Monday, 18 June 2007

What I did on my holiday in the Greek Islands

This is a little opener for Rotten once he’s back in town and is carting his packed lunch off to Barrandov each morning. I’ve only ever been there once, and that was a 24-hour stopover without too much ‘stop’ as I wended my way from Skopje to Thessaloniki (anyone read Salonika: City of Ghosts by Mark Mazower?) and then all the way down to Igoumenitsa on the mainland coast. Couldn’t afford to stop, as I was down to my last 50DM after travelling through nine countries in the previous 12 days with £200 borrowed from my brother. That was just enough to pay for the ferry up to Trieste. It was another killer journey though, as it was overnight once more and the cheapest tickets only afforded you a space on the open-air deck. I kept ducking into the television room to get a bit of kip, but the little tosser of a steward kept nudging me awake and spitting into my lughole, “You no sleep here!”

In Trieste I got a bus to Llublijana, but I didn’t quite have enough money to pay for the next bus ticket all way the home to CZ, but I could go as far as Vienna. Only I fell asleep on the bus and only woke up in Munich. Then I had to walk out of Munich and find my way to an autobahn where I attempted to hitchhike from a public toilet. Probably not the best gambit. Without turning a few tricks it consequently took me a full day to travel about 50km down the road. Germans are not the most generous of drivers, but one middle-aged woman did have the guts to pick me up as it was getting dark and put me up for the night. Her husband dropped me off at the most convenient hitchhiking post the next morning and I was across Rozvadov before lunch and in Plzen by early afternoon. Back in the money, I poured an entire vat of artery-hardening goulash down my neck in the station restaurant, smoked half a packet of Start bezfiltr and caught the train down to Železná Ruda where my trusty chauffeur, tvc, was waiting to accompany me on a fun-filled English-language camp for two weeks…(remember slashing that cowpoke’s tyres on his four-wheel-drive?; those were the days).

Walking across the border from Macedonia to Greece was actually one the hardest I’ve ever encountered. On a par with walking across the Bridge of Friendship from Georgiu, Romania, into Bulgaria. Usually, as a Kiwi, you can be assured almost every time of being waved through (apart from when Ukrainian conscripts want to photocopy your passport because they’ve never seen one from that part of the world before). This time though, the Greek border guards wanted to know why I had a middle name, my father had a middle name, and my mother had audacity to have two middle names. Got into a bit of a theological argument about that one, trying to explain the differences between Christianity and Greek Orthodox. It may have been my reference to the absence of smoke and mirrors in Protestanism that waylaid me longer than necessary. Pity I didn’t have Richard Dawkins with me. Still, I’m up for another trip to Greece if anyone’s keen next year.

1 comment:

tvc said...

I go to Athens about every 6 weeks, so feel free to come along next year. Still remember having to lend you clothes after your reeky arrival in Spicak those many years ago......