Holiday in Greece 1964
Extracts from Richard’s diary
transcribed October 2015
Tuesday 4 August
5pm Caught train to Corinth – beautiful ride along Corinthian Gulf. Arrived Corinth 8pm, slept out on beach.
Morning bathe. Bus to old Corinth. Looked around museum and the site. Set off to climb Acrocorinth c.3.25pm. Magnificent panorama from the top (picture). Arrived at bottom again c.6.15pm. Set off for a beach which turned out to be 45 mins away! Had a swim and arrived back at old Corinth c.8.15. Each of us bought and drank on the spot a pint of milk. Had been offered a place to sleep for the night and had lunch and supper here. Father a real comic. Son learning English – David and I helped him with his exercises in the evening. Slept on patch of concrete in garden – not a very good night as hip bones rather sore from previous nights. Also cacophony from dog (yowling, crunching bone), mule, cock (which crew at midnight).
Tried hitching – only Vic successful. Caught 11.30 bus for Epidauraus. Looked over theatre which terrific, and ruins of temple of Asclepius, which are very extensive. After lunch, caught bus for Poros – very bad road, unmade in parts and twisty. Bus stopped half way for driver and occupants to refresh themselves! Later splendid view of coast, as we climb down from the hills. Poros on an island – very photogenic. We went to one of its three beaches and had a bathe. A friendly boatman showed us a place to sleep. Wood in plenty since building site, also water from an ice making plant. We had an enormous supper: soup, luncheon meat, boiled eggs, peaches and finished with chocolate. Kipped by the sea again.
Sunday 9 August – Athens
Went to temple of Olympian Zeus, then to theatre of Dionysus. On to a small hillock overlooking the old Agora. Visited the reconstructed Stoa of Attalus, the Agora and the Hephaistion. Had a rest over a lemon drink (very expensive) 21 drachmas – David’s round, poor chap! We then visited the Acropolis which was wonderful (though overrun with other tourists). Had supper at the same restaurant as for lunch – expensive meal including our first taste of ouzo which was not pleasant.
Monday 10 August
Went to New Phaleron, where a sandy beach. Water incredibly warm – rather like a warm bath at the edge. Then back to Piraeus where we boarded our boat Hesperus, which was absolutely crammed. We secured deck sleeping space with difficulty, ate our food, and a little later had some drinks in the bar. These had an unfortunate effect on me in the night and I moved my sleeping kit to the side of the boat.
6.30am entered Heraklion Harbour, had breakfast in cafe, then made our way by bus to Florida a nearby beach (2 drachmas to get in). Deserted when we arrived, it quickly filled up and some Greeks pinched our sunshade (or part of it) and talked non stop, much to my discomfort. The wind got up and blew sand all over everything. Later still very windy, lit a fire which blew all over the place. We had managed to get some oil and cooked what was meant to be fried eggs, but turned out as omelettes.
Discussion as to possibility of going to Mikonos. Made enquiries at the tourist office where we were told they had one very good boat, the Hesperus!! Caught bus for Cnossus, spent two hours looking over it, frescos tremendous (picture). Back to Florida beach where we collected wood for a fire. David and Vic’s combined ingenuity produced a useful support for a pan, fried eggs successful this time.
Journey to Anoigha, very pleasant – hills and plains covered with vines and olive trees. We climbed up into the hills, and when we arrived at Anoigha were in some doubt as to whether we had reached journey’s end. Luckily we immediately found an old man who spoke English. Funny old boy escorted me down the village street, first to a bread shop and then to restaurant. We (Vic and I) decided to eat there, then went for a walk and took a look at surrounding hills, then back, secured sleeping place on a roof (no room in the hotel). Had our meal c.6.45 – omelette, salad, bread, wine, all for 12.50 drachmas – wonderful value, and the first of three marvellous potato omelettes.
