I fell in love with Greece a long time ago, without actually ever going. Gerard Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals bewitched me. I read it as a child, and then to my own children. He painted an idyllic countryside of olive groves and woods running down to the sea; of pink houses covered in vines and filled with intellectuals and free spirits who came to lunch and stayed for the summer.
I’ve treated old soldiers who fought in Greece during WWII and the chaos which followed. They spoke of the warmth of the people who kept them alive during the freezing winters, of their first taste of yoghurt as they hid in the hills from the Nazis.
Then I discovered Byron:
The isles of Greece! The isles of Greece
Where burning Sappho loved and sung
Were grew the art of war, and peace
Where Delos rose, where Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer guilds them yet
But all, except their sun, is set.