214 nights : 7,555 miles travelled : Countries visited: 14
Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul. Edward Abbey
Thirty three years of marriage is no guarantee that you will enjoy living together 24/7 in a space smaller than many bathrooms and we are amazed that we haven’t had more than the occasional healthy tiff. Nevertheless I was keen for Graham to visit our daughter and her partner in Athens while I held the shell back at camp. It was soon apparent he was more keen for me to leave him to enjoy some long forgotten solitude.
I arranged to meet Holly and Jonny at Syntagma (Constitution) Square but it seemed that thousands of others got my message as drums and whistles approached while I waited. We knew about the general strike, it had disrupted my journey into the city centre. But despite walking past road blocks, I didn’t realise I was standing right where the latest anti-austerity demonstration was planned.
Much has been written about the Greek financial crisis and it is for people more qualified than us to comment. We have seen evidence of a fair amount of ‘make do and mend’ but there has been no scrimping on the welcome we have received and the generosity shown.
I stayed overnight at the apartment Holly and Jonny had rented and we were able to see street life away from the tourist traps. But the main reason to visit was visible from much of the city centre. The Acropolis stands like a crown on the capital, with the monuments as jewels.
The new Acropolis museum is a wonderful example of a modern building which manages to enhance it’s subject. Luckily it was one of the few attractions open on the day of the strike so we enjoyed it at leisure and largely on our own.
The Agora was the centre of commercial, administrative and political activity and while there is little left standing, this is the area that left me with the strongest sense of the ancient city.
Holly and Jonny joined us where we were camped near the tip of Attica at Cape Sounion for a weekend of brisk swims, coastal walks and sunsets over the sea.
All too soon we had to pretend to be brave to say goodbye, pull ourselves together and remember the trail will one day take us back to our family again. You need to be living in the moment to appreciate the time of your life.
The Corinth Canal was thought to be a good idea for thousands of years but only built in the 19th century. The 6 km cut saves a journey of 700 km around the Peloponnese but is too narrow for many modern ships. Nevertheless it is an impressive sight and a must see for a long time canal fan.
Ancient Corinth extends under a modern village, breaking ground in spaces between houses and through roadworks. The archaeological site and museum struggle to tell the story of the rich powerful city that once stood here but it’s position near to the Isthmus of Corinth that connects the Greek mainland with the Peloponnese and a wealth of history is fascinating.
As we travel through Greece it seems that every few miles there is a story, historical or mythological, for me to read out loud as we drive to the next site. I have to admit that there have been times when we feel all ruined out and ancient stones lose their ability to inspire. But not for long. It is so easy to imagine the lives that we read about in books when you are looking at the land that they saw.
Mycenae is older, much older than anything we have visited so far. This is the “Cyclopean city, rich in gold” referenced in Homer’s Iliad and is the city of the first major civilisation on the Greek mainland.
We have moved to the coast to pass the Christmas holiday; our first away from ‘home’. We are miles away from loved ones but also miles away from a self inflicted frenzy of shopping and cooking. It would seem we are not far enough away from Michael Buble but I can always take a walk on the beach to get away from Graham’s perverse pleasure in playing Frosty the Snowman.
Seasons Greetings and lots of love!
M & G xx
Treat of the Week: Buying fresh produce grown by Spiros at the camper stop in Ancient Corinth was a treat but we are going to enjoy the tooth achingly sweet preserved fruits made by his wife for months to come!