Pattaya – Jomtien Beach – Russians?

The last few days have been uneventful, as I am really just waiting to go to Koh Larn on November 8.  I have explored pretty much the entire area here, except for the paid tourist parts and I will say, I do enjoy the area, but it is time to move on.

Another 5 days until I move to Koh Larn and I thought these 5 days were going to be a bit boring, until my ride home from the Market today.

A young Russian girl is sitting across from me in the back of the truck, and out of the blue says, “I think we are neighbours!”  I respond with a smile, “Paradise Condo’s?”, and she says, “Yes!”  This turns into a nice conversation until we reach the elevator where we say goodnight and nice meeting you.

I am really happy, this is the first time I have had a conversation with a Russian.  Normally they will say hi, but that is as far as it goes.  That might be because they don’t all speak English, I am not sure.

Anyways, a day goes by and I didn’t see her around the condo.  I was hoping I would, I really enjoyed our conversation.

The next morning I am a little bored and decide I will walk down the street, catch a truck bus and see how far it goes.  This is a good way to explore a new area.  Basically, get lost, and then find my way home.

As I am walking out of the condo building, I see Anastasia.  She is also walking towards the truck Pattaya bus.  I say hi and ask what she is doing today.  She tells me she is going to a market in Pattaya, one that I have never been too.  She then asks if I want to come with her.  I say yes, of course.

When we get to the market, we first look around to find her sister.  We did not think we would find her in this massive market, but we do.

Her sister Olga I have seen around the condo before, but have never said hi.

Olga seems really nice, but doesn’t speak a lot of English.  However, we do speak a little here and there.

We all spend the morning wandering around the market, while the girls shop for clothes.  I was just enjoying spending time with people again.  I think it has been around 4 weeks since I actually did this.

Shortly after lunch, Olga leaves us to go meet another one of her friends.  Anastasia and I walk around a little more.  She helps me find a few items I have been looking for.  I didn’t buy anything, because she also tells me back in Jomtien, it might be cheaper.

Eventually we decide we have had enough walking around and head back to the condo building.  Before leaving each other, we agree to meet again tonight to go to another Night Market that she knows of, that I have never been too.  I am excited for this, as I am getting tired of eating at the same place.

Around 7 PM we meet up and head to the Pattaya Park Night Market.  It is only another 10 minutes by bus past the Jomtien Beach Night Market.

When we arrive, I am very happy.  It is a lot bigger, nicer, and more seating.  Also tones of different food, including Greek and Russian.

We meet up with her sister Olga, and her sister’s friend, who I have no idea what his name is, but he turns out to be a pretty nice guy and not just because he gave me drinks of Rum. Lol.

We sit in the market until after 10 PM enjoying some drinks and really good food.  I had Greek food, and chicken skewers.  Mmmmm, me so happy!

By the end of the night, Anastasia and I have already made plans to meet again tomorrow night for dinner.

During the next day Anastasia was away on a day trip to one of the Islands, and I spent it swimming, and planning where I am going after Koh Larn.

Around 6 PM I meet her at the Jomtien Night Market where we sat, ate dinner, and had another couple of drinks of Rum.

I have to say, I am really enjoying her company.  She is always smiling and has lots of great advice about traveling in this part of Thailand.  She and her sister have been coming here for the last 3 or 4 years, and not just for a month or two.  They are normally here for the entire winter.  What an amazing life!

After dinner we head back to my condo where I am going to give her some movies I have on my laptop.  Tomorrow she is traveling 12 hours on a bus to Laos, where she will extend her visa for 90 days.  She will definitely need some movies to entertain her.

Unfortunately when she arrives back, I will already be gone to Koh Larn.  But, we make new plans!  She is going to come to Koh Larn during the week for a visit.  This will be awesome!  Now I have so many cool things to look forward too over the next week.

It is getting late and she will have a long day tomorrow.  So she gives me a nice hug, and we say goodnight.

Until we meet again on Koh Larn!

Koh Larn Island – Thailand – Day trip

The last few days I have been wanting to go to Koh Larn Island for two reasons.  1 is to see what the beaches are like, and 2, is to see if I can find a homestay or apartment rental for a reasonable price.  Researching online, this seems not possible, but I am going to try.

