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? 1997 Greece, collected folders, under development

DR website Home page

- Mytilene, Lesbos.

Links to original portfolio files. Collected version GREECE.PTF below. Edited 16-10-19. 20-04-19

1997b Greece, diary plus drawings and photos.

97-00 series 1120 - 1129 negative films

97-06f Greece

97 Greece

97 Greece, formatted for printing (no drawings)

97 Greece, formatted for printing (plus drawings)

- Mytilene, Lesbos.

97-05-29 Thurday G-day today. Why do I always feel this dark sense of forboding before we begin a trip? Dodgy travel arrangements? Or maybe because Merle has to stay in St. Catharines for professional reasons. She will join us later. Meantime, I grit my teeth and journey on with Miriam, Adonis and Dimitri.

Just now, we're hurtling toward the Labrador coast at 4:51pm, 855km/hr., heading north-west at 10,400m. altitude. What's to worry about? The Airbus position and speed display on a video monitor is hypnotic, but a little scary maybe, and a little boring. We achieve re-enty in Athens at 12:08pm (today or tomorrow?)

97-05-30 Friday Baggage out of hock. Walkabout in Piraeus with Miriam, Adoni and Dimitri. Gardens, flowers on balconies. Chaotic but cheerful. We attend a wedding this evening. Much retsina. Scads of relatives. Don't know anybody except the immediate family. A few cousins, nephews, etc. who speak some English. After several hours, much conviviality and copious Danforth food we begin to really enjoy Greek popular music.

1997 - Greece, From Album AL19.
A scrapbook of photos, tourist stuff, and diary entries. This was created before my entry to digital photography. The collection of materials was complicated by the fact that my preferred SLR lost a screw and conked out in Athens. This forced a reliance on a point-and-shoot print film camera, unsuitable for taking slides. Slides that might have been more appropriate for shows and for eventual digital scanning.

97-06-06 - Greece, index, map


97-05-31 - Athens, map.

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97-05-31 - Stoa of Attalus, Athens.

97-05-31 Saturday Downtown Athens by bus and subway. Tower of the Winds, the Stoa of Attalus, the Dionysius theatre, the Agora. Ruins. I hear a spectral voice: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works, ye mighty and despair." We despair at a Plaka rip-off lunch that costs about $40 for a mere snack.

97-05-31 - The Agora, Athens.
Note the headless, armless statue of the Emperor Hadrian, still giving orders, centre right.


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97-06-01 Sunday Ferry at 4:00pm. At dusk, on the breezy open deck, gazing seaward, I'm on the verge of hypothermia. Till I climb into my sleeping bag and stretch out on a bench. Drifting into a shallow sleep, I have a conversation with my old buddy Richard Peters, also on board this ship. He reports few real women-of-mystery aboard.

But one, with her mother: pale, Queen Street complexion, dark glasses and long, long frizzy hair. She keeps going to the rail and staring out over the waves for a lengthy interval. Dreaming perhaps of some absent lover (or how to get away from her mom to fraternize with those Greek soldiers on board who are now going back to their army bases on Lesbos.)

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97-06-02 Monday Dawn comes up like thunder out of Turkey, "cross the bay". We dock at Mytilene, at some ungodly early hour. Breakfast of bougatsa and coffee amid the wreckage of last night's ouzo drinkers.

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A walk round the old Byzantine castle before lunch. This was the site of one of Julius Caesar's first battles. Still a military site with Greek soldiers in possession. They sit in a bunker by the water's edge, fingering worry-beads and staring at the Turkish coastline through binoculars.

97-06 - Mytilene.
Miriam out hunting for bees. Research, or so she says. Perhaps she's checking out the defences. I hear that Goethe, the German literary lion, once got arrested in Italy, at Lake LaGarda, in a very similar situation. In the 1950s I explored the castle where he was caught loitering (not littering) and briefly jailed.

97-06-02 - Salina's Garden Rooms, Mytilini.
We find rooms at Salina's Garden. Perfect, including the Ottoman flush toilet that we eventually coax to work. No hot water, but the cold is lukewarm. This comes from a roof-top cistern that's been warmed enough by the sun for a comfortable bathe.

