Welcome to our blog!

It's better than a bat in the eye with a burnt stick!

This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Leaving Greece

Saturday, May 7th., Lloyd Triestino Steamer 'Feodora', at sea, between Athens and Constantinople.

All roads in Greece are dusty (one hears) except the one that leads from Athens to the sea. This road is long and wide and straight and tarred and shiny - and dustless.

Unfortunately it is not endless. As soon as it reaches the sea it becomes something else, namely a switchback skirting the sea for miles and sunk three or four inches in pungently active dust. In time you perceive that you are entering a town, with suburbs more ragged and less finished than even the suburbs of Athens or Paris. Then you are on a high street, majestic with offices, shops and cinemas, then back into slums and clouds of flying matter; and then in the upshot you see water. You are in the port of Piraeus, Piraeus being in this instance not a sheet of water but a city.

You see steamers, many steamers, very many steamers: all the home and foreign shipping of all Greece: an inspiring sight. The confusion proper to a semi-Oriental port: beggars, officials, loafers, boatmen, more officials, embassy cars rolling down with beautiful women, tourists, American accents, English accents, German accents, quarrelling, protestations, exhortations, imprecations, heard faintly through the dust.

It is in the yacht's launch, flying the British ensign, that, threading through hundreds of row-boats, you reach the Lloyd-Triestino steamer.

The Teodora would be quite a small steamer - on the Atlantic. here she is large; indeed 8,000 tons. The traditional phrase "dirty little Italian steamer" has ceased to be apposite. Italian shipping is about as good as any. That which has happened to Italian railways has also happened to Italian shipping. After the hurly-burly of departing is over, and the sellers of collections of foreign stamps, and the cheating money-changers, and the cigarette sellers who ask for a tip, have left the ship, you soon perceive that the Teodora is well run, and exceedingly orderly; and decorated in a touching, demode, simple style which appeals successfully to your sympathetic imagination. You perceive further, at the first meal, that she has the incomparable advantage of carrying no orchestra: she does, nevertheless, carry a barber and a cinema. No food could be more charmingly presented, and no service could be better or more urbane or delightful, no bathrooms hotter, and no pillows harder, than the Teodora's.

The ship left at 5.48, only 18 minutes late. Lovely afternoon and dusk. Smooth sea. Light wind. Lovely view of Piraeus on leaving, and marvellous views of the Acropolis half an hour later. The general atmosphere of the ship was tres sympathique. A heavenly night. Our lot played just as much cards as usual.

No comments:

Post a Comment