose the Museum Hotel, considering it was part of the Best Western network, and the price was good. Price was really OK, but Best Western, not anymore. But in general, the hotel was OK. Not anymore the big rooms of previous hotels, but clean, with comfortable beds and a decent breakfast. And most important, an easy 25 minutes walk to the Placka and 35 minutes to the Acropolis. So I spent my afternoon at the Placka.
Athens is at a crazy situation. Almost every day you see demonstrations, either by immigrants from Syria and Iraq, or by local people against the presence of the immigrants. The police is spread through the city just like an army, with equipment that you see only in very problematic areas. Traffic is closed and directions are changed according to the places of the demonstrations. It took me more time to get to the Placka with the motorcycle than it took in the next day to do the same way by foot.
The Placka is a nice place to be, full of shops and restaurants, like a street market. I already knew the place from 5 years ago, but my wife asked me to find a jewelry store there where she bought them, and without knowing (she couldn't remember) the name of the shop or the name of the street where the shop was, it was a difficult task. My wife could only remember that the owner was a tall blonde woman.
Since his wife also bought there, I asked Shmil about the shop - maybe Louisa knew the name or the street. He answered to me "it is in the continuation of the street where we had our beer the two of us at the time the girls did their shopping".
Well, great, now I had two problems - to find the place we had the beer and then to find the shop. I tried and tried, no success, so I left it for the next day and went back to the hotel to sleep.
Next morning I left early to the Lavrio Port, to leave the motorcycle at the ship.
The bus also surprised me, with its final station being 500m from my hotel. Real door-to-door service, which I didn't expect. I only decided to go to the final stop because all parts of Athens look alike to me, so I believed that the final stop would be an easier place to get another transportation to the hotel. When I left the bus and opened Google Maps for looking for the hotel, I was surprised to see it just at a 5-minute walking distance.
The following afternoon was spent again at the Placka, looking for the jewelry store - with absolutely no success - until I gave up, had dinner and went back to the hotel.
On the last day, I woke up late, got organized, and left to the airport. I spent my last hours at the Aegean Airways lounge, and flew back to Israel. At 19:00 I was already at Ben Gurion airport.
Two days later, the Alexo arrived bringing Circe. At 8:00 I was already in Haifa to get the documentation and release the bike. The process 5 years before, which was all manual and relied on paper, took one and a half hour. I was happy to see that since then they had made progress and the process was now fully computerized. I expected to release the bike in half of the time now. Really? Big surprise. It took me 5 and a half hours in the Haifa port until I sat on the bike and travelled home. Every interaction with the customs system took 15 minutes to be transmitted to the other side (my customs agent), and from him back to the customs, the same time. And I, an old-time computer professional, still thinking that computers were made to agilize work... well, not in the Israeli government, anyway...
But the good part is that Circe is home now, and I have already been riding it for the last days. There are still some small things to do to close the cycle, but she already has an Israeli number and insurance, and I can ride her as much as I want.
I wouldn't say that some of the pains of the accident are not still present in our bodies, as well as the trauma of the accident. They are both there, the pains and the trauma. But as people say, all is good when it ends good. And at this moment, the whole story seems to have taken the direction of a good end.