Thursday, June 30, 2011

Delos, and the last night in Mykonos...maybe?

Today I visited the island of Delos, birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis, and former commercial centre of not only the Cyclades, but of the ancient world.




I’m supposed to be headed to Naxos tomorrow, but the ferries remained on strike today after the 48 hour general strike. Even though the lady at the port ferry office said they’ll be up and running tomorrow, I’m still not convinced.

Mykonos has been great, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve done pretty much everything I can possibly do here, and am ready to move on to the next destination.

When that will be isn’t clear just yet, but I did get a good sign while having a gelato at the old port: the appearance of Pelos, the famous Mykonos pelican. He basically walked around like he owned the place and allowed people to take photos as he went for a leisurely stroll through the port.

Hopefully between the visit to sacred Delos and the sighting of Pelos I’ve earned enough good karma to get me to Naxos as planned. We shall see.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On an island, in the sun.





Two days in on the Greek islands, and already I can see why everyone raves about them.

Mykonos is gorgeous. Even the ferry ride to Mykonos was picturesque (long, but picturesque nonetheless). It stopped in Syros and Tinos, both very nice looking islands, especially Syros.



I had a relatively tame first day due to being wiped from the 5+ hour ferry ride from Athens; mostly just crashed on the beach, which is a couple minutes walk from my room.

And by room, I mean wooden shack with a bed and a window. That said, it has an outlet which has come in handy, and I did get the best sleep of the trip last night, so I can’t argue with that.

Today was an adventure to be sure. After walking around the old town and seeing the sights (the windmills and Little Venice), I randomly ran into my buddy from Athens and his group, who were all staying at the next place over. They had also rented mopeds.

What followed was a whirlwind tour of the entire island, including a visit to an old lighthouse and a manmade lake.




Tonight we’re gonna get some much needed drinks at the beach bar after a long day of touring.

If this is what Mykonos and the rest of the islands have in store for me ahead, it’s gonna be one hell of a time.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Feeling very Olympic today.

Just because I never made it to Olympia didn't mean I wouldn't have an Olympic experience in Greece.

The Special Olympics are in Athens this year, so a group of us headed over to the stadium for some Olympic-sized hijinx.

Free stuff, sports and shenanigans...three of my favourite things!



The day before, I went on the hostel tour to Delphi, the home of the famous Oracle of Delphi, as well as one of the four main ancient temples of Greece.



Included on the tour was a light lunch and a visit to Arachova, a coastal town well-known amongst Greeks as a ski resort, but little known to the rest of the world, which apparently is just how they like it. I can see why they're keen to keep it a secret.


At night we stopped by Syntagama Square, where all the protests have been going on.

It's totally peaceful and a pretty cool atmosphere, considering it's the birthplace of democracy and all. There's going to be a 48 hour general strike starting on Tuesday, however, so I imagine things will get a little more intense then.

Oh yeah, we were also at the square again this morning, to check out the changing of the guard. Much cooler than Canada's version (sorry that I'm not sorry, Ottawa).


Off to Mykonos tomorrow morning for the first island stop of the trip!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Meteora, or My Adventures With Greek Taxi Drivers


Before I begin, there's something you need to know about me.

Remember that episode of Seinfeld where things always even out for Jerry? Well, I am the real-life embodiment of that phenomenon most of the time, and it definitely happened to me today, though not in the typical way.

I made my way by train to Kalabaka, the town where you can then access Meteora, which is a bunch of monasteries atop huge rock pinnacles. Well, I could access it in theory anyway; I bought some supplies and attempted to head up the massive hill, but didn't really get anywhere.



I passed by a tourist restaurant, where George, a taxi driver was finding some shade. He motioned over to me and I could tell what I was trying to do was a bad idea. Like 16 km walk bad.

I promptly hopped into his taxi, and he gave me a personal tour of Meteora, dropping me off at the main monasteries and great vantage points, even taking pictures of me at each point. Really friendly guy, and he was basically the reason I was able to see anything, as opposed to my "show up after a 5 hour train ride and just walk around for 3 or 4 hours before taking another 5 hour train ride back" plan.



Unfortunately. this is where things get weird. The impromptu tour was going to cost me around 30-40 Euro, depending on how long it took. Fine with me, I thought; I have 20 Euro on me, and I'll just get George to swing by an ATM and I'll get him the rest.

Not so fast, dumbass. I normally travel with my passport, credit & debit cards whilst in Europe, but since Athens has gotten all this bad press about being unsafe (it's not) due to the protests, I've been leaving all that stuff at my hostel.

Therefore, all I had to my name was a 20 Euro bill, and my room key. I felt awful and apologized profusely for not being able to pay him adequately for his time. He understood and wished me well (I think).

