Monday, December 31, 2007

Day 39 & 40 - Aharnes (Menidi), Athens

The last two days of the year were pretty much the same. On both days, I went to the internet café, trying to resolve the problem with Agnes, but this time it seems to be over for good. She started really abusing me. I hadn’t been in the mood to do anything because of all this, and it really crippled my holiday. Agnes simply drove me up the bloody wall. I loved her and I was very hurt. I was still hoping for things to get sorted out, as I didn't want to let go of the future that awaited us.

Anyway the New Year came and I watched Bicentennial Man on TV and had meatballs for dinner. I’m hoping for all the best for the New Year. Not a good start, but hopefully it will improve. At least I had a friend, Iro, to keep me comfortable during this tough time. She kept me comfortable through text messaging and made me feel a lot better.

When New Year came, me and my family celebrated it with a handshake and kisses on the cheeks, as in traditional Greek formality.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Day 37 & 38 - Aharnes (Menidi), Athens

The 28th wasn’t much of a day, as all I did was go to the internet café and watch movies at home. George of the Jungle played that night.

The 29th was a much bigger and more dramatic day. Yes, it involved Agnes. Well first of all, I spent the day with Parry at the shops. We were looking for a digital camera. I was hoping to get one soon.

Then the drama began. I went to the internet café to talk with Agnes and ended up getting into a very pointless fight which lead to us breaking up. I was trying to stop Agnes from buying an expensive camera and I thought I was the smart one at the time, probably influenced by Parry. I told her that it wouldn’t be a smart decision spending all that money on a camera. I thought she just wanted to get it naively without thinking. Then she told me she was actually considering a career in photography. I was still offended, because she was saving for a camera rather than saving for me. It got me upset, but to make matters worse, she turned on me and abused me severely. I was done.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Day 36 - Aharnes (Menidi), Athens

The main highlight of today was talking to Agnes online at the internet café. She had just got her internet back and I spoke to her. She had told me that she thinks she’s over a particular eating problem that she had. It was a huge relief for me, and I hoped to God that she meant it. She knew it was bad and she was disgusted of herself. I do hope that I won't have to go through this again.

Later in the night, I went home and watched Batman on TV. It’s good to watch TV in Greece since movies play every night, unlike Australia, which plays movies only on the weekends.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Day 35 - Omonia and Pagrati, Athens

The first thing I did today was catch the A10 bus straight into Athens. I arrived at Plateia Vathis in Omonia, said to be the most dangerous place in Athens. This area is common with prostitution. I walked through the area as quickly as possible, looking out for potential threats. I kept my chin up and looked confident as if I wasn’t intimidated.

Anyway, I safely proceeded through the area and thought it wasn’t so bad after all, despite what I read in the Lonely Planet guidebook. I was trying to find Elli’s home, an old friend that I’ve known since I was a little kid. I caught the trolleybus for the first time and found Filolaou Street and Niko’s motorbike shop. No one was there, though, but at least I knew where the place was so I could pay a visit later. Niko and Elli are definitely in for a surprise, especially since they don’t know that I’m in Greece.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Day 34 - Christmas Day - Aharnes (Menidi), Athens

Back in Menidi now with Parry and grandma. I woke up and got ready to go to Aghia Varvara. We were going to visit my grandmother’s sisters and my cousins. The whole day was boring for me. I spent a bit of time with the cousins watching them play Unreal Tournament on their computer. The rest of the night was having Christmas dinner and watching TV. Not much for Christmas day, but it was a respectable day to spend time with family members. Christmas is a good excuse not to be out on the road. Family time is important as well.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Day 33 - Central Athens

Christmas Eve began nicely with me catching the suburban train from Doukissis Plakentias all the way to Larissis train station, the main national railway station of Athens. Here I took the opportunity to study how the system works; I examined the rail timetables and tried to figure out how to get to certain destinations in Northern Greece and the Peloponnese; to a limited understanding, of course. I wish to embark on one of these journeys someday.

I later caught the metro to Monastiraki and got my souvlaki. Damn I love those souvlaki. I took the time to explore the small district of Psiri as well, which is another place for souvlaki.

Later on, I returned home via a short stay at an internet café, and had Parry pick me up to spend the night at his place for Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Day 32 - Central Athens, Plaka

I renewed my phone credit and messaged Agnes telling her how I feel. She has been driving me nuts lately. Anyways, as that wasn’t too important at the time, I headed into the city as usual. I decided to go on my own walking tour of the streets of Plaka. I wanted to explore every cranny and nook of this old town. Needless to say, I loved it. I followed the exact route outlined in my lonely planet guidebook. I ended up in Monastiraki, which is right next to Plaka.

And this was definitely interesting; I got caught in the hugest crowd that ever met my eyes. Everyone was doing their bloody Christmas shopping, and it took literally half an hour to advance twenty metres, it was that crowded! We were all squashed like sardines. Huge crowds are one of my pet peeves, something that I find really annoying. People walking slowly infront of me is already bad enough.

I managed to order my souvlaki, which is the main reason I headed to Monastiraki, “souvlaki heaven”. I guess that was the highlight of the day.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Day 31 - Acropolis, Central Athens

Today was going to be yet another interesting day. I headed into the city to do my own thing. I caught the metro to Syntagma and walked to Monastiraki. I got my Student Card from STA Travel; yes, I had my passport with me this time. I just showed my High School card from Australia and he granted me one. I was lucky to get it too, since my High School card was only for 2007. I just need a photo for it now.

