Sunday, April 27, 2008

Day 157 & 158 - Vronti, Tsotyli

Today in the afternoon, we went over to our nearby relatives to have dinner. They offered to let me sleep there for the night, but I didn't want to.

Later on, I went out to a club in Tsotyli with two of my second cousins. We drank, didn't do much else, then they took me back to their place. I'll be spending the night here, which was a good place to stay, as they had the internet.

I used it the next morning. I found Mark, one of my best friends back home in Australia, online. We caught up and discussed everything we've been through. He told me that he lost his toe pretty soon after I left the country. That sounded pretty painful. He held it in his hand, apparently, but he had it put back on.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Day 156 - The village of Vronti, Tsotyli, Northern Greece

Prior to today, I went to the Thai Airways office in Athens to extend my return ticket to Australia to the date intended, which was the 20th of November, the last day before the ticket expires.

I also went to Eleftheroudakis bookshop to buy myself the Latvian learning book, which will keep me occupied up in the village.

So today, my uncle Parry, my grandmother and I, packed our bags, and headed north, on a long road trip, along with a few additional relatives. It was a beautiful scenic drive along the way, passing mountains and valleys. I was reminded of how much I love Greece.

When we arrived at the village towards the end of the day, I remembered the place pretty well. We settled inside. There would be nothing to do here. Most of the time, all I did was study Latvian. And I would learn pretty fast, as I really have nothing else to do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Day 153 - Mikrolimano, Piraeus

Today, I arranged a meeting with Lora and Panos, to tell them all about my experiences with Agnes.

By evening, I headed out to Piraues by metro. I got off at Faliro station, which was one station away from Piraeus terminal, and met Lora and Panos out here, on the bridge. It was nice to see two familiar faces again, and we walked and talked our way to a cafe in Mikrolimano, situated by the yacht marina. It was a nice view from here.

We had coffee, and I showed Lora and Panos my videos and pictures from Latvia. It was great to talk about my experiences with someone else, and we all had a great chat. We talked about language study as well; Lora spoke of her sister, who had recently returned from a trip to Spain. She said she learnt how to speak Spanish fluently in just the short duration that she was there. Sweet, I am going to do the same with Latvian. I'm going to stick my head in one of those language learning books from Eleftheroudakis, and study the language as much as I can before going again.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Day 151 - Back to Athens, Greece

From Riga, I headed on the plane back to Prague. I contacted Agnes while here, as well, then waited for my plane back to Athens. When I touched down, it was quite warm. Greece got a fair bit hotter in the two weeks I've been away.

I made my way back to Glyka Nera, and slept through most of the day and night. I was too emotionally overwhelmed to do much of anything.

Here is a video, showing all the good times that me and Agnes had together.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Day 150 - Our last day, Liepaja, Latvia

Today would be our last day together. In the evening, I'll be heading back to Riga Airport.

Starting the day, we had until 7pm to enjoy our last hours. We went for a walk through the woods near her place, which was quite an enjoyable stroll. There was quite a lot of nature here, and I loved it. I was actually taking a walk through a temperate broadleaf forest, similar to the taiga forests in Finland and Russia, and I absolutely loved this type of environment. Latvia sure has its beautiful nature!

We stopped by a small lagoon, where we took some photos.

Then we went over to the beach, which was a short walk away. Again, I loved the environment that I walked through. It was beautiful and very different.

Then, we explored all the soviet ruins by the beach. They were fascinating, in a way.

After this, we took one last walk into the city. It would be our last hour together. We took the tram to Liepaja bus station, and there I would wait for my bus to Riga. This was when it got emotional. It was time to leave, but I know I will be back again. I waved out the window of the bus, saying goodbye to Agnes, and let my emotions get to me.

While en route to Riga, I spoke to Agnes on the phone. It was a different phone call from what we used to have; there was a lot more speaking. Now that we've met, we're far more confident with eachother over the phone. We talked until all of my credit ran out.

