Memories of Greece 1963, pt. 4

By now we were old salts, so we could handle the long voyage from Rhodes to Iraklion in northern Crete with aplomb, almost able to ignore the loukoumia problem; but we were glad to disembark to the frantic accompaniment typical of every busy port we visited.

Our focus was to see the work of a famous alumnus of our college, Sir Arthur Evans, the pionering archaeologist who, from the start of the  20th C. first gave meaning to the ruins of the ‘Minoan’ civilisation; he named it after the mythical King Minos of ‘Minotaur’ fame. The fabled bull was a common feature of the frescoes he excavated and controversially restored in the reconstructed ‘palaces’ – probably a misnoma for rooms and streets occupied by more than just royalty.

Continue reading “Memories of Greece 1963, pt. 4”

Memories of Greece 1963, pt. 3

Rhodes was, and still is, a very pretty island, with wooded hills in the ‘interior’ and well-preserved old towns within ancient fortifications – including of course the two arms of Rhodos harbour where Colossus once bestrode the entrance. The three of us found a quiet corner on top of the city wall to make camp, conveniently situated for a water tap and even public toilets, a rarity in 1963; while below us the narrow streets were teeming with stall-holders and buyers of everything from local produce to car tyres, with fresh fish aplenty. Although it was of little use to us, with no means of cooking it!

A highlight of our visit was a bus-ride across the island which dropped us off at a valley called ‘Petaloudes’. Continue reading “Memories of Greece 1963, pt. 3”

Memories of Greece 1963, pt 2

The thing is, I was totally immersed in Ancient Greek language, literature and history at that time, having done my ‘public exam’ in Classics only a few months before. So to find myself setting foot in old Piræus was like coming home. It was a hot, bright, bustling harbour; vendors and hustlers meeting the ferry, children offering to dive for coins from the dock-side, delapidated vehicles of every kind, even some with engines. And livestock being herded all around, presumably to or from the markets. No exaggeration to say almost nothing had changed in 2,500 years.

The local youth hostel was by no means primitive though. In fact we made reservations for a month later, the night before the ferry left for Brindisi – but for accommodation on the roof this time; no sissy matresses for these lads! Because we already knew from the student grape-vine that spending good money on rooms was out of the question. It was going to be ships’ decks, roof-tops and beaches from now on, with our sleeping bags, no tents. Remember: it was July and August when the nights were warm and rarely wet. And nobody had even heard of a ban on sleeping rough in those days; it was just what less-affluent visitors did and we were made welcome wherever we laid our heads.

And we soon ‘did’ mainland Greece. Continue reading “Memories of Greece 1963, pt 2”

Memories of Greece 1963, pt 1

Is it 50 years ago? Can’t be. Yes, it is.

Steam Train the Flying Scotsman Leaving a Station, January 1963 Photographic Print

Two mates and I won college travel bursaries after our ‘first public exams’ – which in those days counted as ordinary degrees taken after 5 terms. Value: £36 each. So we planned a month away in the summer vacation – destination Greece via everywhere in between. It wasn’t called back-packing in those days; we were just travelling students, advised to sew Union Jacks on our rucksacks so that Johnny Foreigner wouldn’t mistake us for undesirables (!). Such innocent times! Continue reading “Memories of Greece 1963, pt 1”