When I woke up and I noticed sun in between white clouds.  The forecast is calling for heavy rain, but this is the best I have seen in a few days now.  This is my chance, I am not waiting another day.

I get dressed, which means I put on my shorts and a shirt.  I then toss my GoPro and money into my day bag and start walking towards the beach, where I can catch a Pattaya bus.

I love the Pattaya bus.  All you do is hold your hand out, if they see it, they stop and you jump into the back of the truck.  You never really know exactly where they go, you just know when you get on, they are going in the right direction.

These buses, as they call them, cost 10 baht (38 Cents CAD) per jumping on.

While on the bus/truck I check every few minutes my GPS to see where I am, and to make sure I am going in the general direction of the ferry.

About 20 minutes or so later, the bus is within a 10 minute walk to the ferry and I guess this is as close as it will go.  So I press the buzz button and the bus stops.  They don’t pull over, they just stop, and you jump off and hand 10 baht to the driver.

10 minutes later I am at the peer.

Too reach Koh Larn Island, there are a few ways, but all are by boat.  I can take a speed boat, which is the most expensive option, but fastest.  I think around 1000 Baht ($38 CAD), and a 15 minute ride.  Another option is to take the ferry.  It cost 30 Baht ($1.15 CAD) and takes somewhere around 45 minutes.

The speed boats are geared towards tourist, and the ferry is more how locals travel.  So, if you know me, I am not taking the tourist option.

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You pay as you get on the ferry, and there is no walkway or anything like that.  The boat is tied to the peer, and you just jump from the peer onto the boat.  Simple, and safe. 🙂

Too my surprise the ferry is full of tourist.  🙁 all Russians, which is 90% of the tourist in Thailand.  So, not as authentic as I thought it would be, but that’s OK.

45 minutes later we reach Koh Larn Island.

The first thing I do is grab a scooter for 200 baht ($7.64 CAD) for the day.  This includes a full tank of gas, and detailed instructions on how to ride it.

Instructions: He points to the throttle and says, “go that way!”, and then he pulls the left handle brake and says, “No more going that way!”.

I can see why so many Asian tourist get hurt on scooters every year.  Scooters are the highest cause of tourist deaths in Thailand and this is why.  Anyone can rent one, even people with no concept of how to ride.

Helmets are law in Thailand, but try and find a helmet!

During the day, I see first hand at how bad some people are when riding.  One incident was on a fully open road, which is wide enough for 3 cars, with only myself going one way, and two tourist on a scooter coming towards me.  Oh, one detail, is they drive on the left here!  So, anyways, I am on the left, riding against the shoulder, when I see them coming at me, in the middle of the road.  For some reason, I knew they were going to come right at me, instead of going stright, and they did.  I stop against the shoulder, and wait!  A few seconds later, they come straight at me.  I point to the other side of the road, but nope, they don’t seem to know how to steer.  Luckily they are only going about walking speed as they drive up onto the curb 3 feet in front of me, where they finally stop.

I laugh, shake my head and continue driving on, as I go around them.

This happens more than once, over 3 hours of cruising around.  All you can really do is laugh and be happy the Island has no cars, for there sake.

One cool thing, I got the scooter going 65 KM going down a hill.  I was really proud of myself and was smiling and laughing the entire time.

The first thing I did was drive to the quietest beach, to see if I can find accommodations.

It only takes 8 minutes to get to Nual Beach, and I find there are no hotels, homestay or anything like that at any of the beaches, from what a local tells me.

This is good and bad news. I now know I only have to look in one area, but the bad is, I was hoping for a place on one of the beaches, outside of the little town.

For the next hour I ride around to Monkey Beach, and then onto Samae Beach, just to see what they look like, since I have time.

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Then back to Koh Larn town to start looking for accommodations.

I stop at about 6 places and see the price range is between 1000 and 1500 baht per night.  Way more than I am going to pay, as I am currently paying 400 baht.

My luck panned out, and I find a place for 900 per night, which includes a breakfast and free scooter for my stay.  However, 900 is still more than I am willing to pay.  So I start my negotiations, and tell them I am staying for 7 nights or more.  He then drops it to 800 baht.

