Well the journey is over. Yesterday we managed to drive through Athens without a map or a GPS system and find Glyfada and today the Suzuki has sailed away to Cyprus on Salamis Lines.
Of course it wasn’t plain sailing all the way. Athenians drive like bats out of hell and I was relying on screen shots taken off Google Maps to find our way . Supposedly we were to drive along the coast avoiding Athens altogether so it was somewhat of a surprise to see the Acropolis up on it’s hill as we entered the centre of Athens.
With this week being the anniversary of the Battle of Arnheim which spawned the movie A Bridge Too Far this last bit of the trip was definitely our lamb chop too far.
I told you Greek cooking wasn’t too great didn’t I ? Geraldine says after the trip so far I am beginning to bleat.
The production designer for the movie was Terrance Marsh and he is married to a girl who was once my babysitter. In 1976 he was busy designing the set for A Bridge Too Far and had it all laid out as a model in his attic . I had met Sandra on a London street quite by chance. Come for drinks tomorrow she said and I did.
As I sat on the sofa in their large house in leafy Sheen I saw on the mantlepiece two gold statues. Hang on I thought those things look familiar . Are they ? I asked. Yes said Sandra they really are Oscars hold one if you want, most people do ! I stood in front of their fireplace holding Terry’s two Oscars one for Oliver and one for my favourite movie of all time Dr. Zhivargo whilst imagining the announcer saying “and the Oscar goes to Mike Jones for …………..”
Driving through the centre of Athens whilst screaming blue murder at each other I was still able to see first hand the effects of the “terrible” ” vicious” cuts the Greeks have been going on about. Everywhere so far has been booming but all Greeks we asked said wait till you see Athens then you will realise the enormity of the problem. A couple of Brits in Gythio we were having a drink with said the same. You have just come from there ? I enquired. No no but we have read the English newspapers and they were full of it. Hmm.
Well there were no beggars on the streets unlike London nor many shops closed. Restaurants we passed at 3 p.m. were packed, cafes were overflowing and the cars and what cars, Audi, Porche, Mercedes, BMW oh hang on they all have one thing in common they are all German. Well well.
If this is the Troika then I want in. Italy should want in too. If this is death by a thousand cuts then start slashing me. The drive up from the Peloponnese and the drive to the port of Lavrio is past millions of summer homes for Athenians . The hotels are full not with foreign tourists but Greek tourists. There is not a bed to be had in Athens for love nor money nor on the coast. The Brits and the Germans have all gone back to work leaving the locals to enjoy their longer vacations.
Last night we queued to get into a restaurant that had been full from 6.30 p.m. when we walked past in search of a beer and was still full when we left at 11.30 p.m. having eaten.
Prices are eye watering . €4 for a cappuccino in a cafe, €12 for a 500 ml bottle of local beer €14 for a foreign one. Yet you queue to get into a cafe and cannot get near a bar to get the overpriced beer. The places are just packed with Greeks spending money. In the bar last night the Greeks were booing the TV newscaster. She was announcing that the IMF had discovered that billions of euros in initial loans had been illegally taken by politicians to line their own pockets and the IMF wants the money back. The same politicians have said they will need to raise taxes to do it. Once the newscast was over everyone bought their €12 beers or €18 cocktails whilst continuing to argue the unfairness of the IMF. They are killing us they moaned into their beers. We will take to the streets next week once we have closed up the summer home and put the boat in dry dock.
Renzi’s threat to call in the Troika if he doesn’t get his way seems pretty stupid from this side of the Med I have to say. Bring them on I’ll have an Audi please.