Friday, August 27, 2010

The trip to Greece - Part I

I got this wonderful opportunity to tour all over Europe during my exchange program with the college, CERAM (Now Skema) Business School, at Nice France. In a span of 3 months I had been to around 13 countries totally and of all the trips one thing which is most memorable is the trip to Greece. I believe even Swadheen and Venky would agree to this. 
It was a 7 day trip and during those 7 days we went through so many hard ships which makes the trip a lifelong memorable one.  The encounters with the notorious Italian police, the fake police in Thessaloniki, the hostile Greek police, acquaintance with the thief and the transporter  like car chase are some of the highlights of this trip. So here we go…

To many people Greece is some kind of an exotic place, owing to the great history it has. The first thing that used to come to my mind when someone says Greece was the Trojan war. And in the recent past it was Sparta from the movie 300. Lets not talk about the Euro crisis. So was hoping to see remnants of those wars, architecture etc. And I was also eager to see the Greek beauties (from the famous Helen of Trojan war). In fact I dint know any other female character apart from her. So with that little knowledge about Greece was a lot excited about going to Greece.

Now our base location was Nice, France. From there...
the best[read cheap] way to Greece was to take trains and reach this place called Ancona, Italy from where you  get this ferry which takes you all the way to Patras, Greece. We preferred trains for 2 reasons,
1) Because we had purchased Eurail pass with which all seat reservation is free on all regional trains
2) We preferred to sleep in trains than to book hotels cos it saves us the journey time as well as the money.
Though Swadheen and myself had first class Eurail we used travel in 2nd class compartments cos Venky had second class Eurail(<26yrs).

Now before I give out this impression that these guys are some cheapos, let me put down our priorities straight. We were all interested in minimizing our expenditure in logistics but spend actually on things like souvenirs, worthy places. 

Having said that I believe this stinginess is strict no-no when you are traveling with your girl friend/wife :)

So with great difficulty we reached this place Ancona at around 3am. If am not wrong our itinerary was Nice->Ventimiglia, Ventimiglia->Milan, Milan->Ancona.

The ferry from Ancona was at 1pm and we didn’t know what to do till then, moreover we were feeling sleepy then. So we decided, like as usual, to take some train to near by place and sleep in that. We found a train to a place San Benedito which was 1hr away from Ancona, got into the train, sat at 3 different places and slept off..At around 9am we woke up as the train was crowded. By then the train made some n trips up and down. So we realized that we slept enough. There was only one toilet so one by one went in freshened up and got off the train at 10am. We then decided to walk all the way from station to the ferry counter.

My suggestion to all my readers, avoid taxis and do walk along the streets that's when you really get to know about the culture of a place.

On the way to the ferry counter we bought some croissants, bread, mayonnaise, ketchup at a local grocery. We finally reached the place where the tickets were issued. Now this was the best part of the trip. Since we had Eurail passes and also the ISIC card, we were given the cabin on the ferry for free. We just had to pay 7Euroes/head as fuel surcharge. We were very happy and felt like we were the blessed ones. Also to be noted that you get a free bus from there to the port.

It was a first time experience for all three of us. We were traveling by the Superfast ferries. It was much bigger than what we expected. It looked more like a cruise and we were very excited to get into the ferry.
Now there comes the first hurdle.

*Encounter with the Italian Polizia*

When we were about to board the ferry, the police stopped us and asked us to show our passports. I really doubt if these guys have any knowledge of the rules. After looking at our visas they tell us that we cannot go to Greece with the visa we have and infact we were not supposed to be in Italy also. Me and Venky had Schengen D type visa, which needs a resident permit stamp(OFFI) to travel outside France. And both of us had the stamp. But the police in Italy are so pain in the ass that they don’t listen. I'd warn the readers to be very cautious with them. According to me Italian police is the worst in the world next to Greek police. All they know is bullying people. They don’t trust anyone. We were taken to the police station nearby the port to verify our passports validity. Thankfully there was one person, who knew the visa rules and he was a big man. He confirmed that we can travel with the visa. Swadheen had the Schengen C type, which is a tourist visa; though it should not be a problem even he had to explain himself.

To be continued...

Photo Credit: 300 , Troy


  1. can't wait for the next part.
    hey its ok to minimize unnecessary expenditure even with families around.

    the sea was so blue. what a view it must have been from the ferry!

  2. wow!

    helen of troy and other things! great :D

  3. @WD ... sure will post it asap..
    the view...u was breathtaking

    yo..We've also been to the place where Helen & Paris fell in love with each other...will be posting about that also..
    Thanks for visitin my blog

  4. Hilarious!! I wasn't able to control my laughter on how you were describing your travel experience...hoping on to next

  5. Palak,
    thanks so much..I am glad you liked it.

  6. Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeece. It's part of my bucket list!

    You just made the urge even more stronger now :)

  7. hey S:)
    many shared the same feeling till they read the story it..only then u will know..:)

  8. oh is that Swadheen Shukla from IIM Kolkata? He sure asked for my Europe itinerary.. if yes, it sure is a small world!

    good one on the Eurail pass. i always promote that on my blogs too

  9. @Sneo
    you are right it is the same swad..and yes the world is so small..

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