I don’t need a scooter or breakfast, so I tell him I will do 500, no scooter, and no breakfast.  he calls his wife, she comes over and says.  Yes!

Perfect!  This place includes unlimited WiFi, with AC, and at 500 baht a night, this comes out to $134 CAD per week.

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So now my plans of going up North Thailand is on hold.  I can come live on an Island, go snorkeling everyday, relax, and be far away from tourist.  I love this.

On November 8, this is this will be my home for 7 days or more.  Who knows!

My next stop is for a smoothie.  Riding a scooter in 34 degrees Celsius heat, makes me thirsty.

I find a nice local street restaurant, that has smoothies for 40 baht ($1.53 CAD). I order a Kiwi smoothie and relax, while watching the local girl entertainment.

From what I can tell, there is a mom, and two daughters running the place.  The one daughter, who I am guessing is in her 20s is a total instigator.  She makes me laugh so much, I love it.  I am coming here more often.

She teases her sister non stop.  She was either flicking water at her, or trying to scare her, and then when she noticed me laughing at her.  She started at me.  I was looking at my phone, and all of a sudden, someone grabs my sides and goes, boo!  Yep, it was her.  This girl was funny as shit.  Just an all around good person.

After my smoothie I decided to drop of the scooter and head back to the ferry.

It was only 3 pm, but I am done with the heat for today.

Getting home was easy.  After the ferry, I walked back to the area where I got off the Pattaya bus and found another bus going the other direction.  I hop on it, and 15 minutes later, I see it does not go back the same way I came, but goes close enough.  I ended up about a 30 minute walk from my condo, but since I started to feel rain.  I jumped on a scooter taxi, for 30 baht ($1.15 CAD).  The guy took me right to my condo, and just in time.  A few minutes later we had a massive storm.

Check out the end of the video below.

Well, that was a pretty cool day, and I cannot wait to move to the Island in 9 days.

Pattaya – Jomtien Beach – Extending Visa

My original plan was to spend a month in Jomtien Beach, and then extend my visa for another 30 days, and spend most of that time up in Chiang Mai, which is in northern Thailand.

Well, one day when I was filling up my water jug, I met an Aussie who owns one of the condos in this building.  He tells me I can only get a 7 day extension because I am on a Visa On Arrival, and not a tourist Visa.

That changes my plans a little and I wonder if it is really worth the hassle for another 7 days.

Fast forward a few days, am I am walking past the immigration office. I don’t have my passport with me, but decide to step in and see if they can tell me how long I would be able to extend it.

The officer at the information desk tells me, I can get 30 days.  Just come back with 1900 Baht and my passport.

So, if this is true, I am back to my original plans, but I do know not to plan until after I actually get the extension.

Monday arrives and I head over to the office.  When I get there, the parking lot is a little empty.  Weird!  Then I see it, a note on the door.  It is closed until Wednesday for holiday.

I ask a few locals what holiday, and they don’t know either.

A few days have passed and it is now Wednesday, so I head back to the immigration office.

When I arrive it is busy as shit, and I am starting to wonder if I should wait until tomorrow.  Then I think, screw it, I am here.  How long can it really take!

I walk in and ask where I go to extend my visa, and the officer asks, for how long.  I say 30 days.  I might as well try for 30 right!

He then hands me a stack of about 10 papers to fill out.

I fill out the first one and then flip to the second page.   I have no idea what this page is talking about.  So I walk back over to him to ask, but then a young Thai girl says, come with me.

OK!

She takes me into a room with several desk, and other people filling out the forms.  She takes my form and starts filling in the second page, and so on.  She then asks for proof of address, and I show her a picture of my condo agreement.  She says, go across the street and print it.

I walk over and the shop already knew what I was there for and we print a copy.  This cost me 40 Baht.

When I get back to her, she has finished filling in the forms for me, and says, I need a picture, “Stand here!”  She then takes my picture, and she gives me 8 copies.  Cost was 165 Baht.

Everything is going very quickly.  I have only been here for 25 minutes and already my forms are filled in, I have pictures, and am now waiting walking over to the waiting area, to meet with the immigration officer.  This person decides if I can extend or not.  Oh, I almost forgot.  The girl that filled in my forms, also gave me a number to wait with.  174.