Afterwards, I went to Aleko’s and our day plan was to visit the legendary Acropolis. Entry fee was €12, which my cousin happily paid for. Me, my cousin and his son, Konstantino, explored the ancient site and took many photos. It was a memorable experience going up to the site with his little kid. The only thing I didn’t like was the supports around the monument, which really affected it aesthetically. Still, the views from the top were great, and overall it was a great day. I look forward to exploring more of the ancient sites around Athens.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Day 30 - Athens, Syntagma and Hellinikon

Waking up at Aleko’s, I used the internet for a bit, then headed out at 1pm. I had a quick look around at the Mavromateon Bus Terminal and Areos Park. Then I went to Aghios Dimitrios by metro. From here I caught the bus to Hellinikon. My reason for coming to this area was because one of my internet friends, Ada, who I plan to meet, lives in this area. I wanted to learn the suburb so I could know what to plan when the time comes.

I made my way back to Syntagma by tram. I’ve used pretty much every form of public transportation in Athens by now. I met a Canadian on the tram, who asked me if I spoke any English. He was looking for directions on how to get to Omonia, one of the central districts. I was more than happy to help him out. I told him to take the metro on line 2. I look forward to meeting more people in future to travel with.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Day 28 & 29 - Central Athens and Aghia Paraskevi

Today, the first thing I did was I go to the Plaka shops. I found STA Travel and tried to apply for a Student Card, but I didn’t have my passport on me. So I’ll come back on another day. With more browsing, I found a foreign currency shop; something that was in my favour of interest. I didn’t buy anything though; I just had a look.

The following night I went to a club with my cousin Sophia in Aghia Paraskevi. She was into some kind of Spanish dancing, either Salsa or Tango. Me and my aunt watched her dance with another guy while we video taped it. There is nothing much else to say other than that I had a drink. Following this was a text message from Agnes which had left me furious for the rest of the night.

The next day, while recovering from Agnes’ wrath, I went to work for my uncle again to help with a few more shower screens. Same stuff as usual. After work, I then went to Aleko’s place and saw his two children. I gave everyone their Christmas presents which I brought from Australia, and spent the night there.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Day 27 - Kerameikos, Ancient Athens

Today was a much more interesting day. I had already planned it ahead of me. I was going to go to the ancient cemetery of Athens, also known as the Keramikos. I got off the metro at Thissio station and entered the ancient site. They asked if I had a Student Card, but I didn’t have one by this point. Entry fee was €2,00 and I made it as worthy as I could. I spent a lot of time at the ancient tombstones. It felt like I was in ancient times, and I must say this particular area of the site reminded me of Tomb Raider IV. I just wish I had a digital camera!

After exploring the site, I took the time to enter the museum as well, and I was easily fascinated. I looked at the ancient ceramic material like it was treasure. I was able to leave the building very delighted.

Afterwards, I went to Plaka to do a bit of browsing. Then I was off to the internet café in Aghia Paraskevi to do a bit of catching up, and then I rode the bus back home.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Day 26 - Northern Athens, Metamorfosi

Today was a working day. Nothing important was on my schedule, so I spent the day working in the shower screen business. I woke up at 6am, and proceeded to work with Con. I then went off with George to help install four shower screens in two different houses throughout the day. It was a good experience, and I was enjoying it. I also got to expand my Greek vocabulary, learning the names of tools that I was asked to pass over to George.

On the downside, Agnes was causing drama with me through text messaging. This time I think we’re broken up for real. My hopes of seeing her in Latvia seem to be gone, and it has left me quite upset.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Day 25 - Koutouki Caves, Peania, Athens

I made my way to the town of Peania again today. This time, I got off the bus where I should have yesterday. I tried to find the Vorres Museum. I couldn’t find it, so I decided to walk to the caves instead. Buried all the way up in the side slopes of Mt. Hymettos, it was a long walk! All the way up the mountain, it was a hike along a 3.5km road. Infact I didn't even use the road the whole way. At parts where it was winding, up towards the mountain, I took a shortcut up the slope. It was a very steep slope, but I chose to go that way, rather than go another kilometre around a few winding bends. It took me about 2 hours to reach the caves. I was very tired.

I bought myself a bottle of water and drank. I entered the caves for free, surprisingly, and got a tour. It wasn’t bad. The tour leader spoke Greek, of course, so I didn’t understand everything. The woman who I saw at the reception desk handed me a sheet with the tour written in English. I was the only English speaker in the caves.

The caves were nice, and it was pretty good to spend the day in here. I guess the walk was worth it – I had to walk all the way back too, though. I avoided the twisty road and took a shortcut down the slopes again. True adventure!

I got a souvlaki from a shop in Peania, across the road from the plateia. I gave some to the dog that looked at me while I was eating, but not much. I caught the bus back home and had a rest.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Day 24 - Athens, Peania and Koropi

Another big day I tried to make for myself. This time it was unsuccessful, and I ended up going completely somewhere else. I intended to go to the Koutouki Caves in Peania, so I caught the bus which goes there. I arrived in Peania, but I decided to stay on the bus, thinking it would stop at the main square in town. But no, I ended up going all the way to Koropi, another 7km away. Wow.

From Koropi, I tried a new form of public transport; the suburban railway. I paid €1,00 for a ticket, and caught the train to back to Peania station. I found no bus going back to Peania town, so I went to Doukissis Plakentias and decided to catch the bus from there; but it went wrong again. I got on the wrong bus, and ended up in Halandri. I ended up having to walk for several kilometres all the way to Aghia Paraskevi, from where I took the bus back home. It looks like I won’t get to go anywhere today, then. Well, we certainly learn from mistakes, don’t we?

