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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Two: Europe

Saturday, October 13

Rome to Athens 1431 LAND ATHENS (Flying time 7 hours, 35 minutes)

Rome to Athens in a day! but our thoughts have been so much in the past, that it seems we have done the impossible. The magnificent civilization of ancient Rome has given way to that other great culture of ancient Greece, and on the way have studied the harbors, straits, and channels as though we were soon to make passage in a small clumsy craft with the head of Janus on its bow.

What beauty lies in the Mediterranean! It has been a day as clear as crystal with visibility for great distances. The air was velvety smooth. Down the coast we went from point to point, sometimes over land, sometimes out to sea we turned in to have a look at Naples (I had an appendicitis attack there once!). Vesuvius and Pompeii to the left, Capri to the right, and Sorrento beneath. The Bay was quiet deep blue. Then into a climb, and across the mountains, where it means a jump if the motor quits. The bay of Taranto was quiet and soft to look at, and land soon dropped out of sight, to reappear 90 miles later at Gallipoli and Cape Santa Maria di Leuca. Then it dripped away again and Wilson went out the hatch to practice with the sextant - suddenly when all was quiet we spied Albania far off to the left. She was supermely beautiful, with bold high mountains rising straight from the sea, cut up by the faint silverly streaks of rivers. A small island lay in our path, and then Corfu appeared, bathed in sunlight except for a dark circle beneath the cloud cap which crowned its summit. We skirted the Island, because my sketch made it look "forbidden", but I find now that that was wrong. Came close to land at Ithaca (memories of that other Ithaca!) and then across water of the deepest blue imaginable, the Gulf of Corinth. We dropped low to speak to the fishing boats, but if answer was given, it was probably in the profanity of a strange tongue. An hour later the Corinthean canal was reached, a mere scratch in the clay soil. A detour around Salamis (which sure enough is forbidden) and then down in a spot landing to a buoy in Phaleron Bay.

The Shell men were already on hand and Bob gassed up while I stepped ashore in custody of the Customs officials and the airdrome manager. There was also a garrulous gentleman named Jackson, whom I supposed at first owned the Station, but turned out later to be a sightseeing guide. I warned the officials that we always make 4:30 A.M. take offs, so they cleared up the coming, the staying and the going all at once!

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