Greece 2 - Vergina/ Philip of Macedonia and the Royal Tombs/gold leaf crowns, acorns and oak leaves/pitch darkness /Shredded Wheat cake

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April 29th 2017
Published: April 29th 2017
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Can things continue to go wrong? Oh yes they can. Upon returning from paying for our night stop I heard a buzzing. A loud one much louder than the bees humming in the trees picking up nectar for this years honey crop.It was coming from Suzy. To be precise it was coming from Snoopy the sat nav. It gave up. It died a death and refused to work. We were lucky. Only a few weeks ago we managed to buy a new Sally Sat Nag so she had to come into play. Typically the one we need with Camperstops in has packed in. I also needed to be vigilant as Sally does not take Suzy's vital statistics so my job involved looking for narrow roads before we got to them and avoiding low bridges.

We feel at home in Greece. We had had our reservations that we would not like it. It has been a long way down here but so far after the delights and wonders of Meteora and the politeness and happiness shown by the Greek people we feel at home. The folks are warm and think nothing of giving you good service with a smile. Many speak English and are happy to help you spend your money with them. Greece and its people have really exceeded any expectation we had. Ok the roadsigns are barmy. In both Cyrrilic and Roman script they take some deciphering. The scenery is magnificent. Mountains , valley passes and sheep and goats being herded by shepherds in the age old traditions. Tractors everywhere from towns to the countryside . Old ladies dressed from head to foot in black. Churches in the Eastern tradition built everywhere. It is a delight and is giving some of the other countries we have visited a run for their money. The weather too is kind. 30 degrees by mid afternoon.

Today we arrived at Vergina. You are going to have use your imagination here. A nothing sort of place if you dont know your Greek history. A small village with a main street and cafes spilling onto the street. We found the camperstop overseen by an elderly Greek gentleman. A real gentleman with a smile on his face using his time to look after the camperstop and cut his grass. We offered our 1 euro 50 cents. We knew he would look after Suzy. We could stay an hour, a whole day or even overnight. There was another large free car park further up the road where the buses parked but we hadnt noticed that one. There were kids everywhere. Schoolkids and college students all here to see something. Our car park man told us in broken English and gestures to walk down the road, cross the roundabout , go a bit further and we would find the Royal Tomb. The thing we had come all this way to see.

Now this is where you have to use your imagination. Walk with me to the ticket office. A surly guy is behind the counter. The first non smiling Greek he glowered at meas I ask for reduced entry. Pensioner - he glowered a little more. Reduced EU ? Nothing so I had him the passports and point to the European Union entry on the top. We are still in Europe so he had no choice but to let us in for half price . Come with me now to the biggest hump in the ground you could ever wish to see. Down the underground passage from the light into the gloom. Your glasses like mine will not adjust to the darkness as I scrabble with the ticket machine to let us in. Inside to our left are stellae - gravestones from 300BC. Painted - some in better states of repair than others. Some carved with the most excusite Greek figures. In 1977 an archaelogist found an entrance to this tomb and after digging he found bones, a skull with a damaged eye socket which gave him the clue that this must be the tomb of Philip of Macedonia father of Alexander the Great. It must have been like finding a pharoahs tomb in the Valley of the Kings. He found not one tomb but many and he discovered the ancient capital of Agai.

He discovered a palace but this is covered by sheets of aluminium. The dig has stopped some years ago due to intransigence and lack of money. I cannot understand why archaelogists dont get involved with helping with the dig. We cannot go into the burial tombs sadly so you will just have to stand with me and look over the balcony at the Doric arches that surround the entrance. Inside is the tomb itself . Next to it another tomb and beyond that a tomb of a queen with frescoes painted on its walls. I want to point the camera at all this wonder.

Walk with me to the display cases and prepare to be amazed. A burial casket of pure gold with a Macedonian star emblazoned on the lid. shields, Spartan helmuts, carved panels made of ivory, bones, everything so beautiful and detailed . It is hard to describe the workmanship. Even today it is hard to imagine making something so divine. The quality is excellent and hard to describe. Even today one would struggle to get such amazing beautiful things made. How I wish I could photograph them. Gold wreaths made up of thin sheets of gold leaf so delicate that they would float away in the wind. Acorns, oak leaves . All made for the dead and for the afterlife . We were amazed and you would have been too had you walked round with me. Each case held pottery, jewellery , armour and all manner of objects from every day Macedonian life .

We finished our trip with a coffee and a custard flaky tart . I ate a shredded wheat cake , thin strands of what look like shredded wheat coated in honey and filled with nuts and fruit .

Today was another wow day. All that gold will remain in my memory forever.


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