Nap- and shower-refreshed, I sit on the rooftop terrace overlooking the garden, happily writing and making a sketch. The doves in the neighbouring dove-cote are endlessly repeating: "what sorrow, what sorrow ..." How did such a pessimistic fowl ever get desigated: The Bird of Peace?

97-06-02 - Mytilini, from near the old theatre.

We walk up the hill behind the town in the evening. Then follow a road to the site of the old theatre. The Turkish coast is visible in the background.

We cross a field that has apparently been used for military excercises: barbed wire and eroded foxholes. I wake up that night in a cold sweat ... wondering if we could have stepped on a World War II landmine.

97-06-03 Tuesday Breakfast on the waterfront. Then we rent an under-powered Fiat 850 for a drive to Molivos on the other side of the island. An exciting time creeping up the steep incline out of town in first gear, the engine whining fit to burst, and passed at high speed on blind switchback curves by everyone else.

97-06-03 - The view from Molivos Castle, Lesbos.

It rains a bit while exploring the castle. A few drops fall on my sketches. Had to scribble down the names of the colours for future reference. Damn hard to draw rocks and masonry quickly, so much detail. Photography is more convenient but lacks the feeling of on-site rapport with the subject.

I natter with a couple of Brits on the ramparts while roughing in a few sketches. "Had your jabs?" they wonder. "Rabies y'know." Worried that the continent is being ravaged by packs of foaming-at-the-mouth cats and dogs. Hmmm. Dimitri had been nipped by a foraging cat in the Plaka when we stopped for lunch the other day.

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97-06-03 - Ouzo interval, Molivos.
Walking down from the castle: we rest at the Tropicana Bar and sip ouzo under a huge plane tree. (Unhand my glass young Dimitri.) Glen Gould is playing Goldberg Variations over the PA system. Just when I was getting used to Never on Sunday music.

97-06-03 - Molivos portal.

97-06-03 - Molivos window.
The collection of door and window pictures grows.

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Keep wondering what I would do alone on a trip like this. (Probably starve or get lost without translators.) Maybe spend much more time sketching. People wouldn't have to wait for me to get a move on. Team up with old Richard Peters again, perhaps to do some research into his eccentric notions on the subject of "landscape philosophy." (ie. the theoretical side of Outdoor Ed, dressed up in art-manifesto, wine-babble type language.)

Later, we visit the church of the Virgin Mary's Sweet Kiss ("glycofilousa"). It sits, perched on a rock in Petra, near Molivos. Speaking of glycofilousas, I wonder what Merle is doing right now, way back in Canada.

97-06-04 - Agiassos.

97-06-04 Wednesday To Agiassos, an interior hill-town with its own Mount Olympus. We climb to a small chapel overlooking the town. Down again to visit the cathedral and enclosure.

V13-06-10 - Agiassos FX.
Smoothing effects, give a more water-colour-y, sketchy look?

97-06-04 - Agiassos?
On the other side of town, a steep path to the Castelli, a church on a peak with a splendid view. Down again, coffee near the Cathedral. There we discuss Agiassos in the wintertime with a waitress who prefers bright lights to historical ambiance. Not so nice as Seattle, she says. Dreadfully boring with all those old fogies around (I cringe.) Huge influx of Eurodollars, but only for the big guys, not kafeneion waitresses.

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Ferry back to Athens. An hour or so out of Mytilini, I notice a suspicious, swarthy, bearded character watching me draw from the upper deck. Looks a lot like someone living rough. Looks a lot like us actually, with that slightly oily, tousle-haired, rumple-clothed look.

Eventually he asks me in English if I'm an artist. The cape I'm drawing on the Turkish coastline was the site of a town called Pontos or Portos back in the days of Magna Graecia, he says. It was the parent town of present day Marseilles. The colonists moved in two steps, first to Sicily, then to southern Gaul where they put on berets and striped shirts and opened water-front cafes for package tourists from Manchester.

He seems gratified that a foreigner should have taken an interest in his old stamping-ground.


