Well the twenty-two hour train ride for Istanbul today was cancelled and replaced with a ferry ride that is ten hours shorter and gets us closer to our destination in southern Turkey. The ferry didn’t leave until 7pm so that left most of the day for me to chill out and do a little wandering. Maarten and I had also came across two others, George (a Hungarian traveling for six months) and Lotte (A Belgium girl who likes to play music in the street for change then pay for everything in 10 cent pieces)
I went to all the “Areas of Interest” on the map that I hadn’t hit yet and hiked up the “Hill of Nymphs” (by the way there were no nymphs present, unfortunately). Yet after a couple of hours I realized Athens is just another big city and as with London, Paris, or Rome I have a 3-day big city time limit and then I just seem to get bored with all the people, crowds, smog, and cars and want to head somewhere just a little more relaxing. Around two in the afternoon I just went back to the hostel and had a glass of tea. While waiting for my ferry time I spent the afternoon in the movie room, (where my bag was stored for the day) reading, napping and just having a lazy day. I can’t complain, but I am not sure it makes the most interesting blogging for all of you out there that can’t quit your jobs and come with me.
Maarten, George, and I, left the hostel about 5:30 in the evening to get the metro to the ferry stop. This was the beginning of a 29 hour Ferry/Bus/Walking/ HireSomeGuyWithACar trip and if I had know my traveling companions were so hard up to make it all the way to the south of Turkey in one go, I may have mentally prepared a little more. Well I made my ferry with no problem, we meant up with Lotte, had a picnic lunch on the boat and I found some chairs to climb under and went to sleep for the night. The boat was arriving at 5am.
Woke up today with a new plan to see Turkey starting tomorrow. I headed downstairs and joined some American girls who just got back from Turkey for a breakfast of toast and Nutella (A hazelnut spread, kind of tastes life a mix of chocolate and peanut butter) and a cup of tea. The told me a few good places to stay in Istanbul and Anatalya, and reassured me about a few of my visa concerns with getting into the country. The visa costs $20 and has to be paid in US currency at the border. Fortunately for me I have a small stockpile of dollars down deep in my backpack.
After three glasses of tea I finally gathered the energy to get out and actually make it to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which I have only been able to see from outside the gates for the last two days. It was very impressive and wasn’t covered in scaffolding or tourists, like the Acropolis was. After about 45 minutes there taking plenty of fisheye pictures I headed over to the Roman Stadium, home of the original Olympic games in 1896, and first built in the 4th century B.C. The rest of the morning I saw a bunch of ruins and random looking old rocks, carvings, flowers and street preformers. It was quite pleasing.
Since I have arrived in this warmer climate a couple of days ago I have been pleased that I could once again go back to wearing my sandals. What I did realize though is that when it’s warm a beard might not be the best idea, too itchy and hot. I went back to the hostel and shaved off my sad excuse for a beard. It was more like a neard (neck beard) anyways. Once my beautiful face was once again revealed I settled in for a nice afternoon nap only to wake up and find that with all the sun today my friend, Sunburn, has came back to me. If you saw me in person you might laugh, I had a beard when I got the sun, but after I shaved I was a mixture of sunburn and whiteness all over my face.
The rest of the day was spent watching the 6 o’clock movie, Pulp Fiction today, having a dinner of Gyros and Heiniken and typing up what I spent the day doing. Not an excessively exciting day, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. My face feels so weird, all soft and smooth.
Wow! Cheap Greek wine is not quite as good to you in the morning as the cheap Italian wine I had been drinking for the last 11 days! I stumbled to the bathroom around 11:45am looked in the mirror and realized I looked like shit and was feeling a little on the rough side. But, I want to see the Acropolis and since it closes at 3pm I couldn’t go with my first instinct of just climbing back in bed for a few more hours. I forced myself to brush my teeth and put myself in some semblance of looking respectable, and hike up the hill to the Acropolis. The Acropolis is spectacular and you really get a sense of what ancient Greece was like, well that is except for the giant cranes and scaffolding that the Greeks were using to rebuild the entire Acropolis and its surrounding buildings. It kind of made for shitty pictures because I was constantly trying to frame my pictures around the construction.
I was ready to move on to what I think is the most interesting relic of ancient Greece, the Theater of Dionysos. It was here that modern Theater and spoken word were founded in celebration of the Goddess Dionysos and it was here that I got yelled at by some Greek security guard woman for slipping off my sandals and liberating my feet for a few minutes well I just took it all in from the stone benches of the amphitheatre. Whatever.
I tried to make it to Temple of Olympian Zeus, but 3pm came quickly and everything closed. I just headed back to the hostel to download my pictures, do more blogging and take a little nap.