So I take the train back to the Athens station, which is 5 Metro stops from my hostel. Here's the problem: I now have no money whatsoever, and didn't want to risk riding the Metro without a valid ticket.

I decide to hop in a cab to get back to the hostel. My driver didn't speak much English and for some reason didn't really know how to get there, despite me repeatedly mentioning the Akropoli Metro nearby.

He even stopped in the middle of nowhere to talk to a local girl waiting for the bus, who happened to speak English. So she hops in the cab too, and we make our way to the hostel.

As she gets out, she says that the cab ride will cost 20 Euro. Way too expensive for how long that cab ride should have taken, but I figured, you know what? It's time for a little instant karma.

I explain to the driver that I'm going up to my room to get his money, and to wait outside the hostel. I briefly considered not coming back down, but no, I needed to right this wrong.

As I returned, his eyes lit up, and he shook my hand, thanking me as I handed him the 20 Euro note. I could tell he was concerned I was going to screw him, and I don't blame him, considering how it looked.

But what he couldn't know (and not just because his English was bad) was that fate was on his side, and that when it comes to me, things have a way of evening out.

Hope you enjoyed that story. Off to Delphi tomorrow.

We need a myth
We need an amethyst bridge
We need a high hanging cliff
Jump, fall and lift

- Okkervil River, We Need A Myth

Thursday, June 23, 2011

We're just walking around, looking around...

Really solid walking tour through Athens today. I normally don't do guided tours but the city is laid out in a confusing manner, thus making it easy to get lost, something I'd rather not do given the relative instability of the country.

The tour guide was Canadian (as were many of the people taking the tour) and it was a joke-filled and easy going yet informative 3 or so hours.

Here's your tour of my walking tour, through pictures:











Next stop, Meteora!

Good morning from Athens!

After 11 or so hours on a plane and some wicked jetlag, I think I'm finally adjusted to Greek time.

I spent my first day and night in and around the Acropolis, which is about 5 minutes or so from my hostel. A perfect first stop.





This means that rooftop hostel bar happy hour time is also "watch the sunset over the Acropolis" time. Not bad.


Unfortunately I wasn't able to check any other sights out yesterday, so I will now do that today, at the expense of one of the day trips. The likely sacrifice will be Olympia, because it's 5 1/2 hours away and would be super difficult to pull off in a day.

I'll be doing Meteora tomorrow, and then doing the hostel's Delphi tour on Saturday, because it's all included and is probably around what I would spend anyway to do it all myself.


Until next time...yiamas!

Now I'm awake a little early
For a man who doesn't see that morning sun
Almost every single day
And at times like these
I just want to breathe.


- Zeus, Hot Under The Collar

Friday, June 17, 2011

The itinerary.

TUES JUN 21 – TORONTO TO ATHENS

5 NIGHTS IN ATHENS – ATHENS BACKPACKERS

DAY TRIPS TO DELPHI, METEORA, HYDRA AND OLYMPIA

MON JUN 27 - PIRAEUS TO MYKONOS

4 NIGHTS IN MYKONOS – PARADISE BEACH RESORT

FRI JUL 1 - MYKONOS TO NAXOS

2 NIGHTS IN NAXOS – SOULA HOTEL

SUN JUL 3 – NAXOS TO SANTORINI

4 NIGHTS IN SANTORINI – 2 KATERINA & JOHN HOTEL, 2 KYKLADONISIA

FRI JUL 8 – SANTORINI TO RHODES

4 NIGHTS IN RHODES (1 ON BOAT) – RHODES YOUTH HOSTEL

MON JUL 11 – RHODES TO PATMOS

1 NIGHT IN PATMOS

TUE JUL 12 – PATMOS TO PIRAEUS

WED JUL 13 – ATHENS TO TORONTO

***

So, there's the trip.

Patmos is an island in between Rhodes and Athens. I'm going there instead of Crete because Crete is just too large to see in a couple of days, and Patmos is at least on the way back to Athens, so it won't be a ridiculously long overnight ferry ride, just a fairly long overnight ferry ride (8.5 hours).

Plus, it's where St. John wrote the Book of Revelation. So, that's kind of awesome.

Just had my last shift at The Score till I get back, so I've got about 4 days or so to take it easy and get ready for the trip; by far the most time off I've had before a vacation ever.

Takeoff is on Tuesday. Looking forward to sharing my latest odyssey with you all.

The day is coming
The day is near
The day is coming
You know what I mean


- My Morning Jacket, The Day Is Coming

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rockers East Vancouver.

The Drafted audition tour finished up this week, and what better place to close it out than beautiful Vancouver?

The weather was good, the city was even nicer, and the sushi was stellar.






OK, enough of this non-European Odyssey-related travel tangent. More details on the Greece trip to come, including a new destination of Biblical proportions.

17 days till Athens!