Tuesday, 18 November 2008

All at Sea 2

Greetings from the port of Volos, where the good ship Queen Victoria docked at 0900 local time today. It's cloudy and cold, and we're berthed here in one of Greece's biggest container ports. As I survey the scene from the poop deck, I can see cranes, containers, an oil tanker and a bulk-carrier loading shredded scrap metal.......Oh yes, and a fleet of coaches being boarded by a fleet of TOGS, heading off for today's excursion. These are the hardy ones. The trip includes a 150-step climb up a rocky hillside to reach a historic monastery at The Meteora (means "suspended rocks" or "in the heavens above" depending on who you believe) and there's a strict dress code for those who wish to venture in. Skirts below the knee are de rigeur, and woe betide the female TOG who sports a pair of trousers. Not for her the warm welcome and the monastic embrace. A sound thrashing from the brotherhood, more like. Come to think of it, I'm sure that's a positive incentive for some TOGS!
Here are a few of the grop, preparing for departure, complete with Pudsey the Children-in-Need bear. I hope the monks don't take exception to his lack of formal attire.

I waved the TOGS off on their adventure and then returned to my cabin for a ship's biscuit and some restorative cocoa. It was just too windy and cold for me to contemplate the hill climb to the famous monastery and, besides, I didn't have room for warm clothing when I packed my case for this trip. I've made good use of my time in the Queen Victoria's excellent Gym, and I'll be poised with the hypothermia treatment when the TOGS return at teatime.

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