Travel to Greece

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July 22nd 2010
Published: August 23rd 2010
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Trip to Greece

Good bye BariGood bye BariGood bye Bari

One off a few shots from the ferry.
We arrived at Anne and Ivan’s building once again. They didn’t even check to see who had buzzed, they must have been expecting us. Not necessarily…the girls were asleep and they didn’t want the phone to wake them. They graciously let us stay with them for the evening. We stayed around the house most of the next day to visit, play with the girls and use the internet. We took a quick bike ride out to the English Gardens for ein Spezi und ein Radler. We got a little lost getting there, but it didn’t really matter; it was just a trip to say that we left the house that day. There was a lot more to see in the gardens so for a relaxing day we suggest to borrow (or hire) some bikes and putz around. After dinner we went to the bahnhof to catch our night train. Dan, of course, had accidentally kept the bike lock key and had to run back to the house to return it.

We found our train and seats easily enough. We shared a seat compartment with a couple of Irish folk, Julie and David. Apparently the ticket agent had booked them three
Ashley's cruisin' chairAshley's cruisin' chairAshley's cruisin' chair

This one was taken not too far from where we slept.
seats so we thought it’d be a roomy ride. As it turns out, the night train that we needed to buy tickets for was part of the normal late night trains though Italy. We were constantly woken up by people getting in and out of our seat compartment, a couple of whom bought tickets while onboard.

Notes for seat compartments on night trains:
Get to knows those in your compartment. It’s easier to rest if you’re more familiar with your seat mates.
If you’re comfortably asleep, stay that way; even if the door opens try not to acknowledge it. If it’s the ticket master, they will wake you up; if it’s a seat searcher, they may just keep going once they see you’re out cold.
If there are extra seats, use them to avoid seat searchers coming in. Of course be courteous to those who do come in respectfully.
Leave a little view from the hall-side of the train. It’s better to have a little light shine in than to have everyone looking for a seat open the door.

We arrived in Venice tired, but we were only there long enough to buy some pop, buns, and cheese. We hopped a train to Bari and got to see a lot of beautiful Italian beaches, and yearned to be on one of them. It was also very interesting to see the different types of areas the train travels through; country orchards, vineyards, poor districts, past villas, through industrial areas.

We reached Bari around 1600hrs. We were pretty sure the ferry never ran out of deck passage tickets and wouldn’t leave for the next four hours. We were able to find the information desk and figure out how to get to the harbour. We didn’t buy the ticket first though and when we got to the bus the driver hurried us on board and didn’t make us pay. Of course when we got off he gave us some pointers (in Italian and thus incomprehensible) and asked for €1.50 each. We were shammed out of a total €1.40; could have been worse, but lesson learned (lesson recap; pay for public transit prior to the trip if possible).

We boarded the ferry very early and wandered around. It was a small ferry so that didn’t take too long. Leaving our big bags in the garage, we tried to get all the important items; and for the most part succeeded. We enjoyed a bottle of wine on the Helipad (yay duty free for the wine and the Swiss-army-knife; boo for not having glasses, we classily drank from the bottle). Around 2200 hrs we hit the hay, Dan had forgotten his silk sleeping sheet in his bag. We both ended up being awake around 0200 hrs and Dan wimped out, being colder than Ashley (for once) he wanted to head into the ferry. Most spots had been taken by this point, but we squooze a couple chairs together each, and got another couple hours sleep. Unfortunately around 0600 hrs the lounge staff came to wake us up and make us move. We found a couple empty airplane seats (one step up from deck passes) and zonked for another little while.

Notes for Overnight Ferry sleeping (for the poor at heart, or cheap-os like us):
Make sure that you have the proper sleeping supplies for your planned sleeping method (ie.: sleeping pad and/or bag for almost any area)
Once you board the ferry do a quick survey of possible sleeping areas (in order of Dan’s newly developed personal preference)
Airplane seats are typically available for use if they aren’t all sold. The luckies can lay across a few seats.
The end of a hallway can be good. Make sure there’s no door at the end, no matter how unused it looks.
Out on deck can be good with the proper attire. Typically no one will wake you up.
Lounges can be good and dry, but are sometimes Air Conditioned beyond comfort for the sleeping, and you’ll be awoken at un-godly hours
Stake your claim quickly by laying out your sleeping supplies. Please do not claim more than you need (1 airplane seat is good, no need to lay your things over 5 if your not there; if they aren’t claimed by the time you lie down then have at ‘er)

The Patras train station was only a short walk from the port, but we learned another important lesson; it doesn’t hurt to ask if the signs don’t make sense. We didn’t go far in the wrong direction, but any extra distance in a humid 35° is too far. The Patras train to Athens was unfortunately down due to work on the tracks. Fortunately, there was a replacement bus provided. Since there were so many people in the same boat as us it was easy to follow the crowd. We took the bus and then transferred to the train in the town of Kiato. The ride to Athens was uneventful.

The Grecian train system is a stark contrast to the German one we’d gotten used too. The train times were not posted anywhere; the displays that would usually show upcoming departures had masking tape with the words ‘Listen for Announcements’ scrawled on them. We ended up just having to go to the ticket counter to get any information, so we reserved tickets to Thessaloniki. Athens was just a stop so we got some food at the supermarket, for dinner and the train. Having planned only to go to Thessaloniki, Ashley called Emmy to let her know when we would be there. That’s when we learned that Drama was actually closer to Kavala, our end destination. We had to go back to the ticket office to try and exchange our tickets. Fortunately Drama was just further along the same line (I think there may only be one track in the country) so it wasn’t an issue. We would leave Athens at 2000hrs and get to Drama in ‘about 8 hours’, as per the ticket agent; we couldn’t get a more exact time from anyone. The train ride was restless since we had a hard time hearing the names of towns and we once again had seats instead of couchettes. We arrived in Drama at 0530hrs (give or take) to Emmy and Litsa waiting for us, contrary to our express instructions not to. After quick hellos and a little trouble catching a taxi to the bus depot, we were on the last legs of this particular journey.

Total travel time: 54 hours. Hello relaxing Greece!!!!


23rd August 2010

54 hours
Whoa! What a journey. I like your notes on travel tips about what to remember for 'next time'. Hope you found nice, soft pillows in Greece and beyond. Love from Ma
24th August 2010

I like the drinking straight from the bottle guys... enjoy Greece, looking forward to pictures of it!

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