A Travellerspoint blog

December 2017

Day 16: Agios Kirykos

rain 15 °C
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Day 16: I did absolutely nothing today and it was awesome. It was raining all day and the two indoor hot springs were closed. We tried to call the owners to get them to open up, but they wouldn't. I just stayed in my room all day watching the rain come down and the strong winds blow past my window. It was lovely. I had another gyro for dinner but it was nowhere near as good as the one I had last night.

Posted by baixing 11:35 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Day 15: Ikaria

sunny 12 °C
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Day 15: I ate leftovers for breakfast and then packed up and went over to the ticket office to buy my ferry ticket. Of course it was also closed. I waited around until the lady decided to saunter into work. Of course everyone else waiting there barged in front of me, even though I was waiting there the longest. That was fine, I had a lot of hours to wait before the ferry anyway. I walked down to the other beach to the north of town to see what was left of the summertime only bar. All the tiki umbrellas were rusting away, abandoned.
I slowly walked back to the dock and sat there, munching on the leftover sausage and yogurt.

Finally the boat came and 30 minutes later, I was in Ikaria.
I found my hotel after making a complete loop of the town, getting lost because I decided it was easy and didn't need a map. I ended up giving up and calling the owner, who found me at the foot of a giant cathedral. I went back out to get another gyro for dinner, with a big sack of fresh olives and lemonade. Oh also, the view from my balcony is perfect, again.

Posted by baixing 10:44 Archived in Greece Tagged ikaria Comments (1)

Day 14: Fourni

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Day 14: I slept for about 11 hours, even though I went to bed at 7, I woke up at 6 a.m. Amazing. It's very peaceful here. I went down to the dock at 10 a.m. hoping to get a ferry to the other island across the bay. There was supposed to be a great restaurant there, but of course it was closed at this time of year. I found the ferry man and he said he wouldn't be leaving until 2 p.m. Really. So, I started to plan a delicious lunch in my head. I had a little kitchen and so I went shopping. Once I got back, the power went out on the whole island. I couldn't make any of my lunch so I just went back to sleep. I know, I guess I was exhausted. I woke up in time to catch the ferry.
It took about 10 minutes to get across the bay, and then I walked up to the top of the hill to have a little lunch of yogurt and oranges. An old creepy man drove by in a beat up truck, seemingly amazed that I might be having a picnic in the middle of nowhere. I tried not to be friendly this time, and pretended not to understand what he was saying. He drove off, yelling "You're beautiful" out the window before saying goodbye. Compliments are nice and everything but nobody likes them from random leering strangers. In Greece it's unavoidable, I guess. When I got back it was time for dinner and the power was back on. I had my lunch for dinner. Yumyumyum. Potatoes sausages and fresh veggies. Again, but it's always delicious.

Posted by baixing 12:08 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 13: Fourni

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At around 10, I started walking to the port. I left the hotel without a word. Before I left, I had already written a bad review of the hotel. I guess this guy read it and got very angry. Suddenly he pulled up beside me in a red truck and started swearing in Greek. I heard him say "puta" I know this is not a good word in a lot of European languages... I just kept walking and ignored him. He started going "POOF POOF" and firing an imaginary hand gun at me. I called 9-11. He drove off.

The police told me to go stay in one place and they would come where I was, so I went to the port, paranoid that crazy guy would come back. The police got to the port a few minutes after I got there, and they drove me back to the station. I told them I wanted to make a report but they told me there would be a fee for that. Are you kidding me? There is a crazy guy harassing people running a hotel in your town and you want me to pay to make a report? Give me a break. I left and went back to waiting for the ferry, in a huff.

I slept a bit on the way there, and when we got to Fourni it was already 3 a.m. I slept until 10 and made myself a nice breakfast on the balcony by the sea.

