On the Turkish side of the Greek / Turkish border there is the small city of Edime, I had taken a bus to a nearby smaller town that did not appear inviting so as I have mentioned, I made my way a couple of miles to the bridge linking Greece and Turkey. The crossing to Greece was more than just a simple border stop. I had spent eight months with United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus. I did not get to know many of the locals intimately; but, I came to appreciate and realize that as with many warring peoples the average person would just as soon get on with his or her life. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Turkey and I appreciated their rich culture, heritage and warmth. It was with much anticipation that I entered Greece.
 I walked a short way, about half an hour, and out of a nearby woods about five or six Gypsies came towards me. A mother and what I would assume to be her children. They of course wanted some money. Now you have to picture this, here I am in a foreign land being confronted by strangers. The first thing I noticed about the woman was her gold front teeth. As a dentist I found it rather interesting. I’ve known that many people in Eastern Europe did favor gold teeth, perhaps as a sign of wealth. So I said to her in English “ Who is your dentist?” It was one of those individual moments of comedy. I should point out that I did not mean anything cruel or mocking. It was just a personal aside.
 In the early part of the trip through Greece I spotted several Mosques. They were in smaller towns. I am not sure of what relationships were like but one could only hope that people lived together in harmony.
 From Wikipedia:
 Turks of Western Thrace (Turkish: Batı Trakya Türkleri) are ethnic Turks who live in Western Thrace, in the north-eastern part of Greece.
 According to the Greek census of 1991, there were approximately 50,000 Turks in Western Thrace, out of the approximately 98,000 strong Muslim minority of Greece.[1] Other sources estimate the size of the Turkish community between 120,000 and 130,000.[2][3]
 The Greek government refers to the Turkish community as part of the Greek Muslims or Hellenic Muslims, and does not recognise a separate Turkish minority in Western Thrace.[2] Nevertheless, the fundamental rights of this community are enshrined in the Greek constitution and the Treaty of Lau
 I hit the road towards Thessalonica and although not many cars were passing I was able to get several rides and a no time I was in my first Greek city. Thessalonica is the second largest city in Greece
 .from wikipedia:
 Thessalonica is considered northern Greece's cultural and educational centre. It is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessalonica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as several Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures. The city's main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and ranked among the best 250 universities in Europe.[5]
 As I approached the city I was told, by the driver who picked me up, that what I was looking at was an aqueduct system that dated back to Roman times. Even though I had spent some time looking at antiquities, in my eight months in Cyprus, I’m was still intrigued by the history they represented. The city of Thessalonica seemed rather quiet . I made my way toward the campsite, that my British friend has recommended. And as fortune would have it, I came upon him quite quickly. As was my custom I found a comfortable spot on the ground and I lay my sleeping bag down, a traveler’s land claim as it were J We made our way into the nearby streets and found a small souvlaki stand that had been recommended to us. And I can report that the meal was excellent . There were a number of young travelers at the stand, so his reputation was well earned. When you’re traveling with the backpack set, as I was, a nicely prepared inexpensive meal is extremely well-received. My British friend and I just wandered the streets taking in the architecture. We went to a few small stores and looked at what they had to offer We were always greeted with a smile, this is always very welcoming.
 Back at the campsite we ran into an interesting group. Three or four young British people were traveling in an old Volkswagen van. It had the usual peace and love symbols painted on the sides and in many ways it was pretty typical of the times. We discussed various places they had been and my British friend gave them good advice on travel to India. This was apparently their destination. In retrospect it is a interesting that one could travel through Iran and Afghanistan at this time. My British friend told me how he was passing through several villages there and local people would invite him over for a cup of coffee. I suspect that this sentiment is still likely present but oppressed in the people of these unfortunate countries. Hearing such stories and recalling them is, in a way, a bit sad.