After this big hiccup, I went with Despo to Steve’s grave at the top of Glyka Nera. We stayed up here for the hour. I watched Despo light the candles and plant the flowers for her beloved son, then I headed to the internet café by myself, doing what I did usually.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Day 23 - Central Athens, Filopappos Hill

Today was a rather big day. I was home alone. I decided to take a look at the free map that I got yesterday, and see where I could go.

So I went out at about 12, caught the 308 bus to Ethniki Amyna and the metro to Syngrou-Fix. The station here was nice; it had a bookshop, and I checked to see if it had any Lonely Planet books. I didn’t find any. I left the station and walked towards Filopappos Hill. It wasn’t a very long hike, but it was awesome nonetheless. I hiked my way to the top of the hill, enjoying each step I put forward. From the top, you could see almost all of Athens. You could see Likavittos Hill, the Acropolis, and all the way out to Pireaus. I could see in just about every direction, and the views were great! I wish I had my camera. I spent about an hour on the summit and surroundings, appreciating the view, the nature, and scaling the jagged-marble cliffs. They were quite jagged; I could only imagine what it would be like to tred on these rocks barefoot.

On the way down, I was almost attacked by three random stray dogs. I was scared, but I was seriously ready to combat them. They were running towards me, barking, and I actually hopped into fighting stance, just out of instinct. It seemed to scare them off. I ran towards them as well, to keep them running away. It seems that reverse phychology worked perfectly. Well, they didn’t bother me again. I was rather shocked about the experience though. I seriously thought they were going to attack me. But I showed that I wasn't intimidated, even though inside I felt it.

I caught the metro to Monastiraki and got myself a souvlaki, and then I went to Aghia Paraskevi to spend the last hour in the internet café.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Day 22 - Central Athens, Syntagma and Victoria

I woke up at 12pm. I had slept for 15 hours. I’ve had enough of waking up this late! It’s like I need that sleep or something. Anyway, I headed into Syntagma by myself. I found the Greek National Tourist Organistation, which was close to the tram stop. The nice lady there handed me a free map of Central Athens, and I asked if it had all the trolleybus routes marked.

I was happy with my map, but it was too big to fit into my pocket. I had to carry it, which was annoying. I put it down the side of my pants and covered it with the shirt. Hopefully it would stay there, but it was hard to walk. I made my way to Victoria and tried to find the Mavromateon terminal. It was useless, I had no sense of direction and I couldn’t find the terminal or Areos Park. I asked a nearby shop owner, but I didn’t understand him. So I went back to Monastiraki and bought a souvlaki from my favourite shop. I had lost my map when I got off the train here, so I had to go all the way back to Syntagma to get another one. Luckily the office was still open, and I got it for free again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Day 21 - Athens, Dafni, Halandri and Loutsa

Today I woke up at 6am, a huge change in sleeping pattern to the day before. It was still dark, and the sun hadn’t risen. I got ready, and went with Con, one of his employees George, whom I got to know, and Sophia to the workshop in Dafni. We didn’t stay here for long; I soon hopped in the car with Con and he drove me across Athens to the suburb of Halandri. On the way, we discussed a few things, speaking half Greek and half English. My Greek would improve the more I talk with Con; a good way to make me more confident with my Greek!

My whole day was spent with Con in the office. I did go out a few times, though. He got me a free ham roll from the shop next door, and he showed me an electronic shop across the highway. I checked it out. I was rather tired, due to my change in sleeping pattern.

At the office, Con and I had a discussion about Agnes. He was speaking in Greek, so it wasn’t easy to understand him all the time. I understood that Con might be able to drive me to Latvia in the springtime; hopefully Agnes doesn’t get impatient waiting, and hopefully my parents would allow this to happen. It's a long drive as well, but I didn't mind at all. I was relieved and allowed some breathing space. I was delighted to hear that Con might be able to take me to Latvia, but I didn’t get my hopes up too much.

Towards the end of the day, Con drove me to a place in Loutsa to look at someone’s bathroom and get some measurements for a shower screen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Day 19 & 20 - Athens, Aharnes (Menidi) and Glyka Nera

Today I found out that Agnes couldn’t come to Greece for Christmas, because her dad couldn’t take enough time off work, and he couldn't risk losing it, as it was a decently paid job. They are hard to come by in Latvia.

So I didn’t end up sending any money. It was a moment that upset us both, and Agnes had been crying. I was coping with it fine; however, our relationship seemed to go downhill after this point. We both said things that upset eachother. She considered breaking up with me because our meeting was delayed and she couldn’t bare it. And on my part, I reacted in a way that caused a stir.

We are still together, for now, but I suspect that things won't be the same. It has been a hard day for us, and I am going to find a way to make up for it. I'll have to go there myself. And we know that my parents are an obstacle there. But I refuse to let her get disappointed again.

The next day, I woke up at 2pm. Now it was getting unacceptable. I wanted to go into the city today, but I spent half the day on sleep; so I decided to go to the internet café to make a few updates. When I came back, I was bored.

By night, Parry dropped me off at Despo’s place, and I was to spend the next portion of my stay in Glyka Nera again. I arranged to go with Con to work the next day.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Day 18 - Meeting Angelika and Elen - Attica, Skala Oropou and Nea Ionia, Athens

Today was going to be an interesting day. The fun began in the afternoon, after 4pm. After exchanging bank details with Agnes in the morning, Parry took me to a place outside of Athens, called Skala Oropou. It was a nice drive on the way up, and the town itself was a beatiful seaside town, across from the island of Evia. Parry took a few photos of me, with the island in the background. The water level wasn’t too far below the edge of the road; it looked like this place could become flooded easily. When the ice caps melt, that is.

