Saturday, March 27, 2010

Boats, Trains, Buses and Taxis

By Claire
Friday Chuck and I scooted into the port town of Parikia to turn in our wheels. It was very windy and all thoughts of taking a scooter holiday, moving from town to town on back roads, immediately evaporated. My eyes were tearing and I couldn't see a thing. Being buffeted by the wind wasn't too fun either. So, instead, we spent the morning in town. First on the list, coffee and a pastry.

We wandered aimlessly around town, enjoying the morning and the winding streets. We found the Church of 100 Doors, Chuck's favorite so far, plus a few other things along the way.

Chuch of 100 Doors

Inside the church

Around town

By then it was lunch time and we were in search of a gyro. We found the perfect place, right on the square. It even had a cat and with the gyros at €2 each, a real deal.

We took the bus home, did some laundry, relaxed and then while Chuck napped, Karin and I sat on her porch in the sun drinking beer. What a wonderful new friend.

We all met again at 7 for dinner in town and a chance to meet some friends of theirs, Ardy and Al. Great food, great conversation and a fun, final dinner.

Up this morning, we were ready to go and sat on our porch in the sunshine for the last time, reading our Kindles. Karin came by at 8:45 to go to the bus stop with us. It was fun taking the bus—this time on the other side of the island seeing new things. This place has so much to see. Back in Parikia, she took us for coffee, handing over some hand picked bakery goodies to take on our ferry trip back to Athens. Yum! Michael met up with us and the four of us walked over to the ferry.

Once again, it's sad to leave but onward we must go. This time we were on the ferry with plenty of time to spare, waving and waving to Karin and Michael below. We found great seats up top in the open air with an opaque roof to keep the sun off. The bakery items didn't last long enough for a photo.

Ferry leaving

We arrived in Piraeus after a relaxing 4 hours of reading. Little did we know what was ahead. We hoped to catch the 4 pm bus but knew it would be tight. We found the train station, bought tickets and jumped on the waiting car. I relaxed and opened my Kindle and we pulled out of the station with an hour of travel ahead of us. Ha! Next thing we knew, a nice young woman, who must have heard us speaking English and probably figured out that we were tourists, told us to get off at this stop and catch a bus to the next train station due to work being done on the metro line. OK. We grabbed our things— bag, backpack, purse, jacket and now Kindle in hand, and raced after the crowd going we knew not where. She found us again and directed us to the #13 bus. Off we went where we got into conversation with another nice young woman who talked to us about Athens and travel until she told us it was time to get off. We followed the crowd to the train station, hopped on and took off until we found out we had to get off once again. By now we had no idea where we were but found a very helpful train employee who spoke excellent English. We asked her how to get to where we were going. She frowned and admitted that it would be very difficult. Oh dear. She started explaining while I hurriedly pulled out a notebook and pen. She said it would take 3 steps and began to write them down. First, downstairs to catch the metro. Then, the #X8 bus, then another metro and then a taxi. In the process she was very firm about warning us against being robbed by the taxi driver and to be careful with our things. She carefully wrote down the names of each stop for us and we went off in search of the stairs, dragging all our things with us. The bus was the most challenging since it's often very difficult to figure out where to get off. Even if you can see the bus stop name, it's not in English. Try Greek! We showed the guy in front of us the name of our stop and asked how many stops it was and he said about 5. Little did we know it was the end of the line. How helpful that would have been. I wouldn't have been straining to see the names of each bus stop and trying to translate. Oh well, we did find everything and the taxi driver was extremely kind and only charged us €5. The entire trip from the port at Piraeus to our campsite took 2-1/2 hours. Thinking back on our decision to take a taxi to get to the port when we were leaving for Paros, I'm just horrified that we even considered taking the bus and metro. We never in a million years would have made it.

So, we are done with Athens. No way are we going to even consider going back to see the Acropolis and the museum. Been there, done that, both of us a long time ago. We donated the metro/bus tickets we had bought to Manos at our campground. We have decided to leave and head to another campground closer to where we are having the refrigerator repaired. Tomorrow is Sunday and traffic will be light and easier to search for the place. My computer has died so that is another thing to deal with but we will find somewhere to get it fixed along the way. In the meantime, I am using Chuck's.

The good news is, we survived it all! We even went out for gyros again tonight. We found a real hole in the wall place behind a gas station about half a kilometer down the road. The guy who took our order was astounded that we were Americans and told us his father lived in Iowa. Huh? I can't even imagine what took him there.

Why don't you try the airlines? It's faster and you get a free meal. ~ Cab driver in the movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles

1 comment:

Karin said...

Oh dear! When "the system" works it is a snap, when it doesn't, it "sucks big time"! So sorry about the trip back. Athens can really be a nightmare - thank goodness you didn't get delayed due to strikes on top of your Metro experience.

Glad you made "eventually" got back to Homer and now I wish you good luck with fixing your fridge and computer. Life will be good then! :):)

We really enjoyed meeting you and Chuck, and we appreciate your taking time out to come and see Paros. It was great fun talking, scootering, sharing adventures. Now we will continue to keep more European Adventures.