|From Greece 09|
We've fitted in a great deal in a short time; the ruins of Mycenae yesterday and today we visited Epidaurus – the highlight being an enormous theatre which seated 1400 people. Despite its undoubted majesty the structure was literally a side show for the main event, which was a complex of buildings set up to heal the sick. The key healing ingredient was apparently a labyrinth filled with snakes; the sick would crawl about in the dark being bitten and so (incredibly) healed. Everyone believed it was the sacred snakes that did the trick, so much so that Rome sent for one when suffering the plague. But in reality the healing was being achieved by the canny Greek doctors who separated the infectious from the recovering and groped towards a proper understanding of medicine. An inscription at Epidaurus warns of the dire consequences if their fee didn't get paid. Physicians haven't changed in 2300 years.
Spent the night in a hotel with paper thin walls and decor unchanged since 1952. Was awakened by an unsilenced motorbike. I lay semi conscious, a bit hungover, as snoring from a neighbour (NOT Ms T) echoed through the walls.
But today is Greek Independence day. I had already seen the first small boy in national costume by 8.30am. Ms T and I debated what our national costume might be. A shell suit, a soccer shirt and a permanent sneer maybe. But here the bunting has come out, the local national service boys are marching on the seafront, and I suspect a party may be in the offing - notwithstanding the weather, which has gone a bit cloudy.
After driving for hours round hairpin bends etched into the side of mountains we've fetched up in a small village on the coast, sleeping in one of Alastair Sawday's 'Nice Places to Stay For Middle Class People' (It's not actually called that, but it might as well be.) We'd had lovely weather to explore the coast but as we checked in the clouds gathered and rain lashed the small fishing hut where we drank our beers and ouzo.
I think they've been watching Gordon Ramsay round here. Last night a shouty restaurant owner told me to eat my boiled Broccoli.
On the brighter side the coast is really incredibly pretty, and full of interesting shrines, fortified towers and the remains of Ancient Roman settlements - and best of all there's virtually nobody here. And the weather this morning is glorious. I keep thinking of touring holidays my mum and dad used to go on in the Highlands, mum striding about the heather, clad in brown anorak and headscarf.