Saturday, June 25, 2011

Greece: it's shit

No, really.

You may have visions of it being amazing, of the amazing history, all the monuments, sculpture and ruins. That's all there and a lot of it is stunning (Delphi is my particular favourite) but that doesn't detract from the bigger problem: the people.

When in Greece you unfortunately, now and again, have to interact with them. And this is where it falls down. I've been to so hard places to travel. I'm now in Africa FGS. I've been to India. These were and are challenging but still way more fun than Greece.

There are no hostels in Greece except in Athens so I hardly ever met anyone to talk to. And eventually you do get ruin fatigue. Someone told me so before I got there and I was aghast.

"No, really" she said. "After awhile it's all just more lumps of marble"

I can fully understand their current problems because the Greeks basically act like they don't want you or anyone else, including their countrymen in their country. They're truculent, contemptuous, ambivalent to any problem, sullen and very, very rude.

I had more conversations with random Turks in 3 days than I did in Greece in 3 weeks.

"why do all the buildings have bits of wire coming out of them?" I asked.

"that's so they can say construction isn't finished. You only start paying taxes when the building is finished" someone replied. And that shows all that is currently wrong with the country.

For this story you might require a map. Look up 'Peloponesse'. I think that's how it's spelt. It's the big fat bit in the southwest. Got it? Ok...

We were in Sparta, home of the 300 Spartaaaaaaaans! There's nothing there btw. Like Nottingham they make nothing if their own legend. I wanted to get to Olympia. Having visited the only thing in the area worth seeing (Mystras, a hillside ruin complex which was pretty impressive) I didn't get to the bus station until 3pm but that's OK. It's not far.

"Ticket to Olympia please"


"No? Why not?"

"you have to go to Tripoli"

This was fine. I was half expecting it. Tripoli is a major transport hub.

"OK. Let's go to Tripoli"

I arrived in tripoli to a...petrol station.

"Bus to Olympia please".

"No. You need to go to Corinth"

"What? That's in the wrong direction. Is there a bus to Olympia from Corinth?"

She shrugs her shoulders. This was a theme that I would come to appreciate. The Greeks just put you inns bus in the direction they think is correct and hope fir the best. I was calm before Greece. But Greece put me on a whole other level of chill.

The bid didn't leave for another 2 hours so I start looking in the Lonely Planet for alternatives. Then I noticed a second bus station. Maybe they just dong want to tell me about buses from the other station and thus keep the money for themselves. So I walks the 2km with my backpack. Same story. Id already been there though on the way through. Twice. So, bus to Corinth it is. There's nothing there. It's the literal middle of nowhere. It's now 6pm.

"Bus to Olympia please"

"No. You need to go to Patra".

"WTF? And when does that leave?"

"8pm? It takes 4 hours"

I'm aghast. But it's the closest I've been offered so far. Cue flicking in the LP for a few minutes.

In the meantime a New Zealand woman is at the counter screaming:

"this fucking system doesn't fucking work! How the f....and so on"

Thats nit getting you anywhere love i think and then I return.

"OK ticket to...Patra please"

"yes. Bus is at 7pm"

"you just said 8!"

"different bus"

Grr. The bus pulls in at 11. This is it. Gotta be. I'm very tired. It's been a long day.

"bus to...umm....O....Olympia. Please"

"next bus 0630"

Grr. So now I'm faced with a choice. It must be said at this point that when I'm tired I don't think that well. There is an optimum time of 3 hours after waking (if I've had a shower) and for another four hours). Apart from that I'm like a troll.

Do I wander looking for a hotel? Patra isn't in the Lonely Planet. It's very dark outside. I could wander for hours. There won't be a hostel so it'll be expensive. And I've got to be back here in 7 hours for the bus. I didn't, quite clearly. I could've caught a later one I later realised. The cost won't be worth it.

Fuck it. I'll sleep in the bus station. I was able to sit inside for 2 hours watching TV on my laptop until they threw me out. I slept on the benches out the back. In the dark. There was no-one, nobody, around. To protect us. What if the Greeks wanted sum bum candy? Where the frick were the security guards, mummy?

Anyway, I eventually got the bus without any molestation. Olympia was a bit shit. But the hotel did forget to charge me a second night. Result.

Jamie Starbuck


Anonymous said...

Funny but I loved Greece!

Jamie Starbuck said...

Who are you? Do I know you? Leave your bloody name! lol

Anonymous said...

Who am I? mmmm I´m a south american Toblerone fan... guess!!!

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