Costantine P. Cavafy: DIARY OF THE FIRST TRIP IN GREECE (4th part)

Costantine P. Cavafy: DIARY OF THE FIRST TRIP IN GREECE (4th part)

Posted January 23rd, 2011 by webmaster



13 JUNE 1901 – 5 AUGUST 1901

 [[PART  4]]  


9/22 July, Monday, 8.15 a.m.     Yesterday morning I stayed mostly in my room busying myself with several occupations of tidiness. At  11.15 I went to the dining room. Some people were playing cards there. Giannopoulo turned up for a few minutes.    In the afternoon I went with Alexander and Giannopoulo to Kiphissia. It takes 40 minutes to go to Kiphissia. The train starts from Odos  3is Septemvriou. It stops first at Heracleion, then at Amarousion, and then at Kiphissia. After Kiphissia it goes to Kephalari. We got a carriage at Kiphissia and drove round the place. Magnificent, really magnificent are the villas and country houses at Kiphissia – we were shown Boudouris’, Melas’, Vlastos’, Pesmazoglou’s, Limpritis’ villas, and many others’ whose names I forget. After the drive we went to the coffee-house of the station. We returned by the train leaving Kiphissia at 8.10. we were at 8.50 in town. We walked out of the Rue du 3 Septembre, crossed the Place Homonoia, and entered the d’Athéna in all haste; and so were in time for the 9 o’clock train for Phalerum. We were at dinner at 9.30; but we didn’t find much to eat – the provisions of the table d’hôte were very nearly exhausted. Giannopoulo dined with us. Alexander Giro we found dining alone at a table near ours. I went to bed at 12.    Thermometer this morning: 83. 10/23 July Tuesday, 9 a.m.     Yesterday afternoon Alexander and I went to town and bid good-bye to Thalia and Amalia. All during the day I felt as well as I ever was; but towards 8 p.m.  I began to feel an oppression on my stomach, and I passed a «nuit blanche» suffering from terrible colics and vomiting all the time. I do not know to what to ascribe this; probably it was due to a glass of water that I drank at Zacharato’s, and that had a stale taste. 11/24 July, 3.30 p.m., Wednesday.     Yesterday I stayed indoors all day, as I did not feel quite up to going out. I dined off a plate of soup  and 2 eggs in my room. This morning I went to town. I made 2 farewell visits – one to Michaelidis. At Michaelidis’ I met Tsocopoulo. I had previously gone to the office of the  «Asty» for Tsocopoulo. I met, Rue du Stade, Giro. I made certain small purchases. I returned at 12.30 in the same railway carriage with Tsocopoulo 25 July, Thursday, 0.15 p.m.     Yesterday afternoon I went to Athens by the 4.30 train. I met in the railway carriage old Comanos and Giannopoulo. I accompanied Giannopoulo to a house he had to go in Rue d’Eole. Noted again the two fine churches in this street of St. Irene and Chryssospelaeotissa. From the Rue d’Eole I got to the Rue du Stade. I had refreshment at a small confectioner’s shop near Rue Coray, then walked down the Rue du Stade, crossed the Homonoia Square, and entered the Rue du Pirée occasionally straying into by-streets such as the Rue Ménandre and a street leading to the Plateia tis Eleftherias, a square that is not all well kept. I noticed a small theatre on the Rue du Pirée  called Theatron Aifel. I returned by the same way I went, and at a coffee-house of the Homonoia Square I met Alexander. As his ticket was from Homonoia, and mine from Monastiraki we soon separated and took the train from Monastiraki Station. In the evening I was mostly with Méla on the plage.     This morning I got out of my room at 11. Went to the park. Met Méla and talked with him. At 12 returned to my room to write these lines. I thought of going to the Piraeus but found I had no time. Thermometer shows to-day 81. 13/26 July, Friday, 5 p.m.     Yesterday afternoon I went to town and walked in various directions, Rues du Stade and d’Hermès, Place  de la Constitution, Rue du Pirée and the streets adjoining.    In the evening Giannopoulo and Giro turned up. An immense crowd on the plage.    This morning I went to town with Alexander. We walked to Cook’s  about our passages. We are returning to Alexandria via Patras an Brindisi. We went to Zacharato’s  and afterwards separated. I went down the Rue d’Hermès, as I had to buy a few things, then down the Rue d’Eole, and from  the Rue Eupolis to the Homonoia  Station. 26 July, 11.30 p.m.     Went at 6 p.m. to the Piraeus by train. Went to the last station and stayed a little at the Café «High Life». It is a good coffee-house; it had s a billiard-room. Walked in the Leoforos Sokratous and the streets leading out of it such as Odos Filellinon, Odos Kantharou, Odos Afroditis & c. Most of them reach down a declivity by the sea-shore. Got into the tramway from the station opposite the steps leading to the Terpsithea Square, and was back at the hotel at 8 p.m.    In the evening Giannopoulo, as usual. Haicalis pasha with his son and four daughters have arrived. 27 July 6.30 p.m.     