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Two Roving Englishwomen

in Greece










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§X. Jhmstnn's ijottse

Fetter Lane, Fleet Street, E.C.

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To the majority of English people, Greece is still
a terra incognita, and to that fact alone can be
attributed the wide-spread belief in the dangers
encountered by the traveller in that kingdom.
On my friend (Edith Payne) and I announcing
our intention of starting off by ourselves to Greece,
the general opinion seemed to be that we were
going out to be murdered ; or, if it did not come
to murder, that we should get into some hobble out
of which it would take at least a modern Perseus to
deliver us. Our experience taught us that Greece
was a charming country in which to travel, and if
we did encounter danger, that was purely of our
own courting.

In the spelling of Greek names every writer
appears to take out his own patent, but as I
could only draw from the Fountain of Ignorance,
it has been my endeavour to give the names spelt
in the way that we found of the most practical use.

W3A 3310

viii Preface.

Likewise, in the same spirit, I have tried to refresh
the memory with the common traditions con-
nected with those places, and which will not always
come when they are called. Thessaly being very-
dear to us and almost an unknown country, my
pen may have lingered there too long, but for
this and the many blemishes that I fear do figure
in these pages, I can only throw up my hands
to a generous public and cry " Tobah ! " trusting
that my sins of omission and commission may find
exoneration in the desire to portray faithfully a
glance at a state of society that is fast being swept
out of Greece by the advancement of railways and
the introduction of Western ideas of civilization.

I am indebted to the exceeding kindness of Miss
Eggar for the spirited frontispiece, in which she
has portrayed with wonderful accuracy the dress
and character of " Ariel," the chief of our guard to
the monasteries of Meteora.

The rest of the illustrations are reproductions of
some of my sketches.

I. J. A.






About the Greek — Facts and thoughts . . . . i


Land at Patras— Railway to Olympia — Stay at a Greek
inn : its domestic economy — Primitive ideas of
Leonidos with regard to cleanliness — The Museum
and the ruins — The last days of Olympia . .it


La vie saavage — Beautiful scenery between Olympia
and Andritsaena — Pass through Krestenaand Greka
— White heath and red anemones — Arrive in the
dark — Strange quarters — The young student — We
sleep on the floor 36


Give up Phigaleia on account of the rain — Stony road to
Bassas — Splendid situation of the temple, and utter
desolation of the spot — We go without escort —
Grisly experiences— Are received by the priest's
wife at Andritsaena — Our mistakes in etiquette —
Return to Olympia 58


Our classic wash — The last of Olympia — From Patras
to Athens — Sikyon — Old Corinth and its acropolis —
Akro-Korinthos — Isthmian Wall and the Canal —

x Contents.


Eighteen German professors — Athens — Treasures
from Mykenae, and old tombs — Alexanders sarco-
phagus by Lysippos — Walk up Pentelicus and look
down on Marathon ....... 83


Huckleberries on the Parthenon — Mykenae — The shaft-
graves and bee-hive tombs — Argos — Nauplia —
Drive to the Hieron of Epidauros ; the perfect
theatre — Asklepios as physician and humorist —
Tiryns : its wonderful walls and galleries . . 108


Nauplia to Athens by sea — The sacrifice of lambs —
Anniversary of Greek Independence — The royal
family — Good Friday and Easter Eve ceremonies —
Dancing at Megara — Disturbed state of the country
— Brigands and soldiers fighting in Thessaly —
Everyone advises us not to go there — Finally we
escape from Athens 142


Start for Thessaly — Experience Greek hospitality atVolo
— Leave for Larissa — First view of Olympos and
Ossa — The town of Larissa — A Gypsy Wedding —
The poor Bride 160


The Vale of Tempe — A brigand scare — Caesars inscrip-
tion and the Professor's ponlet — Spring of Kryologon
— The three-and-twenty murderers develop into
cattle-lifters — A go-as-you-please — Green tortoises . 184


We start for the monasteries of Meteora — The classic
ground of Thessaly — Synopsis of the history of the
monasteries — Interviewed by the Demarch of Kala-
baka ; our escort — Extraordinary position of Hagia
Trias ; the net cannot be lowered, so we have to
climb the ladders 205