 I spent two days in Thessalonica then I set out for Athens. I bid my British friend a farewell. Today one might have exchanged e-mail addresses. I got one short ride to just outside of town than I was picked up by a truck driver. My German came to good use as he to was able to speak German. He told me he had worked in Germany for several years . He was heading to a town called Alexandrei. This area was in northern Greece. I’m not sure of the details, as our communications were marginal. But, I believe that Alexander the great did have some influence in this area. The fellow seemed very intrigued by a person of my age, hitchhiking. I was 29 at the time and he was about the same age. He could not understand how a person my age could just take off and travel as it were . In point of fact I was spending less money in these travels than I was earning as part of my regular military salary. But, I didn’t tell him this. I explained that I worked for many years and it never taken a holiday so this was it. A small fib required by the circumstances, a few extgra days in purgatory for me J We stopped at a small roadside restaurant and he insisted that he treat me to some Greek food. I felt a bit awkward as I was likely making more money in salary than he was; but, he insisted. So I insisted that I buy the wine. He suggested a Greek wine called Retsina. This is a type of wine that dates back over 2000 years. Apparently they used barrels to store the wine and sealed the barrels with pine resin. This gave the wine a particular flavor that became very popular. Today with glass bottles the need for pine resin is no longer a necessity; but, the popularity of the flavor persists. I had never tasted this wine and I must admit that when I did it, was not to my taste. So I quickly chugged down my glass, which was misinterpreted by my new friend as a sign that I like the wine. So he made sure that I finish off most of the bottle. I don’t mean to be derogatory of course, as this was a local dish; but, it was not quite what I enjoyed. The food was particularly good though , vine leaves stuffed with a tasty rice interior much as I’ve learned to appreciate in Cyprus.
 We took off and stopped at the small town named Alexandrei . He stopped by his girlfriend’s home I met her and his perspective mother-in-law. I took this as a particular compliment. He was literally invited me into his home and sharing his family with me. These small incidents made life on the road very memorable. He told me that a friend of his was taking an overnight truck to Athens . He would ask his friend to bring me along as a passenger. He came back rather sheepishly and told me that his friend had already left. He took me to the bus station and paid for a ticket for me to Athens. I really did not want to accept this expense. I took his address as I told him I would like to send him a postcard from Canada. But my real purpose would be to include the five or six dollars that the bus fare cost. Sadly I misplaced the address. I still feel rather badly about this. The bus left at around 10 PM and was an overnight run to Athens. I didn’t see much along the way , of course; but, I did get a good nights sleep. I can sleep virtually anywhere and I have always found that a nice bus trip is a relaxing way to travel.
 I had been told previously that the downtown core of Athens is not particularly attractive; but, of course the ancient ruins are the trip of a lifetime. The sun was just starting to rise as I wandered around downtown Athens from the bus station. I approached a couple of people and said “Acropolis” and they pointed me around the corner towards this wondrous sight. Suddenly there was before me, one of the wonderful ruins of ancient history. The sun was just coming up and it caught, with intensity, the glory of these beautiful ancient buildings. I walked towards them, in total awe. There was no one at the Acropolis and I walked up many steps to a gateway to the Temple, that was closed. I sat down and I immediately noticed that the steps were worn down considerably. The wear was smooth and echoed the antiquity of the site. Visions went through my mind of the philosophers, ancient Greek politicians and numerous warriors who had walked these same steps. It was another humbling moment. I sat and mentally took in all the wonders that were surrounding me. They were both physical and spiritual wonders. As in Cyprus, the Greeks had a particular attachment to cats. Before long five or six cats wandered up to me for some food. As fortune would have it, I had a loaf of bread in my backpack. So I took out little pieces and gave each cat a piece to chew on. Now again this is one of those moments where I could almost expect a rubber truck to pull-up and take me away J . I gave each of the cats a name. I would say, “ Plato, this piece of bread is for you. Now Aristotle leave Plato’s bread alone, here is a piece for you”. I know, you had to be there. It was a wondrous moment though filled with both the awe of ancient spectacle and the lightheartedness of sharing some bread with stray cats. Now what travel book could give you such a deep contrast ? J
 I wandered about for a little while then I met some people with backpacks and asked if there any hostels or pensiones nearby. I found one that had six beds to the room. It was close to the Plaka area of Athens. This is an area filled with nightclubs and street cafés, within close sight of the Parthenon. I took a brief rest on my bed and when I woke another young fellow just coming in. It turns out he was a pilot with the United States Navy. He was on the aircraft carrier JFK. I told him I was in the Canadian forces that I was just returning from UN duty in Cyprus. We went out and had a small lunch then he invited me to join him on a visit to the JFK. It was intriguing, the ship was absolutely immense in size. It had a crew of approximately 3500 people which did not include the aircrew and the command structure of the air arm. I read somewhere that it had capability of carrying up to 5000 personnel. My friend gave me a tour of the ship as well as a tour of one of the dental clinics. I saw one of the dental clinics and I believe I was told there were five clinics on the ship. It really was like a small town. My friend also told me they were little areas about the ship where different groups hung out. . One was an area where the Puerto Rican sailors would congregate another was where people of Italian background hung out and some of the black sailors have their own little area. This was told me without any prejudice or rancor; but , more to really show just how big the ship was. Looking back I have to realize how fortunate I was to be given this opportunity to have visited the ship. In today’s uncertain and dangerous climate I would probably not be able to get within 100 meters of the ship.
