Friday, November 20, 2009
Adventures Traveling - AKA More Waiting and A Crazy Greek Man
Not only is the title of this post long, but so is the post itself - consider yourself warned.
Wednesday morning I woke up bright and early at 7am to take a shower and be out the door by 7:45. I was successful in my endeavor and even had time to pick a few satsuma oranges from the tree outside of my domatia/pension. When I had paid for the room the night before the owner had urged me to pick a few from the tree, and by a few I mean the 5 I took were not enough and he continued to urge me to take more - hence my morning harvest.
I mailed some postcards and then set off for the bus station - which actually wasn't very far. The bus left at 8:30 and I arrived around 8:10 as I didn't want to miss it. I had been told that in order to get to Olympia I would need to go to Tripoli and change busses there to go to Olympia. Since I didn't want to have the same problem that I had had the day before and getting off at the wrong location and whatnot I asked the lady more questions than necessary but felt confident that I knew what I was doing and where I was going. She said that she didn't know what time the bus left from Tripoli but I would be able to ask when I got there and it shouldn't be a problem.
First, the bus leaving Nafplion was late by 5-10 minutes - not a HUGE crisis by any means and we ended up in Tripoli on time, so it really was ok. On the road we passed an overturned vehicle - which I still don't know how it got that way since there were no other cars around and the ledge above appeared to be intact.
At 10am I arrived in Tripoli and went to the desk to ask about a bus to Olympia. The man stared at me (again, like I was crazy) and asked one question. "Today?"
So, Wednesday was a pretty big waste of a day. I sat in the bus terminal for 8 hours waiting. There was supposed to be free wi-fi but for whatever reason my computer had a problem with it. It would connect but it had "limited or now connectivity" which is dumb because it had full bars. This is also the same thing that my computer did at my apartment in Ballard. Apparently some networks just hate it or vice versa. I did get quite a bit of reading done, some sudoku, and journaled a bit.
Finally 6:30 rolled around and I got on the bus. I know that sounds simple enough but let me paint you a picture.
Leaving the little cafeteria area at the bus station you walk out into the bus terminal where there are 3 lanes that are big enough for two buses to be parked in each lane. There are three buses there and none of them are really labeled - at least not with a location or number. On the "arrival/departure" screen there are buses listed with times. I was able to find my bus but it said it was leaving from lane 1 - but all of the buses scheduled to leave were in lane 1. Not helpful at all. So I walk around the bus trying to find some marking. Finally a guy asks to see my ticket and points at the bus I had walked around. I confirm with another man helping put luggage underneath and get on the bus. Now I just have a 3 hour bus ride in which I will arrive in a strange town with no where to stay. Should be fun.
There was a little drama with someone thinking I was in her seat, but I actually wasn't and she was wrong, and then we got on the road. My seat was in the very front of the bus so it was kind of like I was driving (but not). I decided that despite the fact that I don't know Greek and would get extremely lost, that I could never drive a bus in Greece. For one every corner we turned I thought we were going to hit something or someone, and two, the streets are crazy narrow and there is just way too much happening. I'm thankful there are only a few more Greek bus trips in my future. We were almost to Olympia when the bus driver's cell phone rang and he had to stop the bus. Apparently someone had fallen asleep and missed his stop. I'm guessing that whoever was supposed to pick him up (or something to that effect) was concerned that he hadn't arrived. Anyway, the bus driver woke him up and let him out at a gas station. This is why I set an alarm on my watch whenever I fall asleep on a bus or train. I am not about to be stranded in the middle of nowhere and have to pay a fortune for a taxi to get wherever it is that I'm going.
When we arrived in Olympia there were just three of us who were getting off the bus. It was 9:30 and dark and I only had the names and addresses of a few places that might be available to stay. I was looking for a street sign when a man approached me and asked if I needed help. I asked if he knew where the Youth Hostel was and he said it was about 300 meters down the main street on the right. Simple enough. I thanked him and headed in that direction. When I arrived at the hostel he was there waiting for me (he had driven past me at some point) and pointed to the door. The lights were out but there was a sign that said open. The doors were locked and no one answered my knocking (and there was no bell to ring).
The man, who I learned was named George, asked me where I was from. He knew Washington State and exclaimed that our capitol Olympia and our current location, Olympia, were sister cities. He then showed me a picture of him running with someone who was carrying the Olympic torch as they light it in Olympia at the beginning of each of the games. He gave me the picture (which was really a postcard advertisement for his jewelry shop down the street. I asked him if he knew where one of the other hotels I had listed was and he said it was just down the street - he looked and said it was also closed. I wasn't really sure what to do at that point because all the other options I had listed were really last resorts as they were expensive, but what else could I do? I was about to ask him for the name of another place when he says to me, "the best place to stay is at my house."
I didn't really know how to respond because there are several people who run pensions out of their homes, but I also didn't want to go home with a creeper. He then began explaining to me that he has three extra rooms and I could have my own room and bathroom and all that jazz. At that point I knew he did not own a pension. I told him that I needed to find a hotel and would not be going home with him. He said ok and said there was a pension down the road for 20 euro (within my budget). He suggested I put my bag in his car and he would drive me there. I declined his offer and said I could walk. He persisted though and said that after I was settled in he could take me for some traditional Greek food and Greek dancing. Please keep in mind that it is now 10pm and I have been up since 7, traveling (sitting) all day, and just wanted to find a place to sleep for the night. Even if I had been with my friends I don't think I would have been up for going dancing - let alone with some strange old Greek man. So I finally parted ways with him and set off.
I made it to the pension - though it was a little strange when I got there (mostly because no one spoke English really - and it was like they had been expecting me. I kind of wonder if George had set me up from the beginning, but I wasn't sure. Anyway, it all worked out. I got a room for the night, had free wi-fi, and I was even able to keep my things in the room until I left on the train the next day.
I will post more about Olympia and my "adventure" getting back to Athens later - this is probably enough for you all to digest for the moment. : ) Happy Friday everyone!