The woman who owned the hotel said she would come by and see me before 11 and she never did, or I slept through it. I called her and told her I was going out. I saw her on the way to the road and then I went on my way to Kampi beach.
It was nice and actually closer than I expected, so I kept going down the road to another beach, Petrokopio.
It was an ancient quarry and the beach is all white pebbles. That was really cool and it made my day. The sun was beaming down in beautiful rays, and the wind was gentle so I stretched out on the pebbles for a while as I ate my sandwich for lunch. The wind soon turned chilly and the clouds got darker. I decided maybe it wasn't a good idea to watch the sunset today. On my way back to town, I saw some majestic goats and sheep, watching me from their fields.
I got back at 4 p.m. only to find that all the stores were closed. No tea tonight for me! But, I happened to have a couple oranges and a packet of sugar, so I made some hot orangeade. Fine.

Posted by baixing 08:04 Archived in Greece Tagged fournoi kampi petrokopio Comments (2)

Day 12: Fourni

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Day 12: I finally clued in that I had to leave on Tuesday night, not Wednesday night for the ferry. It always screws me up when whatever method of transportation is leaving at midnight. I asked for a late checkout and then the guy that owns the hotel invited me to Christmas dinner. It was silent and very awkward. There was some really delicious roast goat and potatoes. I could only communicate through Google Translate. The man who owns the hotel told me the woman eating with us was his friend and his wife and children were in Denmark. After dinner, he asked me to work at the hotel in exchange for room and board. At first I agreed, but I wanted to see my room first. He showed me a bed in a hallway and then when I declined, he invited me to sleep in his bed instead. So awful and humiliating right. He seemed to have no remorseful feelings about it at all. I told him I felt uncomfortable with what he said (through the translate app) and he said sorry. But then there was that problem of the ferry. I couldn't leave this island until midnight, remember and it was cold outside and nothing was open. I wasn't about to go out and look for another place to spend 10 hours waiting for the ferry. Ugh. So I sat there with the creepy old man attempting to ignore him, while I was talking to my mom on the phone, not caring if he could understand what I was talking about. I'm sure he did and I hope he felt shameful about it for once in his life. I don't understand how you could speak to someone like that especially since your own daughter was probably doing the same thing, staying alone at hotels around Denmark. Just the fact of having a daughter shouldn't be a reason to treat someone like a human being, but for whatever reason that makes the whole situation so much worse.

Posted by baixing 09:50 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 11: Vathy

sunny 10 °C
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Day 11: I called the ferry company in the morning and there was no boat to the Fourni Islands until Tuesday. I was stuck for another few days in Samos. Definitely not a bad place to be stuck, so I thought I'd go to the other side of the island to see what's there. George dropped me off in Vathy where I assumed there was a bus to Pythagorio. He didn't wait for me to find out that the bus station was locked, and there were no buses today or tomorrow. OK, so I guess I need to find a hotel. The coffee shop next door let me use the wifi and I found one for 25 euros. Fine. I walked over there and a little old man explained the complicated key system to me in broken English. I had a panini maker, fridge and kettle, so I planned my Christmas day meals. Omelet for breakfast and a bacon turkey havarti panini for dinner, followed by more Samos wine and of course baklava. I walked around picking up all the stuff at various shops because I knew nothing would be open for a few days and I might starve. I had already been around the town quite a bit and there was nothing else to do but watch movies and snooze in my little room.

Posted by baixing 20:00 Archived in Greece Comments (8)

Day 10: Kokkari

storm 10 °C
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Day 10: I woke up to the rain pouring down and the sea violently crashing into the beach (which is about 5 metres away from me). I waited for the rain to stop, but the wind kept blowing. I figured that my hike to Vourliotes village would be a good thing to do today, because the mountain and forest would protect me from the wind. I put a bunch of warm clothes in my bag and went out in my base layer and coat.
My clothes system worked well and the trail was completely empty. I went up through the valley to Vourliotes, walking on a trail mostly made of broken rocks and a lot more challenging than I had assumed.

I found myself in the village by 9:30 a.m., way earlier than I had assumed. From the village, I could see how far I had come in two hours and it was super satisfying. I looked around for anything open, but there was nothing except for a small mini mart. I decided to just buy some wine .

