Friday 26 October 2012

Hi - Can You Hear Me?

View The Theatre at Epidaurus in a larger map                    
The temptation was too great, too hard to resist – so I didn’t. I took centre stage and looked up at the 14,000 seats in tiers towards the sky, and I addressed them. In my hand was Judy’s Kindle – opened on a page from Somerset Maugham.

This Greek couple was putting on a
great performance. She was in full
flight, he was whacking his head in
frustration. We couldn't work out what
was going on, but either he didn't like the
work she'd chosen to recite or he simply
felt she was making an exhibition of herself.
Either way, she carried on until she was done.

Boys from St Pauls College, London,
sit up for a group photo.
“The Pacific is inconstant and uncertain like the soul of man …. “and I droned on for a couple of pages.
 When I’d finally finished, four people clapped. Judy was one of them. The rest of the 14,000 seats were empty.

That evening we camped at Camping Bekas,
Ancient Epidauros. There was hardly anyone
there and we put up the tent close to the
water's edge.

The Theatre of Epidaurus - 4th Century BC

But I didn’t care. Here we were at one of the most spectacular sights in Greece, the Theatre of Epidaurus which was built around the 4th century BC. It’s so well preserved that it’s still used for performances today – by professional artists as well as by tourists like ourselves.

The story goes that the acoustics are so good, that a coin dropped on the stage can be heard by those sitting in the very top row. After my rendition, a group of pupils from St Pauls College in London arrived, and one of them tried it. We sat and watched, we saw him open his hand but we couldn’t hear the coin hit the ground. But a few minutes later we did hear one of his school chums give a spirited version of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky,

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back

Now this was a young man with an acting career ahead of him. He sliced the air with his imaginary vorpal blade and projected that voice – so much so that up on the back row we could hear him quite clearly. No need for microphones and amplifiers 2,400 years ago.

For many years experts have tried to understand why the acoustics are so good at Epidaurus and now they think they have the answer. They believe the limestone seats suppress the low frequencies of the background noise from audiences and reflect the high frequencies from the actors and musicians.

Whatever the reason, the Jabberwocky performance drew applause from the pupil’s schoolmates and us, and helped round off what was to be a perfect day.

We’d cycled to Epidaurus from Nauplion – a steady, uphill climb. On the way we stopped for lunch at Ligourio where a man aged about 30 began the usual questioning. “I love New Zealand”, he said early on –visibly excited to meet a couple of Kiwis.

“Why?” I asked a little tersely. Judy had just told me the GPS wasn’t working and I was worried that perhaps the previous night I’d deleted our entire map of Europe in my efforts to find a map of Thailand.

“You have so many famous New Zealanders,” he said, and stopped. “The Maori” I suggested, and Judy offered Sir Edmund Hillary. “Dr Kerry Spackman”, the man said and we both looked at each other blankly. “He wrote a self-help book called ‘The Ant and the Ferrari’”.

We continued talking and eventually our new friend – John was his name – said reading Spackman’s book had saved his life. There was clearly more going on here than we were aware of.

We finished our lunch and resumed pedalling in the direction of Epidaurus, only to find John was in his car and providing an escort, so we didn’t miss the turnoff. When we arrived, he arranged for one of the staff to guard our bike while we toured the site. They couldn’t have been more kind, and once again our kiwiness was proving a valuable asset.

Afterwards, we swept downhill the 10 km to the coast where we found an open campsite (most have closed now for the winter), and pitched the tent almost on the water’s edge. The sun sank over the hills behind us and we opened the wine. I played with the GPS and suddenly, there was our map of Europe. What could be better.

The site at Epidauros is famous for the
theatre but there's much more, all part of the
sanctuary of  the Healing God Asclepius.
This is the stadium.

View from campsite.


  1. Guys, I think this is the most rewarding blog entry to read to date :-) Simply beautiful. Enjoy the serenity of the campsite.


    1. Hi Kyle - glad you enjoyed it. Having abit of trouble getting maps to work on the posts, but persisting for the meantime. We really enjoyed our visit to Epidaurus. Hope all well with you and the gang. Cheers Brockie

  2. Looks fantastic Dad, so very jealous I wish I was on your adventure with you! xx

  3. Jealous, jealous, jealous. Gillies and I can't wait to retire. Can't imagine her on a bike though.

  4. I love the updates:) And yes very jealous. Just for the record... Jane will be hard out peddling at the front, I'll be kicking back relaxing at the back:) Missing you. Happy Travels x

  5. I beg your pardon. Pedal not Peddle. Apologies;)


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