Our shack out back! 4:44 ALL week long!
Trip Start Jun 25, 2012
14Trip End Sep 12, 2012
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Black Sea & Sofia, Bulgaria
This week we said goodbye to Nana and Grampie Partridge as they returned to Canada leaving the beautiful Black Sea for the Capital - Sofia where Janice and I got our teeth professionally cleaned and Monique had an obstructive tooth removed. We didn’t know what to expect from Bulgaria but were pleasantly surprised by this ex-soviet bloc nation and would come back again in a flash
Thessaloniki (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη [θesaloˈnici] ( listen)), also known as Thessalonica ( /ˌθɛsəlɵˈnaɪkə/ or /ˌθɛsəˈlɵnɪkə/) and Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia. With over a million people in the city one of the first things we noticed (other than graffiti, homelessness, and cats everywhere) was the lack of people about – it’s like a 'ghost town’! Greece is definably in a financial crisis and the future according to the residents does not look good. Without much trouble you will get clear ‘hate and blame’ focused on the corrupt government administration by anyone we spoke to. It’s not just students, unions, professionals, senior citizens, men, women or anarchists – it’s EVERYONE!
According to the Headmaster of a high school, "the difference between anarchy and freedom is a fine line – freedom respects other’s rights but anarchy does not." We see that everywhere here
Upon arriving we witnessed Greek hospitality when the bus driver we were riding with looped his route twice until he (we failed with 5 other locals) found where our address indicated we were to be staying. This began our day(s) of challenges!
I had booked this place online and got pretty worried when the local Greeks could not figure out the Greek address (it was Greek to me but them too!) and the contact number we had did not work. We made our way up a narrow road and figured out (by paint color shown on the internet) which place was ours. Our next task was to figure out how to get in. It was so hot we sought shade on the side walk where everyone sat while I tried to find someone (remember ghost town). I just started saying ‘good afternoon’ until someone replied back.
Across the street and two doors down we found the parents of the person we had rented our place from. It became clear that our landlord – Kostas had left the city because of the heat
We finally found our way into our ‘shack out back’. Our place was NOTHING like we expected. It was like we came across an old abandoned shack and broke the door down and set up an emergency shelter until we were rescued. Please don’t judge me too hard as I make very clear the size of our family and what we are looking for (including a family photo) to minimize any miscommunication. We showed up here and all of the occupants personal belongings were everywhere like we broke into someone’s private home and started living there – from dirty laundry on the floor and hair everywhere to rotting food in the fridge and mounds of rat poison in the kitchen. Oh yeah…..and the pot pipes and vaporizers in every room and mysterious jars of ‘weeds’ in the kitchen along with boxes and boxes (and jars) of funny colored pills everywhere.
We also found (included but not limited to):
- The key after 30 minutes of searching
- Sleeping for 2 (not 6)
- 1 spoon for 6 people
o So we had to take turns eating
- ½ bath tub and broken shower head
- Only a front door, all other rooms (including the bathroom) separated by a hanging drug patterned towel or sheet
- The bathroom and kitchen were almost one room (no door!) with only a hanging towel.
- 2 fans to cool 6 people
I could go on but why? I think you get the idea. In any case that leads me to my conclusion. We could all sit around arguing and crying (we tried that but too hot and did no good) or we could face our situation and make the best of it.
- Our landlord’s parents (very nice) invited Sabrina and Sophia to sleep in any of the 5 empty bedrooms – no charge!
- We got clean sheets and towels (from the parents’ house) so we knew we had something clean
- This place had a computer with the super-fast internet and a screen projector that we could watch and surf on our 10’ wall – the kids’ were in heaven
- Made a swamp cooler with the fan and water
- Put our sheets and night clothes into the freezer to cool before going to bed.
- We set an ‘unofficial’ Olympic record of how many hot showers a family could take in one day to keep ‘non-hot’ (being cool is just a dream now) – set at 30!
- Fighting, arguing or complaining has been ‘banned’ as it creates too much heat.
- Keeping the fridge and freezer doors open makes the kitchen bearable long enough to prepare some food.
- 4:44 am is the coolest time to get up and start the day.
Traveling the world is fine and dandy but the first lesson you must learn is that the destination is never really the goal - but rather the journey. Traveling is very much different than vacationing. Like our first journey as a family for 18 months you are constantly faced with challenges and in those challenges you must make decisions. It is in the making of those decisions that determines whether you are a leader or a victim. I could not think of 5 other people I would rather celebrate my 44th birthday with than the 5 courageous LEADERS currently in cue for a hot shower!
We are off by train to Athens today for the week! Keep well and enjoy YOUR journey.