Everything’s Right (Greece)

And Greece is now done 😦 but that’s okay cause I’m definitely coming back! On Monday, I was quite ready to leave Croatia so I checked into the ferry at 8pm that night to go to Bari, Italy. When I had booked my ticket ahead of time, I asked if I could get a bed and the lady said I had to get it on the boat. But then when I got on the boat, I asked how I could get a bed and they said I should have bought a bed ticket when I had gotten my ticket. So I was stuck with a deck ticket. I got on the ferry and laid out my sleeping bag on the floor in the hall and set up camp. A lot of people had done the same so it was funny when someone brought out their guitar and started singing Kumbaya on the other side of the boat. The problem with my section of the boat was I was the only non-Italian person there. I’m pretty sure Italians are the loudest people on earth so it was difficult for me to sleep a lot of times, plus the hard floor didn’t really help me get very comfortable. But the Italians were also really nice and offered me food and whatnot so I can’t complain. I think I only got stepped on a total of three times during the night. After 12 hours of being on the boat, we arrived in Bari at about 8am. We then had to go through passport control and for the first time, I was happy that I wasn’t an EU citizen since they had a line specifically for non-EU citizens, which included me and only a few others. I walked to the ticket office and met three girls there: Phoebe and Ruby from Australia, and Lara from Germany. We found out that we were all making the same trip to Greece so since we had about 12 hours until our ferry left, we decided to explore Bari together. We just walked around, sat in parks and coffee shops, and enjoyed ourselves. Bari wasn’t what any of us were expecting; it was an actual city, not a small port with a couple of shops, like we thought. We headed back to the port to board our ferry at 5 and we found out that because there weren’t many passengers, we were upgraded to the reclining seats free of charge! This ferry was so nice compared to the last one, which was great since we ended up being on this ferry for a total of 18 hours. When we finally arrived in Patras at 1pm the next day, I went to the bus station and took a bus to Athens. The trip from Patras to Athens is absolutely gorgeous! But once I got into Athens, I was wondering what I got myself into. The part of the city that the bus terminal is on is pretty sketchy and very dirty so my first impression of Athens wasn’t that great. I somehow found a way to the metro stop that I was supposed to meet my couchsurfing host (Nick) at and to my surprise, he was also hosting another girl (Denise) from Germany/Turkey. That night, Nick took us for souvlaki and then we met some other couchsurfers at a bar. I tried raki, which was waaay too strong for me; I don’t know how other people can handle it! It can be made with up to 90% alcohol content so you can feel it pretty fast. We didn’t make it back to the house until 5 in the morning (yet again).

On Thursday, Denise and I had lunch before heading to the city centre. We found a frozen yogurt bar and decided to give it a try. If you think Pure frozen yogurt is good, Greek frozen yogurt is a million times better! It was sooo delicious, I was just shocked! We then went to the Acropolis Museum, which was cool. I really liked seeing all of the vases and utensils they had used 3000 years ago, it was amazing! After three hours in the museum, we went to check out the actual Acropolis (and got in for free yay!). The Acropolis was so gorgeous! Especially because we went during the last hour that it was open so the sun was setting right behind the Parthenon.. Beautiful! We then walked to Monastiraki, one of the city’s main squares where the Athens Flea Market is located. Eventually, we made our way back to Nick’s and then we met up with the same people from the night before and went to a lounge on a hill with a gorgeous view of the Piraeus port. We didn’t get back til about 3:30 that night, which kind of sucked since I had to catch my ferry to Mykonos at 7:30 the next morning.

That Friday morning, I took the five hour ferry ride to Mykonos! I stayed at this awesome resort and spent my entire time on the beach with an ENGLISH magazine! It was so nice, hopefully I’ll still have my tan when I get back home; it’s probably the darkest I’ve ever been! I got my own private beach cabin, which surprisingly wasn’t even near the beach haha but that was probably better that way for sleeping purposes. That evening (even though I was extremely tired), I went into town to have dinner and check out the stores. I also of course got some frozen yogurt. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back to Pure frozen yogurt when I go home; this stuff is way too delicious! Mykonos is so cute; it’s known as the party island so everyone I talked to said I wouldn’t enjoy it, but there’s something to do for everyone, even families. I almost didn’t go to Mykonos and instead planned to spend an extra night in Athens, but I’m so glad I went! It was also just nice to have a chill day on the beach for the first time of my trip!

