Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 219 & 220 - Liepaja, Latvia

The next night, I was to sleep at Agnes' mother's place again, but this would be the last time she could look after me. She could barely afford food for herself. I appreciated that she let me stay for two nights though, as it was a lot better than no nights.

So the next day, the bad went to worse. I had tried to sleep under the staircase at Agnes' apartment block, and I was there for about an hour before being found by police. Two officers were standing right above me as I woke up, and I felt uneasy. They were probably going to take me away with no chance of prevail.

I stood up, and they asked me what language I speak. First they guessed Latvian, then Russian, and then French. I told them English. They asked what I was doing sleeping here, and I told them that I had trouble finding a hotel. They then took me outside and asked me to get in the back of their car. By this point, I was panicking and tried to say that I didn't do anything wrong, but they raised their voice and demanded that I get in.

At this time, I felt properly scared. I thought I was going to be deported from the country. The first thing that was on my mind was being separated from the one I love. Going to jail didn't even cross my mind. I was actually praying, hoping that I would get out of this situation. I texted Agnes, telling her I've been taken by the police.

They took me to the police station, and sat me down and interviewed me. First of all I was asked to show my passport. Luckily I had it with me in my bag, and hadn't left it with Agnes. So they asked me why I was sleeping there under the staircase. This time, I told them that I was having trouble with my girlfriend's dad, who had kicked me out of their apartment, drinking, and abusing us. It didn't go too much further than this. I was held for about half an hour, then they asked me if I had money for a hotel. I said yes, when in reality I had none. So they took me to Liva Hotel, just in the city centre. I asked if I'd be allowed to go back to Agnes' suburb again, and they encouraged me to do so. So this was the end of it. I sat down in the lobby at Liva Hotel, waiting until the police would leave, so that then I would head out and find somewhere to sleep. I went into Agnes' mother's apartment block, and slept in the lobby's toilet. This is what I'm going through because of Agnes' dad.

I lived like this for the next few days, trying to find places to sleep, while living off bread and water throughout the day. I found a better place to sleep, near Agnes' apartment block, where I wouldn't be found by anyone. Agnes had given me blankets too. The surface was hard and rocky, but it was better than nothing, and certainly good to have blankets, as it was warmer underneath them. She would usually sneak the blankets down from her balcony.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 218 - Liepaja, Latvia

So I managed about 40 minutes of sleep time in the mall toilets, until a security guard found me, and took me outside. I wasn't scared of getting into trouble; I was too focused on Agnes. He just checked my bag to see if I had anything harmful, sent me outside, and that was the end of it. That plan was foiled.

I walked around and sat myself in a bar. I decided to have a coffee. Eventually though, I was asked to leave. So I just went to the next bar, called Fenikss. Here, I greeted some locals, who didn't know English. We became acquainted nonetheless, and I had a chance to practice my Latvian. There was one guy, and two women. The guys name was Valera, who was Russian. After all of my studying of the language in Greece, it seemed to pay off well. I was able to understand and get into a conversation, though, it was very difficult. But I was so happy, and it definitely made my bad day a lot better.

So, all in Latvian, I told them where I'm from, what I'm doing here, and also about what had just happened to me. I explained that my girlfriend's dad had kicked me out of their home. We got pretty far with this conversation. It wasn't really just a basic one. I was proud. It felt great to be able to understand and speak another language, even if I wasn't very good at it at all. There were some words I had to look up in my Latvian learning book as well, such as 'girlfriend'. I didn't know that word. But I told them that's why I was here, and about everything that had happened.

It was about 3am, and they asked me for Agnes' phone number. I didn't exactly want them to ring her, so as not to wake her up, but they rang her anyway and told her about me. They found out a bit more. They arranged for me to get back to her suburb, and told me to take either the bus or mini-bus. I said goodbye to these people, and left them some of my Australian pens as gifts, so they would remember me.

So at about 5am, I headed out and took the bus, without a ticket. My money was scarce. I tried to find somewhere to relax for a bit, and maybe catch a bit of sleep, until it was warm and sunny enough to just lay down on a park bench, near Agnes' apartment block. I arranged to meet her for a while. She came out, and we just stood there and hugged for 10 minutes. I was just very happy to see her after what I went through. She told me that her dad had gone drinking and driving, and had he put the car in a ditch somewhere on the outskirts.

She then arranged for me to stay with her mother, who lives in the city. She gave her a call and explained the situation to her. She told her everything. We headed there, and went inside to greet her. She was much more welcoming. She understood, and decided that she'd let me stay there for the night. She's separated from Agnes' dad and lives on her own, obviously because of the way he is, not to mention he's an alcoholic. So he really is pretty far in the wrong.

