Two impressive bits of metalwork in Filiatra
I was unfair to Marathopolis yesterday. On my walk to buy some toothpaste this morning I discovered the older kernel of the village. (Given what an ideal position it is in, Marathopolis may indeed be a very old port.) It was the usual crossroad cluster of low buildings at a slight distance from the sea. (The rusty metal in the seaside hotel was a reminder of how corrosive the salty air can be.) There were mulberry trees and hibiscus by the side of the road, and it was altogether prettier than the surrounding new buildings. There is also a lot of wild fennel, which presumably gives the place its name.
And so to Filiatra, which was my reason for coming here. I did wonder en route if it was going to be worth it: the barking stray dogs on the coastal road were a concern, but I survived by shouting insults and using passing vehicles to shield myself. I had a look at the bay where I didn’t swim yesterday: it looked lovely.
I came across Filiatra’s replica of the Eiffel Tower by chance about 30 years ago and I had a hankering to see it again. Contrary to the cliché, it’s actually bigger than I remember it. Is it indeed the one I saw saw? It’s also become a tourist attraction: it was surrounded by elderly German cyclists when I arrived. (I had passed a coach with a bike trailer on the way into Filiatra; the two may have been connected.) Filiatra’s other sight – an enormous globe outside the school – wasn’t as it was. The original had probably crumbled (it looked fragile all those years ago), and this may be a replacement. Once I’d seen them and had a coffee, there wasn’t much else to do, since Filiatra is basically a town of tractor repairers and fertiliser shops.
So I decided to cycle back to Gargaliani on the main road and catch a bus from there. There were more dogs, and I used the same tactics. There was little traffic, but some of it was bullying. The tide mark of roadside rubbish was solid. All this, combined with my recollection of old newspaper reports of farmers here mistreating their Bangladeshi labourers, made me feel that I had wandered into a rough neighbourhood. Unfortunately I dropped the dog dazer in the last few kilometres and I think it’s broken. Ten years I’ve been carrying that thing around, and I’ve used it more in the last two days . . .
Marathopolis from Gargaliani plateau with the little isle of Proti in the background
Back in Gargaliani, the first conversation I overheard and semi-understood was about the price of olives in Spain and Italy. Once I was sure of my bus, I enjoyed sitting in a café in the main square; it’s always best to remove the anxiety of getting stranded somewhere before having a coffee.
There were more dogs (docile this time) in Gargaliani.
I’ll probably never come this way again. I feel quite unsettled about reconciling my previous self who did cycle this way with my future self who won’t.