 We took the landing craft back to the harbor and then set out for the Acropolis. We wandered about for several hours, we were both very quiet as he and I obviously were impressed and intrigued by what we are seeing and experiencing. We joined up with the a tour group, which was most interesting. The whole of the architecture was explained. I don’t recall details except how multifaceted it all was. That evening we set out to the Plaka area and we enjoyed a wonderful Greek meal. Needless to say I did not have any Retsina wine. J
 The following day my friend went back to his ship and I went down to the harbor to catch a boat to the small islands. The Greek islands are a must see and a number of fellow travelers told me of several which I should visit. I decided that Mykonos was to be my destination. I was told that it was too late to buy a ticket for that day as the boat had sailed. So I bought a ticket for the next morning and went back to the harbor the following day . An announcement came on in German and Greek saying that a storm had developed and there would be no ships sailing that day. I was only slightly upset, in fact it wasn’t upset at all ,as there is so much to see in Athens. As I was collecting my thoughts a fellow came up to me and in broken English asked what the announcement was. I explained that the there was a storm and the ship would not be sailing that day. I asked where he was from. He told me, Lyon France. He had a great flow of hair and a hearty beard. He looked like the typical hippie of the day, and I say that in a nice way. One thing led to another and I discovered that he was…… wait for it…… a dentist. So we both had a bit of a chuckle realizing that we are dentists on the road. We went back to the small hotel I had stayed in and we got a room then set off for a lovely evening in the Plaka. His name was Jean-Marie M. . After graduation he spent a year in Tahiti practicing dentistry. His stories of the islands were exceptionally interesting. Most the time he practiced in shorts and even barefooted at times. He said the girls were lovely and, how shall I put this, quite friendly. In fact he told me that if you got a reputation for not being very amorous you might find yourself spending a lot of time alone. He came back from Tahiti via New Caledonia , India Pakistan and Overland Turkey and Greece. His travels and adventures were very exciting.
 The following day our ship came in, as it were. And we set sail for Mykonnos. We were speaking French and a young lady approached us. She was flight stewardess on El Al Airlines from Israel. She also spoke French. And in a very direct way, that I enjoy with Israelis, she told me in our Québec French was not proper French. In the next week or so I gave both Jean Marie and Sandra lessons in what real French is. J
 We found a small bread and breakfast near the famous three windmills of Mykonos. The room which I shared with Jean-Marie was a dollar a night. It was not in the heart of the town near the harbour but a short 5 minute walk. The town was full of small bars which were crowded with people like us. That is people who had worked for a few years but were still young enough to back pack it. Not quite the same crowd as the summers when most travelers were students whose mummy and daddy paid their way ..said he sardonically J . The bars were full, lovely gals etc. But more on that later.
 Jean Marie and Sandra and I went to the beach and she quickly went topless. Jean- Marie and I both gave each other a thumbs up look. Again I was a bit slow off the draw and later that night he moved in with her for a few days…Gad second is first of the losers again J
 The next day I had a new roommate . I discovered this when I came back for an afternoon nap. He had a Maple leaf flag on his back pack so I assumed he was a Canadian. When he came in we both did a double take. He asked if I was “Mike” as several people thought he was me J And not only did we look alike he was a dentist. Ah we are all so handsome indeed J
 So the four of us teamed up. A mixture of French and English conversation. Which all blended in with the Dutch, German and Swedish one heard in the bars. Breakfast was kind of interesting. Noting really gourmet but always prepared with love and care. We used to eat at a near by café but the wife of Spiros, the inn keeper asked why “You not eat breakfast Spiros” . So Spiros it was, a nice egg and toast with coffee. For 45 cents …ah old times indeed. It was always fascinating to check out fellow travelers, the beautiful scenery and the bluest skies I have ever seen. All in all it was another multi-sensory experience.
