Still a little broken, in late April I headed to Greece with Satu for a week of work on the river with the some local paddlers in the wonderful deep canyons to be found there. But of course, I needed to pack everything for the next two months first, as I was straight into Piemonte season and the French Alps. After a 2AM start from Slovenia, we drove to
Milan Malpensa, where I finally found after years of trying and searching an excellent parking house. By mid afternoon I was in Athens with Satu and our Greek hosts Eleni & Spyros. Spyros has been on many of Gene17’s Steep Creekin’ weeks, and also completed the 2009 D4DR Class V programme. After an introduction to Greece’s contribution to world wide coffee culture the Frappie Expresso, we headed for the hills.
A small village in the hills was our location for several days as we ran a number of BCU courses for local paddlers,. running two great sections nearby. Previously in 2003 I had been to Greece on a Class V mission, and it was not so ace, deep canyon’s full of siphons and long shuttles. When what I got this time, was a lesson in the right rivers for the right geology, in Greece its metamorphosed Karst rock, that forms deep clean canyons for Class III cruising, however if you add several boulders, that back the river up to make it steeper, you get ugly siphoned out Class V. So if you are going to Greece, it’s for Class III river running and not ugly siphon dodging. Here is the wonderment that met us:
What can you say, Greece is prefect for early season cruising. And what more they have some very nice food, everywhere you went you could get it, even more prefect.
After the work, we hit the road and visited a few of Greece’s famed sites, you know them, it was ace, and I managed to avoid the riots in Athens too. Like most of Mediterranean Europe the people have a strong cash culture, and like anywhere I have been like this, a lot of cash is spent and certainly not declared to the Government as income, no receipts, no bills, just a figure and cash paid. In Greece it’s endemic, everyone has money, but the Government, and hey that is why they have borrowed so much for so long, and now no one, well the EU will lend them any more!! Aside from the mass tax avoidance, Greece has a whole bunch of issues with public job protection, similar to Germany, but likeGermany not the sense of honour to do that job, so the paid full time holiday is common, where a public servant once qualified for a protected job, no longer goes in, as they can not be sacked!!! The armies of ghost workers have added their contribution to the need for Greece to borrow endlessly, shame, and no one other than the Government and public servants seam to be bothered………
I headed out to Italy, and the awaiting Valsesia Steep Creekin’ action, safe in the knowledge I will be back in Greece for more fine Class III Adventures
PS All Images by Satu