Athens Greece – I am a tour guide?

Back in Athens I check into Zorbas Hostel, just 10 minutes from the city center.  The hostel is pretty nice, and I got a bottom bunk.  Thank god, because these bunk beds don’t have stairs.  You just climb up!

My stay at the hostel is pretty good, and I meet several cool people from all over the world.

In my room, is Jamie from New Zealand, who is doing something really cool.  He is volunteering at the refugee camp here in Athens.  He did not plan on doing this, but during his stay he met another person doing this and he tagged along one day.  Now he has been working there for almost 10 days.  I wish I knew about this before I came, I would have joined him.

img_20161005_101445_hdr

The one morning we are all sitting outside on the patio having coffee and cookies, and I meet my first traveler who hates Canada.  I truly mean hates Canadians and Canada.  He tells me, Canadians are ignorant and clueless about how much they pollute, he even states we are probably the worst country.  I at first got really defensive in my mind, but somehow controlled myself and only said, “I don’t know any Canadians who litter, and I am certain you might get punched in the nose if you did!”.  He then changed his wording and said, “Maybe you don’t through garbage on the ground, but you all drive bug trucks, burn oil, and so on …!”.  I didn’t argue back and just said, “Yes it is true that many Canadians don’t notice what their carbon footprint is on the world, and also our tar fields in Albert produce more carbons in the air than most of the world.  And I am sure most of the people I know, don’t know this.”  So, sure!  I will let him have his opinion.  The last thing I said to him was, “I wouldn’t hate a country because of this, considering there is no country that does not pollute more than they should, but maybe instead, help educate the people so they can make a difference.”

Anyways, the guy is from Israel, where I know they pollute a shit load also, but why argue.  He actually was a really nice guy, other than hating Canadians. LOL.

Back to the cool people I met!

One Aussie guy was super crazy and really fun to chat with.  He was always drunk as shit, and still talked very educated, about the coolest things.  He told me all about the Anarchist in Athens and where the area is.  So, of course I had to walk through and check it out.

This is what I remember him telling me.  Basically the cops no longer go in this area, only a few days ago there was a riot here, which happens often.  The Anarchist basically took over and run the entire area, don’t pay taxes, that sort of thing.  Oh, and sometimes when you walk through the area your throat gets a little sore.  This is because of the amount of tear gas that has been released over the years.

img_20161005_155330_hdr img_20161005_155338_hdr img_20161005_155345_hdr img_20161005_155443_hdr img_20161005_155905_hdr img_20161005_160634_hdr

In my mind, I felt the sore throat, but I am sure it was in my mind.  However, walking through the area I felt safe other than one street.  I got a lot of stairs, and this is my own fault.  Being a clueless Canadian, I wore my tourist hat, with my Knob Apps shirt.  Yes, I was obviously not local.

Onto the next group of cool people I met.

The one day I was just wondering around looking lost, when I saw 3 Aussie’s from the hostel.  We all said hi in the street and then they asked if I wanted to tag along to the market. I had never been, so yes and off we go.

Our walk to the market turned into me showing them all the free and cool things to see.  Since I have been here for 7 days already, I have don’t a tone of exploring.  The market we were looking for, turned out to be just one of the streets with open store fronts.  I had been here a few times, but it was great hanging out with these 3 Aussie’s and they told me I was a good tour guide.  Hmm, new career?

img_20161004_160435_hdr

Nice pose Aussie!

On my last day in Athens, I was taking it very easy.  Actually doing nothing, as tomorrow I will be traveling for 30 hours to Thailand.

Then he walked into my life.  A cool American!  I know, I know, Americans are not as cool as Canadians, but they all right!

Qasim had a 8 hour layover on his way to Egypt and took a bed in my hostel to toss his bags in.  We spoke for a few minutes, and then he said he was off to get something to eat.  So I invited myself, as I was getting bored.

While we were eating, I told him all the cool Athens sites are within a 45 minute walk.  He should do it, and heck, I will take him free of charge, since I am still in Tour Guide Training.

So just like that, I went from being bored to a 3 hour tour with a cool American.

We went through all the awesome sites, and then walked back through the Anarchy area.  Yup, we did it all with an hour to spare for Qasim to get back to the airport in time.  He was really a thankful guy and I loved our chats.  We had a lot in common, from girls, to traveling, to political views.

Back in USA/Canada, I know I will visit him again.

