Ancient Greek Tour

Trip Start Apr 30, 1984
Trip End May 07, 1984

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Flag of Greece  , Epirus,
Saturday, May 5, 1984

On this day we were joining in a classical tour of part of the Greek mainland.
Joining the coach at the bottom of our hill, we travelled to a ferry, there picking up our guide, a nice lady called Pippa, who had started up these trips alone with one other girl.
Pippa had extensive knowledge of an amazing variety of subjects.
We reached the Greek mainland at Igoumenitsa and then headed southward.
The terrain was more barren than Corfu.
We passed a stork nesting high on a telegraph pole and coypu's swimming in the marshes.

Our first stop was an amazing place on a hilltop called The Oracle of the Dead.
In years long past, when someone had a question they wanted answering,they came to this strange place to contact the spirits of the dead and find out their answer. This was certainly not an easy procedure. Previously the hill had bee surrounded by foul marshland and was difficult to get to.
The original building was cut into the hill and was roofed over, but now was in ruins and the roof long gone. As we walked about I could feel the vibrations of the place.
In that first dark room, the pilgrim would be brought by a priest, to prepare to enter Hades. He would be fed hallucinating foods, such as poppy seeds, to prepare him mentally. For days even he would be there hallucinating in the dark as the priest prayed constantly by his side.
After the long preparation the pilgrim was washed and taken into the sacrificial room where a sacrificed animal would be offered up to the gods and its meat eaten.
Then he would go into Hades itself and for the first time be left alone.
We were allowed to explore the room that had been Hades, which was still covered and in darkness.
In the final room the priest would return and the spirits would come to give their answer.
That last room had such a strange feeling that I couldn't stay in it. I said nothing to anyone else, but the guide then told us of strange happenings to other people who had been there. One man had fainted, and another, who was a medium, had developed boils on his face which disappeared, to everyone's amazement, when he left the room.

I picked flowers at every place we stopped, they being so varied and beautiful.
We stopped to lunch at a seaside tavern, eating feta cheese and baclava, which was a Greek pastry soaked in honey.
Our next stop was the ancient Roman city of Nicopolis, where we were shown an amazing theatre, an early church and Roman baths.

Then, driving upwards, by a forest of fir, to the crop of a hill, we came upon the even older ruins of the Greek city of Cassiopeia. This place was amazing to explore and to imagine what it had once been like. Mike and I climbed the hills above to get an overall view.
I found a tortoise crawling around, quite an old one I think by the size of its shell.
Walking back down the hill I spied a broken old shell in the earth. My friend Cath had asked me to bring her back a shell, and not having seen any on Corfu's beaches, I dug this one out of the earth, and also selected a pine cone from the woods.
High on the mountain top there was a line of high white statues, marking an event when a group of women and children, fleeing from the Turks, had leapt to their deaths on the rocks below.
This being the last of our sites, we journeyed back up north, stopping for drinks at a tavern along the way.

I noticed that two middle class socialist women were being critical of the way Pippa, the guide, had put too much of herself into her talks. Well, I had found her presentation most interesting and thought she had done an excellent job. On the ferry back those women sat near us so we overheard their non stop criticism, which I could see was upsetting Pippa.
I made a point of telling Pippa how fantastic her tour had been.
Pippa left us, but on the coach back the foul mouthed women still criticised her in their high vocals, and with the atmosphere getting ugly and tense, it was a relief when the driver put some music on.
It was dark now and we decided to go down to the Kaiser Bridge for a meal.
Two old ladies, who had seen us on the Paleo trip, invited us to join them in a music and disco venue. We sat with them, and when the Greek dancing started up we joined in, more Greek steps to get the hang of, and even going over and under a table during the dance.

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