Just as I sit down in the waiting room, 174 is called.  The immigration officer takes my forms, 1 picture, and asks for 1900 Baht. She then says, “Please sit and wait.”

Less than 5 minutes later, another girl calls, 174.

I stand up, she walks over to me, and hands me my passport and says, “Thank you, enjoy Thailand.”

So, that is it!  A total of 2115 Baht ($80 CAD) and approximately 35 minutes later, and I have a 30 day extension.  No questions asks.

While in the office I never knew what I was doing, it was very fast paced, and I just followed directions.  However, it was painless and easy.

So, if you ever want to extend your stay, just head to the immigration office. Easy as that.

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Pattaya – Jomtien Beach – Sick!

Since I got 1 in the stink and none in the pink, I have been felling sick.  At first I thought it was the 3 hours a night sleep, but then after a few more days, I realized I was actually a cold.

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The one day I woke up with a sore throat, and felt extremely lazy.  I had plans to go to the local Water Park, and then onto the Night Market, but now I just don’t feel like it.

After coffee, I decided to go anyways.  It is only 100 Baht to get in and the fresh air will help burn off this cold.

All the reviews for this water park are pretty bad, and later I see why.  This is not a tourist park, it is for locals, which means it is very cheap.  Tourist expect way to much!

The park has 6 water slides, but two are closed.  It also has a massive lazy pool going around the entire park, and tones of seating areas with shade.  All of this for $3.80 CAD! It’s clean, so who can complain!

I hit the 4 water slides a few times, and then swim around the lazy river.  I like it here, a great place for families.  Even better, is watching how crazy local people are.  For example, there are no rules on the water slides unlike back home.

The one time I wait for a kid to go all the way down, and I see him swimming away from the slide exit.  I go down, and as I see the end of the slide, I see that kid again, playing and splashing right where I am going to be in another second.  There is no stopping me, “I AM ON A WATER SLIDE!”.  I smash right into the kid.  I ask if he is OK, he is laughing and I look over, his parents are laughing.  No one cares.  It’s OK if you almost killed the kid.

This was not a 1 time accident, almost every time I went down the slide, some kid was playing at the end of it.

After the second time, I no longer care, and laugh when I hit them.

If you can’t beat them, join them!

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Oh, but even here I can not get away from Ladyboys!

While floating in the lazy river, a ladyboy sees me and starts to come over to me.  When it gets about 5 feet from me, I quickly say, “No, go away!”  It still comes towards me, with its stupid smile.  I then just swim faster away from it.  It finally gets the point, but still keeps following me.  I eventually get out of the lazy river and go back to the water slides.

In Thailand, there are so many amazing things to see and do, but being a guy.  There are two very annoying things.

1. You can’t just go to a pub and just have a beer.  You will either get a bar girl/street hookers asking for money and sex, or you get a ladyboy who doesn’t understand, “Fuck off, don’t touch me!”

Also, the bar girls will order drinks and then tell the bartender you said it was OK.  If you tell the truth and deny it, they will get mad, aggressive and try to get more from you.

2. You get harassed for massage, and for money from every local, no matter where you are.  They never take no as an answer.

These two reasons are why I stay away from the tourist areas.  I like Jomtien Beach!  It is locals and some expats.  It might be harder to find food my body likes, but it is much more relaxing.

Anyways, back onto my day.

It’s almost 6 pm and the Night Market will be opening soon, so I start walking that way.

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The night market is a great place to find local food, at reasonable prices. A little busy, but if you get past all of the Russians and Chinese people pushing and shoving, you get a nice place, and some really great food.

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I grabbed some shrimp, a smoothie and of coarse some fried octopus.  Mmmm.  A great meal!

This was really the only day I did anything exciting.  The remaining days since I last blogged have been spent going for walks by the water, swimming in the pool, and drinking smoothies.  Trying to get over this cold.

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As soon as I get over this cold, I will be heading to some of the Islands for snorkeling. 🙂

Video of the day!

Athens – Bahrain – Bangkok – Pattaya – Jomtien Beach

I wake up late, knowing I am just going to be wasting time until 5 pm, when I head to airport to catch my flight to Bahrain.

