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.

Roads and paths were blocked but I was guided around them by friendly policemen
The marchers also seemed well natured, if noisy
A minority then threw red paint and petrol bombs at buildings
Police used tear gas to clear the front of the Parliament building, sending birds up into the air and crowds down the steps

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 recently restored Temple of Athena Nike
The Propylaia was the impressive entrance to the Acropolis. Built between 437 and 432 BC, it is currently undergoing heavy restoration.
Nothing prepares you for the sheer size of the Parthenon
The restoration work serves to convey the scale.
The Theatre of Dionysos could seat 17,000, illustrating the importance placed on the arts in the ancient city state.

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.

Athena and Poseidon as they would have stood on the west pediment of the Parthenon. A heroic attempt to compensate for Lord Elgin’s theft!
The central palmette akroterion decorated the temple and has been restored using a precious few fragments
The glass walls of the museum give clear views to the Acropolis
The stone in and around the monuments would have been richly coloured. The staining here is caused by metallic eyelashes.
Two heads are better than one
One little coin won’t be missed will it?
The lego model, one of my favourite exhibits! The Temple of Athena Nike is front right, the Propylaia is centre front and the Parthenon is right back. The British Museum should swap the controversial marbles for this!

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.

The Stoa of Attalos was reconstructed in the 1950s
The original was two storeys high, had a series of 45 columns and housed expensive shops
The Temple of Hephaestus was dedicated to the god of the forge and was surrounded by metalwork shops and foundries

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.

Kipper was happy to see some old playmates
The Temple of Poseidon is on the headland in the distance
The Temple was built at the same time as the Parthenon
A dramatic outlook to 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.

There is a submersible bridge at either end of the canal
Pedestrians get to walk up the middle
The canal links the Bay of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf

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.

The Temple of Apollo
The Roman fountain
The Acrocorinth is a 570m hill of limestone rock
It’s natural fortification is reinforced by a fortress that has seen centuries of action
We stayed outside the gate overnight to enjoy an eerie view disappear into the mists

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.

The hill of the Acropolis was surrounded by a wall and further protected by two neighbouring mountains. 
The ‘cyclopean’ stones gave rise to the myth it was built by Giants from Lycia. The Lions above the gate have lost their heads but are magnificent.
The North Gate is a similar design and as with the Lion Gate,  built around 1250 BC 


Mycenae is famous for treasures in gold but the pottery makes the lives of the ancients seem real
Many exhibits are around 3,000 years old but the art makes the time melt away
The entrance to the Treasury of Atreus or Grave of Agamemnon. Eighty chamber tombs have been excavated around the Acropolis of Mycenae
The beehive shaped chamber was too spooky to stay inside alone for long!
Mycenae had a commanding view over the plain

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!

6 thoughts on “Ruined

  1. Dear Mandy and Graham, looks like you are having a great time on your wonderful’s hoping that you all have a wonderful Christmas and all the very best for the New Year . All our love Carol and Bruce


  2. If there is any possibility of a small jar of those preserved fruits I’ll be in your debt or swap you a home made four fruit marmalade…..xx


  3. A very happy Christmas to you both and Kipper!! I have SOH enjoyed your travelogue and at times envied you your travels. I am down on Whitstable with Stephen and Janie while Barry en famille are in Yorkshire the year. Ido hope you have had a very happy Christmas and will send you a Longer message when I get home. Much love all the Orrs

    Sent from my iPad



    • Thank you Margaret and a happy Christmas and love to to all the Orrs. Hope you are having a good day. We had a swim and then shared lunch with some fellow travellers. Still managed to overeat and drink! Will call in the New Year. Mandy xx


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