So yeah, if you ever get the chance to go to Athens and it’s free to go, and you can stay in a hotel or something… by all means, go for it. But, if you’re just looking to kill some time before going to Thailand… just go to Thailand. There have been parts of Greece that I’ve really liked, but all and all… it blows. True enough it is a bit cheaper than Italy (Athens is 10 euro a night instead of Rome’s 15), but honestly… it’s cheaper because it’s a slum. And I guess one of my complaints in regards to my entire trip is that when travelling in the winter there is construction going on everywhere (before the summer tourist boom hits)… so everywhere I’ve gone, with few exceptions, has been marred with scafolding and cranes. Well… Athens is the embodiment of that. With the 2004 Summer Olympics on the horizon the city just realized that it needed to get its but in gear and fix up this dump… so everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is under “renovations”. Apparently they JUST put the Parthanon back together (that’s the building up top of the hill – called the Acropolis).
Dissatisfied with Athens I decided to take a trip up to Meteora yesterday. As there are no hostels there (only expensive rooming houses), I decided to push it and make it a day trip. It was about 4.5 hours there and about 5 hours back… so it didn’t leave me much room for error in trying to discover how to get to the place from the train station. Ok, a bit of info on Meteora: It is a series of 10 or so (maybe more/maybe less) Byzantine Monestaries that were built at the top of these huge rock cliffs. At the base of them is a city called Kalambaka (pronounced Kalapaka), which is where I took the train from Athens to. I got there at about 1:30 p.m. and was fortunate to run into an American at the station who had just returned. He filled me in on a great “path” way to get up to them rather than the long “road” way and I was off. After a quick meal of hotdogs, water and cookies (all for less than a euro total) I motored through the city, assuming correctly that if I just keep going up, eventually I’ll find the path he spoke of. Yuppers… and it was a nice path too – all cobblestones and stuff. It took me an hour from getting off the train to getting up top and there were a few times I thought I was going to be found days latter having died from an acute coronary. See, I had to be back down by 5 p.m. to catch the train, and I really wasn’t sure how high the thing was (it’s hard to judge from the ground).
Once up top I was treated to some INCREDIBLE views of the area and the monestaries. Unfortunately (and I knew this before I left Athens) all the monestaries are closed to the public in the winter. I didn’t see them all, just four or five of them. I got back to the train station (yes, going down was MUCH easier) and the guy was still there. We started chatting and it turns out he’s a journalist – go figure. His name is Richard and he runs a periodical for runners and triatheletes in Salt Lake City. We ended up sitting together on the train and chatted most the way back to Athens. He is a really cool guy and shared a lot of great info on how to start a successful paper/magazine.
I stopped at the Internet cafe last night, as you all know because I posted with much excitement from there – I’m published! Whoo hoo! I dunno why I’m so happy about it, as it’s not like I’m not already a published journalist, but I guess it’s because now I have some cred in the travel journalism world. Maybe my dreams of travelling and writing are not that far fetched. And I dunno, having visited Canoe.ca a bunch of times, it was just really cool to see my name on there. I felt like that guy that rights the Survivor Summaries 🙂 Or Karen Bliss or something… (sorry to all you that don’t get that.. and for all you that do… you read this?).
On the train ride home I decided that as much as it was cheaper to stay in Athens @ 10 euro a night… it’s crap and I want out. So, my solution is to take the train to Spain. Yup… I’m going to travel all the way across Europe just to not spend any more time in Greece… I guess this place is way cooler in the summer (at least way more touristy), but there are hardly ANY backpackers – where Rome’s 1 hostel (of like 20) was PACKED, the 1 (of 2) Athens-based hostels was dead. Apparently the islands are even worse and people give you funny looks and a bit of attitude when you visit off season. Meh.. they can keep their islands, I’m outta here!
Right now I’m in Olympia, a tiny little town whose claim to fame is that it is where the Olympics got their start. Meh. It’s an 8 euro stop over before going to Patras tomorrow and getting the ferry to Ancona, Italy. Thankfully however, this hostel had a nice hot shower that I made ample use of (I wont say when the last time I had a shower was). I just got back from walking down to the ruins here, but they wanted 6 euro to get in, and I couldn’t be bothered – it’s a overcast day and was getting late… so I said forget it. Other than the shower, the only thing the hostel boasts as a benefit is there is no one here and I have the 6 bed dorm to myself… (incidently, I learned that I can infact fall asleep covering my ears – and to all those that snore, may you one day suffer a restless death befitting your kind!). I was hoping others would be here though, as I’m bored… and when I watch movies on my laptop it craps out after about 20 minutes. I think it’s the constant use of the CD-ROM and the draw of power it requires… but I’m no techie… alright, I sorta am.. but let me live in my little world.
Only 10 days until I catch my flight back to London, where I get to stay with Maryann for a couple days before heading to Thailand. I’m nearly dead out of money… so I’m hoping to score a job at a hostel or something once in the land of a thousand smiles. Otherwise… hmm… hopefully the beaches will be warm – and the fish easy to catch!