We are leaving to-morrow at 11.20 a.m. for Patras, and thence to Brindisi, and thence to Alexandria. We are compelled to this roundabout way by the absence of direct communication (by Russian or Egyptian steamer) between the Piraeus and Alexandria.    This morning we went to Cook’s Office to settle definitely. Alexander stayed to see Angelo at the Café Zacharato’s. I returned to Phalerum at 12.    I met in the lobby of the hotel Mme Pringo. M. Haicalis, and Mlles Haicalis with whom I exchanged a few phrases of politeness. Mme Pringo asked me na pw xairetismata to her daughter Mrs. Ralli.    As I did not feel quite well, I did not lunch. I had a copious tea at 3 – eggs, bread and butter. I feel very well now.    It is very warm. But as I have packed up the thermometer, I can’t state any figure. Patras 29 July 9 p.m. Monday.     On Saturday evening Giro dined with us. I went up to my room early and finished my packing almost entirely.    On Sunday morning, 9. 30, Giannopoulo came and met Alexander and me. We all three reached the Piraeus at 10 and waited for the Patras train at the station of the Patras-Piraeus Railway. The station is small, but not ugly. The strain started at 11.20. Giannopoulos bid us good-bye and we proceeded on our journey. We promised a fee to the guard and in virtue of it de did not allow any other passenger to come into our carriage. So we had a 6 seat carriage all to ourselves and were most comfortable. Only at Rhion one passenger came in – but that was immaterial  as Rhion is as 10 minutes distance from Patras.    The railway journey to Patras is delightful. The train reaches Patras at 7.20 p.m. the scenery is most pleasing. The chief stations are Eleusis, Megara, Isthmia, Corinth, Diacophto, Rhion. We passed over the Corinth Canal – it looks a very fine work. We got down at the station of Corinth and bought some cold food. We went out of the station and saw a bit of Corinth; it looks a neat little town. The country around Diacophto is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen – the gorges, the ravines, the fine mountains, the forest are magnificent.    The «Hotel de Patras» where we have put up is very clean, comfortably furnished, and has a good cuisine. We are going to lunch and dine à la carte.    After dinner we went to the pier, and then to bed.    I got up early this morning, at 5.15 a.m. Took out of my travelling bags what is absolutely necessary for a stay of 3 days. I went at 9 a.m. for a drive with Alexander. We saw the Plateia Georgeiou which is almost as large as the Plateia tis Omonoias in Athens; it has many trees and two monuments, in iron or bronze. The Quarter called Ta Psilà Alwnia is clean and pretty and commands a picturesque view. I visited the churches of St. Andrew (where I was shown the saint’s coffin and his dwelling place close to the church) and the church tis Pantanassis. I was shown the Dimarcheia and several buildings of note such as the National Bank, the Ionian Bank, and the Bank of Athens.    At 10.15 Alexander and I went to a large café (which has a sort of garden attached) not far from the Hotel were we met one Iliopoulo, Cook’s interpreter at Patras.At 10.45 we went for a stroll round the streets near the quay.    At 12 we lunched    There are two English Roman Catholic priests staying in the hotel with whom anoixame omilia at table.     It is terribly hot. Thermometer in my room showed at 3 p.m. 87.    Near the hotel are some large shops, one of which is the tailor Papaioannou’s.    The view from the quay – and from many of the high sites – of the opposite hills of Central Greece is very beautiful, particularly when the sun sets.    In the afternoon I went with Alexander to the Ypsilà Alònia            again. Then through some rather poor looking streets we went to the Plateia Georgiou where the cafés were full of people. Then down  the Odos Maizwnos in which are a great number of good shops.    At 8 we went to dinner, the dinner tables are spread out on the square opposite the hotel. I did not dine however as my stomach was out of order, owing to the enormous quantity I drank during the day. I felt parched all day and I am sure I must have drunk 15 glasses of water. 30 July 11,30 a.m.    This morning went for a walk with Alexander, saw the Anglican church. Sat at a café at the Plateia Olgas. 31 July, 7.30 a.m., Wednesday    Yesterday afternoon the heat was tremendous. Thermometer went up to 91. At 5 I ventured, in spite of the heat, on a stroll about the town. Dined very heartily at 8 – the food was excellent. This  hotel is really well kept. I noticed the very good quality of milk they give you. Yesterday evening I went after dinner on the pier for half an hour. 31 July 10.15 a.m.    To-day the weather is much cooler. Therm.: 85. We went out at 9.45. met Alexander and Iliopoulo at a café, then went for a walk in the town. I can’t find a plan of Patras; I think none exists. On next page I shall trace a rough (a very rough and incomplete) sketch of the streets.    