Monday, September 1, 2008

Day 285 - Returning home

My trip has come to an end, and today is the day I depart for Australia.

First thing I did this morning was get a haircut. I got it done nice and short; one of the best haircuts I've ever gotten, and I would be happy to get home clean and tidy.

So Parry and grandma came over, and we would catch up once again before taking me to the airport. They gave me money to take back home and buy something for myself, my mother and sister.

Once it was time to leave, we all headed for the car, as Parry drove us to the airport. I checked in, first of all, and we would wait and have one last conversation before I headed through passport control. Parry assured me that there are plenty of 'fish in the sea', even though I was with Agnes. But even then, I wasn't even sure of what was going on between me and her at the time. I've tried messaging her, but she hasn't responded over the last few days. The last thing I remember talking to her about, was getting her dad on a plane to Ireland.

I said goodbye to Parry, Grandma and Despo. It was over, and time to go. They wished me well, as I headed through and past passport control, waving to them from the other side. I would be reunited with family once again in the next 24 hours.

And there I was, on the plane, returning home after a remarkable journey. I wasn't used to hearing the Australian accents on board yet, and nor would I be used to being back at home once I got there. I would take time to adjust. And not only that, I would be returning home with a new perspective on life, and more knowledge about the world and how it works. This whole trip has changed me for the better. There's only one thing that's had me worried, and that's that Agnes hasn't contacted me. I will try again once I reach home, and I'll find out where this is going.

Other than that, it will good to be back home after being away for 9 months. I hate being away from Europe, but it's something I'll have to get used to. It's all part of the travelling experience.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Day 283 - Athens, Greece

It's been difficult sleeping at nights. On top of all of the emotion, it was very hot, and mosquitos were constantly attacking me.

Not that it's that important. Every day, I've been watching my new favourite show, Beverly Hills 90210. I'd be watching every episode until my departure for Australia. I just loved it, it meant a lot to me, and it taught me a lot.

I've been going shopping with Despo as well. We've been buying souvenirs to take back home, for myself and for my mother and sister. I bought myself lots of different foreign banknotes, such as British Pounds, American and Canadian Dollars. I also bought some old Greek banknotes. I loved the idea of collecting them.

The following night, I went out with Lora and Panos for one last time. It was a great night out, and we talked about everything; all of my adventures and what I've learnt from being here, and in Latvia, and the experience as a whole.

I don't know when I would be coming to Greece again after this, but I'm sure it won't be too long. I have to start thinking of my future once I get back home. I've had a wonderful time overseas, and this whole trip will be remembered as an important time in my life; a very important one at that, as it's one that changed me as a person and shaped me into who I am today. For that, I am very thankful.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 280 - Athens, Greece

As soon as I got back to Athens, I packed my things and headed straight to Despo's. I couldn't stand living in Menidi with my uncle, having to constantly put up with his criticism. I was my own independent person, who's learned a lot in the past nine months, and I knew what I was doing.

I resumed my daily routine, heading into Athens. I decided to stop by the DVD shop, as my mother requested that I buy some DVDs for my sister Gina. I also bought Grand Theft Auto IV for myself, and I would play it on my Xbox 360 when I got home.

I went around to see a little bit of Athens again before leaving. I stopped by the Thai Airways office to collect my changed ticket. I paid the fee, and all was done. It wasn't much longer till the 1st of September.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day 279 - Vronti, Greece

So at the village, most days I was pretty bored. I spent a lot of the time thinking. Many things were on my mind, including Agnes, and going home.

Throughout my stay up here, me and Parry hardly talked, which was good for me at the time. The Beijing 2008 Olympics were also on, and I watched some of the action on TV. I also came across an interesting TV Series, called Beverly Hills 90210. The series became a part of me, as I enjoyed watching episode by episode, and a lot of it related to my experiences in life. I loved it, and it kept me entertained during the boredom of my stay. Baywatch was pretty good to watch as well, and that played before Beverly Hills, but that show wasn't as meaningful to me.

I also went out for a drink with my cousin Taso the night before heading back to Athens. In one week's time, I will be out of here, and headed back to Australia.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 265 - Vronti, Greece

I wasn't able to stay at Despo's place much longer, as they were going away. So I had to live with grandma, and go up to the village with her and Parry. I haven't seen Parry since the whole debacle we had some months ago, so it will be rather awkward, probably for the both of us.

