Following great swathes of the old Orient Express route on sleeper trains, a hint of murder and romance in the air. Stop-overs in the grand European cities of Empires’ past.
Or on rural trains through fields and plains in those mysterious regions between the Vienna Woods and the Black Sea.
A long detour round the back of Europe.
Describing the stage and halts, background and conclusions, of journeys through mainland Greece and the islands.
From the countryside to the buildings to the beaches; the customs and the habits; the best bars to have a quiet glass of tsipouro or personal favourite places to gorge on souvlaki.
Living momentoes from wanderings around Greece.
Hopefully they can be a guide for some other visitors. Or otherwise, just serve as a chance for reflection on the people and place, so as not to forget rambles around the country…
Britain is blown out like a candle and the blue really begins as we head towards a new life on the island of Corfu.
But what is lying in store for us on this extraordinary Ionian archipelago? What do the people of Corfu really do here throughout the whole year when the tourists aren’t looking? And can man-made Corfu and the tempestuous Corfiots ever live up to the incredible nature that surrounds them here in the ‘Garden of Greece’?
4 stories from a new life on a Greek island.
Before setting off for a new life in Greece, I’m talked into taking a tour of Britain. Visiting many places in the country for the first time – places I’d heard of, made assumptions about, but never really bothered to visit – it was a chance to see my country in a whole new way. And also through the eyes of my accompanying Greek Passepartout.
So a last chance to see. Which turned out to be so much more…
I had never really thought of Greece before. I knew others went there, but my family summer holidays were taken without fail at home, in Llundudno in the rain. All this changed quite suddenly and irrevocably though, when I met a rather quiet, unhappy looking, beautiful Greek girl who had come to teach in a summer school in Winchester.
Within a year I was with her, slogging my way to the top of Mount Olympus with a ring in my pocket and Greece, its people, its culture, its landscape, its refusal to be like anywhere else, indelibly in my mind.
Then there were the students.
As, like thousands before me, my dreams of writing the great lost novel in a Parisian pavement café went only as far as spotting great looking cafes around town in which I could picture myself sat in the window, café crème at my elbow, chewing the end of a pencil, gazing into the middle distance. I wrote nothing of course. So, like the last refuge of the scoundrel, the stranded abroad and the stony broke, I turned once again to the TEFL world.
A sober-suited businessman walking hand in hand through Yoygoi Park conducting a serious conversation with his wife, his wife resplendent in a pink panda costume.
Travelling on the metro to the grand sumo tournament at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, wedged between two colossal wrestlers, competing later, dressed in their floral competition dressing gowns.
Stopping at a café only to be confronted by the sight of 60 or so different cats spreading and lounging on every surface provided for the enjoyment of the cat-banned patrons whose landlords won’t allow them their favourite pet.
We could only be in Tokyo.
Where do you go when the world has become your oyster?
This is the dilemma I am faced with as I leave the teaching training college in Oxford 4 weeks after I first entered and £1000 pounds lighter, but armed with great ideas of travel and a CELTA certificate: the teaching qualification recognised around the world which will enable me to teach English as a foreign language.
Being a man riddled with indecision and certain in only one thing – that any choice I do make will undoubtedly be the wrong one – I am saved the agony of deciding which sun drenched, paradise beached, country I will go to to teach the natives past perfect participles when I am told of a company who will do the deciding for me.