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 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
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
S07-12-03 - 97-06-05
97-06-05 Thursday To the Cycladic Museum, and afterwards, we climb Mt.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
- 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).
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 ...
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Lunch in Eptalophos, the village of 7 mountains, near Parnassos. In the Greek Tyrol -- ski country.
Mystra, medieval church.
Miriam's research site, nr Monemvasia
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
"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
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.
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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