Disastrous Arrival in Athens

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Flag of Greece  , Attica,
Saturday, October 9, 2010

Well, the big bad city of Athens has frightened this little island girl.  The contrast to Corfu is shocking.  I successfully rode the metro from the airport to Syntagma Square and was pleasantly surprised when a man helped me to struggle back into my backpack, no pick-pocketing or inappropriateness involved. 

At Syntagma, I took the correct exit onto Amalias Street, then walked the wrong way for 15 or 20 minutes or so until I reached #38, where I was supposed to turn, and discovered it to be in the middle of the block.  Apparently, the street had changed names just about where I'd joined it.  I had to go all the way back in the other direction, back past the African men selling clothes, purses and plastic toys on sheets seet on the ground, saying, "No , no, no" all over again.
Finally reached the Hotel Dioskouros to discover… two bedbug casings on the mattress.  I wasn’t totally sure that’s what they were,  since I’d only heard about them through online research.  Sufficiently suspicious, I kept looking around without putting my stuff down.  In a few minutes, a bedbug crawled out of somewhere and sat on the wall next to the light. 

I ran out of there as fast as I could and had the following conversation with the guy at the front desk.

Me: I can’t stay here.  There are bedbugs.

Him: Really? (eyebrows raised)

Me: Yes, I took pictures if you want to see them. (This is true.  I thought it might help me get my money back since I was already paid in full.)

Him: No, I believe you, but they’re everywhere in Athens.  I have them myself, even in my kitchen.

Me: Ew.

Him: Do you want a can of insecticide?

Me: No, that doesn’t kill bedbugs.  I want to leave.

Him: Ok, but you will not find anywhere without them.

Me: Well, I have to try.

In my opinion, this guy’s talents are wasted at the hotel.  He should work for the Greek tourist, where he could design a new marketing campaign: “Come to Athens, where every hotel has bedbugs!”

Anyway, I got some of my money back and only lost my 30 euro deposit.  Much cheaper than exterminating the entire house when they rode home in my luggage.

At this point, it was dark and I had to find a new place somewhere else in the Plaka (historic/tourist district.)  I was so mad that my hours of Internet research on hotels had produced such a dead end.  I sort of remembered a hostel called The Students and Travellers Inn getting good reviews, so I tried to find that.

Instantly getting lost, I required the assistance of two separate middle-aged Greek men to find my way, even though it was really just around the corner.  Although my bags were heavy and I was sort of upset, the neighborhood was pretty at night and I caught glimpses of the Acropolis up on the hill.

Luck was with me, and I found the Students and Travellers Inn on a main pedestrian street called Kydathineon.  This hot guy checked me in at the front desk, and I went upstairs and found a very large, clean, 4-person room.  I shared with two girls from Madrid and a Canadian named Philip.
After resting up for a couple of hours, Philip and I went out to listen to some authentic Greek music at a taverna he’d found down some side streets.  Audience members were hopping up to dance and the rest of us were laughing and clapping along.  It was just what I needed.

Philip is one of those easy breezy travelers with a Eurail Pass and no reservations anywhere.  He says he doesn’t mind bedbugs.  So different from me!
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