John Mole’s ‘Harley and the Holy Mountain: Through the Heart of Greece to its Soul’ straps readers into the back seat for a unique HAIR-RAISING ride from the author’s home on the Greek island of Evia to Mountain Athos in Northern Greece – aboard a 50cc motorbike.
But this is so much more than a travelogue – it’s a journey through 200 years of rich Greek history, and the myths, miracles, inspiration and eccentricity.
It’s a country that Brit John Mole fell in love with, so much so that he and his family chose to move to the island of Evia decades ago, and renovate a house as their own.
The adventure was chronicled in ‘It’s All Greek To Me!’, Mole’s first book about Greece. He’s now back with ‘Harley and the Holy Mountain: Through the Heart of Greece to its Soul’, another hilarious yet bold memoir.
This time, the subject of the book is a unique trip across Greece on the back of a chugging, clapped out 50cc motorbike.
Meet Harley – an antiquated 50cc motorbike, top speed 25mph, who carried me on the backroads of Greece from the island of Evia to deliver the collected Jeeves and Wooster to a Moldovan monk on Mount Athos, a self-governing state run by monks.
Harley and the Holy Mountain is about a road trip through central Greece and ending at the monastic state of Mount Athos. It is a sequel to It’s All Greek To Me! with similar humour, self-deprecation, entertaining stories, and insights into today’s Greece.
John Mole said: “Greeks are brought up to believe they are direct descendants of the Ancient Greeks whose language they speak. They also believe they are custodians of the one true religion, Orthodoxy, the defining characteristic of Greekness for two thousand years.
“As we meander north we encounter the key moments in three thousand years of history that every Greek is familiar with and create their sense of who they are. Some are celebrated, for example the War of Independence from the Ottomans, others are no less powerful but unspoken, like the Civil War of 1946-49.
“We come across the different peoples that created today’s Greece. A hundred years ago the first language of half the population was not Greek but any one of Albanian, Aromanian, Macedonian, Pomak, Tsakonian, Romaniote, Ladino, Romani, Turkish, Italian and half a dozen Anatolian dialects with all their racial and cultural baggage.
“Having travelled through time and space, I leave Harley at the frontier of Athos and plunge into a spiritual dimension. Wonder-working icons and relics are channels to the divine; everyday miracles are part of nature; the marvellous deeds of saints are facts not metaphors. Their reality permeates Greek culture and sense of self.
“Greece is two hundred years old. Out of a patchwork of cultures and languages Greeks have forged a homogeneous European nation. Since the bloody revolution against the Ottomans, Greeks have resisted British, French, Russian, German, Italian, Bulgarian and American incursion, invasion or domination. The struggle continues for independence from the Brussels, Frankfurt and Washington institutions that control its finances.
“Through turbulence and disaster Greeks have created a vibrant, enterprising, European democracy with a unique identity. It is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary people. Harley and the Holy Mountain joins in the celebration. And the fun.
“Readers tell me it’s laugh-out-loud funny, and it’s all a product of the quirky and sometimes unconventional experiences I’ve had, driven by many unique characters who have stumbled into my life. But, on the more serious side, I also wanted readers to understand and appreciate Greece’s rich and fascinating history, as well as the myths and miracles that underpin it all.”
Continuing, Mole says: “Travel is vital to me, and I’d encourage anyone to take a leap of faith and venture into the unknown. When I sit back and look at life, the most amazing and memorable experiences I’ve had are often the ones others thought were crazy. Pick up any of my books, and you’ll see why!”
‘Harley and the Holy Mountain: Through the Heart of Greece to its Soul’ is available now.
About the Author:
After University John Mole spent fifteen years criss-crossing Europe, the Middle East and Africa for an American Bank.
His fortieth birthday present to himself was to quit employment to write full time. Various entrepreneurial ventures include baked potato restaurants in Moscow, importing Russian biotechnology, and cleaning up water weed on Tanzania’s Lake Victoria.
In Greece with his family he restored an old house on the island of Evia, which they go back to every year.
John’s latest book is “Harley and the Holy Mountain: through the Heart of Greece to its Soul”. It’s about a road trip from the house on Evia on Harley, an antiquated 50cc Yamaha motorcycle, through mainland Greece to the independent monastic state of Mount Athos.
He loves to travel around the Mediterranean and the Middle East. When not at the laptop or on the road he sings and plays the baglama, a miniature bouzouki, with a Greek band in London.