Greece

17. July 2015 | categories: Travel

It’s Monday night. About an hour ago I climbed up the Lycabettus Hill and now I enjoy the sunset over Athens. But let’s start from the beginning…

The alarm clock is ringing me out of bed. I’ll pack up my last few things and take the train to the airport. Quickly deposit the GA at the SBB counter and I’m already on the plane to Athens.

At 3:00 p. m. local time, I land at Athens Central Airport. I don’t have to pay for the subway to town. The man behind the counter said that it is free of charge today and tomorrow. I wonder if it is connected with the savings and aid package that was only recently put together for Greece? After about 40 minutes and a bus ride I reach Athens Quinta, a lovely hostel with antique furniture.

Eva, who runs the hostel together with a colleague, explains to me immediately after the information what I have to see. Tonight I shall go to the hill right in front of the house and watch the sunset. It’s really worth it! After a break, I’m going up in the air. I’ll be there in about 20 minutes. The reward is a wonderful view over the whole city.

On Tuesday morning an atypical Greek breakfast awaits us at the hostel (the Greeks only drink coffee for breakfast) with cakes from Eva’s mother. I then set off to explore Athens.

Akropolis – or what was left of it

The city tour passes through the shopping mile, many older churches and historical sites. There’s a snake forming in front of every ATM. The queues in front of the historical cultural sites like Acropolis are even bigger and too big for me. Since you can also see them from the outside, I’m satisfied with that.

The first traces of the Acropolis date back to the Neolithic period. Around 1500 BC, it served as the seat of the city’s kings and fortresses. It was given the temple function in democratic Greece.

At the end of the walk, I intend to visit the Parliament building. I was politely told that this was not possible today, but I could come tomorrow at any time.

Multikulti in the Hostel

At the hostel I met many nice people: a student from Hong Kong studying political science in Great Britain; a Hong Kong girl who wants to become a photography journalist; a Frenchman of literature at a university where he is sure he will not pass the entrance exam; a family from Holland; a Dane and other interesting people.

In the evening I go with the Frenchman to a nearby Greek fast food restaurant. We both ordered a pide, I ordered one with chicken spit (very recommendable!). The lady at the cash register wanted four euros, which I gave her immediately. When the Frenchman wanted to pay for his pide, she kindly said that I had already paid for both. A pide for two euros is almost a gift and so I gladly invited the Frenchman and refused his offer to give me the two euros.

Back at the hostel, the future photojournalist from Hong Kong taught me the Cantonese numbers up to 999, while at the ninth (“gau”) she explains the first ten times that I would curse because I would use a false tongue (In Cantonese there are nine different tongues).

Parliament’s visit attempt to the second

On Wednesday morning, I am going to Parliament again, and this time they are telling me to come back between two and three. When I explain to them that I would then already be sitting in the bus to Thessaloniki, they want to see my passport and send me to an office on the fourth floor in the office building. There a friendly gentleman explained to me that a visit to the Parliament building was only possible on public holidays. However, I am welcome to follow Parliament’s debate from the audience stage. However, the debate would not begin until 5 p. m.

Since I have already booked everything in Thessaloniki and would not understand the debate, I will cancel the parliamentary visit and travel by bus to Thessaloniki. (Parliament agreed to the demands of the Eurogroup)

I must have caught the boss seat in the bus, who is right behind the driver. The bus driver presses the remote control into my hand and tells me to select a movie from the USB stick. So we watch the journey through the Bond film Skyfalls with Greek subtitles.

In Thessaloniki I arrive in the evening and go straight to the booked Thess Hostel. There a two-person room awaits me alone with a bathroom and a small kitchen for just 17 euros a night.

Ocean Cooling

On Thursday I march nine kilometres along the sea with baking heat until I find a beach and cool down in the Mediterranean Sea. On the way I get a good impression of the city, talk to a Jamaican English and Italian and eat a Greek salad on the way home.

In the evening I book the ticket to Skopje and get a visit from two Zurichers in the hostel in the neighbouring room. (I guess I’ll have to share the bathroom for one night now.)

On Friday I go on time to the station to wait for the bus to Skopje. With a delay of almost two hours we leave for Macedonia. The driver apologizes, he should have had the bus verified for safety.

In Skopje I take a taxi for three euros, because the heat was too unbearable to walk three kilometres to the hostel. The driver was able to speak German and explained to me that he had learned it, as he would occasionally drive people from the German and Swiss embassies. At about 14:20 I reach the hostel and start writing the blog. (continued)