My checkout time at the hostel is 11 AM, but they have a locked room where people can store their bags during the day.  This is great.  I lock up my bag, pull out my laptop and almost start to work, when the crazy Aussie sits down beside me.

A few minutes later a German couple also sit down.  We chat all afternoon, until just after 3 pm when they all have to leave.  I decide I might as well as do the same thing.

I catch the two buses to the airport, check in, and head through security and then customs.  Both are very fast, as I am one of only 4 people for some reason.  Good timing I guess.

Time flies right bye and I am on my plane.

The plane is full, and as I guessed it, I got an annoying guy beside me.  He has no concept of space, and consistently puts his arm over the arm rest into my seat.  I can’t stand this.  We all have our own seat, the armrest is the border, don’t CROSS IT!.  I try several times to tell him this seat is my seat, not his.  He doesn’t understand, and continues to elbow me the entire flight.

The hardest part is you can’t even say, “Excuse me!”, so they get the hint because they don’t understand any English.  Thank god the flight is only 4 hours long.

I arrive in Bahrain at 11:30 PM, and have a 9 hour layover. Sleeping in helped, I am not tired.

I walk around the airport looking for place to relax, but there is nothing.

I check the prices at the two lounges, to see how much it is to rent a bed for a few hours.  If I remember she said 80 Bahrain, and I thought great, until I found the conversion.  It is $168 CAD for 7 hours rental.  Screw that!

Well it is now 1 AM, and I need to find a toilet.  I find the only one that is not locked, and there is a 4 man line up, with 2 stalls.  I cramp up, but make it into a stall just in time.

I don’t know if you know or have seen what clean toilets are like in Persian countries, but they are more nasty than the overfilling squat toilets in Asia.

Picture this!  A toilet with no seat, no toilet paper, piss and shit sprayed all over the bowl and tank.  A garden hose to wash your brown eye with, that people who should be experts in using, still spray water everywhere but in the toilet.  The floor is half an inch of water.  Oh yes, I am wearing flip flops, not half an inch thick!

Well, at least I made it into the toilet, get my business done, spray my third eye clean, and leave with a wet ass.

This actually clues me into why these guys where long tailed shirts.  It is to cover there stained wet pants!

Let me explain one thing here.  This is not a dirty airport!  Bahrain is a rich country and it shows.  They have 3 guys in the washroom with mops cleaning constantly, but they can’t keep up, with how the people are.  I think they are just used to having people clean up after them.

Yes, you can win this in the airport!

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That is where the excitement ends and the 7 hours of boring wait starts.  I just sit, listen to music, and go for little walks, for the remaining time.

My next flight is there, and I am so happy to be getting on.  Now, just another 7 hour wait until Thailand!

This plane is full again, and the guy sitting beside me is a big dude.  All I can think of, please no, not another annoying dude.  I have not slept in 24 hours!

BUT! I am wrong.  He tries hard to keep from putting his arm on me even though the seats a little to small for him, and “Thats whats I appreciates abouts hims!”  Another bad quote!

Half way through the flight he and I start talking.  He is from Bahrain and is a retired flight attendant.  We have some really great talks.  This flight is 7 hours long, yet, I enjoy it, even with a sore back, no feeling in my ass, and neck pain.

We land in Bangkok and I am so excited.  Within an hour I will be at my hotel sleeping 🙂

Customs again is very fast.  I am second in line, and my bag came out quickly as well.

I walk out to the taxi pickup and the next taxi guy in line asks where I am going.  I show him it is only 5 KM away and he says, “No No, not from me.”  He explains he has to pay an entrance fee into the airport and he has to charge me that on top of my taxi ride, which is less than the airport entrance fee.  He then walks me to the airport arrival area, and gets me a taxi from there.  These taxi’s never enter the airport, so no fee.

If I would have taken his taxi, it would have cost me 300 Bhat ($10 CAD), but the taxi he got me, cost me 150 Bhat ($5 CAD).

Online you read about all of the taxi scams, but here is a perfect example of a good Thai person.

