Saturday, 24 March 2012

"Please finish your conversation"

I love travel but απεχθάνομαι τον τουρισμό. Ελλάδα θέλω να τον εαυτό μου...but this is good.
In just 20 days, Up Greek Tourism surpassed its goal by raising $20,352 from private individuals to fund an advertisement for Greece. About 50% of the supporters were located outside Greece, including Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UAE, UK and USA. The project - to make this film and display it on a billboard in Times Square, New York - was managed by Greeks around the world on a voluntary basis, with no budget or hired professionals, crowd-funded. Using LoudSauce as its platform, the campaign was mainly promoted via social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter showing on Vimeo and Youtube
I know about inventing paradise. Byron, Μπαϊρον, who came first in 1809 called her 'the wondrous land'; sailed to Greece in the brig Hercules in 1823, arrived at Kefalonia on the 4th August, to die at Mesolóngi eight months later. I first came to Greece, to Athens, by train via Venice in 1957, but in 1962 I sailed to Greece from England with a friend. In July we left Messina in Sicily. The first morning of our two day crossing - on Danica ...
   ...bouncing and swaying on a swift etesian reach; came on our reverse, a sleek Greek frigate cutting smoothly through the cresting waves, heading west. In return to our salute she dipped her flag to us. My chest swells at the memory of seeing that lovely ensign falling and rising again in the seconds of her passing as though official Greece was saying "yasus" - just to us. Next morning we made Byron's landfall. Shapes - north and south - that appeared and disappeared and might have been no more than dawn shadows - though we knew otherwise - lay before us. All day, in zephyrs, we sailed towards them, passed between, and anchored off Killini in Ilia where we rowed ashore to be sat at a table (my memory is flawed by so many photos of Greek chairs), offered ouzikis and welcoming curiosity, before a polite policeman - reproached by our hosts - "po, po, po" - told us we were supposed to clear at Patras, but "please finish your conversation."
That was 50 years ago. My 70th birthday is next Thursday, we expect our first grandson in a few days, and for nearly half the year I wake to see Epirus in mother Greece from Ano Korakiana across the Sea of Kerkyra.

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