ATHENS – ACROPOLIS AT DUSK, FLYING SHISHKEBAB AND TAMLA MOTOWN, 1976

TUESDAY 12TH OCTOBER, 1976

” Late morning – 8.0!  Wrote pcs and lazed around in sun during morning.  Snooped round other Swagman bus and played Tamla Motown – they’ve much better selection than us.  Few of us left, had omelette and beans for lunch.

Lift in with Magic Bus.  Tried to get Nanette [girl we gave lift to from Methoni] away on the bus to London, but got there too late.  Chased round square to contact Geoff and get her luggage back to camp.  By late afternoon finally started sightseeing!

Made way up narrow lanes to Acropolis, kept losing everybody.  While at Acropolis most tourists were leaving and sun going down between the pillars of the Parthenon, hazy view out to sea.  View of Temple of Zeus and other hill (Athens not an attractive city – much of it dug up and half built, very dirty).  Guards and band appeared and played while flag lowered.  Men blew whistles frantically when anyone tried to go inside Parthenon.  One attendant gave us a pollo; another called Jan Athena, me Aphrodite and Rob Zeus!  All seem very friendly.

We wandered down small streets, little leather shops etc, till came to restaurant with tables in street, waiter just about dragged us off street and sat us in front of menu.  Presumed this was where we were to meet Fred.  Had Demestica while waited then ordered meal.  Had disappointing shishkebab and greasy cheese salad – flung half on floor trying to get off skewer – dogs ate it!  Loads of cats too.  Nanette came across us – had been lost in area.  Eventually Fred and other Swagman driver Steve found us.

At 9.0 we went up to see Son et Lumiere looking across at Acropolis.  Thought it over dramatic, some of it quite hilarious. “Thwack, wack, build and build” and mad dash of running feet, like something out of the Goons! Afterwards several of us went for a coffee down from Acropolis in big empty restaurant with carpets and bags on the wall.  Got lift home with other Swagman bus.”

DELHI – samosas with postmen, Tamla Motown and Indian whisky to drown bad news, 1977

[Thanks to the help of the B.A staff, word was finally filtering back home that we were stranded in Delhi.  But they feared that the reason I hadn’t heard from my granny was that she had died.  Worse still, they couldn’t confirm if this was true.  My grandmother, Sydney Easterbrook, had gone out to India from Scotland in 1923 to marry forester Bob Gorrie, and they had lived there until the Second World War.  Granny was one of the inspirations behind my trip east.  Now like the elderly enigmatic Mrs Moore in Passage to India (another inspiration for going to India), it was possible she was dead.

So we ‘attacked’ the whisky to drown our sorrows …]

WEDNESDAY 5TH JANUARY, 1977

“Happy Birthday Ank! [youngest brother Angus]  At breakfast a Sikh came to our table and asked us to model his clothes, so could guarantee right size – he sells to boutiques in Germany – we certainly meet all sorts in this place!!!

Went to B.A – nothing.  Went to GPO – they’re so used to us, today we were given sweet tea and chapatis wrapped round potato samosas (potato in batter)!  Cheerful fella warmed chapatis over small electric fire!  Must be the only tourists to have done this – probably the only ones to penetrate so far!  Nice middle-aged man gave us address of Foreign P.O and told us to try there in case mail had been insured. 

Off we went in a rickshaw for miles, racing with traffic far beyond the confines of Connaught Place!  Hassled away with Indian and weren’t understood very well – 2 blokes helping – said had no access unless we had registered number etc.  Discovered this wasn’t foreign mail!  Went to building behind – same story.

Back to centre – cheered ourselves in record shop by listening to Tamla Motown L.P!!  Then found really good Penguin bookshop and browsed in there for a while.

Back to B.A – telex for Nikki telling her to go and check GPO!  Several for me – no reply from Granny.  They in touch finally with parents.  Dad sent cheque for ticket – then horrible news that Granny may be dead.  No confirmation – felt very upset.  Can’t stop thinking of it – what can be happening at home?  To be stuck in this place because of Asian Greyhound inefficiency and to have no news from home!  Very anxious and miserable.

We attacked the bottle of whisky bought for New Year – drank half of it before supper – took mind off worries.  Went down to dining room giggling and wearing new tops.  Waiter in good mood tonight.”