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S07-12-03 - 97-06-05

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97-06-05 Thursday To the Cycladic Museum, and afterwards, we climb Mt. Lycabettos.

English sex-farce on TV at supper tonight. Amusing images and references to coital positions. Jokes like: What was the position of women during the war? That is, the favourite position. The whole family watches from the dinner table. Then Robo-Cop. Phone call from Canada at midnight: Merle's plane will be delayed tomorrow.

97-06-06 Friday Miriam confirms this morning that Merle is probably in the sky over Coburg right now. A little rain today, dries in 3 milliseconds. Adoni reminisces about the old neighbourhood in Piraeus. Merle arrives, exhausted but long-haired, yummy-mummy gorgeous. Impresses the heck out of Grigori who has driven us to the airport to wait for her.

97-06-07 Saturday We catch the Flying Doplphin hydrofoil from Piraeus to various south-westerly ports. Eat picnic lunch on the dock when we arrive at Monemvasia. Hike across the mole to this Gibraltar of the Peloponesus. Visit the old town which we enter via the famous (and only) gate with the tricky zig-zag turn.


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97-06-07 - Cafe society, Monemvasia.

97-06-07 - Petite patio, Monemvasia.

97-06-07 - Monemvasia. (WC FX) We hang out in back alleys, cafes. This place is a living museum with strict standards of modernization. Everything must be tile, masonry, wrought iron. The cash-registers, however, are thoroughly modern.

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Up a switchback path to the fortified area above the town. This sturdy building looks like it might gave been a guard house, something military. It stands on a sloping plateau still ringed with vestigial walls to keep attackers out or tourists from falling off. All the way down to the boutiques far below.


97-06 - Powder magazine, Monemvasia.
Dimitri keeps an eye on a Greek Navy ship below.

- DR's personal powder magazine.

- FX
Merle at the summit, the ruins of a small building over her right shoulder.

97-06-07 - Agios Nikolaos, near Monemvasia.
Taxi ride up a pot-holed road to Agios Nicolaos, otherwise: "The Village". (They voted Royalist last election and are now being punished by the left-leaning roads department.) We're late. Zoe waits with folded arms.

97-06-08 - Agios Nikolaos, near Monemvasia.

97-06-08 Sunday Sketching on the patio this morning. Visit the church in Agios Nicolaos, an ancient building, said to be medieval. Missing glass in some upper windows allows pigeons free access. Apparently the building's maintenance budget needs topping up.

97-06-08 - At the beach, near Monemvasia.
PM: to the beach to collect bees. Swim. Derek gets too much sun while snoozing. A perfect triangular burn centred on his belly-button.

97-06-09 - Mani country.

97-06-09 - Tsikalia, Laconia.

97-06-09 - Window, Tsikalia.

97-06-09 Monday Head back from the village to Piraeus in Evaggelia's car. Tour the Mani on the way. Eerie, nearly deserted hill town, fortified towers. We wander the alleyways, looking at buildings and stonework.

The only sign of life is a dog barking in someone's yard. Adoni thinks these are weekend houses, maintained mostly by Athenians.


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- Athens, the acropolis.








- Mt Lycabettus on the horizon.

97-06-10 Tuesday To the Parthenon again with Merle and Miriam and Dimitri. We perch on the Areopagus rock listening to a tour guide lecture a visiting group from Japan. Our friend Jim Mayberry would find it amusing to join in and astonish them with his Japanese.


97-06-11 Wednesday Up at 5:00am to head north. Over the mountains to the plain of Thessaly.

To Litohoro for a lunch (3:45pm) of very large, very delicious beans. Visit a tiny, perfect castle on the seaside. Then up the side of Olympus to Stavros' B'n'B place for the night. Reconnaissance of the road to Prionia trail-head after supper. Misty-gray. Many axle-breaking rocks.

That evening, attending to the last business of the day, I'm peering out a crack in the outhouse door in the backyard at Stavros' place. A terrific bang and flash, kilometers away on the plain below Mt. Olympus, rocks me on my precarious foundation. Something streaks away into the air in an easterly direction over the Aegean.

