15th June 2006
I got up this morning and went down to the Mezzanine level of the hotel for breakfast, again as I sat there and ate, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. The fact that the breakfast was much like the ones we had been served on tour in Egypt didn’t help matters either, it only reminded me of Ramez who my parents said I wouldn’t give a second thought, but who I missed terribly. I ate my breakfast and then attempted to go and find a proper power adaptor, unfortunately everything was still closed, so I went back up to my room and got my suitcase and waited outside the hotel to be picked up by my “Grand Tour of Greece.” I waited for about twenty minutes before an older man, with white hair and a friendly face yelled out “Grand Tour of Greece!” I walked over to him and gave him my voucher and I was led up the street to a big fancy silver bus that was waiting. The man took my suitcase and stored it in the baggage hold and then we went to pick up more passengers.
After we had driven around Athens collecting people from their hotels, our guide picked up the microphone and introduced himself as “Antones” and gave us all a run down on what we were in for. There were two tour groups on the bus, there were people doing a three day tour, who would be picked up by another bus and taken back to Athens once we reached Delphi and the rest of us were doing the “Off the beaten track” tour as Antones put it which went all over Greece and up to Macedonia, this was the tour I was doing.
We drove out of Athens and headed for Corinth; our first stop was the Corinth Canal. All the way there Antones talked about Greece, he was very well informed and seemed to have much to say to us. We drove past the beautiful Bay of Salamis where the great naval battle between the Persians and the Greeks was fought in the 5th century BC. We reached the canal, which is cut right through the Isthmus of Greece, which separates Peloponnese (the hand) from the main part of Greece. The Canal was truly a grand feat of engineering, and I stood on the bridge in the middle getting blown to bits, I saw small boats passing through this giant structure hewn from the rock. There were a few souvenir shops lurking around the canal, so I bought myself some postcards and after our short stop we were off again.
After a little more driving and some magnificent scenery, we reached Epidaurus. Here was the best-preserved theatre in all of Greece, we got our tickets and then walked up to the theatre and that was when it hit me, everything in Greece was either going to be on a hill or in a valley, there was going to be a lot of climbing and walking on this part of the trip. I knew this before I started and had exercised myself before I left in preparation for this, but now I was only just beginning to realise that there was going to be a lot of hard work involved.
Epidaurus was magnificent; Antones walked us around and told us that the acoustics were so good in the ancient theatre that from the very back you could hear the sound of a piece of paper being torn up from the centre stage. I climbed right to the top of the theatre, which was no small feat as the higher you went the more the seating deteriorated. I managed to take a few pictures; I had only just discovered that my camera had an “Auto” function and that I could in fact, take pictures of myself. I sat on one of the ancient seats and watched the people who were on the stage and wondered what it was like to have watched a play like The Clouds by Aristophanes here.
The Asklepion, one of the very first hospitals was also here, which wasn’t on the tour, but I went and had a look at through the fence anyway.