A great picture of us at the half way point of our tour and an added bonus, I got to see some of the sites after dark.

img_20161005_185306

img_20161005_192428_hdr img_20161005_193829_hdrimg_20161005_192441_hdr

 

Athens, Rios, Patras, Greece was amazing and I hope to come back but visit the Islands and some of the other cities.

Thanks to all of my friends that I met, and I hope we meet again!

Patras Greece – Living with the crazy locals

From the bus stop, I take a taxi to my apartment.  It only cost 6 Euro for a 15 minute taxi through rush hour.  Not bad, if I compare to home it would have been closer to 10 Euro.

Shortly after arriving at the apartment, Nicolette, the young girl who is renting it, meets me.  She is super energetic, and full of smiles.  A very nice welcome!

Nicolette spends a few extra minutes with me, showing me great things to see in the area and where they are on google maps.

You can see the video here.

My first 2 days I spend in my local area walking around, meeting locals and finding groceries stores.  Another little adventure and you can see some of the things I bought here.

When booking this apartment I had read one negative review that said there is no hot water and at first I believed it.  I had the coldest shower ever.  I am now guaranteed to never have kids, it was that cold.  I guess that is a good bonus, who the hell wants kids.  Ewwww!

Anyways, as stubborn as I am, the next day I have another ball freezing shower.  After, I think, maybe I should call Nicolette and ask her why, or is this normal.

Well, she informs me, all I need to do is turn the switch on in the breaker panel.  Seriously, that’s it.  Well, the breakers are not labelled, so she sends me a picture showing me which one to turn on.  I turn it on, and 15 minutes later, I have smoking hot water. I quickly have another shower, and realize, I found my friend again, and he does exist.  Hi, big guy!  Awww, I am now completely loving this place.

Oh wait! Does this mean I might be able to have kids. Grrrr!

The next day, I head to Rios to see the bridge and go for a swim.  It’s about a 15 minute bus ride into the city center, and then I take a train to Rios.  I had no idea how much the train would be, but it ends up, it really cheap.  1.40 Euro each way.

One of the greatest things about traveling and not speaking the language is getting to meet people who will do anything to help you.  Before I continue talking about my day, this is a great place to talk about meeting amazing people.

While getting my train ticket, the girl at the booth was very helpful and even went out of her way to explain other options and other places to see.  This happens often.  The one grocery store I go into, only one girl speaks a little English, and every time I walk into the store, she comes over to help me find things and translate the labels.  Trust me this is helpful as I almost bought 50% cream for my cereal, and I did buy cheese in a tube, that I thought was sausage meat. Lol.  Another instance was at a convinced store where the young guy asked where I was from, and after, he told me everything he knew about Canada, and asked when I can come back to talk.  He helped me with directions, items in the store, and so much more.  Great guy.

People like this is why I travel!

Anyways, back to my day.

The train is nice and I love trains now, ever since my journey in New Zealand going through Arthurs pass.  They are comfortable, relaxing, and you get to see a lot.

img_20160930_115242_hdr

20 minutes later, I am at Rio(s).

One thing I don’t understand, is Patra(s) and Rio(s) are spelled two ways in English.  Sometimes with an S and sometimes not.  No have idea why, but my guess is, one is how we pronounce it, and the other is the correct spelling when translated.

I head straight to the water, to see what the beach is like.  I brought my ManKini just in case it is nice and it is.

img_20160930_120337_hdr

I change, find a nice spot near an umbrella and walk in.  The water is a tiny bit cold, but not as cold as the Black Sea.  As far as I know, it is called Ionian Sea.

I spend about 20 minutes just treading water and taking in the view.  The bridge is pretty cool.

DCIM100GOPRO

I love the water, but I am not one to spend a day at the beach, I get bored very quickly.  So, after an hour or so, I dry off and start walking around town.

On the other side of the bridge, I see something that looks old.  This is something I must see and find out what it is.

img_20160930_130553_hdr

Well, it ends up being the Fortress Of Rion that was built in 1499, with an actual mot around it.  So friggn cool!

img_20160930_130747_hdr

As I am walking around I start to think.  Can you image how many people have been killed here? How much history is in the spot I am standing?  The fort has been taken over many times in the last 500 years and is still somewhat standing.

img_20160930_131643_hdr

Some pictures from inside the Fortress.

img_20160930_132257_hdr img_20160930_131502 img_20160930_131518_hdr img_20160930_131548_hdr img_20160930_131558_hdr img_20160930_131802 img_20160930_132021 img_20160930_132043_hdr

The fortress Of Rion is pretty amazing, but it is well after lunch.  I head back to the beach area where I saw some patios.  Would be a great place to relax and have some authentic Greek food.

