New Zealand, Greece · 7 Days · 12 Moments · September 2017

Wira's journi to Greece

2 October 2017

Mon 2 Oct 17 Mount Olympus 1) Yesterday we marvelled at the treasures of Greek antiquity at Delphi. Today it's back to following in the footsteps of our ancestors - nga tapuwae o nga koroua o rua te tau ma war. 2) In April 1941 the NZ Division had 4 and 6 NZ Brigades deployed to the north on the Aliakmon line to hold the anticipated German attack. 5 NZ Brigade with 22, 23 battalions and 28 Maori Battalion were deployed to the Mount Olympus Pass as the divisional reserve. 3. We reached the road junction of the Petra road which turned left and ran 7 Km down to the Petra Santarium. Along this road were deployed 22 and 23 battalions. We turned back and through the town of Potin we approached the Skoteina road. We debased and started the long walk to the top of the ranages a steep road of about 2 km. 4. We found the road could handle the bus so we sent one of the students back to get the driver to bring the bus up. We then travelled several kilometres along the Skoteina road

1 October 2017

Sun 1 Oct 17 - Delphi North western Greece 1) This morning we travelled to NE Greece to the mountains to visit the remarkable antiquities site of Delphi. 2) During the Pelopponesian war between Athens and Sparta about 431-404 BC the leaders came to Delphi to ask the oracles for advice on how they could resolve te war. The oracles told them to "consult silence". Shut up and listen. 3) This is the ancient centre of the oracles where Greek leaders for more than 2,500 years have come to consult the oracles and to demonstrate their affluence and influence on the affairs of Ancient Greece. 3) It is described as the "spiritual centre" of Greek civilisation. The picture is of the sphinx and this is about 2600 years old. 4) Our whole crew were gobsmacked by the sheer magnificence and grandeur of the site. Along with Acropolis they have now seen and experienced two of the greatest treasures of the ancient world.

30 September 2017

Sat afternoon 30 Sep 17. 1) Corinth Canal. Several of our students standing on the bridge looking at the marvel that is the Corinth Canal 2) It links the Gulf of Corinth with the Aegean Sea. Emperor Nero first launched the idea of linking seas. Not till 1880s that task finished by an Hungarian engineer 3) in the rapid retreat of the remnants of 2 NZ Division including the Reinforcement Company of the Maori Battalion and the Bren Carrier Platoon commanded by 2Lt Tenga Rangi of Rotorua had to get across the Canal. 4) On 26 April a German surprise parachute attack captured the bridge but it was blown up, temporarily halting the German chase and allowing escaping NZers some respite. 5) The MB's Reinforcement Company had got across in time and raced for other evacuation ports only to be taken at Kalamata. 6) A sign of the poverty of Greece was the attempts by two child beggars to get our students to give them money. A blemish on an otherwise solemn occasion to remember the deeds of our
Sat 30 Sep. Kalamata, SW Greece. 1) The port of "last chance" for more than 90 Maori men of 28 Maori Battalion who were amongst thousands of Allied soldiers captured on 28/29 April 1941. 2) We stopped at a memorial to those men who fought, died, and were captured here at Kalamata and the rest of the Greek campaign. 3) We had a karakia (church) service led by Rika Mato. 4) In this photo our kaumatua Eddie Matchitt stands beside one of our mokopuna Te Houhi Breamsley and in the background is Margaret Ransfield. 5) The photos belong to Margaret and shows her grandfather John Ransley last company commander of B Company and his brother who was killed on Crete. 6) A very moving ceremony which helps our young students remember those who have gone before and the sacrifices they made.

29 September 2017

Fri 29 Sep. After loading our gear onto our bus we headed to Kalamata, southwest of Athens. The trip is slightly askew here as we are starting our journey in Greece at the tail end of the campaign - the final withdrawal from Greece. The ground the New Zealanders withdrew over between 25-29 April 1941 was bleak with the road system being narrow, winding and pretty much metalled most of the way. Today the journey took us about 4 hours over super highways and every 40-50 km a toll gate like the one in the photo. It's little wonder there were few older vehicles on the road as I expect few locals can afford to pay their way. In the 1970/80s the Greeks borrowed billions from the EU and while the roads te brilliant the cost has contributed towards driving them into a parlours economic state. After dinner and getting used to eating great Greek salads again we had a hui to get briefed for Saturday 30th.
Fri 29 Sep After excellent exit through Bangkok airport and a five hour flight to Athens arrive just before 3pm. Fastest check through yet. Just present passport and that's it. The boys are a mischievous lot. While we were enroute the two boys next to me spent some time fiddling with the TV remote and how they did it I don't know but they were able to use it as a telephone and call up their mates on the plane. Very enterprising lot. Tuihana has a pretty tight grip on them but she told me that a couple of the boys had been. Lose to being expelled but she accepted them. They remind me of delinquent soldiers prepared to kick over the traces at any moment unless firmly controlled. When we flew over Athens I was reminded how scruffy and dry Athens is. The airport looks tired and depressing and the people look weighed down by the troubles of the world which they are. This photo shows our welcome by our guide who was standing in lobby of airport waiting for us with his cute sig