I sincerely hope it isn't a missile heading for Turkey. Wouldn't want to be caught like this with my pants down in the middle of an international incident. Bangs at regular intervals that evening announce artillery practice with some serious weaponry at Litohoro army camp.

Mt. Olympus

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- Olympus, pan view near summit.

97-06-12 Thursday At breakfast, Stavros suggests we climb to the shelter above Prionia, stay the night, complete the ascent next day, well-rested. We drive to Prionia, park the car, lace up our climbing boots and begin the climb to the shelter, but decide to press on for the summit since the weather is perfect.

Merle and Derek turn back exhausted after 8 hours, 200m short, but enjoy superlative views. Miriam, Adoni and Dimitri press on and reach the Mytikas and Skolio summits. We all stay the night in the shelter along with a noisy crowd of German tourists.

97-06-13 Friday On wobbly legs, we stumble back down to the car in Prionia, after a night spent in damp wool blankets. A splash in the brook to refresh and then drive north to Dion. Temple of Isis. First century pipe organ in the museum. To the Hotel Veroi in Veria. A pleasant northern town of friendly-looking people, all of them out for an evening stroll.

97-06-14 Saturday Vergina, palace of Phillip II, Alex's dad. The Royal tombs are encased in an air-conditioned mausoleum. On to Meteora, where we climb to a monastery for the good of our souls (uplifting view, not prayers).

Macedonia, Meteora

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97-06-14 - Siatista, Macedonia.
Picturesque towns along the road home. Halvah at Pharsala at midnight, on the way back to Athens. An epic battle of western civilization was fought here. And we console ourselves with sweets.

But that was back in classical times. Tonight, all is quiet, except for a priest selling nic-nacs and candy. Raising money for a new church roof?

97-06-15 Sunday We catch the afternoon ferry to ...


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97-06-16 - Knossos, Crete

97-06-16 - Knossos, Crete. FX

97-06-16 Monday Arrive Heraklion at dawn. Bus to Knossos -- Evansville, Crete. The palace really is a labyrinth.

After visiting the museum back in Heraklion, and getting a better view of Minoan artwork, I regret that this happy-looking civilization should have been wiped out so completely. The guidebook, however, makes dark hints about human sacrifice in the City of Light. Sounds a little like sour grapes to me.

Bus to Sitea. Heroic scenery. The road-side flowers are incredible. David Rupp, of BrockU fame, and spouse are on an archaeological dig here.

97-06-17 - Sitia, Crete.

97-06-17 - Sitia, Crete.

97-06-17 Tuesday Walkabout in Sitea. Modern apartment buildings.

97-06-17 - Venetian Castle, Sitia, Crete.
Lunch in the courtyard. On the way back, can't find the Roman fish tanks mentioned in the guidebook. Shopping instead. Hot. Swimming in front of the hotel.

Back to the mainland.

97-06-18 Wednesday To Heraklion where we catch the ferry back to Piraeus.


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97-06-19 - Aphrodite and Pan, Nat. Arch. Museum, Athens.

97-06-19 - Big Julie and The Kid.

97-06-19 Thursday Arrive Piraeus 6:00am. To Athens to visit the National Archaelogical Museum. Can't find Socrates, my hero. 41 degrees Celsius.

97-06-20 Friday A dog fight at dawn in the street below our living room balcony where we are (not) sleeping. Miriam takes Adoni to the airport for his flight home. Car trouble, they get a taxi instead. Balcony. Hot enough to fry eggplant on the sidewalk below.


97-06-21 - Theatre.

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97-06-21 Saturday Up early to visit Epidauros with Grigori. Convalescent centre also. A speaker in centre stage can be heard in the upper seats. In a normal voice, I read to Merle from my diary to try it out. It works.

97-06-21 - Theatre, Epidauros.

At the site of the ancient Asclepian complex nearby, a frisson of recognition. A kind of waking dream.

Noticing door sills, with slots for door-posts all in a row, I'm startled to abruptly visualise the doors of sick rooms swinging open, visitors coming and going. Usually the old stones are only faceless wreckage to the tourist. But sometimes a single detail releases the catch on a mental jack-in-the-box, triggering a whole fountain of associations.


