[little big house]

Thessaloniki was a whirlwind and a blur.

My flight to Thessaloniki was quite odd; I happened to sit next to an older couple and the man kept groping his wife. It was reeeeally uncomfortable, to say the least. At one point, I looked over and he had his hand up her pant leg. I didn’t want to look any further. Another time, he was trying to motorboat her. And then later in the flight, he was stroking her leg and breathing really quickly and loudly. I would have switched seats if it wasn’t a full flight. Have you ever experienced this kind of awkward PDA? Tell me about it!

Once I landed in Thessaloniki, I could have swore my boarding pass said we arrived at 605pm. I didn’t catch the time when the flight attendant announced it over the intercom. I made my way off the plane, out of the airport, and onto the bus platform. “Milate Anglika?” [do you speak English?], I asked. He said yes and sold me a ticket to City Center in Thessaloniki. I arrived just as the sun was setting. It was a beautiful red sunset over the sea. I could have watched it forever….but the bus turned and I turned to look at the streets passing by.

I rather enjoy taking the bus while I’m abroad; it’s been a great way for me to get a feel for the city. I must say, though, that Greece has been to toughest country to acclimate myself to. Mostly because I saw the signs and I didn’t understand them. The greek alphabet is so beyond me. I might as well try to read Chinese. It didn’t stop me from trying to guess what everything was, though, it just made it more difficult to tell if I was right.

The shops we passed by were really small at first. I would say they weren’t bigger than 120 sq ft. It was really bizarre. Just pocket-sized stores of very specific things like grills, or refrigerators, or sequined dresses, or hats, or something. We drove by a really busy outdoor mall street at some point and that was really neat, being able to see a glimpse of their night life.

I flipped through my Greek phrasebook. “Singnomi, ti  ora ine?” [Excuse me, what time is it?] 910pm? When did it get so late? I’m pretty sure we landed at 805, not 605pm. Foiled again by RyanAir! Ugh. Light was fading fast and the directions to the hostel said I would need to take another bus and then walk about 4 minutes. I wasn’t entirely sure which stop was City Center. I got off at what looked like a train station. I decided to take a taxi because it was starting to get dark and I didn’t know where else I could hail a cab. When I walked over to the taxi guys, they all sort of stared at me and spoke in Greek.

No one really knew how to get to the hostel. The driver who volunteered to take me ended up getting lost and we had to stop and ask 3 people for directions. No one else knew either. And as we drove down graffiti-covered houses and apartments, I was grateful I decided to take a taxi instead of risk the 4 minute walk in the dark. The fourth person we asked was younger and was much more helpful. He used his cell phone to call the number I had and we were able to make our way to the hostel, Little Big House.

Vicky, the host, was so nice and greeted me with open arms. She checked me in quickly and made me a coffee frappe while I set my things down. I walked over to the second floor terrace to meet my fellow travelers. Jacobo was the first to greet me, he was a short, 24 year old Italian who was visiting Greece for the Rainbow Family festival. He handed me a greek yogurt dessert that Vicky made and we started chatting. Not long after, I met two other Americans, Jonathon and Perry, who had been traveling for the last 5 weeks and 19 months, respectively. It was really neat hearing everyone’s stories. Perry has spent over $54,000 over the course of his trip so far. Yikes! He said to beware of the UK pound; he spent most of his money while he was in England. Noted.

After some time, I went up to my room to get settled in. I met Jane, Luke, and Sven in my room. Jane and I were top bunkers. I finished up my Brussels post and headed back out to meet the rest of the gang to go out exploring. For the most part, I ended up going out with 2 Americans [Jonathon and Perry] and 4 Scottish guys [Gregor, Scott, Robbie, and Jack]. They were all really funny and I had a great time. We drank Ouzo [which is awful, by the way] and talked about everything from favorite movies to Scottish politics to random travel stories. Jacobo, Alexander, and another Australian girl came and stopped by as well. We closed the bar down around 3am and headed back to the hostel.  

