Whilst I was in London on my way home from Iceland in January this year, I dedicated some time to family history. Not the family history I plan on committing some time to in the next couple of years, by spending a good month or two in England researching the Lawrence Stephenson line of our family. It is the one arm of our family which I can’t trace back past my great-great-great grandfather Lawrence Stephenson DD with any reliability. That is a story for another time.
The person I spent time researching in London was Cousin Effie. Cousin Effie will be the subject of a series of blog posts as I chronicle her adventures and tales. She is one person in our family, that I would have dearly loved to have met, however since she was born on the 9th of July 1889 and died on the 12th of September 1976 that was never going to happen was it?
Lillian Florence Euphemia “Effie” Torry is my first cousin three times removed or in other words, she was the first cousin of my great grandfather Lawrence Goldie Stephenson.Â Cousin Effie and her older brother Arthur James Dashwood Torry were an end of the line for their family. Cousin Effie had no children, nor did she marry. Her brother, Arthur born sometime between April and June 1887, died in aerial combat on 9 October 1917. He was a Lieutenant from the Royal Garrison Artillery that was attached to the Royal Flying Corps 9Sqn and was a recipient of the military cross.
Cousin Effie was the daughter of a Reverend (it was a common profession in our family – you were either military or “of the cloth”), In addition to the death of brother in WW1, they lost both their parents with a few months of each other in 1905 and 1906. Effie was just 16 at this time.
There will be more tales of Effie’s life later but now we are focusing on what I was seeking in London. A few years ago, I did some Googling at some point in time and came across this website – http://maths.dur.ac.uk/~tpcc68/GOP/nft.htm which lists a series of articles that Effie wrote for The Girl’s Own Paper. This was probably after Mum mentioning that Cousin Effie was a journalist or similar. Well, when I was in London, I spent some time photographing each of these articles at The British Library -> a bit of a different library to what I am used to!!!! I will be publishing these articles for the family and interested parties to read over the coming weeks.
I must say, after reading these articles, I would love at some point in time to retrace her adventures and do a comparison to each of the articles some 100 years on!
So without any further chatter, here is the first article of a series of Effie’s travel adventures!
Why Not Visit Greece?
By Euphemia Torry
Published in Volume 50 (1928-1929) of the Girl’s Own Annual, pages 46-49
Here you can combine the best in Art, History, Scenery and Climate – and the Expense need not be huge
GREECE would be Italy’s strongest rival as a holiday resort, were it not for the difficulty of reaching the country, for she possesses the twin charms of Italy in a major degree: History and Art combined with wonderful scenery and climate. The minor disadvantages of poor accommodation would melt like snow in the sun of tourist traffic.
In fact, they are already doing so, and the traveller who has the courage to go to Greece will be much more comfortable than she has been led to expect.
Since, out-side Athens, accommodation is still limited, the best party is two interesting countries in the world at women (or two men) only, prepared to share a room. Such a couple, travelling with light suit-cases, can be very mobile in country districts and see much of one of the most interesting countries in the world at very small cost
In planning a holiday the two main considerations are time and money. In the following sketch of a journey round Greece suitable for two women alone. I shall imagine that my travellers have sufficient time, but are careful as to ways and means. The most economical methods will be suggested. When the tourists reach Greece they will find ready to point out more extravagant ways!
The Best Way to Get There!
The most usual way to reach Greece is by sea, either from Marseilles, or from Venice, Trieste or Brindisi. A little known line is the Puglia, which can be taken from Venice, Trieste or Bari. Some of the Puglia boats call at all the Dalmatian ports (ten days’ delightful cruise) and reach only the northern Greek ports, where one must tranship to a Greek coasting steamer to get to Patras. It is well to avoid spending the night on the coasting steamer, but the day’s cruise among the islands is delightful.
Patras, to Begin With.
In any case, I strongly advise disembarkation at Patras, which boasts an up-to-date hotel.
It would be quite possible to visit Delphi from Patras, taking steamer up the Gulf of Corinth to Itea and motor-bus thence to Delphi, where at least two days should be spent, and then return to Patras.
It is the fashion in Greece to tell tourists that the trains are impossible and that they must motor everywhere. My experience is exactly the contrary, as I dislike bumping on bad roads. Trains are few and far between. They are slow, but they are comfortable and cheap (second class is quite good enough). Nearly all station-masters speak French and are most obliging.
And Then, On to Olympia.
Take train therefore from Patras to Olympia and stay the night there. Sparta can only be reached by car, and this excursion can be made from Olympia or Tripolitsa. From Olympia one can go on by train to Nauplia, an altogether charming sea- side resort whence one can visit Epidaurus (possessing the best – preserved Greek theatre), Tiryns and Argos, the last two by train. Any length of time could be dawdled away in this delightful part of the world with constant excursions to all parts of the Peloponnesus.
Mycene should Not be Missed.
Nauplia to Mycenae by early train and on to Athens in the evening is a quite possible arrangement. Better to stay at the inn in Mycenae, which, though tiny, is clean and accustomed to English ways, as the innkeeper has been trained by some members of the British school in Athens, who made their home there awhile. Both the inn and the excavations are some way from the station (no transport available), so only light things should be taken and heavy bags left at the station.