28 September 2017

Thursday 28 September: visited Royal Thai Palace today. Thousands of tourists and Thai visiting st the same time. Massive crowds and slow moving to look at key parts of the palace including spectacular statues and buildings and gargoyles. Built over 200 years ago with gold, colours of jade, rubies and gold . Our bus was stopped about 2 km from the palace and we had to walk. 32% temperature and 100% humidity. Along the way we passed long lines of tents with black-dressed Thai dressed in black. They are mourning their King who died over two months ago. They have a 100 day of mourning and then have funeral. Thailand has a King, a Prime Minister and whenever the politicians muck up the military Juntas step in. Hold power for a while and then call for elections. It seems that recent PMs have been corrupt or accused of corruption. Tonight we have a river cruise dinner at midnight we are off to Dubai. Breakfast there and then onto Athens. Kids very urbane & confident for rural kids

27 September 2017

Wed 27th: Early morning check-in. Stood in queue at Qantas for 40 mins. Spoilt by years of business travel and resolved to continue where possible to avoid economy queues. However can't complain as Whangaparaoa is underwriting my travel. Tuihana, Eddie Matchitt, Rika Mato, Peter Mariu, Margaret Ransfield and another teacher plus 20 students had driven up from Whangaparaoa the night before arriving at airport at 4.46am had already checked in. We checked through and settled for our first levy from Auckland to Sydney. Arrived Sydney and stopped about an hour then boarded for flight to Bangkok about 8 hours
Wed 27 Sep Left Sydney at 9.50 and arrived Suvarnabumi Int Airport Bangkok at just before 5pm. Great to travel during the day time to generally coincide with body clock. Watched two movies and read most of the way. Good on Qantas is crappola of the crappies the kind. Arrived to temperature 32 degrees. Because of my lightning speed I got welll ahead of the group got through passport control customs and out the exit faster than Auckland airport. Waited at exit for group fir half an hour they never arrived. Got a phone call to ask where I was! They had exited through another route and somewhat embarrassingly I had to find them. And we were in our way. The trip from airport to our hotel normally 43 mins but took 2 hours!!. Traffic jams, congestion bs moving at snails pace nearly all the way. Checked in to hotel and getting our rooms allotted and someone noticed we had s body missing. It was Rapata Eddies mokopuna. He'd gone to sleep at the back and his mates forgot to wake him up!!!
Arrived Auckland from Gizzie at midday. While. It raining miserable day. Walked 15 mins to Ibis Budget hotel and checked in. One night $159 pretty reasonable for around airport where Novotel is $469 per night. Took photo of the little bag. I was surprised at the large bags the folks from the stocks had with them. Rika Mato had two very large bags. Some of hgf kids did as well. Anyway the reason for my photo was just in case it got lost and I needed to identify it. As it turned out when it got to Bangkok the strap had gone! Went to supermarket next door and got done Kai including KFC which wasn't all that great.

26 September 2017

Flew Gizzie to Auckland and booked into Ibis Budget Hotel as we are checking in tomorrow morning at 5am. Hotel very functional but at $159 for night cheapest accommodation at Auckland airport. No restaurant but super market next door. Really looking forward to this trip with the senior class from Whangaparaoa Kura Mana Maori. Te Ururoa called and took up conversation we had some months ago when he said this was going to be his last term and he would be looking to standing down after it. Well the call has come earlier than expected so he is now looking at opportunities. He is considering a portfolio of activities. I said we would meet when I got back from Europe. Hekia sent me text to say Nanny Pat had died. She has been a part of Hekias campaign since 2001. Patricia was 81 and died of a heart attack. She was a stalwart if the National Party and lived breathed it I nga wa katoa. Nanny Pat was direct and believed in calling a spade a spade which did not always endear her to her friends