Well, tonight, I got some food, and a good night's sleep. I was thankful, and took extra care to say 'thank you' before and after my meal this time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 217 - Liepaja, Latvia

So the following morning, I was definitely getting booted out of here. Agnes' dad made me some breakfast first, before I said goodbye to Agnes for the time being, and was taken outside and driven into the city. He left me here in a parking lot near the mall, and I was on my own. I got out of the car, pretty angrily. I said nothing to him whatsoever.

Outside, it was pretty cold. I went inside the mall when it opened, to keep warm. To keep myself fed, I bought hot dogs with the little amount of money that I had in my wallet. I could basically afford bread and water for a week, and not much else. I had to come up with something. I bought myself a water bottle that I would refill somewhere for free. That would save those costs, and I could add a bit of meat and perhaps even fruit to my diet. I just need my credit card to arrive, and things will be easier. It was rather stupid of me to leave Greece without my credit card, but being blinded by love, I was easily influenced into taking such a risk. I did not know who to go to for help, and nor did I want to. I just wanted to wait for my credit card and hope that it would arrive here. Agnes told me that her dad would pick me up and let me stay overnight again if I didn't have a hotel, but I didn't see that happening. Right now, I'm just glad that it hasn't affected my relationship with her. She told me how much she loved me and how angry she was with her dad, but not even being 18 yet, she was pretty powerless. We spent a while texting eachother, and I couldn't stop shedding tears. This was horrible.

I'm going to have to experience homeless life, yet again. This time, on a much larger scale. It was freezing here at nights. At least this early in the summer. The first place I decided to try was the toilets in the mall after closing time. We will see how that goes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 216 - Liepaja, Latvia

The next day, bad went to worse. It was midnight, and me and Agnes had been hugging in the bedroom, while on the sofa. Her dad walked in, and he was furious with what he saw. It brought a horrible feeling upon me instantly, and I was scared.

He asked me to leave. I was devastated. So this is what it's come down to. He grabbed my bag, and took it out to the front door, and seeing it sitting there, I knew what was happening. There was another problem too, and that was that I didn't have my credit card. All I had was a bit of cash on me. I could not afford a room to sleep in, and he knew that. Agnes managed to convince him to keep me there for the night, as it was midnight, and tomorrow morning I'd have to leave. I spent a few moments with Agnes in her room to talk and it was a crying matter. We were done. She gave me a small teddy bear for me to keep for her. I was saying that this isn't going to be the last time I'm seeing her. I made that very well clear. But she insisted that I take the teddy. I took it and put it in my bag. It was actually a gift to Agnes from her dad. I would let it go too, if he did something like that to me.

It was very difficult for me to sleep that night, and I was hoping that he'd change his mind and let me stay, at least until my credit card arrives at the post office.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day 215 - Liepaja, Latvia

Today started well. Me, Agnes and her dad headed into Liepaja city and decided to take a visit to the Holy Trinity Church. From up the top here, you can get a good vantage point of the city. That was the main touristic use of the building.

We climbed up the spire, to the top. It was interesting on the way up. The building was very old. Up here, we stood and looked over the view of Liepaja, while I took some photos. Agnes' dad took a photo of us two together as well. It was a nice place to appreciate for a while.

After our church tower visit, me and Agnes headed to the beach. We met her friend, Eva there. We hung out for a while. I was just my usual self, not talking too much, letting them run the conversation. We had a good time regardless.

It was time to go back home after this. Agnes' dad had made us dinner. I thanked him and enjoyed the meal. It was spaghetti, probably carbonara or something like that. Then after dinner, I walked back into Agnes' room. This is where things started going bad. Agnes' dad was expecting me to say 'thank you' after my meal. There was no way I could know what he was expecting. He was quite angry at me, as he said he put in a lot of effort making that meal for me. It has now caused a bit of tension between me and Agnes, and I was upset. I already said thanks at the beginning of the meal, I had no idea I was supposed to say it twice. So Agnes asked me to say 'thanks' to him, as it's what I apparently owe him. So I did, and that was the end of that issue, for now. Agnes went on about how she didn't want to be in between herself and her dad all the time. We definitely don't want any parental issues. Parental non-approval does not sit well with me, and I don't even want to think about it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 213 & 214 - Liepaja, Latvia

Agnes and I went outside for the night tonight, just sitting together on the park bench, hugging. It was a very sweet and memorable moment of my life, and we both said that we were really happy. I'm happy to be back together again.

