Travelling Summer 2016 – Part 10: Athens, Greece

The last leg of my journey in the summer of 2016 was to Athens, Greece. Just shy of midnight, on Friday the 19th of August, I boarded a night-train from Sofia, Bulgaria to Thessaloniki. I had a compartment to myself. This seemed great at first but then I found myself a bit more concerned by something happening than if I’d been sharing with people. Though nothing happened other than one passport check at 3am.

Arrived in Thessaloniki on time at 6:30am, despite leaving Sofia, Bulgaria late. I was travelling his whole time with an interrail ticket.

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So I hopped on the next train to Athens which turned out to be at 7:04am. It was very sunny and warm so I slept most of the way.

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However, I discovered reservations, after tickets, are mandatory on trains in Greece. I should’ve checked this out before but the ticket-checker was obviously used to this. They said they’d come back around after a while to get €20 off me – which turned out to be the reservation fee and not a fine!

I found out later upon waking up again that I was in fact sat in someone else’s seat; no need for reservation signs if EVERYONE reserves.

Arrived in Athens shortly after 1:30pm and hard time figuring out the Metro. Eventually got the Metro to Omonia and walked a bit through a rough looking area to a nice looking hotel.

I’d managed to save some money while travelling and had decided to stay in a hotel for my last stop. But in actuality this hotel was not much nicer than any hostel I’d stayed in. I also ended up being a bit bored and lonely. All the activities advertised in the hotel were for people who travelled with a lot more money than me. A good lesson though!

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That said, balcony views are always nice.

The next day I took the tram to the coast – which was definitely where I should’ve stayed instead! I found a beach bar. I’d forgotten my swim wear but it was nice to sit and watch the water in the shade, eat pasta for breakfast and see cats.

I then visited the Sea-Turtle Centre.

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It’s nice to see sea-turtles! But also sad as they’re all injured and sick, and mostly on purpose by people. My tour guide did tell me that most of them make a full recovery and get released back into the wild.

My tour guide, upon finding out I was ravelling alone, invited me to come swimming with a group on them that evening. I ended up taking the wrong tram and being totally delayed, but I did luckily get to find them the next day!

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Monday, I visited the flea market and bought some gifts to bring home, before meeting up with the sea-turtle tour guide.

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They took me for a drive around Athens, up the mountains and to a coffee shop. We then picked up another volunteer from the Sea-Turtle Centre and drove out to Poseidon’s Temple. It was crazy hot, between 35-40 degrees Celsius all day. The road out was also very windy, but it was worth it!

On the way back we stopped in a different beach bar. It was a bit postcard-like.

The evening I packed and prepared all my stuff to fly back to Ireland the next day.

The bus to the airport from Syntagma was a nice journey. It was nice to see the landscape and mountains again.

Travelling: 28th of July-24th of August – Part 1; the beginning

For most of August I did a relatively short circuit of Europe. All my plans revolved around being at the European Juggling Convention (EJC) in Bruneck during the 1st to 8th of August (the ticket of which I acquired through a trade, sending a letter and parcel full of mystery Irish/camping/hiking goodies to a friend in New Zealand).

My original plan had been to fly to Munich, Germany, travel to Bruneck, Italy; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; Berlin, Germany; Enschede, Netherlands, and fly back from Brussels, Belgium. What actually happened was I flew to Munich, travelled to Bruneck, then Austria briefly, Hungary, and flew back from Berlin. These entries will be separated roughly by place.

Before departing I had a lot of things to get. I knew I was going to be camping quite a bit so I took the time to do some research and invest in my first tent and back-pack, and a sleeping bag. I bought a cheap light-weight two person tent – and it was still a pretty tight squeeze for me (5’2″) and my backpack. I got a cheap, plain sleeping-bag, and a cotton liner in case it was cold (which could also be slept in on its own when it was hot). I got a bag similar to this one, and attached my tent and ground-mat to the outside.

I also had a water-proof bag with all my important stuff (plus spare socks and undies) at the bottom of the bag (for easy access and also if the bag got left on wet ground). I also brought a personalised first-aid kit; a regular first aid kit plus vitamins, sun-cream and after sun, painkillers (strong, weak, ones you can take with alcohol and won’t kill you), pads, tampons, condoms, bug-repellent, after-bite care and sweets. After that it was clothes (shorts, convention t-shirts, rain coat, flip-flops, old runners, a hat), a micro-fibre towel, shampoo and conditioner, a book, a travel diary, a plush ray (Gunther, my travel buddy) a vague travel plan, juggling equipment and my wallet.

On the 28th of July I travelled to Dublin, met up with a friend in the city before heading to the airport at 9pm. I had €300 in the bank, €55 on me, expected another €300 payment to come in while I travelled, one train ticket from Austria to Hungary booked, and one ticket to the EJC and a one-way flight to Munich. I “camped” overnight in the airport in preparation for waking up at 5am to fly out.