I am now in Gythio. And I am happy, Even though Haching just lost the soccer game. But apart from that, everything is again fine.
The pleasant weather, the scenery, the campground, the constantly blowing soft breeze. In the mornings, I go for a wonderful swim on the beach directly in front of our tent. The bike rides into the mountains with the wonderful view from above.
The friendliness of the Greeks and the delicious meals every night. As well as breakfast and the tasty grapes and melons you get with lunch. Coming here, too, was quite peaceful and unproblematic – I managed to write my articles on barcamps and PM Camp.
Three of my children are already again staying with us. And another daughter, along with her husband, will come later. Everything is like a dream and just wonderful.
However, a few things I saw on the way here made me thoughtful and a little sad. Small drops of sadness in the cup of happiness. Because something is just not quite as it should be.
The first thing that struck me is rather a small affair. You could call it “Good-Bye Europe”. On the ferry trip from Italy to Greece there were hardly ever any changes since we started coming here 25 years ago. In those days, the long queues you had to stand in on departure where a little bit of a nuisance. That is where the border police of the destination country always controlled your documents. Sometimes they were less thorough, sometimes more so. Consequently, it sometimes happened that you had to spend quite some time waiting in the queue on the hot ship before you were finally released. It was inconvenient, but you got used to it.
Then came the blessings of the EU – and the queues disappeared. You could travel freely – that was nice. Now they are back to controls. And I mean real controls. On departure from Venice, first and foremost all accompanying passengers – but not the drivers and their cars – had to pass a security scan, similar to those on airports. All luggage was scanned with one detector. And there is a single passport control cabin. Mind you, we are talking a ship full of passengers mostly spending the night on deck – so naturally, they carry quite a bit of luggage. Basically, I believe this is a rather unreasonable procedure.
When the queue got longer and no more than 10 % of the passengers had passed, an officer who was probably senior came to end the nightmare. A second cabin was opened and all that they checked was whether the name on the ticket matched the name on the passport. The scanner was just sitting there to make everything look official.
Now you should not come up with the idea of asking what sense the initially strict control ever made. Here is what my impression was: they probably did exactly what one of those EU rules says – and after they had proved that it just cannot be done, they changed tactics. And probably the same game is played with every ship going to Greece.
To be sure, the process was now faster, but still I spent almost three quarters of an hour standing in the queue in Venice, before I was allowed to board the ship. And whenever I looked at the other passengers’ faces, I got the impression that none of them actually understands what is going on and why. We have a shared Europe – so now we feel we are being treated badly quite pointlessly. Well, I really cannot believe this.
The second issue was the ship. We used the Krti 2 of Anek Lines. It is an old ship, but at first sight it gives you the impression of being in quite good shape. But you really notice and feel that ships like this one are terrible polluters. They ruthlessly frequent the Mediterranean Sea, leaving their coal tar and waste all over the place. And you actually start wondering if, perhaps, this way of travelling is, after all, even worse than flying.
We all know that, from the technological point of view, there are endless possibilities to organize these kinds of transports in a totally different way, don’t we? Also, the question should be allowed if all these trucks and cars really need to go from Italy to Greece. Maybe one could find more intelligent alternatives? And if travelling with alternative technology made travelling a little slower, maybe people on vacation, like me, will be just as happy.
Also, the gigantic half-finished street-building projects between Patras and Corinth gave me pause. To me, they seemed to have been planned with total disregard to what was actually needed. The same is true for the luxury motorway heading to Sparta from Corinth. Some of the tunnels on the way are totally unnecessary. Empty and luxurious, they look like some kind of misconceived future (or past?) megalomania.
What world are we talking when we plan these kinds of streets? For me, this is abhorrent.
But now I will stop voicing critical ideas. Instead, I will enjoy our vacation with all my heart. Here are my greetings from Porto Ageranos in Mani, on the southernmost end of Europe. In terms of latitude I am currently living on the same level as North Africa. And I intend to do a lot of swimming, bike riding, enjoying myself and sleeping. And “in between”, I want to publish a few PM Camp articles. …
(Translated by EG)