Before this, I had gone to the Thai Airways office to get my return date to Australia changed. I've been put on a waitlist, so I'm going to have to wait until it's confirmed. I wish I didn't, though; I just want to get home as soon as I can.

And within the next few days, after arriving at the village of Vronti, I got a phone call from the Thai Airways office. My seat was confirmed, and I would be going back to Australia on the 1st of September. I was happy. That issue is out of the way. I missed home. I've been away for nine months.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 259 - Athens, Greece

I wanted to go home, back to Australia. The longer I would stay here, the worse it would be. I would rather get home quicker, so that I can start saving up again, as soon as possible, so that I could see Agnes again. I was losing my mind without her. I just wished she were here. I tried to keep my thoughts positive. I kept telling myself that I would indeed see her again one day, and that day would only be drawing nearer.

The first thing I did today was head over to Niko. I owe him a lot, as he's helped me, especially when it came to matters between here and Latvia. He was always someone who could comfort me by giving positive news. So, I asked him if getting Agnes Australian citizenship would be all that difficult, and how I would go about doing it. I know it's a hard process, and that's what I heard from Niko. But he would be willing to help, and I appreciate that. He's already helped me so much. With his help and support, I was able to see my first love and experience a whole new life adventure, so I'm forever grateful.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day 258 - Back to Athens, Greece

After a night's sleep on the couch at one of the airport's cafés, I didn't do that much other than wait until it was time to board my flight. Check-in procedures started at 2pm, and I went through. Once in the final waiting area by the gate, I gave Agnes one last phone call, telling her I was about to leave. So we exchanged goodbyes, which weren't too emotional, and I proceeded to board my plane.

I waved goodbye to Riga and to Latvia. I had a truly wonderful time here, of which some was pretty bad, but I'm over it and I got to do what I needed to do. I was with Agnes, and that's all I needed to keep myself comfortable from the pain of leaving.

The flight went smoothly and I was back in Athens by 7:30pm. Everyone on board applauded the landing. I found it strange - I've never witnessed that before. It added to the experience and acted as a symbolic representation of my memories. It was also the last time I would hear Latvian.

So I made my way over to Sofia's workplace by metro. I met her on the road, just outside Dafni metro station, where we greeted eachother. She wondered why I had gone to Latvia with just one backpack. Well, I travel as light as possible.

So she took me home, back to Glyka Nera, where I missed Agnes terribly and decided to give her a phone call before going to bed. We talked for a bit, but not too long, as call costs were expensive yet again. I was sad, but I kept myself looking forward to finally being together again once she moves to Australia. I let all my emotions out and cried myself to sleep.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Day 257 - Riga & Liepaja, Latvia

Today was going to be my last day in Latvia, and my last chance to see Agnes again. I've come to this decision, because Agnes and I both decided that it would be best. For one thing, neither of us knew when or if her dad was going to Sweden, and secondly, it's best that I get back home as soon as possible, as my money is running low. I've used almost all of my savings.

So, from Riga, I decided to leave for Liepaja at 7:30am, arriving at 11am. I made my way to Agnes' neighbourhood in order to see her for one last time. We would only meet for a few hours. I had a little rest in the ruined apartment building that I slept in a fair while ago. I was pretty sleepy, and just waited for her to contact me and come outside.

I did doze off for a little over an hour. Then I checked my phone and saw her message, saying she was waiting on the street for me. So I headed out, and greeted her.

We took a walk from here, all the way to the store around the corner. We tried to enjoy it as much as we could; and infact spent the majority of the two hours we had, hugging. It was going to be the last time we see eachother for a long time, so we cherished the moment.

One last photo was taken, shortly before it was time to say goodbye.

So I headed on the bus, back into the city centre. Same routine all over again, except I seemed to be a little less emotional this time. I was probably used to it from the last time.

I went to Cili Pica, as I was hungry and hadn't eaten for a while. I enjoyed my last meal there, for the last time, and tipped the waiter as well. I gave Agnes a call to see how things were holding up, and if she was absolutely certain that I should leave. I couldn't seem to make the decision on my own.