The next day, we stayed mostly at home, while her dad went to work. We spent some time on the computer, then went into the city later. There was not much else that we did.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 212 - Back to Liepaja, Latvia

Today is the day I'm going to be meeting Agnes again. This time, in company of her dad, of whom only speaks Latvian. This would be a good opportunity to practise the language.

I took the bus at 1pm, and arrived at 5pm. I was getting nervous and excited all over again. I expected to see her on arrival at the bus station, waiting for me, but she was running late, and we arranged a new meeting point, which was Rozu square, in the city centre.

I walked my way over there, and we both arrived at the square at pretty much the same time. I saw her over on the other side, and went over to greet her. I was very happy to see her again. Her dad will be coming to pick us up later on, so I haven't seen him yet.

Firstly, Agnes went to see her mother, who lived within walking distance. I waited outside. When she returned, we went back over to Rozu square, and sat and talked until her dad would come to pick us up.

We exchanged a handshake, and I greeted him in Latvian. I said "Nice to meet you". We got into his car, and he drove us home. He commented that this was the first time he has heard his daughter speaking English. He asked me some questions, with help of translation from Agnes, and we sat at home and had dinner. Then we went to bed. Separate rooms for us, this time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 211 - Cape Kolka, Latvia

Today, there wasn't that much more I could do in Riga. At 5am, I headed out into the city, and looked up bus timetables to the town of Kolka, on the northern tip of the Latvian cape.

I asked for information at the bus terminal, and got some bus schedules. By the time the earliest bus would get there, the latest bus would leave in 20 minutes, so unfortunately I would only be able to spend 50 minutes up at the cape. So I took the day trip and intended to get what I could out of it.

I had some breakfast at Cili Pica near the bus station in Riga, having an omelets and mushroom dish, then departed for Kolka at 1:15pm.

It was a scenic drive a long the way. I didn't see much coastline, as there were lots of trees between the road and the beach, but it was still good scenery nonetheless. I loved it!

When I arrived in Kolka, I got out of the bus, and made my way to Cape Kolka, which was a long walk. I hoped that I would be back in time for the last returning bus to Riga. I had 50 minutes. It took 20 minutes to get to the cape, meaning I can spend 10 minutes here, then I have to head back.

I made the most out of it. I took plenty of photos along the walk.

Then reached the cape itself, from where I could see the Gulf of Riga and Baltic Sea hitting eachother.

After my short visit here, I had to run back to the bus. I was in time, and it was only a short wait for the bus to depart. So it's back to Riga, and I had a small nap on board during the three-hour drive.

Once back in Riga, I decided to have some McDonald's. The last time I had some, was when I was in Australia, I believe. It wasn't bad. Just like at home.

Then I went to find myself a hotel. I wanted a better sleep this time, rather than having a five-hour sleep at the airport. I found one, and it was Ls31, which was quite a bit of money. I probably shouldn't have, but I needed a bit of relaxation. I showered, then spoke to Agnes on the phone. Over the last two days, she's been hinting that she wants to be with me again. So I asked straight up, if we were going to be back together. And it looks like we were. This made me happy, and I was able to sleep peacefully.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 210 - Riga, Latvia

Today I was going to have a head start to a day of sightseeing in Riga. I headed out at about 6am, so I could probably see everything there is to see in one day. I didn't get too much sleep in the airport, though.

My first priority was to get myself a local SIM card with Tele2. I walked around town, looking for a shop which sells SIM cards. I needed a Latvian phone number, as I was actually going to be spending a fair bit of time here.

I stopped by an internet café, and hopped online for a bit. I then asked the owner where I could find a SIM card, and I was directed to a Narvesen shop.

So, I went to the nearest Narvesen shop, and went in. They told me that they were closed and couldn't help me. I then waited nearby for it to open. When I saw other people enter the shop, I thought to myself that it must be open now. So I went in, and I was asked to leave. Again. Ok, then.

I'll have to go somewhere else. I found another Narvesen store eventually, and was successful in purchasing a new SIM card, which I then activated by giving my dad a call, and giving him my new number. I told him of my current whereabouts and plans and we had a chance to catch up with everything. I was telling the complete truth this time. My parents knew that I planned to go again.

So then, my sightseeing begun. I explored the streets of Old Riga, and encountered other Greek tourists in Doma Square, which made me happy. The streets themselves were fascinating. I also went to the top of St. Peter's Church, to observe the city. This was the main lookout point.

