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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 5: 29 September

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThe Evzone tradition is that the guards dress each other, and I watch, feeling like a pygmy, as these huge, solemn young men, arms entwined around each other's waists, arrange the skirts (which they call foustanellas) so that every one of the 400 folds (one for each year of the Ottoman domination) hangs in exactly the right place.

We are entertained at the barracks with great warmth and courtesy by the Evzone commandant, a Cretan who offers us considerable slugs of tsikudia, his local spirit, which tastes like slivovitz. Maybe it's because of the taxi strike but the restaurants that ring the Piraeus waterfront are very empty and their owners seem prepared to go to suicidal lengths to stop our minibus as we drive back to the ship. We eventually stop at the only establishment whose owner hasn't flung himself into the middle of the road ahead of us. It's called The Black Goat Restaurant and features a special called 'Fish in Slic'. The sea water which laps gently at our feet is so full of oil and rubbish it's a wonder it can lap at all. (Perhaps this is the 'slic' referred to.) It's quite a relief to get back to the Espresso Egitto, and Mr Lalli's plaintive cries: 'Said Achmed Sabra from Egypt . . . please call at the Purser's office; Mr Neekolas Russell from England . . . please call at the Purser's office'.

He was smoking a lot when I passed his window on my way to bed.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 5
  • Date: 29 September
  • Country/sea: Greece
  • Place: Athens
  • Book page no: 32

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