This post is late coming as I’m now in Montenegro, but once I left Aegina I was too busy sightseeing, travelling, writing for NaNoWrimo and editing Novel#1 (editing is taking longer – and proving trickier than I imagined) to find time to blog. A five hour train journey from Athens to Kalambaka helped me to get some words down and I did contemplate writing on the bus trip from Kalambaka to Corfu but that thought was almost immediately dispelled by the nauseating road. I am not normally one to get motion sick but bus trips through winding, hilly roads make me seriously queasy (it did not help that the movie they’d chosen to show on the bus featured gory torture scenes!)
What a good way to start this post, but I suppose it goes to show travel isn’t all sunshine and roses - sometimes it’s nauseating bus trips, accidentally ordering weird food, blisters and wearing the same clothes for days on end. And now that I’ve rambled on, I’ll go back to the beginning - after we left Aegina - which is where I left you in my last blog post.
We arrived in Athens off the ferry and the business of Athens was in stark contrast to the laidback lifestyle on the island. It was all hustle and bustle and people and noise. We had to find our way to the train station, then managed to buy tickets and got on a train we assumed was going in the right direction. As we waited for the train to leave the station more and more people crammed on - it was only mid-afternoon but that train felt more crammed than either Melbourne or London in peak hour…
We managed to disembark the train at the station we wanted and walked a kilometre or so to our hotel. This was my first longish walk carrying my backpack - which weighs almost half as much as I do! I don’t want to ditch anything either because most of the weight comes from my notebooks and art supplies … I will just have to get stronger, and in the meantime get Gordon (my partner) to help me lift it on to my back so I don't end up like an upside down turtle.
We found our hotel. Our room had a fancy chandelier that there was no switch for and smelled of stale cigarette smoke (high up on my list of least favourite smells – but people can smoke anywhere they like so I’ve had to put up with it). We dumped our bags and set off on foot to explore the city, which also smelt - like a mixture of blocked drains, urine, smoke and exhaust fumes. Am I selling Athens?? I actually really enjoyed it, despite its odour.
Buildings and streets in Athens. There are so many grand old buildings that are abandoned and graffitied.
A Norwegian I met on the ferry across (he could not believe we were heading north for the winter; he was wintering in Greece) said that half of Greece’s population lives in Athens. It is sprawling. A contrast of old, preserved historic sites and crumbling, graffitied once-grand buildings. We had limited time in Athens but we went to the Acropolis (which the Norwegian said we shouldn’t miss, although he emphatically warned us against Bulgarian and Albanian pickpockets, which, thankfully we saw none of – and all the Albanians we met in Albania were very nice!).
Views of the Acropolis (including the Parthenon, centre).
After a brief two nights in Athens we headed to Kalambaka ... which you can read about in my next post.