Contents. xi



Arrive at the Monastery of St. Stephen's — The Hegou-
menos' reception, his keen sense of humour — He
dines with us, entertaining us royally — Ariel turns
valet, strange proceedings of everybody — The
churches, beautifully carved altar-screen — The cells
of the Brothers of St. Basil 240


Leave KalaMka — Volo and the old cities in the neigh-
bourhood — We are criticized by a Greek woman —
Thermopylae at sunset, and splendid view of Mount
Parnassos — Khalkis, the Euripos, and Bay of Aulis
— The mines of Laurion— Beautiful position of the
temple on Cape Sunion— Arrive at Athens two days
late, the manager of our hotel thought we had been
killed 271

Conclusion 298


Coming down from the Monasteries of Meteora Frontispiece

Isabel J. Armstrong

Xenodochfon — Hotel d'Olympie

Olympia ....

Temple of Apollo, Bassae

Entrance to Gulf of Corinth


Fort Bourzi — Looking across the Bay of Nauplia to

Argos, and Fort of Larisa
Larisa — Mount Zara — Mount Elias
Treasury of Atreus .

Mykenae between Mounts Elias and Zara
The Lion's Gate, Mykenae
Lion and Feet of Two Figures from Mykenae
Nauplia from Tiryns
Edith Payne .
Mount Olympos
Minaret, Larissa
Mount Ossa .

Hagia Trias
Hagios Stephanos
Gulf of Volo .
Khalkis .
Cape Sunion .









FOR his own comfort and interest, any one travel-
ling in Greece without a dragoman should certainly
have a slight acquaintance with modern Greek,
not but that I believe a traveller with a good
temper and a sense of the ridiculous could get
through the Peloponnesus on three words —
krassi (/cpaal), wine, psomi (-^eo/u), bread, kald
{icaka), good, beautiful, &c.

Wine and bread appeared to be the staple food
of the people, meat we found had to be ordered,
and the traveller does not generally stay long
enough in a place to benefit by the execution of a
lamb, whilst the word kald is absolutely indispen-
sable. This kald seemed to stand for a number
of words and expressions all in the pleasant tense ;
thus, when you were struggling over an intensely


2 Two Roving Englishwomen in Greece.

nasty native dish, your hostess stood over you and
asked you if it was not kald ? and then puzzled you
very much the next morning by making kald
stand for farewell, a good journey. In fact,
there would be no knowing how a Greek would
use this word ; in Thessaly we found it synony-
mous with " All right," whilst the Peloponnesian
would make mdlista (fxdXia-ra), "certainly,"
do duty for that term. The slowly dragged out
mdlista came much more suitably from the lips of
the silent Greek of the Peloponnesus than the
quick kald of the gay Thessalian. And whilst on
the subject of the language it might be as well to
say that the difficulty the novice finds is in the
daily use of so many synonyms for the same word ;
thus in our short experience when asking for hot
water we came across three words for hot. Early
in our travels it was said to us, " They will under-
stand you, but you will not understand them,
because though they may bring your question into
their answer they will reply in other words/' This
we found was litetally true. Our difficulty was
not that they could not understand what we said,
but that we knew so very little to say. In the
same way the names of places are duplicated or
even quadrupled, which at first causes the stranger
some confusion of mind ; for instance, there is Mt.
Olympos in Thessaly and another in Euboea.
Orchomenos in Arcadia and the Orchomenos in

A Boot and Shoe Standard. 3

Bceotia, where Dr. Schliemann excavated the
Treasury of Minyas ; whilst in Argolis at one
glance we could sweep in three hills with the name
of Elias.

Besides bread and wine, eggs and coffee came in
as a luxury ; the latter, of course, was black, and it
was not necessarily good. With regard to cleanli-
ness, we were obliged to take a practical view of it,
and for further convenience we brought all things
into a shoe-standard or a boot-standard. Shoes
and civilization seemed to go hand in hand. When
you had to get into bed with your boots, and there
take them off, you knew what you had to expect.
Until we went to Thessaly I do not remember
seeing a cow in Greece, but there were sheep and
goats in abundance, and so milk and cheese could
be had ; butter was an extravagance that we only
tasted at Patras, Athens, and Volo. Oxen were
used for ploughing, and presented an extraordinary
variety in shape and size. Ponies, donkeys, and
mules were the beasts of burden ; horses seemed
to be principally kept for carriage use, and a
miserable lot they were.