On Saturday morning, I took the ferry to Santorini, the island of romance. And of course, I went alone. The trip to Santorini was the worst! One of the staff members wouldn’t let me take my bags to the deck, which has never happened before. And I have never left my bags before. So when I stubbornly said there was no way I was leaving my bags, he said, “Fine! You stay on the deck, not in the boat!” which was fine with me since I was planning to go on the deck anyway. The first two hours were nice; I just lied on the deck in the sun and listened to music. Then, we reached the rocky waters. Everything I had with me got absolutely drenched from the boat going back and forth non-stop. On the deck, it was basically suicide to try to move anywhere since the floors of the deck were so slippery and with one shift of the boat, you could go sliding across the deck. So basically everyone who was on the deck was stranded up there, holding onto whatever they could to keep themselves balanced. After awhile, my stomach got the best of me and I knew I needed to eat something or I was going to be sick. So I took my two backpacks and carefully made my way to the other side of the deck to where the stairs were. Instead of going from front to back, the stairs were from left to right. Right when I got to the top of the stairs, the boat hit a wave and tilted the other way, which caused me to fly towards the bottom of the stairs. Luckily, I grabbed onto the rail with my free hand just in time but it sure got my adrenaline rushing! Scary, scary moment. I was surprised that they didn’t have anyone go up on deck to help everyone else get down. Anyway, I safely got in the boat and sat down on one of the chairs; it was nice being rocked back and forth while sitting; it pretty much lulled me to sleep. But by the end, I started to feel sick. And just when I thought I was supposed to get off the ferry, they informed me it was still another 2.5 hours, making it a 10-hour trip! So I tried to think good thoughts and ignored the sick feeling in my stomach. It got to the point where the crew wouldn’t allow anyone to leave their seats unless they had to use the washroom, and in that case, they would be escorted by a crew member. I finally arrived in Santorini at about 8:30pm and got a ride to my hotel. I had my own room with a bathroom and a mini fridge! It’s always a nice change from a hostel but it also gets lonely since you can’t exactly meet anyone there. My hotel was located in Perissa, which I found out later is the 10th top attraction in Santorini, due to its beach (which was about a two minute walk from my room!). However once I got to Santorini, I still felt like I was on the boat. I couldn’t walk in a straight line and even standing still, I felt like I was swaying back and forth. I honestly think it’s the tipsiest I’ve ever been! My only solution was to go to bed early cause that was the only way I didn’t feel like I was moving.

On Sunday, I had breakfast on the beach and then I went to Fira (pronounced Fear-uh), the capital of Santorini. It’s a cute city with lots of places to shop. I just love going into every souvenir shop and looking at everything, even if I can’t buy anything. I did however get my Christmas ornament! Around four, I decided to walk to Oia (pronounced Ee-uh) which is the other main city of Santorini. The trip was about 11km and is supposed to be one of the prettiest walks in Santorini. However, after doing the Cinque Terre, I wasn’t TOO wowed. Of course, there were beautiful views, but it wasn’t much of a “hike,” just a road with very uneven rocks and stones. Quite dangerous actually; I found myself sliding down a hill of volcanic rock at one point. And with none of the rocks being sturdy, one wrong step and you roll your ankle and your knee makes direct contact with a pile of rocks, gashing it in three places. So what did I do when I was unfortunate enough to have this happen to me? The same thing any normal person would do… I took a picture. Then I cleaned it out best I could with my water bottle and beach towel since that’s all I had. I found out I had 5 more kilometres until Oia so I continued my walk, open wound and all. It wasn’t that bad; I just poured water on it anytime it started to hurt. I’m just glad I have such a high pain threshold cause by the time I got to Oia, it really started to get to me. So I went to the pharmacist, who gave me an unknown substance for 2.50 and I put it on. And boy, I would have walked BACK to Fira instead of putting that stuff on. It probably needed quite a bit of cleaning though; I’m just hoping there aren’t any pebbles stuck inside that I can’t see. So once I got to Oia, I was in a pretty sour mood. I went for dinner and got some moussaka, an eggplant casserole, very good! Then I headed back to Perissa to spend some time on the beach before going to bed.

