Dateline: Athens, Day 1 – Athens in 4 Hours

Athens, Greece
4 July 2009

With the assistance of last nights mid-voyage Internet connection, we were able to find what we thought would be a good chance at a bed. Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually book anything. After talking to Mom and Dad on Skype and explaining the 14 second audio delay because of the satellite connection I was using, we made out way to the hostel.

The downside of arriving anywhere past midnight is that there is no guarantee of a working metro system. Many places shut down their metros at midnight and also reduce bus service. Athens is one of those cities. We ended up sharing a cab with the American couple, since they were staying at a hotel near us. We paid €5/each and were on our way.

We got to the hostel and low and behold, they had one room left. So, the good news is that we had a bed. The bad news is that we had a bed, singular.

Whatever, we took it and went to bed.

Exploring Athens in 4 hours was pretty exiting. We had three goals: National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Parthenon, and catching our boat in Patros1.

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is quite amazing

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…and yes, that’s a guy giving himself a tittie twister2.

We grabbed a quite bit to eat before racing off to find the Parthenon. As we started to climb the steps leading to the Parthenon, the clouds began to roll in. Although I think it made for rather excellent lighting in the end…

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Athens, Attica, Ελλάδα

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Athens, Attica, Ελλάδα

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Athens, Attica, Ελλάδα

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Athens, Attica, Ελλάδα

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Athens, Attica, Ελλάδα

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Athens, Attica, Ελλάδα

As we were leaving the Parthenon, the drops started to fall. By time we made it down the small ridge the Parthenon was on, it was pouring down rain. We made a mad dash for the hostel were we grabbed our bags. Already running late, we hailed a cab (the second in as many days) and raced to the bus terminal. We made it with, I swear, only five minutes before the bus left. But we were on, and that’s what mattered at this point…even if we were soaking wet.

The bus ride, like all the bus rides before it, was uneventful.

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Aktaio, West Greece, Ελλάδα

We got to the bus terminal and ran to the ferry terminal, which sucked because we had to go all the way to the ticket counter on the far side of the terminal before going back to ferry. By time we got to the ferry, they had already started to pull up the car ramp…so we just barely made it.

This ferry, the Superfast Ferry, was quite a bit nicer than the other ferries we had been, which is saying something because the other ferries were pretty nice. I’d actually call this ferry more of an ocean linear.

We made our way to the foyer and sat down. It wasn’t long before I was scouting out a place for out “instant upgrade.” The place I selected was the airplane-style seats. It seemed to more or less be a free for all, and there were plenty of extra seats. I would suspect that less than half the people actually had tickets for the airplane-style seats. We managed to snag a couple and settled in for our night ride to Bari, Italy.

Around midnight, there was a commotion that aroused me from my sleep. We were being kicked out. We had just pulled out of port in Igoumenitsa and someone actually had a ticket for our seats! What luck!

We tried finding a place to sleep somewhere else, first in the foyer (no place to lie down), and then in the dining area. However, some official actually kicked us (a bunch of people actually) out because the area was for people who were eating. Problem was, the restaurant wasn’t open. I guess he didn’t care.

So it was back to the foyer. However, I was determined to get back to our plush aircraft-style seats. After waiting a bit, I made by way back in to the cabin and scouted our another spot. I found a guy sitting with two bags taking up two extra seats. I asked if he was using them, to which he prompt got up and left. So I took them. And all was good with the world again.

Happy Forth of July!

  1. Charlie figured out that it was faster/easier to catch the boat in Patros, rather than four hours later in Igoumenitsa. Not to mention that buying a ticket for Patros is easier… 

  2. Check that one off the list of words I didn’t think I would ever write on this blog 

Dateline: Santorini, Day 2 – A Long Ferry Ride

Santorini, Greece
3 July 2009

The thing one notices the most about Santorini is all the tourists. The streets are flooded with helmet-clad foreigners on quad-ATVs or scooters. Santorini, more so than Paros or Samos in my opinion, is also a pretty big party island. The kids are out late into the night and wake up groggy, late the following morning. This is probably why Santorini wasn’t my favorite island and is also probably why I wasn’t too sad to be leaving (although our hostel was the best one since Istanbul).

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

In the morning, I checked around for a ride down to the ferry terminal (Youth Hostel Anna is on the back side of the island, about 30 minutes from the ferry terminal by car). Our hostels’ bus was all full up (€3/person), but I checked with the guy we rented the ATV from and he said someone would be able to pick us up from his location at 2:45 for €1…although he actually said €10.

We still had an entire morning and early afternoon left to explore, so we got down to it, driving way out to the far north side of the island all the way to Oia, almost 45 minutes by ATV.

The drive was a winding scenic route on the western rim of the island high above the Aeagean Sea below.

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Fira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

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Ia, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

We made it to Oia and had just enough time to do some exploring before we needed to start heading back. We purchased some souvoniers, and then were racing back to our hostel so we could catch our ride to the ferry.

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Fira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

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Emborion, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

We got back with just enough time for Charlie to take a shower and for me to make some last minute checks of things on the Interwebz – I wanted to grab some stuff so I could be productive offline. Our ferry ride would be long almost 8 hours, landing in us Athens around midnight. And we didn’t have any confirmed place to sleep yet; our plan was to basically wing it with a list of hostels…again.

Charlie’s shower took a bit longer than usual1, but we made it to the ATV place in time – although not in time to get groceries. We jumped in the van only to discover that it was really €10, not one. I still stand by the fact the guy said one Euro. But with a boat to catch, he could have said €30 and we would have paid it.

We picked up an American and Brazilian couple before heading to the dock. We got dropped off at the dock with plenty of time to spare, so I ran to get over-priced groceries at the mini-mart while Charlie went to get some Kebab’s to eat for lunch…no surprise there.

The ferry ride was more or less uneventful, which makes for dull and boring ferry rides. Because we weren’t first in line to get on the ferry, we were relegated to the actual deck for the first part of the ride. I suppose this was a good thing as I got to see the insides of Santorini as we headed out.

Side note: Why does this say “Winch Only?”

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

Not our boat

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

Lava rocks

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

After stopping off at a few islands, we were eventually able to find ourselves a nice seat inside, which was a welcome relief from the elements. Per usual, I spent the rest of my time hunkered down on the computer, trying to get as many photos processed. And playing Solitaire.

  1. killing some more kittens, are we? 

Live from the Aegean Sea

I’m currently en route to Athens on the Blue Star Paros ferry (it’s really more of an eight hour cruise). A fellow travelers computer died and he’s graciously allowed me to use the rest of his Internet time. And not just any Internet, Satellite Internet! Ergo, I’m in the middle of the Aegean sea, blogging.

Sorry of the general lack of updates. There’s a backlog in the process where I merge the photos with the actual text of the blog. I blame the lack of a good Internet connection for this.

Stay tuned and something will eventually pop up here. Promise.