So I headed back to Riga, seeing the same people that I saw this morning. I made my way to Riga airport, and got my plane ticket changed to depart for tomorrow. It costed me 104 Lats. By this point, my savings were getting drastically low. It wasn't really necessary to get it changed in the first place, since I only got to see Agnes one more time, but I think it was worth seeing her again. It was hard and painful for me to change my ticket date, but I had to do it for the best. Once I get back to Australia, I can get a job and save up again, as well as plan to get her down.

In the meantime, I would have nothing much else to do while waiting for tomorrow's flight back to Athens.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day 256 - Sigulda, Latvia

It was a terribly long wait to see if Agnes' dad was going to go to Sweden or not. I didn't know what to do, and I was running out of options. To keep my mind off all the stress for the day, I took a day trip to Sigulda, which was an hour out of Riga. I'd take the bus and let my mind relax somewhere beautiful.

And a beautiful place it was. It seemed that Autumn was just around the corner too, as I saw orange leaves scattered along the road. I took a walk down a steep and slippery set of stairs, down to the Gauja river where it flowed underneath the bridge. It was a lovely place to be captivated by. I didn't end up going across the valley by cable car, as I wasn't in much of a good mood, but I still enjoyed the nature here as much as I could.

After my visit here, I walked back up the stairs and up the steep valley slope at a rapid pace, to see if I could feel the difference in air pressure with my ears. There was a slight difference, and I've never achieved that by foot.

I made my way back to the bus station, and onto the bus headed back for Riga. I was able to understand the bus driver in Latvian when he asked passengers with pre-purchased tickets to board the bus first. So I waited at the end of the line, got on board, paid the 1 Lat, and once back in Riga, spent the night at the airport.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Day 255 - Liepaja, Latvia

In the remaining days I've been spending with Agnes, we've been making the most we could out of it. We've been going to the beach getting tanned, eating at Cili Pica and another restaurant called Barons Bumbiers, which we were going to regularly. In this time, I've been staying at the Beach Hostel, and then I found out that Agnes' dad was going to jail for 10 days. I was able to stay over at Agnes' place again. Her father had gone to jail for drinking and driving. I thought to myself he deserved it more than anything, especially after what he did to me. Karma strikes back.

I was contemplating a trip to Estonia as well, and Agnes encouraged me to go, but I chose not to, so as to spend the remainder of my time with her. Even with hostel rooms still booked on some days as a result of pre-booking, I chose to stay with Agnes. It would be the last time I'm seeing her for a long time. Today is the day I had to go back to Athens. I was really sad about it last night, and it was quite hard on me. I kissed Agnes goodbye at the bus stop outside her apartment block, and made my way to Liepaja's bus station, and then onto Riga.

About halfway through my journey to Riga, Agnes had dropped me a text, asking for me to come back. I figured I would. It was an easy decision, because my family in Athens was going to the village at this time. Also, Agnes' dad may be going to Sweden; we don't know yet. But once I got to Riga Airport, I decided to change my ticket anyway. It cost me 35 Lats. I was running out of money by this time, and I probably shouldn't have done what I did. In Riga, I found myself a hostel to stay at, and I'd discuss meeting up with Agnes again tomorrow. I've probably made a silly move right now, but what else can you think about when you're under the influence of love?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 240 - Kuldiga, Latvia

I wasn't going to be seeing Agnes today, so I decided I'd take the day trip to Kuldiga. I took the bus in the morning, and upon arrival, had something to eat from a café. I was contemplating spending the night here, so I looked for some accommodation. I had no luck, and I couldn't be bothered anyway, so a day trip it was going to be.

It was a beautiful little town, out in the middle of Kurzeme's forests. The streets were pretty active with tourists, but it's a much quieter place than from what else I've seen. I made my way over to the natural wonder, which is the Venta Waterfall, said to be the widest in Europe, though only about a metre high. I had good fun here for a little bit; I went in the water and tried to shower under the cold water of the falls. Then I decided to walk across the entire thing. The water was shallow enough along the top, that it could be walked across from one end to the other, though it took a fair while.