The coast opposite Patras is picturesque. The hills  of Messolonghi and the mountains of Aetolia can be seen, but the former not very distinctly.    The Odos Korinthou is a very long road but the shops and the buildings in it are much inferior to those of the Odos Maizwnos. S.S. «Scilla», 1 August, 7.15 a.m.    Yesterday afternoon A. and I left Patras on board the Rubatino Steamship «Scilla». A wretched ship. Though each of us has a cabin of two berths all to himself there is scarcely place to move in it. We went on the ship at 6 p.m. She sailed at 10 p.m. prince Nicholas is on board. The sight of Patras with its many lights gradually fading away in the distance was very pretty. S.S. «Bohemia», 4 August, 10.30 a.m. Sunday    We reached Corfu early in the morning of the 1st August. Alexander and I went on shore at 9. we took a carriage and drove to the Grand Square, which is very large indeed and has two fine statues. At one end of the square is the old Palation tou Armostou.     We walked about the streets which are narrow but have arcades, a great resource against heat. So have some of the streets of  Patras. We went for a drive up the eminence commanding  the town of Corfu and must say it was the most beautiful scenery that I ever saw. We reached  the locality called Canoni, and then returned. We saw the Achilleion in the distance, and the King of Greece’s palace called «Mon Repos». Alexander lunched at the Hotel St. George. I had no appetite and waited for him in the hotel’s sitting room and employed my time by going over the hotel. It looks most comfortable and is well furnished. I also went to St. Spiridion’s Church in a narrow street very near the hotel, and saw the Saint’s coffin. We returned to the ship at 2 p.m. Most of the passengers were on shore. Prince Nicolas had gone to the palace of «Mon Repos». He was the last to return. A Greek merchant vessel that sailed from the port of Corfu at 4 p.m. had music playing on board as she passed us and all her crew and passengers cheering – all this in honour of the Prince.    I had tea at 3 p.m. We sailed at 5 p.m.     Among our fellow passengers was a M. Simopoulo, nephew of the Minister of  Finance. I made his acquaintance and found him to be a charming young man. Another of our fellow passengers was George Caralli.    Dinner was served on deck. Prince Nicolas sat at the captain’s right hand side. The food was very good. I am sorry I cannot say that the sleeping accommodation was also very good. It was horrible. A very torture. I hardly slept a couple of hours.    At 3 a.m. we reached Brindisi. We walked and drove about the town, which made me the impression of a poor and ugly place. San Paolo’s church is worth seeing; and the country round Brindisi I am told is pretty. The streets have no « trottoirs», all the buildings look dingy and old, and there are no decent shops. The Hotel International and the Hotel d’Athènes are good hotels. One of the chief cafés is the Café Caprez on the street leading to the railway station    At the end of this street, towards the sea, is a very small and badly kept public garden.    All the passengers left the «Scilla» at 8 a.m.; but we were on and off her till 1 p.m. when the Austrian S.S. «Bohemia» arrived. We transported our luggage from the «Scilla» to the «Bohemia» and made ourselves comfortable in our new dwelling.    This «Bohemia» is a splendid ship we have each a cabin of two berths. The cabins are large and airy. The dining-room is very large; and there is an excellent smoking-room and a very pleasant drawing-room.    I must pen a line about Prince Nicolas’ departure. There is a Greek vice-consul (a ship-chandler, I think) in Brindisi, M. Cocotos by name. This personage came to meet the prince, in a very ancient frock-coat, an antique top hat, patent leather «scarpinia» and white stockings! He was on board at 5 a.m., but the Prince had not yet issued from his cabin. The interview took place at about 6. two landau carriages were sent for the prince by the Mayor of Brindisi, and also two municipal guards  in full uniform. The municipal authorities must have met the prince at the railway station. He did not leave by the 7 a.m. train with the rest of the passengers but by a special one at 9.    Yesterday (the 3d August) I passed quite agreeably on the «Bohemia». The weather is excellent and the food perfect. The «Bohemia» left Brindisi at 3 p.m. the day before yesterday (2d August).    There are very few first class passengers on board, of which only one acquaintance of mine, Blatner, of Lambert & Ralli. The only other passengers whose names I’ve learned is Mme Axisa and her son.    Yesterday at about 10 a.m. we saw the coast of Corfu. We shall reach Alexandria to-morrow at 5 a.m. Alexandria, 5 a.m., 5 August Monday    Nothing of note happened yesterday afternoon on board the «Bohemia». The weather was good. Lunch, and tea, and dinner were very good. I read a lot – «Adam Bade» – and went to bed at 10 p.m. This morning at daybreak we reached Alexandria, and I was back home at 6.30 a.m.      [[  THE END  ]]