Every night at 6pm the hostel here projects a movie onto the screen in the common room, so when I walked in just as I woke up from my nap and Anti-Trust was just starting I decide to join a couple of others for this fantastic (insert sarcasm here) film. Just two short hours and our brief look into cinematic genius (insert even more sarcasm) was over an I was hungry. In addition to playing bad movies the hostel also has a shelf full of bad pasta and sauce for free. Sounded like a plan. This was actually my first spaghetti dinner since my trip began.
After dinner I went to my room, and meant my new roommate from Holland, Maarten. Maarten and I got to talking and he is heading to see a solar eclipse next week in Turkey (I am not an astronomer, but he says it’s the most spectacular place in the world to view it from). He invited me to head that way with him on Friday morning, and to see the Eclipse next Wednesday. I thought about it for twenty minutes or so and decided Turkey sounds great. Although I probably won’t make it out to the Greek islands now I will get to see the moon kick the suns ass for an entire 3 ½ minutes.
End of the third week and I still haven’t been robbed! Right after breakfast I left my hostel and left the country of Italy, to take a two hour flight to Athens, Greece. I arrived in Athens at about 2:30pm after the time change, I picked up my bag and found the metro to get into Athens central. On the metro ride into Athens I made a few New York friends, On older guy who was 72 and seemed like a university professor with all that he knew about Greece, he was on his fourth trip here. The other two were cute girls from Syracuse, a little younger than me, and studying in Salmaneca, Spain. The four of us just spent most of the 40 minute train ride talking about Greece, what there is to do here and our plans. When we all got off the train I asked the girls if they wanted to meet up later for a beer, they agreed, and since none of us knew anywhere in Greece we decided to meet in front of the Acropolis at 8pm.
I found my way to a hostel that came highly recommended from two English guys in Rome, it was a little more pricey (20 euro) than the other hostels in Athens (12-15 euro), but it is literally right on next to the Acropolis and I wasn’t going to have to take the metro all over town to look at the sights. I took a quick shower, changed my cloths and took my camera out to see what I could find in the few hours till my “date”. I was excited because here in Athens its warm enough that I can start to wear my sandals again. I found a few landmarks (all closed because it was already late in the day), almost got hit by a few cars, and had a couple of Gyro’s. All in all a fulfilling afternoon, I feel excited about being in a place that is new to me.
At around 7:45 I headed up the little hill to the entrance to the Acropolis, arrived about 5 minutes till and found a bench with a view of the Acropolis all lit up for the night.
8:00 A spectacular night, all warm and clear.
8:05 I took a couple of pictures of the walkway
8:09 New Yorkers sure take their time.
8:14 Where are they?
8:30 Fuck it, I just got stood up. I’m going to the Bar at the hostel.
Well the rest of the night involved drinking, dancing, drinking, ladies, drinking, more ladies, and finally wine and sandwiches in my room (It had 8 beds and I had it all to myself!) with my new friends Mihail, a Bulgarian-American over studying from NYU, and Christine, a North Carolinan bartender/website editor on vacation for 9 days. We listened to The Cure on my laptop, drank cheap wine, and just talked about whatever until about 3am when Christine realized her ferry left in 4 hours and Mihail had to get up in the morning and write a few papers for school.
Other than that one little downer of being stood up in front of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the day turned out to be quite eventful.
So this morning it was time to say goodbye to Matt and Dan, these two days with them just flew by. I meet them in front of their hotel at around 9:15 and we set out to get some breakfast for them at the grocery store, which we had a picnic in the middle of some random piazza. We then headed over to the train station to get them a ticket to Florence so Matt could visit his lady friend, Leyna. After our goodbyes Matt tried to give me his duct tape covered bible to carry around with me on my trip (for those of you who know him and this bible, this is sorta a big deal to him), but I told him I already had one bible that mom gave me that’s in my bag so I let him keep his bible. I told him I love him and I’d see him in a little more than a year. His train left around 11:15am.
I headed back to my hostel to do my laundry, burn a DVD of my pictures I’ve taken so far, write out yesterday’s blog entry, write in my journal, photoshop and organize some pictures, read up on Greece (where I’m flying to tomorrow), and read a little more Huck Finn. I headed over to the internet café, got everything posted on my site and sent a few emails. Most of the day was spent just doing chores that come along with long term travel, photography, and my blog. Lets just call this an office day. Good news though! I did some math and it looks like I am about $100 ahead of budget. I know it doesn’t seem like much but I’ve told myself that if at the end of the first year if I’m about $1000 ahead of budget I’d like to go to Japan for a week before continuing to Hawaii and home.
Walking by, I realized the restaurant we had an amazing dinner at last night runs a happy hour special from 5pm-6:30pm on dinner. Last night the three of us spent about 115 euros for dinner, so when I saw that they would serve me bread, wine, salad, and chicken cacciatore for 12 euro I knew right where I was going to eat tonight. After another amazing meal (and the most exciting part of this day), I headed to the grocery store to grab a bottle of wine to drink while I hung out at the hostel and talked with a bunch of new friends. I called it an early night and went to bed when my wine was through.