It was rather cold as well, so I didn't stay at the top for long. I went on to explore New Riga and see the Freedom Monument. I also took a trolleybus ride and checked out different parts of the city.

It really is a beautiful city, and much cleaner than Athens.

I wanted to go to the Open Air Museum, but I couldn't find it. I got on the wrong bus. But I decided to check out the Occupation Museum, which was free of charge and worth looking at.

Later on, I took a river cruise on the Daugava river, which was exciting. It was raining a little, and it provided a good atmosphere. I'm having a great time already! It seems like you really can do a lot in one day, provided that you wake up early! Something I'm not very good at, unfortunately. The days are long as well, which also helps. The sun doesn't set until after 10pm.

I couldn't decide what to do next, so I went to the cinemas to watch a movie. A movie called 'The Happening', starring Mark Wahlberg. It was a great movie! I tried to read the Latvian subtitles as well, which was helping with my knowledge of the language. It was a good relaxation.

Then I walked a little more around Riga, then headed back to the airport, and got myself a five-hour sleep.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 209 - Second visit, Riga, Latvia

After all my preparing, it's time for me to go to Latvia. Unfortunately, my bank card still hasn't arrived in the mail, even with the date of the plane ticket changed. So I'm going to have to go off without it. Despo was kind enough to give me some cash to support myself, as well as Con, who gave me money that he owed me from working for him. Despo is going to send the bank card to me in Latvia when it arrives in Greece.

So I headed over to the airport by metro. It was only a half-hour ride, and it was an interesting one. I was excited; I was going again!

At the airport, I checked in, boarded my airBaltic plane to Riga, and enjoyed hearing the Latvian language once again, especially after having studied it a little more over the last two months.

It was 8pm, and time for take-off.

I purchased one meal on board. I love airline food! Probably because I love plane travel.

After circling the city of Riga, taking the spiral approach, we touched down at 11:30pm, and I was back. Back again, and happy to be. I was going to spend the night here at the airport, and go out the next morning. I'll be seeing Agnes on Friday. I've got two days of sightseeing to do. I have over Ls100 to support myself. Hopefully my bank card will arrive at my aunt's place in Greece shortly.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day 207 - Avlida, Attica, Greece

Today was, believe it or not, my first experience of beach life in Greece. I woke up at 7:30am and uncle Con drove us over to a village called Avlida, on the northern coast of Attica, overlooking the island of Evia. This was where my cousin Aleko's wife, Katerini's parents lived.

We stayed here for a while, and I sat on the couch outside, watching the kids play around. Shortly afterwards, I headed to the nearby beach with Aleko and Konstantino. I got into the water, and it was nice and warm, much better than what we have at my town in Australia. It was also a rocky beach, as opposed to sand. I had a great swim around while here, and had pictures taken.

I sunbaked, dug a channel in the sand for water to go in, and had a great time with the kids.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Day 193 - Parry booting me out, Athens

Well, the good news, is that Agnes made up her mind, and said I could come to Latvia and see her after all. The bad news, is that my uncle, Parry, decided to boot me out of his house at 1:30 in the morning.

It began when Parry turned off the TV while I was enjoying a movie. I wasn't that angry at the fact that he turned it off on me, but more angry because of his reasons for turning it off, which didn't seem justified at all.

A few weeks prior to this, he had offered to take me on a trip with him to Mytilini, on the island of Lesvos. I was a little excited about going, but he turned down the offer just before we were set to go, and he decided to go by himself. He said that he refused to take me because of my schemes with Latvia. Like it was really necessary to offer me the trip in the first place then.

Anyway, after switching off the TV, I had gotten angry at Parry, and rightfully so. Because I refused to give up my plans to visit Latvia again, he thought he had an obligated right to turn off the TV as a "punishment" to me. Well, I'll be happy not to stay here anymore. I'm leaving. I'm going over to Despo's. I'm simply not going to tolerate someone who thinks that they can be in control of my life. So, I said this, and then Parry told me to leave.

I packed all my things, and headed out. Parry left me a childish remark, saying "Go back to Australia, and take Agnes with you!". That's the last time I ever plan to see Parry. I do whatever I want with my life, thank you.

So, it was 1:30am, and I headed over to the internet café. I asked the staff to put my bag somewhere safe, and I would wait here until 5am, when the buses start running. Then, I would make my way over to Despo's, and tell her everything that Parry done. I was fed up with him. He criticised me a lot over the time that I've been here, making me feel small, and I couldn't cope with it. He made me more depressed than anyone else did, including Agnes. Me and him will never be the same.