We were told that the national costume was
fast dying out, and that probably we should hardly
see it, but in this we were singularly fortunate
throughout our tour. At Olympia men in
fustanella were constantly coming to the Greek
inn at which we put up, even sometimes sitting

B 2

4 Two Roving Englishwomen in Greece.

down to our table, and the blacksmith's shed out-
side — as in England — was the local club, more
than half of whose members wore the national
dress. When we went still farther into the depths
of the country all the men appeared either in
fustanella or loose white tunics and Turkish
knickerbockers of various patterns ; likewise at
Athens, owing to the influx of countrymen for
Easter, we constantly saw the national dress, irre-
spective of the Queen's guard. On the other
hand, excepting when dressed up for Easter, we
never saw a Greek woman in the typical costume
of her country. Sometimes in the fields a woman
would be seen with her head tied up in a gorgeous
handkerchief, whilst an apron that once had
been embroidered was twisted about her waist ;
and when seated on a bright striped rug on a
mule she would make a patch of colour, but
as a rule the women looked like walking bundles
of dull-coloured rags. It seemed as if the occu-
pation of the men was such as to permit them
to wear their " swagger clothes," but that the work
that fell to the lot of woman was of a nature that
would allow of no display of dainty dress ; even
their hours of recreation apparently were spent in
washing the clothes of the male portion of their
houses. This can be no sinecure considering that
the ordinary Greek, with the exception of his
black cap and black embroidered jacket, is clothed

The National Dress. 5

in white from head to foot — white shirt, white
fustanella, white woollen hose, and, in many cases,
white turned-up shoes. The marvel is how he
manages to keep his clothes as clean as he does,
for Greece is by no means a land guiltless of mud ;
the dust is proverbial, and heavy rain often turns
this into a sea of slime ; in Athens alone after rain
some of the streets would be ankle deep in mud.
To tall dark men the national dress is particularly
becoming-, and although artistically the fustanella
that has the fewest pleats is the most elegant, this
is not the Greek ideal, which appears to be to
plait as many yards as you can cram into the
waistband so as to make it stand out in a perfect
frill all the way round ; over this in cold weather a
black coat is worn, fitting in at the waist and with
long flaps covering the white skirts. To our ideas
there was something intensely feminine about the
cut of these coats, and made their wearers look
exactly like a troupe of ballet girls masquerading
as brigands ; indeed, when they lounged in elegant
attitudes about the picturesque shoeing-shed at
Olympia it might have been a scene out of an
opera ; moreover, they all walked with the same
peculiar swagger that is noticeable in the premifre
danseuse as she crosses the stage. Whatever the
ancient Greek might have been, with the excep-
tion of his dress, there is nothing feminine in the
physiognomy or physique of the modern Greek ;

6 Two Roving Englishwomen in Greece.

his face may be characteristic of distrust, but
his figure is the embodiment of true art. If such
were the models the old Greeks had ever before
their eyes, it is no wonder that Greece produced
such a succession of sculptors and painters.
Whether the women retain any of the famous
classic grace I cannot venture to say ; certainly they
displayed none in the home life as we saw it,
neither did we see one really pretty girl among
the people. In the higher grades it is different ;
there are ladies famous for their beauty, and the
few Greek ladies we came across were all good-
looking. Afterwards at Constantinople, and
especially at Broussa, we saw lovely Greek women,
but we were told they were all the wives and
daughters of well-to-do Greeks.

