I first went to Greece in 1979 with the love of my life. We went to the Island of Paros in an attempt to rescue our relationship. Dear reader, it didn’t work. The only photographs I took were on a really crummy Instamatic and they are either too personal or too bad to appear here.
30yrs later, after my Father had died, my Mother told me that, before he died, he had asked her to give me enough money to go on ‘one of my trips’…anywhere I liked. Wow, what a parting gift. I struggled with overchoice and the fact that I had become my Mothers primary carer. I was still feeling rather numb after my fathers death and wasn’t really up for anything too challenging. Ethiopia was the place I really wanted to go to but my need for solace and something a bit more familiar was what drove my decision to go to Greece. I got the guide book that covers the whole of Greece and one area stood out…The Peloponnese.
Much less visited than the Islands and with a wide variety of landscapes and climates, it also had the added attraction of being where two famous Travel Writers had chosen to live and be buried. It’s Patrick Leigh Fermor, however, that has captured the imagination of Greeks. Immortalised by Dirk Bogarde in the film “Those Who Dare”, in which Dirk Bogarde plays the part of an Englishman [based on Patrick Leigh Fermor] during the 2nd World War, who works with the locals on Crete to capture a high ranking German Officer. It’s a good film and I recommend it. At the time of my first visit he was still living in Kardamyli where I ate at Lela’s Taverna. Lela was Patrick Leigh Fermors housekeeper and ran this wonderful Taverna with her English Public School educated grandson. It was him who persuaded his grandmother to let me take her portrait. Sadly, both Lela and her grandson have since died, and so has Patrick Leigh Fermor.
My other guiding principle on this trip was that I knew my Father would have loved to go there and just to pile on the emotional load that I carried around the Peloponnese with me, my nephew, Paul, who had died at the age of 19 the year before, was the reason I was carrying a brand new Digital camera with me. The quality of the images it takes are way beyond anything I’ve used in the past. I hope I used it well.
The Peloponnese did more than absorb my pain…it lifted me up. It’s a glorious place with wonderful people and I loved it so much that I went back in 2016 with my godson, Robert. The first time I had travelled with someone else for over 30yrs. The ‘selfie’ [my first], that Robert took on his smart phone, speaks volumes about how much we enjoyed it. I could live there. I really could.
I know this preface is imbued with the loss of loved ones but it’s a testament to Greece and it’s people that I came away from that first trip with the desire to go back there as soon as possible. And last but not least, the Greek people have been through a dreadful time in recent years and if I was going to spend my money anywhere, I wanted it to be there.