Christine Schildt: Greece in my Heart
This year we celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations between Finland and Greece and we have asked some important people in this respect to express their experiences and feelings between these two countries. Towards the end of the year, we introduce Christine Schildt, who together with her late husband Göran Schildt sailed around Greece until they landed on the little island of Leros.
I arrived in Greece for the first time in 1963, and ever since, I have spent my adult life between Finland and Greece. The reasons I came for, were sailing with ketch "Daphne" and Göran Schildt. In 1965, we made a longer sailing around the Black Sea, and since then we sailed to all Greek islands until 1984, when "Daphne" was transferred to new sailing enthusiasts.
Greece, as it was at the beginning of 60’s until the end of 70’s, does not exist anymore. I am happy I was able to experience this period, when Syntagma was a piece of a pulsating city with pleasant, calm walks in its downtown allies.
Sailing and the sea tied us, Göran and me together. At an early stage we realized that a ”little” house on one of the islands would be ideal, taking into account the long spring and autumn sailings to and from Italy - Greece. "Daphne" would have its winter harbour and the house would offer a place for us to work in during the winter, but first of all, a peaceful place for Göran’s literary work.
We arrived at Leros sailing from the Black Sea in 1965 in order to change the crew. Sailing in to Agia Marina was the moment, when we both decided to give “Daphne” and ourselves a tranquil harbour. So it happened and we managed to buy an old house. The renovation started the following year. It took years of pleasing work, but first of all brought us closer to the people of Leros. We were strangers on the island, but a strong feeling of being at home started to grow, and it still exists until today.
Göran was occupied with his writing and I had hands full with the everyday life. In the first years everything was made by hand, water carried from the wells, there were no laundry machines, women made the clothes and girls spent their evening hours crocheting or embroidering. On the island, there were only three taxi cars and if some heavier items like cement or lime had to be delivered to the house, we had to turn to the DONKEY STATION.
Greece has played a decisive role in our lives. We grew our roots here and we were happy to be one of the Greeks. It has not been just a bed of roses, but what would tie people more closely together than mutual joy and sorrow.
“The Christine and Göran Schildt Foundation” in Finland has been a fundamental mission with the aim to strengthen cultural contacts between Finland and Greece. We have had good cooperation in student exchange, Greek music and dance, presentations as well as different group travels between these two countries, where our home ”Villa Kolkis” has been the gathering point.
For ten years ago, directly after Göran passed away, some people from Leros established Göran Schildt Memory Regatta, which is a three-day sailing event every year in September attracting 20 – 25 sailing boats from all over Europe. The foundation aims to bring people together to exchange views and enjoy together culture and sailing in the Mediterranean.
After Göran passed away in 2009, I have tried to follow the paths and thoughts that we together worked for. We are grateful to the Embassy of Finland with its positive staff for all the support we have received in difficulties.
With this little writing, I have tried to go back to the thoughts half a century ago, as I experienced Greece then and now.
Fotos: © Christine and Göran Schildt foundation