On Monday, I went to the beach around 10 and stayed there until I had to catch my ferry five hours later. The bartender on the beach kept staring straight at my knee every time he walked by and eventually came and put a band-aid on it haha, I guess it wasn’t really the prettiest sight. I got to the port but by the time I was supposed to leave, the ferry still hadn’t arrived. Finally 45 minutes later, it came! So we left an hour behind schedule, which made me kind of nervous because I still had to catch a 3-hour bus to Chania once I arrived in Heraklion, and there would only be one bus left IF we made it there on time. That bus was at 9pm. The ferry arrived at 9:15pm. So before I started freaking out that I had nowhere to go, I decided to clear my head. I went for a McFlurry and onion rings at McDonald’s. What I’ve learned is that letting the worry come in won’t help with anything. And that trying to make logical decisions on an empty stomach doesn’t help either. Surprisingly, McDonald’s didn’t have wifi but I was lucky enough to find it elsewhere so I could get directions to an available hostel. When I got there, he said the dorms were actually all booked up (the Internet said otherwise) but he would give me a private suite for the same price of a dorm (I seem to be having a lot of luck with these private suites!). Probably the nicest room I’ve been in so far!

On Tuesday, I went to Knossos Palace, the second-best archaeological site next to the Acropolis. But I realized while travelling that archaeology isn’t something I find very interesting. To pay money to see a bunch of rocks that used to be a palace 4000 years ago is a waste for me. A rock that was once part of Knossos Palace looks like a rock that was once part of the Acropolis, which looks like a rock that was once part of the Roman Forum. I would rather go on a hike and look at a bunch of rocks that have no purpose. I like to see things as a whole or at least partly complete. Seeing the Parthenon was cool, as well as seeing the Colosseum. Looking at cells in university doesn’t excite me either. Looking at a blood cell from a frog or a hair cell from a cat or a skin cell from a human… Cells are cells, rocks are rocks. Maybe I’m just ignorant? I do however love looking at the tools: the hammers, the vases, the paintings. I guess different people just have different interests, and I’m slowly learning mine. After going to Knossos Palace, I went back to the city centre to walk through the markets before heading back to my hostel. Then, I did even more looking through stores around that area. I made my way into a jewelry store and the lady working there (Afroditi) was determined to find me a ring that fit my extremely tiny fingers. Since it is now off-season, I think the storekeepers are desperate to sell anything so when we finally found a ring, she said she’d take 10 euro off! So I decided to buy it and she was like, “Sit down, I want to make you a cocktail!” and went to the back of the store to get some raki and orange juice. I told her about my trip and she told me about her two kids, who are about my age. Afroditi was the nicest lady, saying it was brave of me to travel alone and warning me to be careful. “Now I’m sounding like your mother,” she said, but it was nice to have a motherly person around again. She gave me her name and email to add her on facebook, sounding very excited to have another friend. “And make sure you send me pictures of your trip!” The people of Crete are extremely welcoming, and I know I’ve said that about a lot of places, but the Cretan people go above and beyond to make you feel at home. I went for dinner and got a plate of a combination of things so I could try all of the different Greek foods. As much as I love the gyro pitas (because they’re extremely delicious and they never cost more than 2.50), I decided I should expand my knowledge of Greek cuisine a little further. Boy, do I love Greek cuisine! Heck, I love every kind of cuisine; where can you go wrong with anything that’s not American food? Anyway, my plate included a stuffed tomato (stuffed with rice and spices), pastitsio – a baked pasta dish, bekri meze – pork marinated in white wine, soutzoukakia – spicy meatballs with garlic and tomato sauce, eggplant papoutsakia, and of course tzatziki, love it! After I was done, the waiter came with a small pitcher of raki and said, “Here you go, Canada.” It had enough to do about six shots! After three painful shots, I told him it was too strong to finish. Apparently raki is supposed to be really helpful with digestion, but it burns the throat when drinking it. I headed back to the hostel and easily fell asleep.

Today, I’m just killing time until I have to go to the airport to catch my flight to Istanbul, which isn’t until 5:30. I guess I’ll just have to fill up on Greek frozen yogurt before I leave Greece! I can’t believe I only have one place left to go and then I’m done my Europe trip, it went by way too fast! Hope everyone’s doing well! Love always

Everything’s Right – Matt Wertz

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