Woke c.4.40am. Set out to climb Mt Ida just before 6am. Nearly 6 hours later we reached the plain of Nida, which we should have reached in 3 hours. (Picture) The water there was lovely and we drank our fill and ate our lunch – bread, cheese and eggs. Seemed to get on the wrong side of a shepherd for scaring his sheep. Set off to climb Ida range, saw a large cave on the way (apparently a cave of Zeus), then hard climbing for the brow of a hill, but did not have time to reach it. Very difficult coming down – scree and thistles, eventually back at plain of Nida c.30.30pm, met very nice Cretan girl who spoke English and was studying at a London Secretarial College. She gave us bread and meat. circa 3.45pm set out to walk back to Anoigha, by the road we should have used coming. Walked very fast for the first hour, thereafter less quickly but kept going well, despite an ailment on my part to which the depleted pages of this note book bear witness! Finally reached Anoigha at 7.25pm, after walking about eleven and a half out of thirteen and a half hours, all completely whacked.
Had lunch at same restaurant as before – yet another fine omelette. We were charged nothing for a plate of grapes. We then sat and relaxed until the small square suddenly produced people from all sides. Soon a marriage procession approached and while the bride and groom were being wed musicians took their seats and there was dancing. When the bride and groom appeared from the church, they were made to join in the dancing.
Another bathe, huge waves, terrific hammering, very good supper on beach. People living in nearby hut presented us with a bowl of delicious tomatoes. Terribly windy. We seek sheltered kipping ground in dunes.
Wood difficult to get, tried at cafe which had provided some before, but they found it rather a joke this time! Arrived back at fire to find eggy bread being cooked by a Greek girl (editor’s comment Who was she!)
Arrived Piraeus c.7am after good night’s kip on the boat. Took tube to Omonia Square, then walked to Mrs Nathan’s near Constitution Square. Went up on Acropolis again and took lots of scopes. Had lunch in Taverna, then rest on Mrs Nathan’s roof. Had a shower – much needed. Took a trolley bus to museum, looked around ‘till nearly 6pm. (Wonderful gold cups.) Trolley bus back to Constitution Square, bought food for supper and ate it on roof. American girl told us that Beethoven’s 9th Symphony going to be performed in Theatre of Herodes. Tried to get seats but only 150 drachma seats left. Sat on Acropolis (the rock is very hard) for one and a half hours listening to the Symphony. Managed to get a view of Theatre at the end which superb. King Constantine and fiancèe present. went to taverna for eats and retsina – Greek music – back to Mrs Nathan’s c.12.30pm. Remarkable coincidence – one Keble man had just finished, another was due to start in October and we were current students, all at the same college on the same roof in Athens.
Off to Stadium. King arrived and waved as each block clapped him in turn, then terrific parade – massed bands followed by sports clubs of Athens, rowers with oars, sailors with boat, boxers with gloves on, etc., then numerous flags, finally black out and lone runner entered with blazing torch. He handed it to the King who lit a plinth, then Greek dancing. Tremendous spectacle.
Arrived at Itea c.10.45am. All got lifts, David and I together, dropped at crossroads. After c.half an hour, got hair-raising lift in cart and motorbike. Great fun. (Very hand on backside at times.) Reached Delphi c.12.25. Superb view over towards Itea. Looked over site during which we met Vic. Had dinner at same place as lunch. Went to look for kipping place and met lively bunch of Englishmen and one Australian.
Arose 6.05am. Washed in fountain near Kastalia. Breakfast of yoghurt and honey, etc. Went back to take more scopes of Delphi, then out on to the road. In Patras waited for Angellica which arrived c.1am, slept on deck.
Woke c.10am and found boat in Ithaca Harbour which very beautiful. Spent day sunbathing. Sea a gorgeous blue. Arrived at Corfu 3.30pm. Went to nearby place for bathe. Kipped behind planks of wood on dockside.
Boat left Corfu 9.30am, another day of sunbathing, arrived Brindisi 4.15pm.
What a fantastic holiday!