Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back in Greece

Taken through a rather salt-encrusted ferry window this is a pic of the sun rising over the Albanian mountains yesterday morning.

After starting in Suffolk on Sunday night I finally reached the Peloponnese yesterday afternoon, and still faced a 3.5 hour drive down to the Mani. Whilst I enjoyed most of the journey, it's not a trip I'd recommend taking on your own; at least not as quickly as I did it.

Driving down to the Mani, however, was a joy. It occurred to me that I even need a map when driving round Britain, let alone the rest of Europe, but as soon as I hit the Peloponnese I knew exactly where I was going. It felt like coming home. I wandered down to my local kafenion for a bite to eat and drink last evening, and found many of the old faces still sitting there. Greek tomatoes were as delicious as my memory always tells me, as was the pasto (cold smoked pork). Although I'm here to work, I'm going to have plenty of fun rediscovering people, places and things . . .

Monday, July 23, 2012

Right, so I've made it as far as Munich with only a few minor hiccups (Luik & Lieges are the same place it seems).

Whilst I'm here I just wanted to push anyone with an interest in Patrick Leigh Fermor in the direction of this blog. My post from below went live today and an interesting discussion on the merits (or not) of guidebooks is developing.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I seem to know a fair few people that walk across Europe, so just setting off to drive to Greece seems a bit lazy. Still, I'm on a deadline and work beckons. In three hours time I'm setting off to spend the summer in the Peloponnese, researching the new edition of my guidebook. I'm getting to the continent on the Eurotunnel and then driving to Munich, hoping to arrive some time Monday afternoon. The rest of the family is flying there and spending a week with relatives before flying on to Greece. I head on again early the next morning, south into Italy where I will get the ferry from Ancona. A night crossing the Adriatic takes me to the northern Peloponnese by Wednesday afternoon. From there it's a relatively short 4.5 hour drive down to the Mani where a meso-kilo of rosé awaits. I'll update and write more whenever I can.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's been a long gap, but I'm just off to Greece for 6 weeks and hope to have a bit more time to post. I'll be updating a guidebook, but thought I'd start with a quick explanation of how I got to love Greece in the first place, and also to mention, as promised ages ago, a bit more about Paddy Leigh Fermor:

            There are people who always seem to be fated to end up in their eventual career; children whose endless games of doctors and nurses or Lego translate into later careers in medicine or engineering. I used to think that I didn’t fit into this category, but now I’m not so sure.
            In a week’s time I head out to the Peloponnese, the southern mainland of Greece, to complete the research to the second edition of my guide to the area, due to be published in early 2013 by the award-winning publishers Bradt. The first edition was written whilst I lived in the area, and whilst my daughter, who was born in Kalamata, grew up. Now I’m heading back for six weeks to show her where she comes from, and to introduce her one-year-old brother (middle name Telemachus) to the country.
            How I ended up doing this seems to be due to huge smatterings of good luck and coincidence; but thinking about it there was an element of fate involved. This was mainly due to my mum, who instilled in me an early love of Greek mythology and history. It was also on her shelves that I first found the books of Paddy Leigh Fermor. I must have been about 14 at the time, and I devoured them. This quickly led to backpacking trips round Greece, sleeping in olive groves and abandoned tower houses, and eventually working there as a teacher, tour guide and writer.
            Fate continued to intervene and my small family ended up living in a house on the headland above Kalamitsi bay, where Paddy had built his beautiful Greek house. In truth I had never really wanted to meet him, expectations are too easily let down, but in the end it seemed inevitable. He turned out to be just as affable, engaging and generous as the books would lead you to think.
He wasn’t really that keen on the idea of a guidebook to the Peloponnese, and I do see his point; but it was his books that guided me there. I think that if people are to travel, then a least they should travel with knowledge and understanding.
I’m pretty proud of my book, and hope to spend the next few weeks making it even better.