In “The Trip to Greece,” the fourth and final chapter in Michael Winterbottom’s psycho-gastronomic-travel series (showing in theaters now), Rob Brydon tells Steve Coogan that he didn’t realize that Greece was so big. Brydon was just tired of moving around so much, but we – sitting at a safe distance from the other groups at the open-air cinema in Ambelokipi on one of our first and still hesitant outings during this “nice but dangerous” summer – took it as a compliment. OK, maybe “big” isn’t the word, but it’s certainly true to say that few countries on this planet can boast so many different landscapes within an area of (just) 131,957 square kilometers, and so much magic, regardless of the fact that in order to get to your destination you might have to endure some ugliness and perhaps a few ordeals. At one point in the film, the two British comedians driving somewhere inland pass an overflowing rubbish bin, with bags of trash covering half the road. “Have mercy, Greece, you have 2,500 years of history,” was their tongue-in-cheek comment as they continued on their odyssey.
Indeed, the pair are following in the footsteps of Odysseus – on behalf of the British Observer. Is it possible to fit an epic journey into six days? More incredible things have happened. So, starting from the Turkish coast, Canakkale and ancient Troy, they cross to Lesvos, then continue to Halkidiki, Delphi, Athens, Hydra, Epidaurus, Mani and Pylos, before finally reaching Ithaca, having eaten well on the way but sore, in a different, esoteric finale, which also matched the film’s timing. Like the film’s protagonists, in the last few months we have all become aware of what is important and what is not, the moments we need to appreciate during the journey of life.
On a more humble note, the film advertises Greece and its summer in the most critical period for tourism in the country. According to data presented by Kathimerini on Sunday, although a large percentage of foreign visitors (63.9%) consider that a trip to Greece is today the same or more attractive compared to the pre-Covid-19 era, the above has yet to translate into bookings. It is almost as if Winterbottom is telling his compatriots, “There is no vaccine for the coronavirus, but there is an antidote to the stress: a trip to Greece.”