The Greeks as we found them appeared an
exceedingly odd jumble of education and barbarity.
Latin and French they are taught at school, and
yet they think nothing at night of all sleeping in
a row on the floor in one room — beginning with
the father and mother down to any stranger that
might happen to turn up. At the date we visited
Greece (April, 1892), all education was free— from
A B C up to the university at Athens, and a free
education a Greek looked upon as his birthright.
No doubt this was a reaction from the time when
under Turkish rule it was impossible for many a
Greek child to receive any education at all. In

Free Education.

like manner a reaction the other way seems to
have set in, helped perhaps by the financial posi-
tion, and the result has been the introduction of a
bill for payment by students in the three higher
schools, the lowest or elementary school being
still entirely free. As the highest fee, that of the
university, is only proposed to be ioo drachmas a
year (4/. at the outside), the fees in the schools
below cannot be called excessive ; yet, of course,
this bill is producing great agitation among " the
politicians." The Greeks rightly are very proud
of their free education, but the present generation
do not appear to have found it the panacea they
expected, and I was very much surprised to hear
both young men and middle-aged men speaking
against this unlimited free education.

"We manufacture nothing but professors and
writers," exclaimed one, " whilst what Greece re-
quires are men to cultivate her waste lands,
artisans, and engineers. Look at our railways ;
they are laid out by foreign engineers, the same
with our mines, the same with our canals. The
Greek should be educated to be able to perform
the work which the advancement of his country
requires ; " and he seemed to think that anything
that would check the absorbing desire of coming
up to the University of Athens would be a step in
the right direction.

Another national institution against which the

8 Two Roving Englishwomen in Greece.

young Greek is beginning to inveigh is " the poli-
tician." Now, as far as we understood, cabinet
ministers and members of Parliament were not in-
cluded in this term, which they used to designate
the professional amateur ; in a word, all Greeks are
" politicians," from the shepherd upwards. This
gift of everlasting political talk appears to have
come to them as a heritage, and is styled by the
practical party " the curse of the nation/' In the
railway carriage, on board the boat, in the streets,
at the khans, verily, where two or three Greeks
are met together, there will politics be talked. Of
course, as we visited Greece just before the elec-
tions that put M. Tricoupis into power again, we
had the benefit of this mania far into the witching
hours of night.

The characteristic of the Greek that struck me
most — and I do not think that this was due to the
force of contrast — was his intense patriotism. The
rich Greek may make his money abroad, but he
spends it freely for the embellishment of his own
country ; witness Athens alone, with its streets of
marble palaces and its beautiful public buildings, ail
built at the expense of private individuals. Then
talk to the people, and their intense love of their
country is at once apparent. Perhaps some of
their patriotism may be credited to the rebound to
liberty after centuries of oppression ; anyway their
late servitude accounts for their bitter hatred of the

His Face a History.

Turk. Although the nightmare is over, the horror
of it is easily kept up in a country where there is
hardly a family that has not some curdling
domestic tragedy dating from that dark hour.

Then again the Greeks appear to excite the
dislike of many tourists by their dark and often
distrustful look, their forbidding silence, and slow-
ness to comprehend the wants of a stranger which
are shouted at him in an unknown tongue. Over
and over again you hear, "Those stupid Greeks,
they never understand what you want, so different
to the dear, delightful Italians, who are always so
bright and smiling.''' So humbug, even with both
hands held out for coin, ever wins the day.

I quite admit that the Gieek peasant has not
the charm of manner, the attractive beauty, the
inimitable power of telling pleasant fibs, which is
possessed by his brother in Italy ; but then our
experience of the Greek taught us that he never
begged, never expected money for doing nothing,
was always satisfied with what he got ; in many
cases more than pleased. I was told, however,
that the English, and our still more self-indulgent
cousins beyond the sea, were doing their best to
destroy this happy state of things. The Greek of
to-day carries in his face an epitome of the modern
history of his nation ; the slightest scratch below
the surface shows a man who, under oppressive
servitude, found safety alone in silence, that stealthy

io Two Roving Englishwomen in Greece.

tread is the outcome of those years of hunted life,
that dark suspicious glance was bred by repeated
treachery, whilst the women are only to be glanced
at to see that every good-looking one has been
swept out of the land. The War of Indepen-
dence is still green in the memory; it is only ninety-
four years since the protomartyr Rhigas, poet
and patriot, was murdered in prison at Belgrade,
and his body thrown into the Danube. The
people have not had time to shake themselves free
of those years of gloom ; no doubt the rising
generation will be lighter of heart. The poems
may sing of " the gay pallikar," but the life he led,
which was little removed from that of the wild
beast, had in it no element of gaiety, and it was
only through sacrifice, such as this, that the sons
of Greece won through to freedom.