We stopped by a seafood taverna by the shore, and had squid, crab salad and prawns. I preferred not to eat the zucchini’s. It was a great meal though! In between, we discussed a few things, but afterwards, when it became dark, we headed back home.

Parry dropped me off at Kifissia station at about 8pm. Tonight, I had arranged to meet Angelika and Elen from Tomb Raider Forums. So from Kifissia, I took the electric train to Nea Ionia, where we arranged the meeting point. I disembarked, and found them both outside the station. There was a sudden excitement. I appeared before them, descended the stairs and crossed the road to greet them. It was a great moment. I wasn’t very talkative at the time, but we each greeted with a hug, and kisses on the cheek. A traditional Greek greeting. It was time to go somewhere to sit down and talk; I hopped into Elen’s car and she drove us to the nearby café. We talked among ourselves, catching up, saying what we had to say. Our topics varied from traveling in Greece to meeting more TRF members, and from Tomb Raider to relationship issues. Both Elen and Angelika had given me useful tips and advice, which I am thankful for. They gave me just what I needed. If I were to be with Agnes, how would I support her financially? How would I continue my studies? Parry has given me the same advice. I guess time will tell.

We said our goodbyes, and planned to choose a quieter place next time. We exchanged a few last kisses on the cheek, which Elen complained about me not doing so well, as I'm not used to that kind of greeting. Apparently, I didn’t make the proper "kissing sound". To be more Greek, I have to learn the routine. Hopefully within this year I’m here, I’ll change and become as Greek as possible. Lora, Panos, Angelika and Elen will all help me do so!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Day 17 - Aharnes (Menidi), Athens

Today I messaged my mother and asked her to call Parry and arrange getting money into Agnes’ dad’s bank account. I was quite mad with my mother after she called and told me, “You’re not going to be in a relationship with her anyway.” This had me mad for the rest of the day. How could she say something like that? How could she possibly know anything about our future? Even I don't know that.

I discussed it further with my dad and we arranged to get her bank name, branch number and location. Agnes doesn’t know what a branch number is called in Latvian, so I had to ask my dad to give me an explanation easy for Agnes to understand.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Day 16 - Central Athens, Syntagma

Waking up fairly late, even after sleeping for 16 hours, I had a headache from the stresses of yesterday. I had a bit to eat, then caught the bus to Kifissia. It took forever, but eventually I made it through, then from there, caught the electric train to Syntagma. While I was here, I was looking for the information centre, the Greek National Tourist Organisation. My Lonely Planet guidebook listed its address as Amerikis 2. I found the street with ease, but I found no tourist office; it’s obviously been moved. I also looked for the bookshop, which was meant to be on the same street, but no, I couldn’t find either shop. I think I need a new updated version of my Lonely Planet guidebook. The one I was carrying was a 2001 edition. I guess I’ve learned. I’ll look for the address on Google Maps.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Day 14 & 15 - Aharnes (Menidi), Athens

Today wasn’t the best of days. It involved getting into an argument with my dad over MSN. I had to make my point clear that if things go well with Agnes, and we love eachother more than ever, I would want to go to Latvia too, instead of her just coming to Greece. I had to tell him that Latvia is not the country he’s thinking of. My dad is a negative man; he always thinks of the worst things that could happen, such as getting mugged or bashed. I convinced him that I would travel with someone rather than alone anyway. Well, it wasn’t a good day. I felt upset and felt like giving up, but Agnes has to come so we can see how things work out. Until then, I shouldn’t worry about anything. I’ve decided to keep moving forward!

The next day was just about as bad, except I was arguing with my friend Chris this time. I just hate it when it feels like you can’t get anything right, and everything keeps on going wrong. Chris had been telling me all the trouble I would get into with my family if I went to Latvia to see Agnes. His opinion was that I would appear to be ditching my family for my love. I claimed that it wasn’t even what my parents were concerned about; it was more about my safety level. I have to prove to them that I’m mature enough to do things on my own now, as I’m nearly 18 years old, and that I believe in myself and that I’m more than capable of doing things when I put my mind to them. The safety factor is a factor that is worldwide. What's there to achieve if you never take risks your whole life?

Well, at least Agnes should be coming to Greece first; that’s one thing to look forward to. We need to see how we will get along, and then decide on how to sustain our relationship. Firstly, I need to send the money, so she can come here, as they can't afford a plane ticket.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Day 13 - Meeting Lora and Panos - Central Athens, Monastiraki and Thissio

Today is the day I will be meeting Lora and Panos. I had a shower, ate, then went to the internet café. I caught up with Ada. We talked for most of the hour.

I went to sleep when I came back home. When I woke up, I had a Greek coffee to give me more energy, and then Parry drove me to Kifissia station, which took 10 minutes; much quicker than the bus yesterday, which took 40 minutes.

I caught the train to Monastiraki, where I had arranged to meet Lora and Panos. I chose a familiar place, which I hoped would be familiar to them as well; infront of Savvas and Grigoris. Well, I waited for about half an hour while I was here. They were supposed to come at about 9:30pm, but they missed their train and were going to be about 10 minutes late.

