Greece Is The Word!

I only got called a "malaka" once on our recent holiday in Greece. If you’re not familiar with this notorious Greek M-Word you can look up the exact definition on the interwebs, but if you’re easily shocked maybe give it a miss.

And miss is what I did, but only just, as I cruised past an Athenian road worker in our rented Nissan. His shout of abuse was well and truly justified even though there was at least 2 centimetres of breathing room between this Son of Hellas and the rubber of my right wheel. If only they had put the steering wheel on the correct side of the car the whole unfortunate incident could have been avoided.

It’s a challenge to change habits ingrained over half a century but my brain gradually adapted to driving on the right-hand side of the road and overtaking on the left. I kept telling myself how beneficial it was to build new neural pathways. There’s nothing like trying to survive the highways of mainland Greece to help ward off cognitive decline.

I soon learned that in Greece the speed limit is treated as a suggestion to be ignored. And you must always have your credit card ready as the number of toll booths in Greece even exceeds the number of close ups of Brad Pitt pouting in the movie Troy, which my daughter Brodie and I watched as pre-trip prep.

If you go to Greece you are going to see a lot of old stuff. Ancient Greek History was one of my majors at Uni so I couldn’t get enough of eyeballing the remains of so many things I had studied many years ago. Can you ever see too many statues with half a face and arms that end at the elbows? By the beard of Zeus, I say not!

One historical highlight was an installation at the Museum of Ioannina, where a tracking light illuminated the details of a relief that told the story of King Priam of Troy visiting the tent of Greek tough guy Achilles to beg him for the body of Hector, his eldest son, whom Achilles had killed and then dragged back to his camp as revenge for Hector slaying his close friend Patroclus. A cheerful tale. Achilles did have a bit of a Pitt pout happening.

Looking at this relief and hundreds of other artefacts, it really struck me how the history of humanity is the history of both creativity and destruction. For every cute clay creature holding a drinking vessel my wife Anna and I would see in a museum there would be a weapon for waging war on display in another cabinet.

Sadly we have got even better at killing each other over the last two or three thousand years. But our impulse to create beauty and to connect through art endures. I still believe creativity will win the day. One day.

This Greece trip was the honeymoon that Anna and I never had. Brodie, who has been travelling in Europe, joined us for part of the journey. Son Michael kindly looked after our beloved Milo for a month which made the whole thing possible.

Anna and I concluded our odyssey at the restaurant on top of the Acropolis Museum, our backdrop was the iconic Parthenon. It may have taken three decades to happen, but as honeymoons go, well, I think even Aphrodite, the goddess of love, would have said “Not bad mortals, not bad at all.”

Anthony Ackroyd

©Anthony Ackroyd 2023

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