GREECE ON MY WHEELS
Book review by Anthony Campbell. Copyright © Anthony Campbell (2003).
Edward Enfield describes his book as an account of a number of expeditions made on a bicycle by a man of advancing years with a smattering of Greek learnt from a tape. However there is not too much about cycling, the comments being mainly confined to Enfield's expectations that he might collapse and die on one of the hill climbs. The fact that he survived should encourage other cyclists of a similar age who are thinking of visiting Greece; it isn't really that hard.
The book covers travels in several areas. The first and largest part is about the coastal Peloponnese, while later sections describe Enfield's experiences in the north-west of the mainland (Corfu, Parga, Arta and Ioannina). I was sorry to find he didn't go inland in the Peloponnese, which is very rewarding and not as difficult cycling as he seems to believe.
Enfield makes an agreeable travelling companion for the reader, with a pleasantly dry wit and an observant eye. He has a classical background and a liking for nineteenth-century travellers' accounts of Greece, particularly Byron, whose death is described in an appendix.
Greece is changing rapidly but the old values have not yet totally disappeared. There is a delightful vignette of a conversation with two old men about what to call a mule, in which it appears that they are familiar with the Homeric word although it is no longer in current use. Certainly, when I used the ancient word for horse (ippos) to a modern Greek, he understood it. (See my piece Don't frighten the horses.)
9 September 2003
%T Greece On My Wheels
%A Enfield, Edward
%G ISBN 1-84024-280-9
%P 317 pp
%K travel, cycling
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