Good Byes, Tumbles, and Right Screw Ups!
London to Athens
How can I sum up the last few days? I know… AHHHHHHH! Don’t worry things can’t be that bad, can they?
So I have got a couple (about 15) of E-mails about Nate. He is doing fine. I think he has been feeling a little neglected as of late. I haven’t been talking about him enough so I promise Nate will be getting much more frontage from now on!!
Since Dublin, Ireland I have settled into a bit of a routine. I get up, smoke, shower then nap. Maybe then I go for a wander in town, then head home for some dins. Then I head to the pub around the corner meet all my mates and get blitzed.
Today was a little different since I leave on Saturday. My grandparents decided to take me out for dinner. This may not sound like much, but you have to remember my grandad has a very hard time getting around. The dinner was lovely and it was pretty cool to be able to have a couple of drinks with grandad. We took a couple of pics together and got a taxi home.
Then things got SCARY! Grandad has a bit of a lame knee and it gave way as he was getting into the taxi. What’s the scariest thing you have ever seen? How about an 80 year old man tumbling out of a car into the street and smacking his head on the road? Yeah, I thought you would agree! Thank God everything turned out okay. I checked Gramps over and nothing seemed broken. He didn’t even have a bump on his head. We got him into the cab and went home. Once there I have him another once over to make sure that he was okay. Good thing is Gramps is tough as old boots. I think his pride took a bigger beating by falling out of a parked car in front of his Grandson! All’s well that ends well!
I still went out later with my friends to say good-bye. I was going to be getting up early on Saturday so I had no plans on going out the next night. Oh and Nate. Well he is pissed at me! I had no idea he could swear like that! I think all this English TV has taught him some new bad words!! Anyways he wants to go home but I told him not to be silly and would chat with him some more.
The day from hell… really, I’m not kidding. After a misty good-bye I began the long haul to Heathrow Airport. It took almost two hours by taxi, train, and subway. The latter were both packed! Damn my backpack feels heavy. I swear I have less stuff in it than when I left the States! The only thing I can really lose is my sleeping bag but we shall see about that. Nate got a little squished in the train but he is feeling much better now.
I went to check-in but low and behold my ticket was for yesterday! Somehow I screwed up and was a day late for my plane! This sent the staff at Olympic Airways into fits of giggles too! Me, I was mortified. To their credit they changed my ticket and let me fly out on the next flight anyway. I paid my penance of Â£30 (the last of my money) and went the waiting room to feel sorry for myself. Nate had a good laugh and I got so mad I almost left him at Heathrow but I changed my mind (and ran back to the bar to retrieve the poor little guy) and decided to take him with.
As with every airline under the sun no one remembered I’m a veggie. But again the nice people at Olympic made things work and assembled a nice meal for me from the food in the first call cabin. I really like Olympic Airways, what cool people!
Landed in Athens on time but a day late. Floated over the the baggage claim area to pick up the backpack of encumbrance. After 45 minutes and everyone else on my flight getting their bags I decided that they must have thrown my pack overboard to save on fuel or something. As I began wandering towards Information I spotted my bag all by itself on some other belt. Somehow my bag got separated from the others and ended up three conveyer belts away. Things are looking up! (Yeah right!) Due to not being able to get my pack in a timely manner I was informed all the buses from the airport had stopped running. Looks like a taxi for me then. I managed to share a taxi with a really nice English couple to downtown so I could start my hunt for somewhere cheap to sleep.
After a quick read and an hour in line I informed my driver to take me to Plaka. This is where a lot of cheap hostels and hotels are located. It’s right at the base of the Acropolis. It took another hour of fighting traffic and mounting the curb to get to my stop. Gave the driver a couple of thousand Drachma (about $5) and went on my way. I went to a dozen places, and was turned away from all of them. Even though the busy season is over Athens is still a popular stop for the Greeks. I finally found a place to stay. It’s a little nicer that I really need (and more than I wanted to spend), but it’s clean and available. I ended up getting the last room for 14,000 Drachmas, about $30 per night. It kinda killed my budget but it will do. After grabbing some food, both Nate and I collapsed. Tomorrow we would awake to be in Greece!!!
Yasou everyone. Nate and I awoke nice and early this morning to take advantage of the free (included in the price of my room) breakfast. No matter how much I pleaded the staff would not give Nate anything!
With brekkie over with it was time to put a great big check mark on my list. THE ACROPOLIS! From my vantage I could see it, but how to get there? I know, I’ll walk! First things first however I need smokes. Damn! I heard it was cheap to smoke here but check this out, 500 Drachma a pack. That’s like $1.20. For these prices I should be able to smoke myself silly!