Then I arrived in Riga, and tried to find my way to the airport, with the help of directions. My plane departs at 7am tomorrow. In the time I had to spare at the airport, I went to the airBaltic office, and bought myself another ticket to get here again. I'll be back on the 3rd of June. This made me feel much better already. It was much cheaper than my Czech Airlines ticket too, at only €240.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Day 149 - Liepaja, Latvia

Today was the second last day of my stay in Latvia. We went out into the city and stopped by the bookshop. It was here that I would buy something for Agnes. As she loved the Spanish language, I decided to buy her a Spanish-learning book, along with the Stephen King novel "The Shining" by her request. She was very satisfied with her gift and thanked me with a kiss.

We went to Cili Pica again, and got ourselves some chicken and dumpling servings. It was a tasty meal!

Afterwards, we headed to the cinemas to watch Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber from Fleet Street. It honestly really wasn't my type of movie, but there was no way I was going to to avoid watching it with someone I dearly love. It's the right thing to do. The movie ended up being alright anyway; just a little weird.

After the movie, we went to the bus station, where I bought my bus ticket to Riga for tomorrow. It saddened me to buy this ticket, but I had to go back to Athens. I've had a really great time over here, possibly the best in my life, and I really didn't want to leave. This was going to be hard. I know that I will come again, though, and that made me look on the bright side. I always try to look on the bright side of things. And on my next time around, her dad will be here for me to meet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day 145 & 146 - Liepaja, Cili Pica and Karosta

Today we went to a restaurant, called Cili Pica. We had chicken liver. This was new for me. I've never had liver before, and it was quite alright. It was definitely something different. They also have cow tongue on the menu. I might try that some other time!

Then we decided to head out onto the broken bridge; the one in Agnes' suburb. We recorded video footage of ourselves while here, and made it a great memorable day.

By night, my dad gave me a call. He asked me where I was. I said that I was in Patras, Greece. But, he told me that he knew I was in Latvia. How he found out, I didn't know, but I didn't care, and I knew that he understood perfectly why I came here. I didn't want him to find out, as I didn't want him to stress about it. We had a long talk on the phone, and I got my valid points across. I finalised further and true details with him, telling when I'd go back to Greece.

The next night, my uncle John rang me, who found out about what I had done. He was proud of me, though. I was doing something that hasn't happened in the history of my family, and I was to be proud of myself for setting my responsibilities straight. John also told me that he was on works release. He was serving time in prison over the last few years. He gave me some useful advice. Then, I ran out of phone credit, and I would have to get a Latvian SIM card. I didn't let what happened today bother me. I moved on quickly, and stayed home with Agnes, playing games such as Tomb Raider: Anniversary, which I completed, Spyro 3 and a few other games that were common in my childhood.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Day 142 - Liepaja, Latvia

Today, I stayed at home, while Agnes went to school. I found something to do with my time; I played Tomb Raider: Anniversary on the Playstation 2. This was the most recent Tomb Raider game, and I had a great time playing it, passing through most of the levels. I got up to level 6 before Agnes returned.

Later, we went out to the cinemas again. This time, we watched Fool's Gold, which was pretty funny. This movie will stick with me.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Day 139 & 140 - Liepaja, Latvia

Today, a small problem arised. Agnes was late for school today, and as a result, her teacher gave her dad a phone call, which had us both worried that he would come back from Sweden while I was here. We didn't want that to happen now. Agnes' father doesn't know I'm here, and it's best for it to stay that way. I will meet her dad later on, if I come again during the summer. The day went fine, though.

The next day, Agnes went to school again, and I went to the interent café. This time, to upload better pictures that we were much happier with.

At home, Agnes taught me some Latvian. She wrote down the alphabet for me, and we had fun discussing it. We played a bit of piano too!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Day 138 - Liepaja, Latvia

Today, Agnes had to go to school. We both headed out, and waved goodbye to eachother while she went into school, and I went into the city. We won't be able to see eachother for a few hours.