 The major beaches were across the island. I took the bus the first few days but I realized it was jogging distance so I did that for the rest of the trip. Mykonos was apparently a known destination for gays. As I mentioned that is something that I totally accept…but I did find it interesting. On the trip to the beach there was a blonde with hair halfway down the back with a halter top on that seemed skimpy. This got my attention. As a lot of guys in surrounding seats seemed interested. As I exited the bus I check it out…It was a guy. I say this with a smile as it was something I had never experience. As the trip went on I was taking more and more cold showers I laughed to myself that I may just convert J
 One afternoon after a nice beach restaurant casual lunch I spotted a cute blonde. She was German. I figured a good line would be to ask her to watch my towel and shirt while I went for a swim. Hey a great opening gambit. I came out of the water and thank her for watching my stuff. We engaged in small talk and she said , “Are you Canadian ? “ Apparently he worked with the US Army in Germany and she had a lot of time for Canadians. Oh man I was way ahead….J
 Lots of pleasant small talk and she appeared cuter as time went on etc… I asked her to join Jean-Marie and Sandra and me for dinner. She declined…Opps. At dinner the three of us ( yes I was again dateless) I saw her walk by hand in hand with…yes another gal. As I said Mykonos was a gay destination….J
 Our favourite haunts were the harbour front bars. Ouzo, the quintessential Greek drink ( Outside of Retsina..ugh). In the bars it was 25 cents a shot , on the harbour front out door patios it was 10 cents a shot. Great fun indeed.`It was an interesting mix of people. Usually 10 or so of us would gather at a table in a random gathering. One day I was with some teachers who were taking a year off. And there was an orthopedic surgeon , who looked like a traveler, much to his credit J it was fun solving the problems of the world with a bit of help from ouzo J . Towards the end of the week the students started arriving. One day a rather snotty Canadian girl from what, she made clear was a wealthy family, joined us. She asked what I did . I replied I was in the Canadian Army. In a down your nose way she said ,”Who would want to be in the Army ?” Sandra my Israeli friend said, “There is nothing wrong with being in the Army”. I asked what she was studying, she said “I am studying arts”. So I played the “Just an Army guy” role and said “Oh you want to be and artist?” She gave her friends a “Check out this dodo look”. later in the evening someone asked where I went to dental school and I replied “McGill”. She said , “But, I thought you were in the Army”. I explained how I was subsidized etc. Kind of a nice put down of a ‘snot nose’. Later in the visit to Mykonos I met some students from Cornell. They were all Canadians on hockey scholarships. As is typical of Canadians they tended to be fun lovers and noisy. We had a lot of good times in a few days. They were archeology students and in Mykonos to make a day trip to Delos. After almost 10 days they had not made the trip. I was interested and I decided to go with Jean-Marie and Sandra. It was a short boat trip and I was pleased that I did. It was uninhabited , which leant a special air to the Island. There were a multitude of stone ruins and lion statues. The major attraction was a large stone phallus. Hey go for it J
 On the way back to the return ferry to Mykonos we wandered over a hill and I walked down the path to the harbour. I passed someone and did a double take. It was my classmate Doreen and her husband Charlie. Now what are the chances ? … We had a quick conversation and we made arrangements to meet for supper at a Mykonos beach front café. It was fun going over what had transpired since graduation. She had practiced dentistry in Montréal for 2 years then moved to BC where her husband , who taught at UBC. It was a great coincidence that we had met in such a wonderful milieu. Four years later , when my new wife and I went to Paris. I again met her by chance in the Palais de Versailles J . On that occasion I had long curly hair and a beard. I went over to her in the Palais restaurant and asked , in French , what she wanted to order. She looked at me and in a heavy Anglo accent said , Non Merci” ( No thanks). I added , “Doreen do you always ignore your classmates?” From across the room my wife could read her lips which said “I DON’T BELIEVE IT’. One always meets great people on the road. J
 The next day I was wandering in one of the more “local” areas of town and I came across some men playing instruments at an outdoor café. One was playing what I can only describe as a model of an original bagpipe. According to some accounts the bagpipes originated in Egypt. This one had the hide of a sheep as the air bag and the bones of what looked as a sheep leg with openings, was the chanter. There were no drone pipes. I really felt I had by chance, come across a most interesting site. I asked permission to take a photo, I always asked, and the player assented and smiled with pride. An ancient craft come to life. I went back to my ‘dwelling” and I discovered that the large area attached to the rooms was a local gathering place. Greek music from records and radio played and men were doing what I call the Zorba dance. Apparently these dances were a ritual way of releasing energy and stress. And it usually included the usual plate breaking. Etiquette demanded that one not stare so I took furtive glances now and then. I was moved by the emotion shown. Our “host” Spiros asked me to join him, which was a nice honour. He spoke little English but more than I spoke Greek J He was a heavy smoker and said “Canadian Cigarettes very good”. It was not a hint; but, a statement meant as a compliment. I always travel with a few cartons of Canadian duty free cigarettes and once again this proved a good idea. I excused myself and brought back a carton for him. He was very please and it paid dividends I had not expected. Spiros ran a wonderful beach restaurant. Now when I say beach I mean “Beach”. Tables were on the beach and he specialized in bar-b’qued lobster…and the line up was 50-60 people. The next evening Spiros singled me and my friends ( J-M and Sandra) out and we jumped the queue J He also brought me a complimentary bottle of white wine, no not Retsina J
 This happened for two nights , it was kind of neat to say the least. A back packer with front row seats. The beach restaurant was a real highlight, as the sun went down the blue skies were a wonderful backdrop to the three windmills behind Spiro’s Inn. Really a life memory.
