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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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…

Samsung, we had a good run!

Last night, my one true travel companion’s screen died and now, like Old Yeller, I have to take her out to the back shed, and pop one in her head.

My Samsung S4, has had some issues the last few months.  One day she is going strong, her memory is great, and the next day, there is no life in her battery.  She is only 2.5 Years old, and in human years, she is in her late 60’s.  Oh well, time for a new cell phone.

Doing some searches on the net, I see there is a cell phone screen repair place not far from me.  Maybe, I can give it a second chance?

I head down to the hotel receptionist area, asking them if they can call the store and ask if they can replace the screen on my S4.

Yuri, the very happy, honest, receptionist calls the store and they tell him, they can do it today for 750 UAH ($36 CAD).  This is great news!  Yuri gives me directions and also his phone number.  He tells me the guy on the phone does not speak English, and to have him call Yuri, so he can translate.

Wow, have you ever heard of such great service from a hotel?  Not, in my travels!

I get to the location and there is no store in site, but there is a cell phone provider across the street called, Cell Planet.  I go over and ask if they repair screens.  They do, but their guy is away until tomorrow.  They call my original store and ask for directions.   I guess the store has moved.

Cell Planet also calls me a taxi and gives me great advice about getting there, etc.

So, I arrived at the location and I do not see the store.  I ask a local security guy and he points me to mall, with a cell phone area.

At the cell phone area, I ask the desk where True Cell is located.  The young girl says, she will walk me there and translate for me.

Wow, again, great help for no real reason.  She could have just pointed me in the direction, but instead, she walks me to the store, and then waits with me for 15 minutes.

After 15 minute wait, the guy says, he can fix it for 3000 UAH.

She asks, why he said 750 on the phone.  He says, he never talked to anyone on the phone.

At this point I give up and ask where I can find a taxi.  She calls one and then also comes outside with me to wait.  We have a really good conversation as the taxi takes about 10 minutes to arrive.  I thank her for all of the help.  She gives me a big smile and waves goodbye as I get into the taxi.

So, day 1 of trying to get a new cell or repair mine has been at a loss.  All I really know is, True Cell doesn’t exist, but does exist if you call, with great prices. 🙂

Day 2, I head back down to Cell Planet to see if their guy can fix the phone.  When I arrive, they tell me he is in at 11, it is now 10 AM.  No problem, there are a tone of used and new cell phone stores in this area.

While I am waiting I go to at least 10 stores looking for possible options if mine cannot be repaired.  This is more fun than I really wanted.  The scams, begging, etc, is crazy.  As soon as they see you are English they think you are dumb, and will pay anything.  They also assume I am an American.  Maybe that’s why they think I am dumb?  Every store gives me prices in USA dollars, and each store I explain I am Canadian, not from USA and only to give me prices in Ukraine UAH.  The best price I could find was on a used Samsung J7, for 4000 UAH ($200 CAD).  Actually an OK price, but I do not want to pay that much for a 1 year old phone.  The worst prices I got were 4000 UAH for a S3.  A 5 year old used phone.  I was told by Yuri later, he could buy that phone for 500 UAH.  Scammers!

Anyways, I look up and see the Sun is at 11 AM, so I head back to Cell Planet.

The repair guy is there and he tells me, it is not worth fixing, the parts here are too expensive because S4 was not sold in Ukraine.  They had some A series I guess.  He then suggest me a great phone (Xiaomi Redmi 3 2GB/16GB Dual SIM), and tells me, the camera is better than mine, and the battery life is 3 times stronger.  Added bonus, is it is 3400 UAH new.

I ask where I can get one, and he says.  Give me 5 minutes, I will go find one.

5 minutes later he shows up with 2, A 5 inch and a 5.5 inch.

I take a look and see they are damn nice phones.  He lets me use his computer to do some research on them, which shows excellent reviews.

So, I am now a proud owner of a Xiaomi Redmi 3 2GB/16GB Dual SIM, Cell phone and it has been a day.  He was spot on with the battery life.  A day later and it is at 70 percent still.

What did I learn from this?  There are two types of people in Ukraine, the very honest, helpful, nice people, and the struggling, dishonest scammers.  However, if you have any common sense, you will know the difference.

My advice if this happens to you.  Never buy right away, do some research on the item, and ask a local who you know is honest.  Do not spend above your budget, you will eventually find what matches your needs.

Thanks to Yuri and Cell Planet for being honest and extremely helpful.

My first selfie on the new cell.

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