I look at a few menus before I decide on this one location.  My decisions was Based on the menu having pictures and the location is right on the beach.

img_20160930_141623

The waitress as always is extremely helpful and answers all of my questions and gives me a suggestion to try the mix grill.  It’s only 7 Euro and looks great, “You don’t have to take my word for it”.  Can you guess who I am quoting? Post it, if you know!

img_20160930_143108_hdr

Rio is not a big town and was able to walk around most of it in an hour or so.

img_20160929_144342_hdr img_20160930_133346_hdr img_20160930_130910_hdr

The train ride back was uneventful, and from there I walked to the city center to catch the bus.

 

On my bus ride home, a lady misses her bus stop and decides it is the bus drivers fault.  She starts aggressively arguing with him while he is trying to drive the bus.  Fight on bus again!  She even blocks people from getting on, basically just being a real retard.  I just sit back and enjoy the show, as this is very common here in Greece.  I hate to say it, but I really have gotten the impression that Greeks are a bit rude, and selfish people.  I know this is generalizing, but this is definitely the impression I have seen over the last 14 days.  However, the good, nice people make up for the selfish, rude, and ignorant people.  And as a added bonus, the scenery is amazing.

I almost forgot about the one incident at my apartment during the 7 nights here.  It seemed to happen at least once a day where someone would ring my buzzer.  I would just ignore it, and after 3 or 4 rings, they would go away.  I had no reason to answer it, as I know no one here.

However, the one day my buzzer rang on and off for 15 minutes.  Then it stopped! 2 minutes later someone was knocking on my door.   I ignored it for a few minutes, and then I went and opened the door, ready to politely ask them to leave.  As I open the door, it is a crazy lady.  I told her, English only, but she kept talking in Greek.  I said it again, and waved goodbye.  She kept talking, so I slowly closed the door as I waved goodbye.

A minute later I heard the guy next door yelling at her.  I guess we had two different approaches to asking her to leave.  He yelled for a good 5 minutes and not softly!  This is a good example how they deal with issues, compared to us in Canada.

I just added this to my authentic, Greek experience.  This is why I rented a local apartment, to truly see how the locals live and I loved it!

Something you all need to try while in Greece, is there two Greek Hard Liquors.  One is called Ouzo, which tastes a lot like sambuca (Black Licorice) with an alcohol between 38 and 44%.  The other is Tsipouro.  This one taste like acid, and maybe like licking a 9 volt battery.

Here is a link explaining in detail what each is.
http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/11/18/a-guide-to-greek-drinks-and-drinking/

I found a shop and that actually home-brews both, and bought a small water bottle of both.

Me tasting both!

I don’t even remember drinking Ouzo that night, but the next morning I knew I had.  haha.  Tsipouro, I dumped out.  It is too nasty to drink.

img_20160930_173916_hdr

Some final pictures of my 7 night stay in Patra, Greece.  Next will be back to Athens, and then onto Thailand.

img_20160929_115442_hdr img_20160929_115455_hdr img_20160929_115801_hdr img_20160929_120207_hdr img_20160929_122750_hdr img_20160929_135555_hdr img_20160929_144342_hdr img_20161001_114048_hdr img_20161002_125911_hdr

Athens Greece – Just amazed at the views

AirBnB has been a great tool for meeting locals.  Hostels are great as well, but normally you meet other travelers, and not the locals.  I would rather meet locals, and learn how they live.

So, in Athens I booked a room with Paulina.  It is her first time hosting someone from AirBnB, and I am the lucky one. J When we first meet, she has a very big smile and I can tell right away that she is a super nice person.  By the end of my stay, this holds true.

The room is really nice, clean, and big.  She has a medium sized dog that I never learned the name of, but I really like her.  She never barks, and is a little scared of me, but I pet her a few times and show her how awesome I am.  Then I get the see the crazy wagging tail.

My first day in Athens I find out to enter all of the cool ruins, temples, etc, it cost 30 Euro.  Uhh, I am cheap.  So day 1 I decide to just walk around and find out where everything is.  Tomorrow I will make the decision if I pay to go in, or what I do.