My hotel had bad reviews, but I am getting great a reading between the lines.  A lot of people expect 5 stars in Thailand for $20 a night.  I am sorry, but get real!

I paid $19 for a night for a clean room, comfy bed, and even with a very nice pool.  Check it out!  Oh yeah, and everyone was super nice, unlike the reviews said.


The next morning I leave the hotel at 10:30 AM to the airport, where I catch the bus to Pattaya.

Bus to airport was 150 Bhat ($5 CAD), the 2 hour bus to Pattaya was 120 Bhat ($4 CAD), and then a shared taxi to my condo was another 100 Bhat ($4 CAD).  These were all luxury, clean, new buses.  Can you get that in Canada for this price?

I meet Earthie, the young Thai I am renting my condo from.  He is a really nice guy, and he gets me settled in quickly.  This is a place you have to see!  12,000 Bhat ($447 CAD) for 31 days, plus the service fees, which he has no control over.

Can’t believe this is where I am living for the next month!  Right on the beach, with an amazing pool!  Jealous, I hope so. 🙂

 

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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Some pictures from inside the Fortress.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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

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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…

Odessa Ukraine to Athens Greece – One more step!

My night starts off around 9 PM, while I am laying in bed thinking, “Oh, I better set my alarm, I have to be awake at 4:30 AM to catch my flight.”

Next, I pack my bag and organize my things, so in the morning, I do not disturb the other people sleeping in the dorm.  I mean, this is a normal thing, I think everyone would do.  However, not everyone gives a shit about others.

I share a dorm room with 5 other guys.  At around midnight all 6 of us are in bed, but one dick, decides he wants to read.  He leaves the very bright light on in the room.  I get up and turn it off, as it is after midnight.  He turns on the other light, which is just as bright.  I don’t say anything, and just try and sleep.

Well, 4 am arrives and I still have not slept because of this fucking bright light, and the guy decided around 2 am to start typing on his laptop.  Oh yeah, I asked him around 3 am if he could just go to sleep, because I have to wake up at 4:30 am.  He says, yes soon.

4:20 AM, he turns off the light and says, Good Night!  I say, “Wonderful, you are a kind person!”

I truly don’t understand people who do not think about how, what they do, can and does affect others.  It’s simple, don’t be a stuck up, selfish person!

4:30 am, my alarm does not go off!  Why, because I am awake, and turn it off before.  No point in making the noise, right!

Anyways, I am already not in a great mood, but I get over it.  I quickly and quietly, get my stuff out of the room and head to the receptionist desk.

My plan was to remind him to call a taxi, and while the taxi is coming, I will brush my teeth, and be ready.  Not what happened.

I first have to wake him up, as he is sleeping on the floor behind the desk.  Then I remind him about the taxi, and he calls.  He tells me 15 minutes and they will call him back to let him know if they have a driver.

This is not looking good.  So I try to ask him to call another taxi place, but as I am typing this on my translator, he says.  “Taxi, Taxi, Taxi” and tries taking my laptop bag.  I stop him and say, “Wait, I am not packed.  I have to toss my tooth brush and jacked in my bag.”  He then tries to take my backpack.  I again say.  No, Wait!  He takes it anyways and starts heading outside.

I am like … FUCK!!!!!!!!!  I toss my tooth brush in my bag and look around quickly for my other stuff. I see nothing as I am more focused on my backpack, running away!

I run after him and he is already putting my bag in the trunk.

Ok, so I went from not sure when a taxi will come, if ever, to, shit my bag is leaving without me in a matter of seconds.

Oh yes, so in the rush, he never gave me my key deposit back.  Oh well, it is only 50 UAH, like $1.10 Canadian.

As I arrive at the airport, I check in and get my tickets.  Everything is looking good. I have an hour before my plane.  I grab some water and relax.

My plane is about to board, and all of a sudden my stomach starts turning.  I have to shit, and I have to shit NOW!  I love IBS-D.  It is great!  I make it to the one toilet, with no seconds to spare.  I sit down so fast I almost fall off of the toilet.  Somehow I managed to shit on the seat, but nothing is on my pants, or underwear.  Score me!  I see an upside to this, except my plane is loading.

I wrap it up and get to my plane just in time.

