All that drama didn't deterioate our enthusiasm levels. We were like kids entering disney world. After the 2 days of train journey, the cabin in ferry was like heaven. We went out to the deck area took snaps(this is very important for us). I am generally not acrophobic but if it is water underneath then I get really scared.
We gorged on our bread, salaamis and cheese stuff and crashed to sleep. I don't know about Venky and Swadheen but all the time while I was trying to sleep I was thinking on what would I do if something like titanic happens to the ferry. The next day morning we got up early in the morning to find some good view. It was a great feeling standing at the edge of the ship. When you look at the mountains around, you feel the ferry is hardly moving, but when you look down at the white foam formed in water as the ferry cruises in, you realise how fast the ferry is running. In the below you can see Swadheen, Me and Venky (L->R). Check out the path of the ferry in the other pic.
* Patras *
At around 10am we reached Patras.We didnt know where to get out of the port, so we were randomly walking..only to be picked by the police standing at some place. And then it starts all over again. One of them calls out "so you Pakistani or Bangladeshi??".. Then we say "No! we are Indians". Then the normal tradition of showing passport. They ask some basic questions, Why have you come etc. It's so boring like a recorded audio we say the same blah blah story everywhere. We somehow managed to get into the middle of the Patras city. It's a cramped city with narrow roads, too many shops, open restaurants etc. There were so many restaurants that you get nice smell of kebaps etc all along. You will see the local Greeks enjoying the food in these restaurants and then you see some dark people(don't mean to offend anyone) everywhere probably illegal immigrants selling pirated DVDs, CDs. Before starting...
our trip I had dropped many requests on couchsurfing.com to see if someone could host us. So we went to a net center to see if anyone had responded. Out of those numerous requests I sent one kind soul from Athens cared to reply saying he can. He gave his phone number but we couldnt call him. We had a mobile on roaming but couldnt reach him. So we dropped a message to his mobile to reply back with his address to our mobile and we set to leave to Athens as there is nothing much to see in
*Patras to Athens*
Now the trains in Greece are in so sorry state that it so feels even they are bankrupt. Atleast the train from Patras was worse than even the oldest passenger trains in India. This train journey from Patras to Athens is not a continous one. It involves a bus journey in between. From Patras we reached a place(dont remember what it is), from where everyone in the train had to take the bus to another place called Kiato.
Greece has many islands and this Kiato is at another piece of island. I was lucky to see the narrow bridge connecting the 2 islands. The trench was really deep. Somewhere below u can see a thin line of water and sea on either sides. During this journey we get this much awaiting good news from the couchsurfing guy that he cannot accomodate us but can join us for a drink. Now who cares..if it was a girl may be we would have still considered. So we were very disappointed which was not something new for us. You see, the summary of our whole experiences could anyday bear a testimony to Murphy's law.
The bus trip from the unknown station to Kiato was amazing. One should not the miss the view outside during the bus trip. You get to see nice beaches, the villages, the houses,people etc.From Kiato again there was a train to Athens.
Athens city is really huge with all small houses arranged like matchboxes. You can check out the panaromic view below.
We checkedin into the International Youth hostel at Omonia square. Now here comes the problem with me. All the information about Greece I got from various sources in internet suggested me to avoid this place Omonia for the frequent thefts and fights with junkies. So I wasnt comfortable at all. But we had no option as the youth hostel was the only one available with rooms and at very affordable price of 8Euros. The hostel was ok. We took 4 people sharing dorms. The bed/toilet quality was just ok. For some reason there was no hot water so we had to manage with cold water. There were a lot of tourists from different parts of the world. The hostels are good places to make friends as everyone will be new to the place. Thats where I met a french middle-aged couple, who even invited me to their house in Paris.
Two suggestions to be noted here.
1) Never roam around alone, always be in groups and keep important stuff like cash etc. in a body pouch
2) Hostels are generally cheaper options to stay, do check the reviews online, also you get to meet interesting people
The first thing we liked about Athens was the price of Kebap, which was just 2Euros. In Amsterdam I got a Kebap for 9 Euros so for me the 2Euro was like bumper lottery. We had 2 Kebaps each. While we were strolling along the road next to the hostel we met this person, a Bangladeshi, by named Shabeer, who spoke really well in english. He infact warned me to be wary of belongings as the road was notorious for crimes and thefts. He told me the dos and donts in Greece. The places to visit and also introduced me to another friend of his who owns a small shop. So he became a good friend of us.
The next day morning we went by walk to Acropolis. This we had to go through the Omonia square, which was most notorious as per all the sources of my information on internet. And then our man, Swadheen starts pulling my leg on me being scared of the area. It resulted in a minor tiff and I walked off the place saying I will go back. He pulled me back shouted at me, scolding me that I could not do this. This whole drama attracted the Police there who inquired if there was some problem..somehow we convinced there wasnt any problem and then we continued to Acropolis. For sometime it was very awkward for us. But then these things happen right. So we forgot that and started enjoying the trip.
The Acropolis is one masterpiece. It was so very crowded that it was very difficult to take a pic also. It is on top of the hill which gives a full view of the whole of the city of Athens. And the amazing part is it was built during 429- 438 BC and has been standing for over centuries. It's good that now they are renovating it. According to the Athens guide
"What would a visit to Athens be without going to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon? And still people ask me why the Parthenon is so important. Its because it was the most perfect building built by the world's most advanced civilization and even though we have been studying it for centuries we are still not sure how they did it"
Readers, if you dont have a place to stay and you are a typical backpacker you should never shop too much. But we were amateurs you see, and were spellbound by the stone carvings and also the prices were also at much discounted price( or may be we were fooled). We blew out so much of money by shopping. Bought many souvenirs and stone carvings. We forgot that our trip was for a week and we dont even have place to stay also. So the stuff we bought was infact a burden, but before we realised that we were done with the shopping and were back to our hostel.
*The thief of Athens( like Baghdad) *
We wanted to go this place Kalamata as we read a lot about the beaches in the South of Greece. We found somewhere in the net that there is a train from Athena to Kalamata. But we wanted to hire a car, as it would be difficult for us to travel by trains with the huge luggage.We went to our bangladeshi friend, asking him if he could help. We spotted him somewhere on the road. We always find him roaming along that road. So out of curiosity we asked him what he does. Then with a few long filmy dialogues, he says boss I sell stolen stuff. He has some contacts with the thieves who would give him the stolen stuff like cameras, ipods, mobiles etc. I was shocked that all the time we have been befriending a thief :O. We wanted to move out of the place but he insisted us to go with him to his friend's place who can rent his car.