Land at Patras — Railway to Olympia — Stay at a Greek inn :
its domestic economy — Primitive ideas of Leonidos
with regard to cleanliness — The Museum and the ruins
— The last days of Olympia.

From Brindisi to Corfu we had had the boat to
ourselves, but on boarding the steamer the next
day we turned grey at hearing that our advent
brought the number up to five in the ladies'
cabin, which a brutal naval architect, with a
cynical disregard to the intricacies of the human
mechanism, had designed for six. As yet we
were novices in this department of travelling, and
we were about to learn that the amount of com-
fort or discomfort experienced entirely depends
on the — we will not say caste, but — character of
the occupants of those other berths.

We gazed at lovely Corfu until the inexorable
dinner-bell rang, and, after that repast, alas ! it was
too dark to see anything. The rock of Leukas
wreathed with the memory of Kephatos and
Sappho, Ithaka, Kephalonia, all places we had
looked forward to seeing, would be passed in the
dark, and with sadness in our hearts we went

12 Two Roving Englishwomen in Greece.

down to our cabin ; but our gloom was soon di-
verted by the charm and liveliness of our com-
panions. We had a consumptive lamp that
momentarily threatened to go out, and everything
insisted on rolling off the table and under the
sofa-berths, but nobody troubled about such
minor evils as these. Then it occurred to us
generally that not one of us knew at what time
in the morning the boat arrived at Patras. "And
how," exclaimed one, " can we possibly go to
sleep if we don't know the hour we are to
awake ? "

Everything can be heard on board ship if only
you speak loud enough ; so the baroness called
for her son, whom Edith had christened Signor
Dov'e, from his commencing every Italian sen-
tence by that word, and we soon heard him seek-
ing for information in various tongues all over
the boat. How that boy talked, and how he
loved to air his English, and how excited he
grew, and then how involved his language became,
but he never gave in. One of our companions,
an Australian, had been immensely amused by
his asking when she was going to return to her
" wild country," and he gave us a graphic ac-
count of how he went to school for three months
in the Isle of Wight to learn English. Apparently
he did not take kindly to school life, so he
shammed being ill, and was placed in what he

Signor Dov'E's Experiences. 13

would insist upon calling "the Reformatory."
Then he was sent to London for change of air,
which, he said, with great glee, " agreed with me,
splendid, but I never come again to your shores
because of your Channel."

"Why, what did the poor Channel do ? "
" Oh, that Channel ! It began to move, to
rock ; I felt so bad ; I went down to the cabin,
and I screamed, and I screamed, and I screamed !
And the captain he did come to me, and he took
me by the shoulder and he did say, ' Oh, you
damn boy, for why do you make that noise ? '

If Patras is lovely under the mid-day sun I
cannot say, but at dawn, in the early morning,
and at evening, it is simply exquisite. When we
came on deck, dawn was still struggling with
night ; the dark mountains were backed by a pale
primrose sky ; a boat getting up steam stood out
a splodge of violet-black in a streak of gleaming
straw-coloured sea. Moreover, we had nothing
to do but to admire the scene, for we found we
were all going as baggage, that is to say, we had
Cook's railway tickets, and were to be landed by
him. Indeed, his indefatigable agent had been
endeavouring to effect this for the last hour, but
as we knew the time our train started, likewise
the unexhihrating atmosphere of a station wait-
ing-room, and we were well amused on board,
we pretended not to understand. Besides, the

i4 Two Roving Englishwomen in Greece.

baroness' thirteen trunks took about that time
to be hauled up and lowered into the many boats
that awaited them.

A few minutes' row on the dark waters and our
boat touched the steps. We were all very anxious
to be the first to land on the classic ground of
Greece, and Signor Dov'e jumped off with such
ardour that he drove the boat halfway back to
the steamer. Somehow the air of Greece seemed
to get into our heads. It was the native soil of
one ; to the others it was the long-looked-for goal
of their desires. In a phalanx we took Patras
by storm until our attention was arrested by the
words and signs of the loafers who were here
congregated, if possible, in greater numbers than
at any other place. We then saw our guide

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