After I was done, I headed back to Liepaja, and was back by 9:30pm. I went to a bar and decided to try playing a poker machine. Surprisingly, I won 35 Lats. Well, that seemed incredibly easy. I played again, but didn't win anything. Maybe I was just very lucky.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 239 - Liepaja, Latvia

Apart from what I've already mentioned, not much else has happened. I've been staying at the Travellers' Beach Hostel, meeting travellers from all around the world, sharing our stories. Almost everyday, I'd be going out with Agnes, spending time with her in the city, away from her home. I wanted to plan a trip with her to Kuldiga, which is only an hour and a half away. I've also extended my stay in Latvia until the 2nd of August, otherwise, today would have been the day I left. I wanted more quality time, as we haven't had enough of it.

We discussed going to Kuldiga together, but she wasn't up for it. She had to stay home and look after her brother, as well as her father, making sure he wouldn't drink any alcohol and abuse anyone.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 233 - Liepaja, Latvia

For the past few days I've been able to stay with Agnes, we've been playing video games, one of which was the Final Fantasy X game I lent to her, and we would head out to the cinemas to watch movies such as The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. I've never seen any of the Narnia movies, and this one was pretty good.

Then, Agnes' dad was out of hospital and back at home. That was when I booked myself a room at the Travellers' Beach Hostel, the first hostel I've ever been to. It would be yet another new experience for me. It was actually a very great place, and it got me into the whole hostelling experience. One of the managers there was from Chile, and I had a chat with him.

I had free internet while I was here. So I hopped on MSN and managed to tell my stories to everyone who wondered where I've been. I told them everything, and they were shocked to hear it. There was not much else I could do. I just hope I can get Agnes to come and live with me in Australia, as it was something she suggested to me earlier.

I stayed at this hostel for several days, and met many different interesting people. Everyone who asked what I was doing here, I told them my story. This is my first real experience meeting other travellers from around the world. I met people from the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and even Australia and New Zealand.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 230 - Riga and Liepaja, Latvia

So we were woken up at around 4am by the café manager, and we tried to catch a bit more sleep elsewhere. As soon as the buses started running, we hopped on and headed into the city centre. I've never been in Riga with Agnes before, so we took some time to look around together.

First of all, we wanted to visit the Australian consulate, as there was discussion about moving Agnes to Australia with me. It wasn't too difficult to find. We had to take a city bus. We were there by its opening time, and we went in, greeting the consul. We discussed the possibility of getting her to become a citizen, however, for her to move down with me first of all, she would need parental permission for the visa. It didn't work out. I was pretty upset after this.

Regardless, we went on a stroll through the city centre and tried to enjoy our day as much as we could. We took pictures of the clock tower, went up Skyline Hotel for a good view, then headed to a Japanese restaurant for lunch. Agnes loved Japanese culture, and I did too, for that matter.

We later decided to watch a movie at the cinemas. We got tickets for the Hulk, the newer movie, a remake of the slightly older version. It was much better, and it was a great watch!

By 6pm, we decided to take the train back to Liepaja. It was a three hour journey, and a beautiful one at that, as the sun was low on the horizon, shining on the green fields. Once back, it was nice to be back. Agnes' dad was in hospital at the time, and the reason we decided to head back to Liepaja today was because Agnes was concerned about her brother being home alone. Otherwise, we would have spent the night in Riga. Once we got back, all was good, and I was able to spend the night at Agnes' place.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 229 - Vilnius and Trakai, Lithuania

The next day, we devoted some time to explore Vilnius. We started in the Old Town, where we made our way through the streets and to the main cathedral. We went on a photoshoot through the square before making our way to Gediminas Castle, on the top of the hill. There was lots to see between here and there.

We took the funicular up, and visited the Castle museum. From here, we could see the city skyline of Vilnius. We spent a good deal of time at the castle top here, observing the city and taking pictures.

The next place we wanted to go to was Trakai, an hour's drive away. We made our way to the bus station and hopped on the next bus. It was like a regular city bus.

Once in Trakai, we admired the beauty of this lakeside town, shopped around for a bit of food, then headed for the main tourist attraction, which was the Castle Island in the middle of the lake.

We hired a pedal-powered mini boat to take out onto the lake, observing the castle from different viewpoints. It was very beautiful and impressive. The weather could have been better though, but it's the memory that will be the most important.

After our day spent here, we headed back to Vilnius to have a meal at Cili Pica, then head back to Latvia the same night. We decided we'd go to Riga Airport and spend the night there. Not the best place of choice to sleep, but it would be for free. So upon arrival, we slept there, on the café couch. Of course, we would be woken up at 4-5am though.