I walked around the corner of Savas and Grigoris again and saw them there, on the marble cobbled road. We stepped forward and greeted eachother. It was great to finally meet someone who I’ve known online; infact it was awesome. They hardly seemed any different to what I expected. We walked around the streets of Plaka and Monastiraki, talking and talking. We had many interesting things to talk about. Then we sat ourselves down in Thissio, at a café called Stavros. We talked amongst ourselves and there was not one moment of silence. Our topics varied constantly, from Tomb Raider to the situation with Agnes, from Ancient Greek History to movies, and from Travelling Europe to Smoking. Yes, they were both smokers, and they knew I was against it, but I didn’t mind it for the occasion. We had our coffee, and I showed them Australian banknotes. The whole night, we were just so talkative! We were getting along really well.

We had souvlakia to end the night; we caught the train from Thissio and separated at Victoria, saying our goodbyes. Until next time, we’ll see what we can arrange, whether it’s visiting Ancient sites with them or just eating out. We’ll be talking Greek next time! At least I hope my Greek will be good enough by then.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Day 12 - Aharnes (Menidi) and Kifissia, Athens

Today I decided to go on a little tour. I ended up going the wrong way, of course. I waited a long time for the bus to Kifissia to come, and when it did come, I got on, and only ended up at Menidi's terminal stop. I should have caught the bus coming in the opposite direction, on the other side of the road, to get to Kifissia. Well next time I’ll know better. I guess you have to make mistakes to learn. So I went home and had a bit of a break.

A few hours later, I caught the real bus to Kifissia. It was quite a journey, and I was amazed at how the big bus was able to dodge all the parked cars in the narrowest of streets. I bet the bus driver's job is terrible! But then again, I guess they're used to it. I didn’t do much in Kifissia, other than get lost again; I got off the bus because I thought I was going the wrong way, but I got off for nothing, and had to wait again for the next bus to take me home.

I was home by 5pm, and had souvlakia with Parry.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Day 11 - Aharnes (Menidi), Athens

The first thing I did today was muck around with the cats again. At about 2pm, I headed to the internet café and chatted with Iro on MSN for the first time in a while. We had a fair bit to catch up on. It was nice speaking to her again after so long. She lives in Serres, and we’re planning to meet sometime in the future.

At about 5pm, Parry took me up to Mount Parnitha, the highest mountain in Attica. We took the cable car to the top and got a few snapshots taken. At the top there was no view; there was just the entrance to the Casino. Parnitha is where all the Gamblers come, and we did nothing more than walk to the front door. I would love to hike to the top of the mountain via a walking trail, though.

Afterwards, we checked out the old plane restaurant, which has been destroyed. It was no longer a restaurant, obviously. It was a restaurant in a grounded plane. I was here six years ago, and I remember being fascinated.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Day 10 - Aharnes (Menidi), Athens

December began, and the first thing that I did was go with Parry to do some shopping. We were looking for a decent digital camera to buy, since I left mine at the airport terminal in Sydney! We haven’t decided on anything yet, as we’re going to take some time to research and ensure that we purchase a good camera. Parry showed me around Menidi’s main square. We sat ourselves down and had some “Goody’s”, a restaurant similar to McDonald's.

After some more walking around the streets, we separated as I headed to the internet café. I didn’t do much other than talk to my dad online. Upon leaving, I went to the vending machine. There were two sandwiches in there, next to eachother, and I couldn’t decide which one to get. Eventually, I put my €2 coin in, and selected one. But by surprise, and as luck may have had it, both sandwiches came out. The sandwich I selected had brought the other sandwich down with it, and I took both back home to eat. And the one I didn’t choose was the one I liked better! Go figure!

Back home, I was surprised yet again; I received a text message from Iro! I haven’t heard from her in a long time. I had left her a message on the forum, telling her my number, and she logged on today to get it. The last time she logged on was ages ago. How's that for coincidence? We had a quick chat, catching up with eachother via text messages. I will be meeting her at some point in the future.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Day 8 & 9 - Aharnes (Menidi), Athens

I spent my first night at Parry’s house. After waking up, I headed straight to the internet café that Parry told me about. I spent about an hour here, and the cost was cheaper than the one in Aghia Paraskevi; only €2,00 per hour. That is pretty much all I did for the day.

The next day, I did the same thing; made my way to the internet café and adjusted a few things online. When I returned home, I decided to do something that humoured me six years ago; wetting my grandmother's cats by chasing them around with the hose and pouring buckets of water on the ground near them from the overhead balcony, getting them wet. Doing this again brought back memories. And it was purely because I was bored. The cats seemed to love these games.

I have also been overwhelmed with the trouble in trying to bring Agnes to Greece. The airfares are ridiculously high, and she would only be able to stay here for two days. I’m still hoping for things to get sorted out. I’ve asked her if her dad will let her stay for longer than two days, and all other things that came to mind.

For the rest of the night, I studied the bus routes around Athens and read my Lonely Planet guidebook.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day 7 - Central Athens, Syntagma and Monastiraki

Today I decided to go into Athens by myself. Solo traveling was becoming a major enjoyment in my life. I caught the 310 Bus to Doukissis Plakentias, and the metro to Syntagma. While I was here, I allowed myself some time to check out the Parliament building and the surrounding streets. I walked my way down to Monastiraki and bought my own chicken souvlaki from Savvas and Grigoris. It wasn’t that difficult to order, as the waiter knew English, and English is what I used.

I didn’t spend much more time outside. I headed back to Doukissis Plakentias by metro as I needed to use the toilet; there are hardly any public toilets in Athens. I could not find even one! So, it kind of sucked that I had to go all the way back home to Glyka Nera to use the bathroom.

