Greek elections - October 1981

My first visit to Greece was in October 1981. What with the over-crowded ferries and closed tavernas it is a wonder that I ever returned. But I did, again and again and again! These are some notes from that first visit that relate to the impact of elections on my trip.


Monday__. Boat booked for Paros. Huddle of would be passengers scan horizon for boat. A dinghy towing a smaller boat comes into view. "That's it, third class at the back," shouted one wag. "And there's the food," added another as a polythene sack of oats landed at our feet. No need to have worried, though, as a small modern boat soon arrived.

I was in Greece during the week preceding the elections. Each of the eight or so main parties took over a cafe in each town. And pop music and propaganda were broadcast all day. Paroika sea front was full of these cafes, all competing to be heard. An off putting introduction to an attractive island.

I later travelled down to Santorini.

Saturday. Catch bus at some unearthly hour for port. These buses must have elastic walls. Equally crowded boat. Hardly any standing room. The day before the election and the islanders are heading home to Athens to vote. Twelve hours of crush in a windy boat. Best forgotten. In Athens a dinner of kebab.

Sunday. Up early to see the changing of the guard at President's Palace. Then down to Plaka to see the flea market. Shops all closed and lots of puzzled tourists walking around. Shut for the elections. Look for breakfast. All cafes closed. Museums closed. At the Archaeological Museum I see a sign to the effect that open on Monday (the usual closing day). Take underground to northern suburb of Kiffissia. Not much to see. Most impressed by dolphins on cast iron lamp posts. Down to Acropolis. Site closed. See sunset. To Plaka. Find one restaurant, and that closed at 8 p.m. "We want to see election results."

Monday. Breakfast in cafe of one of the department stores. To Archaeological Museum. Still closed. Get in to Benaki Museum. Very good. So much to see in a non-institutional atmosphere. To Olympeion and other sites I missed in first day. Souvenir hunt. Early dinner and stagger with luggage to Syntagma Square for Airport bus.