When we got back, I was still pretty hyped up from the caffeine in my frappe. Jacobo tried to say something about staying up with me…or if we wanted to sleep, or not sleep, that would be okay too. I didn’t realize it at first but I eventually caught on. I politely declined and caught up with the Scottish boys. Gregor, Robbie, Scott, Jack, and I stayed up and hung out on the terrace. The boys have a thing in Scotland called “Tops Off for Andy[?]” where they take off their shirts when the weather is above a certain temperate. Very similar to “Sun’s out, guns out,” in the US, but tops off is an all day/night thing. We drank wine out of a plastic bottle [imagine one of those big, plastic bottles for olive oil], ate flat bread with sweaty feta cheese, toasted to random Scottish heroes like Chris Hoye, Grainbee, James McFadden, etc. I also learned that some people in the EU call microwaves “poppity pings.” I told Gregor I’d make that a thing in the US by next year. So, spread the word! Poppity pings, all around!

At about 4am, we all decided to call it a night. I went up to my room and tip toed into bed. I soon realized, though, that my three roommates were all nude. To each their own. I put on my pajamas and tried to GChat with the boyfriend before I went to sleep. Lucky for me, he was just coming home from his business trip. We saw each other for the last time on the webcam and pretty soon I fell asleep….for 2 hours.

I woke up around 630am to a gap in the curtains that let the sunshine fall on my face. I started getting ready for the day and was out by 9am. I followed Vicky’s directions to the bus stop and made my way downhill. There wasn’t too much to see on the way down but once I hit the main road, I was greeted by  some beautiful architecture [I won’t pretend to know what they were called, one was an arch..]

IMG_2663 IMG_2664
Anyway, I took the 31 bus for about 20 minutes, like Vicky had said, but it didn’t seem like I was where I was supposed to be. She said it would be the last stop but she also said 20 minutes. I took things too literally. I got off at the train station that I was at last night. As soon as I got off, I knew this wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I hopped on a 45 bus and figured I would take this to the very, absolute last stop this time.

It wasn’t long before I realized that this bus was headed back towards the city. Did I tell you how directionally challenged I am?

I got off at the next stop and took the 45 back in the right direction.

Finally. I made it to the bus station! What should have been a 25 minute bus ride took me about an hour. I’m about to forfeit my luck on public transportation.

65E later, I bought my round trip ticket to Arta. I boarded the bus and was stopped by the bus driver. He was asking me about my trip; What will I do in Arta? How long will I stay? Where will I stay? In a hotel? Do I like to swim? He has a house in Preveza, would I like to swim in his lake? I didn’t really think anything of it.

I tried to write a bit of this post on the bus but then I got terribly car-sick. I sat with my head in my hands for pretty much the entire 5 hour bus ride. It was such a shame, too, because when I did look up, the mountainside views were amazing. Rolling hillsides covered in trees and white houses with red roofs. I wish I could have taken pictures.

We stopped at a place in Strata to get coffee. At some point I fell asleep from the accompanying migraine and nausea.

The bus driver was a bit older, perhaps in his 40s, a bit shorter, a bit fatter, and had a big smile. He told me he had been to Taiwan before. And that I should visit him in Preveza. And we could go swimming together. I tried to politely decline. He then proceeded to ask for my number. I tried to explain I didn’t have any minutes. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. I tried to give him my number without the country code. Then he tried calling me and said it wasn’t a real number. Shoot. I entered in the country code and it still didn’t work. Whew. I think it helped, too, that I had virtually no cell phone reception. Then, he asked me to call him! Very persistent! Luckily, my phone didn’t work either. Saved, again! What’s your strategy for politely declining people’s “invitations?” I clearly need help.

The rest of the bus ride flew by [meaning I fell asleep]. Before I knew it, I had arrived in Arta!


3 responses to “[little big house]

  1. Pingback: [luckily lucky from unluckiness] | simplysheu·

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