 Jean-Marie left the following day and that evening Sandra left. It was a short friendship but very warm and one I still recall with a smile. The following day I decided to make my exit. I booked a room on the overnight ship to Athens as I felt I would need a good sleep. Before I left I ran into my Canadian hockey player friends. So they insisted on a proper Canadian send off. Now not that I endorse heavy drinking…but…I must say. It was a fine evening full of laughter and best wishes. I made my way to the boat, I found a deck chair and slept the night away on deck. I woke up 30 minutes from Athens so I really didn’t take advantage of the room. Oh well J In Athens I went back to the pensione and did another street tour. Someone told me about Corfu ,and as was standard a recommendation from a fellow traveler was all I needed .
 I got a bus ticket and the next day I was off . The scenery was pleasant and unlike the bus trip from the North to Athens it was day light so I was able to take in the sites. We crossed the Corinth canal. We had a form of guided tour but the fellow’s English was not very clear. But later I discovered that it was not an ancient artifact but built in the late 1800’s. It had been conceived some 2000 years ago but the construction was a lot later. It separates the Peloponnesian from mainland Greece, connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf.
 From Wikipedia:
 The canal consists of a single channel 8 metres (26 ft) deep, excavated at sea level (thus requiring no locks), measuring 6,346 metres (20,820 ft) long by 24.6 metres (81 ft) wide at the top and 21.3 metres (70 ft) wide at the bottom. The rock walls, which rise 90 metres (300 ft) above sea level, are at a near-vertical 80° angle.The canal is crossed by a railway line, a road and a motorway at a height of about 45 metres (148 ft). In 1988 submersible bridges were installed at sea level at each end of the canal, by the eastern harbour of Isthmia and the western harbour of Poseidonia.
 It is actually a somewhat weak link in that it is not wide enough to allow for large ships to pass. Early developers went bankrupt in the early stages. Today it is primarily used for tourist ships. But from the vantage point of the bridge crossing the canal it is an impressive site. One could sardonically state another example of Government planning J
 In Patras I was able to catch a ferry to Corfu. It was a short hop and I was told of a nice hostel near the city. I had met a few fellow travelers and we spent a pleasant evening discussing our travels. I went back to my room only to be chased away by an Israeli couple who were finally able to spend some “Quality” time. So even though I was ready for a good sleep I had to put it they got off ( Hey sorry but it almost rhymes J
 At breakfast I met some Canadians , one a was cute gal who got me interested in renting a scooter. Now my history with bi-wheel motorized vehicles was not great. As a teen I was driven home by a fellow football player, as we rounded a curve my foot hit the ground. No injury but a mighty scare. Later in Army summer training a friend and I went to nearby Wassaga Beach where we rented a scooter to race up and down the heavy sand on the beach. We hit a soft spot and the bike went down, the accelerator handle got stuck in sand and I fell across a read wheel bar. The wheel was rotating and the bar saved me from getting my hand caught. That would have cut my dental career a bit short. So with a tad of concern I rented a scooter. I made a u-turn at the end of a nice trek along the coast; but, I made a wide turn and was moving along a grass and gravel ditch. My hand was stuck on the accelerator ( I seem to have accelerator problems J ) and we went about 15 meters. My partner and fellow traveler scrapped her foot. Not too severely but it kind of cast a cold pale over any potential liaison. So another cold shower in Greece for me J
 Corfu was very nice in that it was a countryside with some lovely and pleasant history. I had been somewhat exposed to a lot of antiquities so I actually savored just relaxing . I stayed three days then took a ferry back to Patras an on to Brindisi in Italy. My blonde friend had lost her annoyance over my scooter skills and we had a pleasant ferry ride. But sometime along the way she informed me that she was meeting a boyfriend in Rome. Gad…I do pick them J
 One site in these ferry rides that intrigued me was being so close to Albania. At that time Albania was probably the most Stalinist communist country. Virtually an isolated land. In fact it was not until the late 1990’s that actually met an Albanian, and that was in Cuba. So I stood on the deck looking ashore. Not much to see; but, as I had often done I gave silent thanks to having been born in a free country. I also bid farewell to Greece . My 8 months in Cyprus gave me a warm feeling towards both Turkey and Greece, tinged with some regret that they could not find a more common ground with which to share and enjoy the bounty they both had