Leaving Mycenae by the same early train, one could “stop off” to see Corinth and proceed to Athens by the evening train. I suggest this rather than sleeping in Corinth, since one hears that all New Corinth, with the hotels, was destroyed in the last earthquake.
Athens of Course.
In Athens, where even the most hurried traveller will not wish to spend less than a week, it is best to stay near the centre of the town (Place de la Constitution) rather than in one of the group of hotels near the railway station, which, though clean and moderate in price, are most tiresome to reach at midday when sight-seeing.
Trams and motor-buses will take you everywhere in Athens. To the Acropolis, the Theseum, the Temple of Jupiter, the museums, to name only the outstanding sights. One may also make some charming excursions: to Phaleron by tram; to the Bay of Salamis by electric train to the Piraeus and then proceeding on foot or by bus; by motor – bus to Eleusis (now called Levsina) ala the Sacred Way. Excursions from Athens for which a car is needed are to Marathon and Cape Sounion. The tourist agencies make up parties so as to reduce expenses.
Leaving Athens at 10 in the morning, one may reach Kitinion (Bralo) at 2.30 and motor thence to Delphi (having arranged with the inn at Delphi to send a car), arriving in time for tea. I dare not begin to write of the beauty of this drive round the lower slopes of Parnassus, nor of the charm of Delphi, for I should not know when to leave off. I can only say: ” Do not miss it if you can possibly afford it.” Two nights at Delphi are the very least that should be allowed. Hence you may return to Patras, via Itea and home again by’ sea.
If a return by train is preferred you can leave Delphi again by the 2.30 train, which soon goes through the Pass of Thermopylae, of which one has a wonderful view. Those who wish to see the Vale of Tempe by daylight must leave the train at Larissa at about 7 p.m. and spend the night there. (I have no first-hand knowledge of the hotel there, opinions were divided concerning it.) A slow train can be taken to Salonica next day, passing through the famous Vale. If you elect to remain in the Orient Express you will reach Salonica at midnight.
Under Mount Olympus.
There is no particular reason for staying in Salonica (unless, as in our case, you wish to visit the British cemetery), but an afternoon spent rowing about the lovely bay under Mount Olympus, with her snow-clad peaks glistening in the sun, is one of my happiest memories.
At this, the last halt in this circuit of Greece, the question will arise whether to take the Orient Express and get home quickly, or to travel by slow stages, sleeping at different places en route. And here, let the traveller who minds her purse, beware. Tourist agencies sell through tickets which admit travel on express trains. But in Jugo-Slavia much cheaper tickets may be obtained for travel by slow trains. Continuing therefore my itinerary of saving money rather than time, I suggest leaving Salonica at midday and either de-training at Nisch at midnight or spending the night in the train and reaching Belgrade at 6 a.m. The next stage might be to Posthumia, on the Italian frontier, where there are some interesting stalactite caves, and from there, one more hop to Venice again.
Traps for the Unwary.
A hint as to traps for the unwary may not be amiss. Express trains, notably the Orient Express, do not run every day of the week; and one often has to spend a day less or more in a place in order to fit in with trains.
A second class ticket admits the traveller to the Orient Express in Greece and Jugo-Slavia and she may also have a sleeper thereon, still second class. As soon as the Italian frontier is reached, supplement to first class must be paid.
Beware of leaving the decision as to sleepers until you are on the train, for you then pay 10 per cent. extra, nominally for service.
It is a real advantage to master Greek characters, so as to be able to read the place names. French is a useful language to speak, as post office officials are obliged to know it, so, when in doubt, rush to the post office. In practice, so many people have a smattering of English that even French may be dispensed with. On our journey down the coast Italian was most used and, on the return overland, we found German a common tongue.
In the Hotels.
Hotels in the larger places often provide only rooms and prefer that you should go out to meals, though they will arrange to have morning coffee sent in. Accommodation, with food, will work out at from 10s. to 15s. per day according to the place. Except in Athens and Salonica, there is little choice of hotels; one must take the first that comes. Entrance fees to museums are very moderate and most excavations entirely free.
The real expense of a trip to Greece is the initial one of getting there. Though I have now been three times to Greece, and always by different Greece? routes. I have found no route that will cost less than £11 each direction.
What is the Best Time of Year?
Spring is ideal in Greece, as elsewhere, but, being the is inclined to reduce the already limited accommodation. Autumn (say October) has a charm in all grape- growing countries, and in none more than in the land of Bacchus. Neither mid-summer nor mid-winter is, in my opinion, suitable for a first visit.
What Clothes to Take?
Most essential is a warm coat which may be used as an extra bed-covering.
A light wrap easily carried during the day, to put on after sunset, is most useful. Evening dress is not required at all, and, except that colours should be fadeless, there seems no special advice to give about the light day dresses needed. I never found any difficulty in getting laundry done.
Only let your shoes be strong, for not only are the roads bad, but ruins and excavations are cruel to footwear.