Trip Start Feb 21, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Greece  ,
Saturday, April 7, 2007

After everything, I made it! yay!!!  We docked in Patras 10 min. early, and were told to ask for a shuttle bus to the train station.  Everyone outside the boat said, yes yes, train and pointed towards the city.  We're like, no no, SHUTTLE.  And then walk not even 5 yards and walk over the bloody train tracks, look to our left, and ta daaaa! train station!  excellent.  Okay well that's covered then I guess.  Waited around with some other student travellers on break, and caught the most bouncy train ride in the world.  It had a horn that sounded like a miniature toot toot car horn haha, and reminded me of the jolly yellow buses in Malta for their nostalgic content.  We passed the old school cable cars that they use on a regular basis apparently.  There's also some kind of cool suspension bridge in the Patras area which we could see from the train.  The terrain changed every 20 min. or so, and the conductor ran up and down the train checking new arrivals for tickets along the way, and yelling at some punk Italian trendy poser guy to get his feet off the seat in Greek haha.  You didn't have to know Greek to know that this guy meant business.  ah sweet justice at last.  We took the train to Corinth, and were about to get off to switch to another to Athens, when a local told us, no no, this is the old Korinthos station, you want the new one.  Next stop.  So the train starts backing up and we think, ok-ayyyy, what is happening now?  And then we go forward again, so must've been switching tracks or something.  Arrive in the New Korinthos station with 3 min. to spare between trains, and basically flew off one and right back into the one across the thankfully same shared platform.  This was a suburban train, which after the last ride it was like, are we moving?  I can't tell.  nice.  We were doing fine until we got to train stops which said we were headed for the airport, and the other tracks were headed to Athens. WHAT?  after another local told us not to freak out, we'd get there eventually, we said OK and next thing we knew had apparently stopped at the airport stop, switched tracks and headed towards Athens magically.  That's the only explanation I can give.  Finally made it, and with perfect directions and on time trains (how's that for a change???) got into the hostel, just off of Omonia Square, not far from where all the action is.

Met a Canadian couple in my room who had also just gotten in - yes! someone to wander around with at night!  Excellent.  So we headed down one of the main streets and wound back up to this lookout hill where you could see the Acropolis, pretty much all of Athens, and some other random hills with ruins or parks on them.  Cool!  Watched a very hazy sunset, so it only half-counted I guess.  On our way back down the hill, we happened across one of the Easter processions I'd been told about - this out-door processional from one church, around the block, everyone accompanied by candles and prayer beads, either singing or praying, the church bells ringing loudly in the background, and this sort of festive air about, minus the tourists with video cameras (though I admit, I did a video on my camera as well, I couldn't help it!).  It was really cool to witness, and I'm sure we'll see more in the next 48 hrs.  Finally pulled ourselves away, and continued down until we eventually found a restaurant we'd heard about in numerous guidebooks.  We tucked into the best welcome meal to Greece: 3 kinds of meat (pork?, chicken and beef) that had been skewered, on a pita with sides of tzatziki (cucumer yogurt) and onions and parsley with fries.  YUM.  We were famished and ate every last bite.  How could you not?  When we sat down though, we asked for the menu, and then realized that menu apparently means the special of the day.  oops!  Can I have a menu? yes, 3??? um, well not to eat, just to look at actually.  what?  haha.  Eventually we decided on the menu/special anyways, and we never looked back.  Plus they serve free pitchers of water here!  Awesome!  And the bakeries have MORE pastries that are traditionally Greek and specifically Easter items to try by the busloads, all soaked in the thickest layers of honey you've ever seen.  Whoah.  But good.

The bathrooms in Greece however, are a real trip, as we are staying in a not-quite-completed hostel/old hotel, so the shower is in a corner raised enough to hold 1 or 2 inches of slowly draining water, but there's no curtain so basically every time you lift your arm, water comes streaming out from your elbow onto the floor.  Exciting! Challenging!  How do you actually get clean???  It is tricky. But hey, finally somewhere affordable to stay - heck anything is after Italy I suppose!  And also something about Greek plumbing: no where yet that I've ben here lets you put paper into the toilet.  It's basically forbidden.  So how does that work.  Well you just hang onto it and put it into the handy dandy smells-like-a-two-day-old-diaper waste bin next to the toilet.  Interesting.  But most actually HAVE paper, as well as soap, so that's a big plus.  I'll take it.

Then today the three of us hit up a corner stand to get breakfast in the form of a sort of carrot bran muffin, and these maybe Easter? rings of bread covered in sesame seeds which are fantastically good and filling.  We headed to the Acropolis, Parthenon et al, and as luck would have it, it being the day before Easter, admission was free!  Yay!  We just saved another huge dinner's worth of food.  yes!  For some reason allt he clouds were around us yet the very hot sun beating down above us, which made for great views but very dehydrating.  As we were wandering the lower levels of other nearby temples, I had the luck to not pay attention and twist my ankle in the little crevice of a sidewalk, so while I'm trying to prop my ankle up to keep it from swelling, I have these security guards yelling at me to sit up and get my BARE FOOT off of a potentially old and historical rock.  Whatever lady, you try doing this in the mid-day heat and hobble around.  But I think it'll be okay.  Just a bit of a damper.  But HEY!  Nothing a lunch of gyros pita take-away and Spinach/Feta (Spinnakipoli or something like that?) pies can't fix!  MMMMMM....
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