So here is another bonus to my bad day.  The plane is full but 2 seats, and that one seat is beside me. 🙂

I take some pills for my stomach so I don’t shit myself again.  I still have another flight.

As I am sitting here, thinking, it’s a bit cold.  I think, “where is my jacket.”  Every curse and bad word is now running through my head.  In the rush to the taxi, I left my very expensive Burton jacket sitting on the counter in Odessa.

I love this jacket!

OK, so I try to think positive.  Maybe they can mail it to me, but wait. I don’t even know where I will be from one day to another.

I dunno!

Anyways, we make it to Kiev, where I will be catching my next plane to Athens, Greece.  This makes me smile again, because this has been a dream to see Athens.

As I am waiting in line to go through the security, I always seem to get someone behind me who doesn’t know personal space. Just because you are in a line, does not mean you have to stand on the person ankles in front of you.  However, the guy behind me does.  After the second time, I asked.  “Can you not do that?”  He says sorry and does it again 2 minutes later.  That time I turn around and said, “Thanks”.

This next part I am going to put on the bonus, good side of my scale.

As my ankles are getting bruised, I am watching this other guy get security checked.  They choose him for a random pat down.  These pat downs are very quick, and they miss a lot.  Anyways, as they finish patting down his back, the officer says, “Please sit here.” and points to a chair, while they check his bag.  The guy heard it as, “Please bend over” and the guy touches his toes like he is going to get an anal check.  OMG, I tried so hard not to start laughing.  This was awesome and I apologize for laughing at someone, but this was funny.

Then there is this lady with a zipper sweater on.  The officer asks her to take off her jacket as he thought it was a jacket, not a sweater.  She has nothing on under it but a bra, and actually starts taking it off.  The officer is like, “Oh, no no, keep it on.”  Again, I loved the show and laugh a lot inside.  I love Europe and their free way of thinking!

My next plane arrives and we load.  Great, full plane, and I am sitting against the window, with a giant beside me.  The only thing I hate more is when there is a screaming kid.

Oh but wait,  the seat in front of me is a mom, dad, and a little boy and you guessed it.  He is very well behaved! Not!  The little ass climbs the seat and starts trying to grab my sunglasses.  I say, somewhat nicely.  “GO away!” and give his dad a look.  If I climbed over seats at that age, I would have my ass kicked by my dad, and then if mom got mad, look the fuck out.

They finally, somewhat control the little monster.

Then it happens.  A SCREAMING, and I mean SCREAMING baby is 5 rows back.  Please make it stop.  I am actually starting to contemplate what would be worse, listening to it scream, or opening the door and tossing it, while chancing crashing, and killing everyone on the plane.  Well, we would have at least 1 minute of peace?

So, yes, the plane ride was long, for a 2 hour flight.

But wait, good luck comes my way.  My bag is one of the first off the plane.  Score me!  Customs goes easy, and I am now in Greece.

Some pictures while landing in Athens.

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As I exit the airport, I remember I have Euro’s still from when I was in Finland.  Score me again!

My AirBnB host left me a message saying I catch the bus 95 into the town center, and then A2 to her place.  Sounds easy, and it actually is.  I do take way longer than if I knew where I was going, but that is OK.  I am in Athens, Greece.

Here is one teaser, for the next post!

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Odessa – Beach Life – Great Friends

So what’s been going on the last few days.  Well, I move into my new place, which I rented from AirBNB for 19 CAD per night.  It is 4 minute walk to the beach, and not far from my friend’s Lesya home.

Check out the video here!

While renting my beach house, I noticed a tone of dogs walking all over the streets.  I was pretty sure they are not owned by anyone, and just wild.  Later Lesya confirmed these are wild dogs.  Something you would never see back home in a city.

The one little dog, who I have nick named, “The Instigator” walks up and down the street and barks at other dogs, and when they start barking uncontrollably, he leaves and goes onto the next dog.  This is the first dog, I think I would kick, and maybe even have a competition on punting distance. 🙂

OK, dog lovers, get over that comment.

I would say, that is the only negative I have found while living at this house.  I really like it, and the price you cannot beat, and to add to the positives, it is a 5 minute walk to a nice, small beach, with beer.  And if I have the energy, I can walk the beach 2 KM down, to the more popular beach.  I did this a few times.