97-06-21 - Bougainvillia.

97-06-21 - Balcony.

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Walkabout and lunch in Nauplion. Hot. Grigori wonders why Derek won't take off his shirt. Derek wonders why Grigori isn't worried about sunburn. Or maybe Derek is embarassed at having an ectomorphic figure.

The Nauplion acropolis is reached by a covered, bomb-proof passage. This leads up from sea level to assure the safe delivery of supplies in wartime. Today the castle is reached by 899 steps which we don't have the time or the energy to attempt in the 40 degree heat.

Built by the Venetians in a few years before 1714, it cost mega-ducats, but fell to the Turks in 1715 after only 8 days siege. A picture postcard resort hotel with a small beach nestles in the shadow of the fortress.


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97-06-21 - The Lion Gate.
A most excellent portal for my collection.

We visit the Treasury of Atreus. And standing on the barren summit of the citadel, speculate on the life of the region. Miles of olive groves, then orange trees, dark green down to the sea.

Dimitri and I find some candles beside the entrance to an underground cistern. Also, matches in the boy-scout pockets of my rucksack. We centimetre our way down the stairs by flickering candle-light. At 15 metres depth, damp walls. Cool enough for long sleeves. Derek goes first (genetically expendable, according to Miriam), Dimitri next. We see nothing, really, only a gaping void ahead of us, sloping all the way down to Hades at 45 degrees. Say, what's that glowing down there in the stygian depths? Looks like a figure with a pitchfork.

Hmm, best pop back up to the surface and see if Merle and Grigori are looking for us. Or if they've even noticed that we've gone part way to hell.


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S07-12-03 - 97-06-21+

97-06-21 - Corinth. (WC FX)
Back to Athens through Corinth for a little comic relief.

97-06-21 - The Pillars of the Community, Corinth.
Acrocorinth, medieval fortifications in the background.

Pheidippides, or perhaps it was Richard Peters, years after having officially died, the triumphal winner of the first marathon from Marathon to Athens, reports meeting a certain statuesque Dacian princess in Corinth.

Or perhaps it was merely one of the lady's Judeo-Slavic descendants on a holiday from Canada. In any case, in his later years, Richard proclaims himself tired out from flirting with death by physical fitness every weekend; he's now decided to give up marathons and take up fictional travel writing instead. That way he can chase women-of-mystery all around the Agean.

97-06-21 - Main Street, Corinth.
Plenty of parking space.

97 - Figures in a landscape, Corinth.

97 - Lo-res pic, but cherished anyway.


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97-06-22 - New-Age Apollo Worshipper, Delphi.

97-06-22 Sunday To Delphi with Petro. Dimitri and Derek sacrifice at the Temple of Apollo alongside a New Age Woman of Mystery.

In the stadium, Dimitri sprints the length in 35 seconds. Derek walks it in 2:08. Heat-stressed, we do the Stations of the Cypress all the way up and down. Their dense shade gives us some relief from the glare.

Eptalophos, Parnassos

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Lunch in Eptalophos, the village of 7 mountains, near Parnassos. In the Greek Tyrol -- ski country.

Mystra, medieval church.

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Miriam's research site, nr Monemvasia

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It's been a rare day. Back in Piraeus and on the verge of returning to Canada, we decide to give out presents and thank our hostess, Evaggelia. As we crowd into the apartment babbling about the wonders of Delphi, I seize the chance to make the presentation:

"We've had a such wonderful time in Greece ... (Translate, Miriam, and stop improvising; this is my speech.) ... it's been a great experience, a religious experience almost ... such that we might become followers of the divine Apollo ... or, devotees of the Muses ... (I'm reaching for something here. Not quite sure what it is yet. Harumph, begin again, Derek.)

"Delphi was the last major archaeological site on our agenda today ... a fitting climax ... (Miriam, for once, seems to be having trouble with the translation, but the pauses are giving me plenty of time to wax rhetorical.) ... a high point, a summit ... (Here I draw a capital dthelta in the air and indicate its top point. Nice graphic, but now I'm stuck with the mountain image.)

