Sunday, 2 March 2014

A bus journey across Greece

Achileos Street, Athens
The Parthenon in the distance
 Kostas, our taxi driver, looks like a younger version of Michael Douglas.

'Thank you,' he says, flicking his shoulder length hair when I tell him. 'He is more handsome than me. My wife, if I tell her customer say that, she kill me.'

He drops us off at the Athens bus station after telling us the politicians are corrupt.

'We have same family, same bad for thirty or forty years. How can we have good with same politic?'

He apologises for his poor English.

'It's much better than our Greek,' we say.

The bus station is full of noise and lots going on. A gypsy woman tries to sell me tissues and points to her stomach saying 'baby'. And then an Asian man goes by, selling bagels. The only person to get any money is the man with his long stick of lottery tickets
There are whistles of guards, trundling cases and trolleys, bus engines throbbing, horns honking and people lined up for destinations all over Greece. They look poor, and that's because they are. Shoes, coats and the look in their eyes say it all.

A bus station dog, a long-nosed Labrador-cross, pads past and saunters into the betting shop, tail wagging. But he's out of luck and heads down the platform.

And then our nine-hour journey begins. It's raining hard on the first day of spring.

Stalls of colourful kites in all shapes and sizes line the rainy roadsides beyond Athens. They're selling them for Clean Monday, a public holiday in Greece which marks the start of Lent.

And as we pull up to the toll booths at the beginning of the motorway to Corinth, the pure blue and white of the national flag of Greece flutters side by side with the red and black bastardised swastikas-but-not-swastikas of New Dawn. The party's shaven-headed faithful are handing out leaflets to passing motorists.

The sight hits me in the breastbone. I feel physically sick.

We cross the bridge over the Gulf of Patras and head north.
Hours later, we disembark from the ferry Kerkyra after our voyage across the Corfu Channel from Igoumenitsa. It's still raining hard and we head for the bus station where we hear the deep, gruff voice of our neighbour who is giving us a lift back to the village.

And when we arrive at our house, some flowers and a nice bottle of home made red wine is waiting for us.
A quick trip to the kafenion for an ouzo before it closes and then baked feta, beef pastitsada and half a litre of red at the oldest taverna in the village, still serving food well after ten o'clock.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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