As I am walking by one of the tour bus sales girls, I decide to allow her to give me her sales pitch.  I already know I am not going on the bus.  It is 18 Euro, and I can take the public bus or walk for less than 2 Euro.  Anyways, as she is talking, I ask her if there is a combination price, where I get the bus and entrance into each location.  She says no, but tomorrow, all of the entrances are free.  It is International day!

Well, you know what I do the next day!

I still spend several hours just wondering around town taking in the views and enjoying some mixed nuts from this guy.  Damn they were good!

img_20160923_120336_hdr

Here are a few pictures from today.  Some great views!

img_20160923_112604 img_20160923_114636_hdr img_20160923_115834_hdr img_20160923_103808_hdr img_20160923_124559_hdr img_20160923_113313_hdr img_20160923_113250_hdr img_20160923_113316_hdr img_20160923_115807_hdr img_20160923_102405_hdr img_20160923_102636_hdr img_20160923_113212_hdr img_20160923_112411_hdr img_20160923_115951 img_20160923_112558 img_20160923_112751

The next day I get up early and bus it to the busiest site.  Acropolis of Athens and yesterday it had a line-up down the road.  Today, I am there just after it opens, and there is no line up and it is FREE!  Yes, I am doing a little happy dance.

I first admire some of the stones, and then onto Theatre of Dionysus.  I can’t believe 2000 years ago people sat here enjoying their evening out and here I am now doing the same.  I sit here for about 15 minutes just enjoying the amazing view and dreaming of what it must have been like.

img_20160924_090738 img_20160924_090919_hdr img_20160924_090003_hdr

Well, it is time to start walking up the hill to the Temple of Athena Nike.  I am
almost wondering if I can even do this walk.  Look at it!  But I must, this is a dream coming true being here.

img_20160923_112411_hdr

I get about half way up and see another amphitheater, Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Archeologikos Choros Theatro Irodou Attikou.  This one is bigger, and is even more amazing than I could ever imagine.  It first opened in 161 AD and my ticket today was Free!

I hope you can see what I am talking about from the pictures.  I am truly amazed at why, and how they build such a thing, in such a hard to get at area.

img_20160924_092217_hdr

Hey, can you picture 5,000 Canadians watching team Canada, beat team USA from here, again!  Yes, it held 5000 people.  Crazy!

img_20160924_094839_hdr

I continue walking up, and up until I reach the top.

img_20160924_094627_hdr

There are 3 large buildings up here and I can’t picture how they would build them back in 420 BC.  I mean, I am out of breath taking my time walking up the stairs and they only had a path!  All I can think is how amazing people are.  This is what can be accomplished when a community comes together to build something.  When everyone has a common goal!

Why do we not have this now?  Back then they had thousands of people working together.  Now it is hard to get 3 people working in tandem without bitching, complaining, and screwing up.

However, it just shows what we can do, if we really want too!

I spend a good hour or more just walking around up here.

img_20160924_093903_hdr img_20160924_093911_hdr img_20160924_092546 img_20160924_093157_hdr

img_20160924_093037_hdrimg_20160924_092648_hdr

img_20160924_092748_hdr

After my decent I stop at a local cafe for an amazing Frappe Coffee Grande.  Mmmm so damn good!

img_20160924_102111_hdr

Next I am onto the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and this place is just as amazing as the last.  Can you believe construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, and was not completed for another 638 years.  Hmm, I worked for software companies that had projects take that long. 🙂

I take my time walking through here, and imagining what it must have been like so many years ago.

img_20160924_112147_hdr img_20160924_110816 img_20160924_110928_hdr img_20160924_110951 img_20160924_111138_hdr img_20160924_112118_hdr

Over the next few days, I spend about 4 hours a day walking around finding new hidden gems around every corner. Just look at the pictures below.

img_20160924_120227_hdr img_20160924_113040_hdr img_20160924_113135_hdr img_20160924_114903_hdr

On my last day I head to Glyfada Beach, recommended by Polina.

 

It takes about 45 minutes on the public bus to get here on bus A2.  Definitely a nice place to spend a day!  Beach, sun, and pretty girls.  What more can I ask for?  Oh yes, cheaper beer, but that’s OK.

Little Video of that day!

Tomorrow I bus to Patra(s) Greece, to spend a week in an apartment I rented.  More to come in Greece…