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.