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The first Saturday night Lesya met up with me, and we went out for Sushi and drinks.  Our conversation is always random and pretty funny.  Again, our intentions were to walk around, but we ended up just having drinks at the Sushi restaurant.

During the week, Lesya was busy with work, so I just went to the beach everyday and enjoyed the good life.

Checkout what you can buy on the beach for under 2 dollars.

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The next Sunday, it was the first day, were it was no hot, so no beach.  However, this ended up in my favour because Lesya’s beach plans were canceled. We can now hangout.

This is another random, funny day!

We meet around 11 AM, at the bus stop close to my place.  I was hungry and craving Sushi again.  So we walked to the same place as last Saturday.  At the restaurant the waitress, was happy to see us, and tells us she was hoping to see us again.  OK, I don’t remember making any kind of impression last time, but I guess we did.  She even told us, she wants us to come back more often.  Very random, but cool!

During lunch, yes, you guessed it.  Wine was way to good, and the next thing I know I am drinking Ukraine Cognac.  This is actually my first time ever drinking Cognac and for a dollar a drink, I have a few.  I really like it!

After lunch, I am feeling pretty good, Lesya is obviously feeling happy as I can see in her eyes, a little buzzed look.

We walk to a local grocery store where we buy more wine, and she buys stuff to cook us dinner as well.

Lesya buying bottled wine.

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While buying wine, a girl and her husband start talking to Lesya.  My understanding is he is a marine pilot, and Lesya works at another marina office for cargo ships.  They end up exchanging information and the next thing I know, we are invited to meet up later for drinks.  Very random!

After the grocery store, we walk over to Lesya’s house to give her mom some of the groceries.  I get to meet her parents and see where she lives.  It is a nice condo/flat and her parents are really nice.  They do not speak English, but with a little help, we have some good talks.

We head over to my place where she cooks grilled wraps, and I have to say, she is one hell of a good cook.  It’s a few days later as I am writing this, and I am craving them again.

Few pictures of us before the drinks get rolling.

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I did not know this, but in Ukraine, a girl does not pour her wine, the guy always fills the glass, and it better not get empty.  I know back home, if I was to touch one of my old girlfriends wine bottles, they might bite or hit me.  Never touch a girls wine. lol.

The couple we met earlier messaged and are going to come to my place for drinks, and a few minutes later, one of Lesya’s friends also messaged and is now coming also.

I will skip ahead to all of us drinking on the patio.

The guy’s wife is crazy, and drunk.  She talks a mile a minute, and seems always upset.  The guy is also a bit moody.  If I do not pay attention to him, he gets a little attitude, but i’ts all good.  We have a pretty good night.  He brought Vodka and Gin and he kept giving me shots.  By the end of the night, I know I was more drunk than I wanted.  Not what I was planning 12 hours ago.

He also gave me two gifts.  One was a picture of I dunno, I am not religious, and the other was 25 Soviet Union Roubles.  This is really cool, as they do not exist anymore.  I will definitly keep the 25 Roubles with me!

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Lesya’s friend, Korina is really cool.  A very sweet girl.  She only speaks a little English, but enough we have some good conversation.  I can see why the two are friends.  Both really great people.

Well the night eventually ends and everyone leaves.  I see a pretty good mess, and I only clean up the food, so no animals get into it.  Tomorrow will have to be clean up day.

The next day I was a little hungover, and I am very happy I do not have to checkout of the house until 3 PM.  This gives me time to clean up, wake up, and pack.

3 PM arrives and the owners show up, with their daughter.  She speaks English and can translate. 🙂  This is a needed for sure.

She helps me get a taxi and also adds me to Facebook, on her mom’s request.  They want to keep in touch and read some of my past blogs.  They are really nice people.  Someday I hope to come back again and stay in this place.

Well, I am now in a hostel in the city center.  In a day I will be flying to Athens, Greece, leaving this amazing country.  I will miss hanging out with Lesya.

We are trying to meet one last time, but it is raining like mad with some good wind, so we might not be able too.  If not, I know I will keep in touch with her on Facebook. Hopefully we will meet again.