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This page contains a few short anecdotes from a Greek trip in May 2000
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We left Nafpaktos early and headed for the port of Andirio to catch the 20 minute ferry ride to the Peloponese. For once, we were impressed by the efficiency of the workers who quickly eased the cars, trucks and commuters on foot onto the small ferry, till we were packed in like...., and off we went. Patras looked like any big port city, and we were soon off towards Olympia, glad to be heading away from the ugly metropolis , only to realise 20 km down the road that we were of course going in completely the wrong direction, so , after verifying the fact at a garage, we turned back, and hit traffic inching through the grime and dust of Patras, before escaping onto a narrow,broken road, (the 'scenic route') towards Olympia, which the green book promised would be.........(to be added later). My wife is not an overly adventurous person, and the 'gut-feel' she had that we were about to plummet over the edge at every corner, and the shouts of Slower , 'vrathie' , Robert, as I tore along at 50 km/h, made for an interesting first hour along what was truly a beautiful drive, but it was now nearing midday, and we were hungry, having skipped breakfast to get an early start. We decided to stop at the next town, which, according to the sign-posts, was named ' Klitoria'. I started having daydreams of what we would find in this place, perhaps there would be no men around, only 6 ft tall godesses lying in ambush to kidnap any passing male to be their slaves, locked away in dungeons, and brought out only to pleasure th..."Sorry, babe, I didn't realise I was doing 115 km/h, and stop hitting me!". We eventually saw Klitoria in the distance. It looked quiet...too quiet, and as we drove slowly towards the village , people started appearing from their houses, into the intense midday heat, as a bell began to toll from a church in the distance. We turned a corner, and in front of us was a wagon being pulled by a donkey, carrying a coffin , followed by a procession of sombre faced villages. "oh my God!"' I thought, "They've fucked another one to death!" We were driving into a funeral in Klitoria! We drove on passed the procession to the square and parked the car. People had gathered outside the church, which was decorated with wreaths and flowers, and they stood in groups talking quietly to each other, the old women mostly dressed in black, overweight, middle-aged wives and mothers, and a small group of young women, dressed to reveal their youthful bodies, as if to torment the frail and the dead.My eyes caught the stare of one of them, and in those few seconds, she slowly slid her tongue over her lips, perhaps to lick off a drop of perspiration? When I'd regained my composure , I suggested we get some food , and so we wandered into a small bakery. The owner reluctantly left his seat, and his conversation , to serve us. We bought 2 tiropitas , a beer and a 7-up, and sat on the wall of the square eating our lunch, listening to the bells, and thinking about life, death and Klitoria.
While driving round the treachorous roads of inland Naxos, we round a corner to be confronted by an old man on his donkey, slowly coming toward us. He looks so typically rural greek, black pants, grey shirt, black beret
I sit here on my tiny balcony looking out over the caldera and the town of Fira spread below me. There in the distance is my familiar white-domed church. I say 'my' because I've painted it so many times, it;s my favourite, standing proud against the dark rocky cliff. I feel a sense of closure. 13 years ago, sleeping on the roof of the youth hostel, I dreamed of oneday staying in a place like this, and the reality IS as good as the dream. Somehow the youth hostel being closed is right, like eventually shutting a door on that part of my life. Had I walked in to scenes of young backpackers drinking beer, flirting with each other, and having the same carefree time I had 13 years ago, I'm sure I would have felt a bit jealous, ........
A typical taverna scene: here I pick up with a long haired