The first place I headed to was a bookshop, so I could study some Latvian. I was going through all the grammatical rules. They were a bit hard to get a gist of.

Afterwards, I went to the local internet café and shared some pictures. Agnes wasn't happy with one particular picture that I shared, but it was all good later on. We took some pictures of ourselves.

Later in the day, after Agnes finished school, we decided to go to the cinemas to watch Vantage Point. It was a great movie!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Day 135 & 136 - Liepaja, Latvia

The following days were a great pleasure. We didn't do much on Friday, as Agnes had a slight temperature, so we stayed indoors and watched some TV. The day seemed to go by quickly.

On Saturday, we had the chance to go out together. Agnes showed me around her suburb and nearby Karosta, which had some attractions itself. One attraction was the Orthodox Church.

Then Agnes showed me around Liepaja centre. I bought myself a hotdog for lunch. Then we walked to the beach, which was lovely. It was just cold, though, so there wasn't much that we'd be able to do. We'll have plenty of time for that in summer, if I decide to come again. We also spent some time in an internet cafe, while I updated everyone of my online friends. After that, we went to the mall and had some tea.

We returned home, and I had a shower. After I got out, Agnes combed my hair for me, which was rather sweet. Then, we shared a banana. Following that, we played a board game, and a game of Sudoku in Japanese. It was great to do these things together!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Day 134 - Meeting Agnes - Athens to Prague, Prague to Riga, Riga to Liepaja, Latvia

At 4am, I checked in, obtained my boarding passes, and proceeded through the gate. It wasn't hard work at all. I was learning to travel independantly. I boarded the plane at 3:45am and enjoyed the flight to Prague, arriving at 6am local time.

Upon landing, I got off and proceeded through to the connecting flights. I was to be in transit for the next 6 hours. I needed to find a way to kill time. In this time, I explored Prague's airport; there wasn't that much to see, but it was something new. I loved the Czech language, hearing it over the loudspeakers. It was a beautiful language!

I spent some time on the internet while I was here. It was for free. This would be a good way to kill time without spending too much money. One thing I found out while I was here, was that I couldn't ring home. This made me think I was doomed. I was worried now. I was thinking about what I was going to do without anyone finding out. I was worried that Despo wouldn't be able to contact me. She was going to ring everyday, to make sure that I was fine, so this was going to be a problem.

Text messaging worked fine, though. I sent a message to Agnes, and received one from her. Afterwards, I did get a call from Despo, and it came through. Luckily! I told her that I was in Nafplio, a town in the Peloponnese, which was obviously a complete lie. But, I had to do it. I didn't like feeling guilty about it, but I had no choice.

Anyway, I waited out the next few hours for my plane to Riga. Now it was getting exciting. I boarded at 11:45am, and arrived in Riga at 2:15pm. I was happy when I caught my first glimpse of Latvia from on board. So, this is where Agnes lives. This is her country.

Upon landing, I was happy to hear the Latvian language being spoken for the first time. I made my way through the airport, expecting to come across immigration officials, but I was lead straight to the exit. Well, I guess they don't check your passports when travelling from one EU country to another.

I asked around for directions on how to get to Liepaja. I was directed to the airport bus terminal, and I was to take bus 22A. I hopped on board, and rode my way into the city of Riga. I was delighted to be here. I was in a foreign world, nothing of which was familiar to me. Except for the pictures of which I've seen on Google Earth; so in a way, it did look familiar.

I got into the city, and saw the Freedom Monument. That definitely looked familiar! And it was much bigger than I expected it to be. I tried to find myself the bus station, which took me a while. I was having trouble navigating. Luckily I had my Lonely Planet guidebook on the Baltic States with me.

By 5pm, I hopped on a bus at the main bus station, headed towards Liepaja. I organised my meeting with Agnes over the phone. Now, I just sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the ride from Riga to Liepaja, which was a joyful ride in itself. I saw a few snow patches, but otherwise, it looked pretty dead. It was only the beginning of Spring, after all. I also hoped I'd be in Liepaja while there was still daylight. I was reminded that the days here last much longer; and by 8pm, the sun was still up.