"Although this gift can never quite reach the summit of your hospitality, Evaggelia ... (I'm remembering Olympus, perhaps?) ... it is, in itself, a peak of another feather ... (Ooops, too late to edit that one.) ... because I hold in my hand the very Parnassos of Canadian Wines ... (Here I present the bottle of premium ice wine that we've lugged all the way from the LCBO in St. Catharines.) ... which is, we hope, a fitting 'thank you' for all you've done to help make our trip a success. (Now I fall back exhausted, dripping sweat onto the couch.)"

She accepts the speech with good grace. (Apollo only knows what Greek words Miriam has, in effect, popped into her Daddy's wide open yap.) Daddy now decides it might be prudent to buzz off like a sweat bee and take a nice cool shower.

Afterwards, I have a long sit on the balcony in the coolth of the evening to meditate on the lively street life of Piraeus down below. One of us will have to nip down to that little retsina shop on the corner and restock.

97-06-24 - Miriam's Research Site.

97-06-23 Monday We sleep in and start out for Monemvasia late to avoid the Athenian rush hour. For Merle and I, this will be the final excursion of our trip. A climb to the citadel of Mystra, near Sparta, along the way. Temperature still in the 40s.

97-06-24 Tuesday We hang out in the village. Shopping in Molai, a town nearby. Swimming at the bee research site.

97-06-25 Wednesday Monemvasia. A swim under the city walls in crystal water amid chunks of Byzantine masonry fallen from the ramparts above. And again, later at the research site. This could become a regular way of life. While changing back to terrestrial clothing, a British woman strips off her bathing suit and dresses right beside me. Not exactly an erotic experience, but productive of warm fuzzies, nonetheless. Oh tempora, oh mores. When will this Euro-sensibility reach North America?

97-06-24 - The Wind in Her Tail Feathers.
And lovely tail feathers they are.

97-06-26 Thursday To Omai to catch the bus. Change at Sparta for Athens. Miriam and Dimitri stay back in the village to get on with their research.

97-06-24 - Venus de Merle-o.

Merle and Derek cope with Greek public transit on their own. Something incredibly ironic, sitting in the bus station in ancient Sparta, waiting for the coach to Athens. At Corinth, the bus driver exchanges a few punches with one of the lippier passengers. Seems almost like business as usual.

Grigori and Evaggelia meet us at the Athens bus station. That evening, we're unable to confirm our flight, no Athens phone numbers for our airline. We call Canada long distance. Press "1" for flights to Kapuskasing, "2" for flights to Yellowknife ...

97-07-27 Friday The flight is "confirmed" (but not corroborated) this morning for 10:55am. We set out for the airport at 7:00am with Evaggelia driving. Hot. She bids us fare-thee-well. Endless delays at the terminal, poorly explained by officialdom. Get to know the other frustrated passengers really well. Maybe they'll cancel the flight and we'll be stranded a week. What a fate ... Take-off at 4:55pm -- six hours late. Soaring up the coast of Italy by 5:30. Straight Roman roads visible from the air. Miriam and Dimitri are probably in swimming by now.


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97-06-28+ - I think it's an acanthus.
Anyway, looks like something we saw in Greece.

97-06-28 Saturday Woodside Drive. My May 29th sense of foreboding is amply confirmed -- we're back home again. Damn cold last night: up a 12-mile Creek, out on a limb in the boreal forest, lost in Outer-Macedonia without any retsina, but we sleep anyway, like two bumps on a log (or rather, like two bumps on two logs. What I mean is, one bump on each log, giving a total of two? ... Oh, forget it!)

Disconsolate and inarticulate at the loss of sunlight, lack of 40 degree heat, no salt water and a missing diet of ruins three times a day, we take us downtown to the St. Catharines open-air Market to comfort us with apples, veggies, and flowers. Severely jet-lagged, but already beginning to reminisce about our trip.


97-06 - Pireas

98? - Madeira.
Has that Mediterranean look. Maybe Cinqueterre, or Sorrento Italy, some day? Or maybe Malta.

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