After having a nice serve of Pizza at home, Parry came, picked me up, and took me to his place in Menidi. He gave me advice on different matters, and then showed me an internet café close by, which was within five minutes walking distance of his house. I was to spend the next two weeks here in Menidi.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 6 - Central Athens, Kolonaki

The first thing I done this morning was texting my dad about arranging tickets for Agnes and her dad to come to Greece. He asked me to go on MSN, so I made my way to the internet café and discussed it more in-depth.

I then went with Despo to Sophia’s workplace, Pretty ντουσιέρες. I spent some time on the internet and Google Earth here. I caught up with Marissa, who complained that I was going to spend my whole holidays online. But I need to keep in touch with my friends, don’t I? I wanted to look up some information on Athens too.

After a while, when night came, I went out with Sophia. We caught the metro to Syntagma, and she showed me the main square, the city centre of Athens. She took me on a tour, I guess. We walked through the square and the marble-cobbled streets to Thissio. This was a great place to dine, tucked right beneath the flood-lit acropolis. I decided that this was a good place to meet Lora and Panos.

While Sophia and I had our meal, I got a text message from Agnes. She took something the wrong way, apparently, and went off at me, thinking that I wasn’t looking forward to seeing her. Oh well, that’s how she is, always jumping to conclusions.

After eating, Sophia took me to a bar in Kolonaki, called Big Apple. I had one drink, and I drank it pretty fast; fast enough for Sophia to chuck a bit of a wobbly. I was surrounded by lots of smokers too, reminding me that more than half the population of Athens smoke. Eventually, at around 2am, we took a taxi back to Glyka Nera, costing €10.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 5 - Aghia Paraskevi, Athens

Today wasn’t much of a day, as I spent most of it in bed. I was only occupied by my thoughts. I was tempted to go out, because it was becoming fun, learning how to travel around independantly. I got a call from my mother, and she told me that the video camera bag was found! I had left the damn thing on the conveyor belt in customs at Sydney Airport! Well, at least they weren’t lost. She’s going to send me each item through the mail one by one, so that there’s a lower chance of everything getting lost at the same time. She said that there was $500 worth of items that I left behind.

Anyway, I stayed in bed, and started worrying that because of my sickness, I would have to go back to Australia. That would be despicable! Or maybe I'm just getting a tad too paranoid. But after getting a call from Parry, telling me why I caught the flu, I knew that going back to Australia wasn’t a concern. It was best for me to just stay inside for the time being, but I couldn’t resist. At about 4pm, I went outside and caught the bus, which I almost missed, to the internet café. Travelling around was just too good fun! I love the freedom and independence! I caught up with a few other friends, then headed back home. I sent a few SMS messages to Lora to arrange a meeting for tomorrow at 9:30pm with my cousin, Sophia. She was going to take me into Central Athens around then. I haven’t got an answer from them yet, so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully we’ll meet up.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day 4 - Aghia Paraskevi, Athens

Today I woke up with a sore throat. I didn’t get a good sleep because of it, but I proceeded to go out anyway. I went to the internet café in Aghia Paraskevi again, and caught up with Chris, Dejan and Damir, all on Chris’ webcam. We had some fun, bragging at eachother through the webcam. I was in Greece and they were in Australia. I couldn’t hear any sound, but I could imagine their situation; they were laughing. They looked happy to see me. I watched as Dejan and Damir started wrestling eachother. Chris showed off his muscles, and I just laughed. We had some good laughs, as that’s what we do with our friends, whether it’s online, from the other side of the world, or not. It’s something I’ve learned through experience. Friends love to muck around, and at the end of the day, it makes us happy and fills our hearts with enjoyment.

When I had to log off, I got a call on my mobile – it was Angeliki! I was very surprised to hear from her! We had a small discussion, seeing if we could arrange a meetup, and apparently I sounded like I was busy and didn't want to be disturbed. But that’s just the tone of my voice. I wish I could sound more enthusiastic.

So, I went back home after and caught the flu. Wow! I caught a cold and the flu! It was because I wasn’t used to the cold weather; Greece has much colder winters than Australia, and also because I had a shower prior to going out. Silly me. This flu was rather bad, and I had to stay in bed for the rest of the day.

In the meantime, I got text messages from Lora and Agnes, both asking me how I was. Sick, of course. It was also Katerina’s name day, and everyone was going over her place. It was disappointing that I couldn’t attend. Despo gave me an aspirin, and I started to feel a little better. Then I went to sleep. Well, when you first start on your own, you're bound to make mistakes. We then learn from them. That's the last time I'll be going out in the freezing cold after a shower.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Day 3 - Aghia Paraskevi, Athens

Today started with me taking my first independent bus ride into Athens alone. I knew which bus to catch, and how to catch it. I waved my hand out to the approaching 308 Bus and rode it to Aghia Paraskevi, which I recognised by the old Church. I disembarked here, and walked up the street to the internet café that Despo and I found yesterday. I logged onto Tomb Raider Forums, my personal forum FF4ever, and MSN to keep in touch with my friends back home in Australia, my online friends who I wish to meet, and most importantly, Agnes. I got an e-mail from her which told me that she can come to Greece during Christmas. This made my day! I also got two private messages, one from Ada and one from Angeliki. I gave all of my Greek friends my phone number.

After chatting with a few of my friends, and posting on the forum, I logged off and paid €2,50 for the internet. I caught the bus back to Despo’s place. Soon, I will learn how to get around more places by bus, including travelling to and from Menidi, where my Grandmother and Parry live.