And then, I arrived at Liepaja's main terminal. By this point, I was becoming extremely nervous. I was constantly thinking about what I was going to say. This was definitely going to be the most different internet meeting I was going to experience, and it was going to be wonderful, nevermind the feelings of anxiety.

I recognised the bus terminal instantly, thanks to the pictures I've seen from Google Earth. And I knew that Agnes was outside waiting for me. I stepped out, looked around, and in the near distance, I saw her, standing just outside the station office, with her friend, Eva.

We both instantly acknowledged that we saw eachother. There were shy smiles. I approached slowly. I could see her laughing and blushing, almost as if running away, while Eva was trying to keep her there to face me. It was awkward, yet exciting. No words can describe these feelings easily. And Agnes looked just like what I've seen from her pictures. It was good to see her for real.

Eva was the first to greet me. Agnes was blushing, avoiding direct eye contact with me. Of course it was hard to meet someone you've known online for so long, but I still enjoyed the experience. I knew that eventually, we would become used to eachother, and the awkwardness would go away. The entire time, it was fantastic, but at the same time, awkward. It could be the awkwardness that is making it such an amazing and different experience. I know for one thing, that I was happy.

When time decided, Agnes let out a short "Hi". Then she blushed and looked away. Her friend Eva, wasn't that shy though, for obvious reasons. She was the one running most of the conversation for the time being. As we talked, we walked along the road, to the centre of Liepaja. We were going to the mall. During this time, Agnes and Eva were speaking to eachother in Latvian. I couldn't exactly fit in; I was trying to make out what they were saying. It was a good chance to practise my Latvian. We were all laughing at the moment that we had, and things got better sooner.

We got to the mall, and Agnes went in to buy something. She would be back shortly. I was talking to Eva during this time, about how I met Agnes and how I feel about coming here. Then when Agnes came back, we went out to the bus stop and waited for the bus to Agnes' place.

Finally, we had the chance to talk amongst ourselves. We got on board the bus, and sat down next to eachother. Things were looking up. We chatted pretty nicely. Most of the awkwardness had faded.

We arrived at her home flat, and we entered. Here is yet another place looking familiar, thanks to photos Agnes has shown me of her apartment. It was a nice feeling being here. It was late at night, and there wasn't much else to do by this time. Agnes showed me some of her old school photos, and older pictures of herself and her family, while she rested her head on my shoulder. Things were definitely looking up, and I was growing happier with each passing moment. Then shortly afterwards, we were to go to sleep, and we felt confident enough to sleep in the same bed. It was all a cute and wonderful experience in itself. These memories, will stay for a lifetime.

Now I will share a video of all past events, from the Greek island of Evia, to Thessaloniki, and until the plane landing in Latvia.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Day 133 - Night before departure, Athens

The first thing I did today was pack my bags for Latvia. I told my auntie I was going to go travelling around the Peloponnese here in Greece. I headed out, and straight to the Czech Airlines office to pay for and pick up my plane ticket. I felt bad for having to lie to get to do what I had to do, but I knew that I had to take the initiative. If I'm going to have a girlfriend, I have to get my responsibilities straight.

After collecting my ticket from the ticketing agency, I headed to the internet café and updated everything, telling all my online friends where I was going, and that I was finally making the move to go and see the girl I've been dating over the last year.

I headed to Eleftheroudakis book shop and studied a bit of the Latvian language, then later headed back to the internet café. At 10:55pm, I headed out. My plane departs at 4am. I caught the X95 Airport bus from Syntagma square, and enjoyed the 45 minute ride to the airport.

Once at the airport, I got online, and left a last message to my online friends. I went to the bathroom and had a shave. I almost left my ticket on one of the internet counters. Luckily a guy behind me told me about it.