My little pocket guide said walking to the Acropolis is an adventure in navigation. They were not kidding at all! You will find Athens to be a city full of contradictions. Wonderful little churches and ruins thousands of years old or more will be surrounded by eight lanes of traffic, with people, bikes, trucks, and whatever people seem to have with them. Also the Greeks don’t take anything too seriously. Signposts are silly, including to something like the Acropolis. Come on now, it’s right there! Yeah right, that is easier said than done in Athens. After an hour or so walking around little back streets and wondering by small Taverna’s I came to a little hand painted sign that said ‘Acropolis’ with a little arrow. There were about five or six before they ended at a T junction about 500 yards from the Acropolis. But the walk was wonderful and I’m sure I will never find this part of town again! (I may never find my Hotel again but whatever)
The Acropolis is by no means a let down. Nate and I were both blown away by the place. I hope everything on my list turns out this good. The ruins, views and even the little museum were all breath taking. I snapped up a whole mess of pics including one of Nate sitting on a wall overlooking all of Athens. What a great morning and worth all the hassle of getting to Greece.
After a nice long wander we both headed back into town. As we were going Nate spotted a sign to some place called Agora. With a quick nose in the guide book I found it. Agora is the ancient Athens market place. Founded in 200 BC. Great great great. Not as impressive as the Acropolis but nice to visit nonetheless. Headed back to the Hotel for a nap from all the walking. Went to the store and made a nice dinner for both Nate and I.
That night Nate and I went in search of a Taverna to sample some of Greece’s famous Ouzo. Wow, that stuff is a killer. Ouzo is an aniseed flavored drink that will kick your ass! It’s a little like Sambuca but on steriods. Stumbled home and slept. Nate stood on guard duty. Don’t mess with da Monkey!
Kalimere all. This is my last day in Athens. Tonight I take a short flight to Cairo, Egypt. Time has just flown by. Yesterday was fun but I didn’t get to do anything I had planned. After having such a good time on Sunday I had decided I would take it easy and go to the beach. The nice people at the Hotel gave me directions to the college where I would find a bus to the beach. This did take some time and a little effort as I can say about three words in Greek and he could do about ten in English. But with lots of pointing and a few smiles I headed out for a day relaxing on some sand.
Surprisingly enough I found the bus stop with few problems. (Ha, this isn’t so bad!) Now which bus do I take? One problem with the Greek language and me is I can’t read it! They don’t use our alphabet at all. I asked the ticket people but they either didn’t speak English or they were just in no mood to talk to me. Either way I was yelled at and told to go away. I decided my guide book needed to be consulted and it was about time I tried a Greek coffee. I went back to Plaka and had no problem finding a cafe. I sat down, ordered a Greek coffee and began to read.
****Note! Greek coffee is very strong indeed and comes in three levels of sweetness, sweet, medium, and nothing. It is recommended that you try a medium first and go from there!****
My book said that the beaches around Athens were kinda grotty and full of tourists and touts. Oh well, not for me. Nate was kinda upset. After spending so long in my backpack he was looking forward to getting a little sun. Oh well buddy, next time. Flicking through a few more pages I decided I would go to the National Archaeological Museum. After some lunch I headed to a busy road to find a taxi. There is definitely an art form to getting a cab. In America you just stick your hand out and whistle. The taxi pulls over and you jump in and tell the nice driver type person where you would like to go. Well HA! Not here you don’t. Here you yell into traffic, a taxi flashes his lights and slows down a little. You then yell out your destination and cabbie either stops or keeps going looking for someone else. Most of the time the bastards keep on moving.
After about 20 taxis going by I was starting to get mad. I can’t speak Greek fast enough for the driver so he just keeps moving. But wait, there is another option. Jump out into traffic and play chicken with the taxi. I saw a couple of people doing this and barely coming out of it in one peace. Nate stopped me from loosing my temper and dragging some poor taxi guy out of his cab and beating the living daylights of him. For the second time in one day I went back to Plaka with my tail between my legs.
The day was not all doom and gloom. I had my first Greek coffee and in my travels I found a really nice part of town that had a veggie restaurant. It was about a 40 minute walk from Plaka and was quiet and nice. I walked in and said my usual, “Kalispera, milate Anglika?” which means “Good evening, do you speak English?” Why yes she says and starts speaking fluently. I was totally surprised. Here I was, far away from touristy downtown and this young lady spoke better English than anyone I had met so far. The meal with wine and all three courses was about 3,600 Drachma, about $9. With that I made the long walk home to put Nate to bed and got ready for departure.
This morning I checked out (after ditching the sleeping bag and re-packing), left my pack at the hotel and headed out. My plans today are going to the damn Archaeological Museum and getting to the airport. How this is going to happen I have no idea yet. Wish me luck and I will speak to you all again with luck from Cairo, Egypt!
PS: If you have any questions about places I’ve been or am going feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org