Later in the afternoon, Parry came to visit. We went out to a shop called “Γερμανός” to purchase a Greek SIM card for my phone. The network was called COSMOTE. Now it is much cheaper to keep in contact with my family and friends. I can also text Agnes for the first time, as I could never text her with my Australian SIM card, and we passed on a few SMS messages.

At about 6pm, Aleko, Katerina and the kids, Kostantino and Panagioti all came to visit. It was great to see Alex and his wife again, and it was also a pleasure to see the kids for the first time. Alex was surprised with my height and how much I’ve grown, and the kids were cute and active! I held Kostantino in my arms for a while, and fiddled around with Panagioti’s hair. I watched them play around with some toys, and the other family members. I was speaking English to them, and they didn’t understand. Haha! Oh well, they didn’t stay for very long. I had some pizza to end the night, and then I went to bed, with a slight cold.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Day 2 - Central Athens, Monastiraki and Plaka

I went travelling with Despo again; this time it was a different procedure. We caught Bus number 308 from Glyka Nera, and headed to Ethniki Amyna Metro Station. From here we caught the metro to Monastiraki, located in the city centre of Athens, and walked to Plaka, the old town. It took a while to find Plaka, but I must say it was well worth it. The narrow labyrinthine streets, particularly Adrianou street, were very fascinating. It was a very attractive and quiet part of town, tucked beneath the floodlit acropolis. Souvenir shops and restaurants were lined up along every street! This is a place that most tourists use as their base, but as I had free accommodation, I wouldn’t need to stay here.

Me and my aunt decided to stop by a cafe and have a Greek coffee. The cafe was nicely situated at a high point in Plaka, overlooking the city of Athens, with Lykavittos Hill in view. We discussed the metro system rules and regulations as I still didn’t understand. Unfortunately, my aunt wasn't very good at explaining, neither was I good enough at Greek at this point.

We then went back home by metro and bus. I’ll definitely be coming back to Plaka again. It's an amazing part of town! I’ll explore more of the streets, its shops and restaurants in my own time.

On the way back to Glyka Nera, we got off at Aghia Paraskevi and looked for an internet café that I could use. We found one after asking for directions. I plan to come here tomorrow and catch up with my online friends, and friends back home in Australia.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Day 1 - Arrival

When I woke up, I was flying over Eastern Turkey. I was still about 2 hours from Athens; I had looked out the window, and noticed the glare over the horizon. It was beautiful! The skyline was red, and the sun was going to rise sometime soon. The local time was about 6 in the morning, and I could actually see some of the snowy mountains. It was a pleasant sight. Then I landed in Athens at about 6:45am EET. I was nervous and happy at the same time! Getting off the plane, I felt a great amount of freedom and independence. I got my passport stamped, and collected my luggage. I headed out of the lobby and met Grandma and my uncle, Parry, and they welcomed me with a hug. It was great to see them again after 6 years. Parry was talking to my mother on the phone at the time, and he gave me the headset so I could talk to her for a bit. We were discussing the drama with my lost video camera bag. We couldn’t open my suitcase because my keys were in that bag! Oh well. Parry said he was going to take it to a Lock Smith to get it opened. He drove me to Despo, my aunt’s place and we greeted with a hug. I was happy to see everyone again. I had been given Steve’s room to sleep in. Steve was one of my cousins who passed away years ago. Now I had some time to think to myself, my situation, and meeting some of the TRF members as well as Agnes in Latvia, of which my parents are holding me back. I went to the local supermarket with Despo for a bit of shopping, then I greeted Con, back at the house. He looked at me and compared our heights. It had been that long, so obviously I’ve grown a lot. We had our discussion about how things are going, and I was surprised that he understood my English.

Despo later took me out and taught me how to travel locally; Con dropped us off at Doukissis Plakentias Metro Station, and we headed on Line 3 to Monastiraki. We had souvlakia at a shop called Savvas and Grigoris; I kept this restaurant in my mind for future souvlakia. Then she took me to Dafni, by Metro on Line 2. This is where Sophia worked; the shower screen shop called “Pretty ντουσιέρες”. I greeted Sophia with a hug, and we talked among ourselves. Then we came back home by metro and bus; I was a tad confused about how the tickets work, due to Despo’s not-so-good explaining skills. Now let’s call it a day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Well, this is where my journey begins. The long-awaited day has finally arrived.

I packed my things and left for Sydney Airport at about 2:00pm AEST. On the way, my parents gave me useful tips and advice on how to exercise caution and avoid trouble. If anyone were to ask me who paid for my trip, I did. I worked for 6 months, and saved up. I believe I am aware of my right to safety; unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world out there, and being out there in another country by myself for the first time puts my personal safety at risk.

So then, we arrived at the airport and unloaded my luggage. My dad drove off to find parking, while me and my mother went into the terminal to find my departure point; and in saying that, I had absolutely no problem. My flight number was displayed on the big screen, TG996, at Gate K. My mother helped me carry the luggage over to the check-in desk. My dad caught up with us, and we all walked to the gate where I said my goodbyes. I hugged my mother for the longest time, then proceeded through immigration. It was sad to leave my parents behind, and I even shed a few tears, but sooner or later, that sadness turned into excitement and acted as a good coping mechanism. I was on my own now.

