DELPHI, GREECE – AMONG GODS, PIGEONS AND MURMURING CROWDS, 1976

WEDNESDAY 13TH OCTOBER, 1976

“Left Athens.  Dropped Nanette.  Making for Delphi. Incredible amount of shrines along roadside – only seen 1 vandalised yet had loads of small crosses and cups etc inside.  Began to get mountainous – Delphi in big mountains – ruins all the way up mountain slope.

Made my sacrifice of 30 drachma (i.e. full price) and went in.  Got in on bad tour, woman couldn’t find the baize of the tripod!  Saw Temple of Apollo and amphitheatre.  Decided to climb even further to see the Stadium – went up dusty windy path, cheap of birds, disturbed a few pigeons.  Reached Stadium, really high up and hidden among trees.  FANTASTIC sight, just me and the gods up there, could almost see the chariot tracks in the dust.  A gust of wind in the trees sounded like the murmur of the crowd!  All the seats around one side of the stadium still well preserved; big square pillars at one end.  (Went to the loo looking down over the stadium – what a boast!)  Fantastic view of the mountains looking down from the top.

Travelled on through striking mountain scenery (much hazier and drier that Jugoslavia.  Idyllic pastoral scene cant have been so idyllic on such arid, dusty mountain slopes).  Clouded over.  Worked way down hairpin bends to a small town where we stopped for a “coffee stop” – taken to drinking nescafe to avoid sweetened Turkish coffee.

Camped again at Stylis – different part of coast, very near beach again and a quiet bar (with great toilet facilities!)  Had a nice Amstel beer then a good camp supperof steak and kidney and fresh melon!  Ground really hard; dark when we pitched – think it’s on a road in an orchard!”

METEORA, GREECE – BEESWAX CANDLES, SHY ORPHANS, VOTIVE CORN ON THE COB, 1976

SUNDAY 10TH OCTOBER, 1976

“No after effects [of Ouzo] at all!
Headed down coast – dropped off 6 at a campsite [Platamon] – not coming to Athens – Paul, Julie, Mark, Pam, Neva and Sally.  A lot more room and quiet!  They wrote rude messages on bus as we left.

Made inland – detour to trip.  Suddenly left plain and huge rocks and cliffs appeared – very dramatic scenery.  Convents perched really high up on these cliffs, amazing sight [Monasteria of Meteora].  Climbed up road and stopped at Convent of St Stephen – had a look round – not allowed in unless wearing a dress and arms covered.  Let in across drawbridge – nuns almost totally covered in black.  Small courtyard inside – orphanage made up one side – no signs of kids until just leaving, then little faces appeared from a window.  View out over small town at foot of cliff-face and hazy blue horizon of plain – quite hot.

Small chapel – seats like monks at Durham, with small ledge so when dozed off seat collapses.  Very ornate icons, beeswax candles, incense etc.

(Before reaching here we stooped at a spring – very touristy, stalls selling corn on the cob, nuts, sticky sweets as well as religious emblems and bags and Davy Crocket hats.  Little chapel at other side, across suspension bridge, priest doing baptisms – very noisy and chaotic, walked round reciting while mother and baby follow, then slams down book and slaps wet cloths on the yelling baby.  Another fellow rushed in, stood at the lecturn and recited too, tourists milling in and out all the time).

Fred hung corn on the cob above table[on bus] – health hazard with flies.

Stopped and camped by sea again – Stylis.  We cooked another fantastic meal – my elaborately prepared custard was revoltingly runny!

That evening 3 Greeks bought us some beer at the nearby bar and ended up paying for all beer that evening!  They kept chucking the empties under the table and ordering more!  (Spent about £6 worth)  By the end (after a million ‘vivas!’) everyone was calling each other philo and phili!”

“remains of deadly corn on the cob – property of Fred and Jan”