Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Adventures in Greece ........ a ferry and a trip into the unknown

My uncle was just 19 when he washed up in Greece, while I was 32.

Arriving by sea
He went onto Basra, and the Far East having already travelled to Cape Town and up the Suez Canal.

By comparison I had done two long weekends in Paris by the time I was 31.*

But his journey’s had been with the RAF, and South Africa and the Suez Canal were stopping off points on his way to war.  His arrival in Greece coincided with the German invasion, which ended with the Fall of Greece and the British retreat to Egypt, while his arrival in the Far East happened just as the Japanese captured Singapore.

Scenes from off the beaten track
All of which made my travels very tame.

But I did get to Greece in the summer of ’81 and while my contemporaries had blazed a trail back packing across the country a decade earlier, I was happy enough to have got there just forty years after Uncle Roger.

Nothing ever quite prepares you for that wall of heat that meets you as you disembark from the aircraft, or the sight of your first Greek island from a ferry which left the Piraeus in the early hours of the morning.

It is easy after a while to get blasé about the view from the sea of a Greek town with its untidy collection of buildings rising in steps from the harbour up to the skyline.

But every time we have done it I never lose that sense of excitement and while I have done my share of bars and “authentic Greek restaurants” I have also taken myself off and explored the quieter places.

The ferry adventure
Often they are the back streets, which during those hot hours of midday till three are usually deserted, with everyone choosing to rest inside their houses.

But of course tourists and especially those from northern Europe, like the famous song, are the one ones to “go out in the midday sun”, accompanied only by mad dogs and other Englishmen.

Still at the time it fed my sense of curiosity and that was all to the good.

Although left to my own devices I was able on occasion to get hopelessly lost, like the time I took the short ferry ride from where were staying to the main harbour.  The trip took minutes, but the return journey lasted an hour as I had chosen a ferry travelling around the island.

After a day on the beach
And while I remained calm I did ponder on just how far the journey would take and what I might encounter along the way.

Still to this day I burn with embarrassment at the mistake, but it was an adventure and of those at 68 I still revel in.

Location; Greece, 1981

Pictures; Poros in Greece, 1981 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*It would spoil the story to admit that I had at 19 been taken on a trip across the Mediteranean visiting Naples, Athens, Istanbul and Majorca but I was very young and the attractions of the cruise ship won over the sights of three ancient cities.

No comments:

Post a Comment