I went through the customs, and they did the checking. I had two aerosol cans in my bag, so they told me to put them in a plastic seal-bag. I then headed to Gate 53, and waited about an hour for the plane, which in the meantime I was texting my mother. Apparently the plane had a mechanical problem, so that's what caused the slight delay. I boarded, put my bag into one of the overhead consoles, and took my seat. I wasn’t here for long though, as the flight attendant told me I was in the wrong seat. So I grabbed my stuff, and sat where he directed me to. I was sitting next to someone who was reading a book written in Cyrillic. I assumed he was Russian, reading a Russian book.

Shortly afterwards, the plane began to take off. I was slightly nervous at first, but those feelings again turned into excitement as the plane accelerated across the runway. I had my video camera recording outside the window, which was something I planned to do. I enjoy plane trips, and I enjoy flying, so my emotional feelings weren’t too harsh. I was getting closer to Agnes; that was my main positive thought.

During the flight, I watched The Underdog on TV. I had to put in my headphones, and find the right channel to hear the movie dialogue. After the second movie, Transformers, I realised I had left my video camera bag behind. Crap! I began worrying, and thinking about where I could have left it, as I had no idea. The plane then landed in Bangkok, Thailand; the transit of my itinerary. I searched frantically for my video camera bag in the console above my seat, and also the place where I had been sitting first. I couldn’t find it, so I told the flight attendant who was wondering what I was looking for. He helped me search the area, but no luck.

I had to get off the plane. I was out last, because I was looking for my bag. The other people were way ahead of me, and I thought I was lost for a minute; but I asked the nearby guard which way was to Athens, and he directed me. I found a number of gates up ahead, and I didn’t know where to go. I had looked at my boarding pass, and there was no gate indicator. So, I looked at the big display board, and it said Athens – C9. Okay, now where is Gate C9? I went to ask the officials at the gate to Stockholm, and they told me to go upstairs. Well, I found the way. It was a long walk to the other end of the terminal, where C9 was, so I decided that it was a good time to text my mother. I tried to send her a message, telling her that I’m safe, and that I lost my video camera bag. It sent, without a problem. I arrived at Gate C9 and waited for my plane. In the meantime, I had a drink from the bubbler, and went to the bathroom. The Thai toilet had a peculiar design which I found partly amusing.

So, here we go again, boarding the plane. This was a different plane now, and it had a different entertainment system. There were a number of movies to choose to watch. I didn’t watch anything; I decided to go to the boring screen which gives you the information of your flight, where you are, how fast the plane is going, etc. We took off, and I watched outside the window as the views of Bangkok disappeared. I had some airline food, and then went to sleep.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


It is drawing nearer to the day I leave for Greece. The only thing on my mind at the moment is getting homesick. I'm worried. This is going to be a huge step for me. I'm going on a plane to Greece all by myself, and the mere thought of being alone, separated from my parents by such a vast distance; I don't know if I'll be able to cope. I'm so used to living with my parents, and to do something as big as this, flying 15,000 km away to the other side of the world is just extreme, especially for someone who is only 17 and has just graduated from High School. I can tell I’m really going to get homesick. I can feel it already. I'm all anxious and worried about the situation. Being separated from those who love you, and have lived with you all your life can be very scary. But what I'm more scared of, is being too scared, and wanting to give up and come back home. I definitely do not want that to happen. I need to adapt to a completely new environment and further expand my boundaries.

I had dedication. My reasons partially fall in the name of love. Yes, love. That's the underlying cause of my determination. First of all, I need cope with living outside my normal living standards, so that I can find this love. There's also a lot of fun that I wouldn't want to miss out on, which is travelling solo around Europe. If I can step forward firstly by going to Greece, I'll be able to do this as well. Travelling is my passion, my main ambition in life, and I don’t intend to let anything stop me. It's very important to me, and I hope that one day I will have covered the entire globe. My main goal in life is to be able to say that I've travelled all around the world when I'm on my deathbed.

Another important motivator I should mention is my friends from Tomb Raider Forums; a place where I met new people, extended my friendship and sociability, and where I got my primary insight of going to Greece. There are friends here from Greece who I want to meet. My intent is to stay in Greece for at least six months, perhaps to even a year or longer depending on how things go. Within this year, I want to explore a handful of European countries, particularly the Eastern block. I want to get around as an independant individual and have a great year of my life, doing what I love doing, finding out who I am and seeing myself fitting into the world. To visit all countries North of Greece up to the Baltic states, that must be quite a goal a teenager would strive for.

Along with mixed feelings of nostalgia, nervousness, anxiety and worry, the big obstacle in the way of one particular task, is my parents. I want to travel to Latvia to see my girlfriend, Agnes, who I met over the internet. My parents have a big problem with letting me go there on my own, in a country I don't speak the language of, or have any relatives in. I'm hoping I will be able to go. My parents are rather paranoid people that think of the worst, but I know that they do want what's best for me. I have to do this to see how it would work out. My parents have to let me go sooner or later, because I'm no longer their “baby child”, although that's how they might always see me. People grow up, and separate from their parents; It's a part of growing up, just like going through puberty is. We are born, we grow and we grow apart and start off on our own.

With that issue in the way, I have to pass the first step. Getting on that plane alone. I do have somewhat paranoid feelings of getting lost inside the airport at Thailand, the country I'm transiting. This is the very first time I'm going abroad alone. But I'm growing into a man, and I know I have to face these challenges. I believe I can be responsible, independent and adult enough to do these things on my own, being nearly 18 years of age. I am not someone who gives up very easily. I am determined to do this not only as a responsible, independent man, but also as a man who has many goals, ambitions, hopes and dreams. Not only am I willing to do this as a part of growing up; I am also willing and determined to do this as a personal passion and being myself.