(The exact wine from the winery that I wanted to go to yesterday, friends) and amble on down via the car road. I did that and soon had to pee. While I peed, I put my mittens down. When I got back up, I left them there. Ten minutes later I was cursing myself for forgetting them. I went all the way back up to the top and down and back up again, completely unaware that I had passed them three times before I actually saw them on the fourth try. Ohhhh I was real mad at myself about that. Mittens are important. I wasn't going to leave them behind, but if they are so important why did I forget them on a log!? Ugh. It was an easy saunter back down to Kokkari.

When I got back I made some stamppot and sausages with some strange potato that may have given me cyanide poisoning, I'm not quite sure about that still.

Posted by baixing 09:51 Archived in Greece Tagged samos kokkari Comments (0)

Day 9: Kokkari

rain 10 °C
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Day 8: I keep waiting for Greece to grow on me and I keep waiting to appreciate it but I really can't. People are miserable in general and most of the things I want to see are closed for the winter. Hmm.
Last night there was news that my ferry had been cancelled. So, I'd have to wait until Sunday to go to the Fourni Islands, which messed up my plans for my annual Christmas Skype phone call.
I went to town for the day to see the museums and church, but two out of three were closed.
There were a lot of students at the church that day, probably for a special Christmas mass, I don't know. So that was nice. At least something was busy on the island this week.
The museum that was open was great, full of offerings they found to the Greek god Hera. But it's a shame, how can I ever know what the other ones were like? I was really looking forward to the wine museum for tastings and picking up some local libations. Instead, I stocked up on food for tomorrow's hike at the market and then went home with a cheap bottle of wine and a takeout gyro...
I slept the rest of the day in my room to the sound of the ocean splashing against the pebble beach.

Posted by baixing 07:04 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Day 8: Kokkari

overcast 12 °C
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large_90_IMG_0065.jpgI managed to find the bus in the morning, it passed right by the hotel at about 7:30. I waited outside starting at 7 just in case, because I knew that it was the only one. In fact, it was pretty much a school bus. I saw a young girl walk out onto the side of the road with a backpack a few metres down the road, so I walked over and asked if she was waiting for the bus, and she said she was. Relieved, I waited with her and her friends, and then I got on the packed bus. It took me down to the port and I loaded up on breakfast and snacks for the ferry at a grocery store. Yogurt, cheese, fresh bread and oranges. I also got some cheap wine and mixed it with juice for a hobo mimosa. I found a spot beside a window in the sun and dozed all the way to Samos.
When I got there, I hopped the next bus to Kokkari, which was at 2 p.m. and had a little bit of a difficulty finding my hotel, because I forgot to write down the phone number. Oops. But I found some random free wifi and found the number to call the owner, who brought me to her place and gave me some fresh coffee, cookies and baklava. Priceless.
Her husband came home and he spoke better English, we talked about the weather tomorrow (it's going to rain a lot) and the weekend, and speculated on whether the ferry would leave for the Fourni Islands or not on Saturday.

I went walking around to find the trailhead and listen to the waves on the pebble beach. There were probably hundreds of cats roaming around free and a lot of them were very friendly. I sat down for a few seconds on the beach and in a matter of seconds a friendly white and orange one with a bitten off ear was climbing all over me and asking me to pet her. She followed me down the beach for a while.

Posted by baixing 07:51 Archived in Greece Tagged samos kokkari Comments (0)

Day 7: Kambos

rain 10 °C
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Day 7: I was just following the Lonely Planet "island hopping" itinerary for a while, so it said to "hike under the shade of the mountains in the orange groves" in central Chios. I wasn't sure exactly where to go but I knew there was an orange farming museum just outside of town.

I took the bus back early in the morning and I was freezing. I decided I needed my North Face jacket. If it was this cold here, I knew it would get colder if I went anywhere north of here. And I knew I would be going north eventually. It was even drizzling a little bit as I made my way back to Theodore and my bag. I was just about dying. I put on another pair of pants, stashed a pair of long johns and put on my nice warm jacket. Now, I believed I was ready for the rest of the month.
I bought my ticket for the ferry which was leaving the next morning. There was a city bus going out to the citrus museum in a few minutes so I took that one.

The museum was really nice, but probably better in summer. Everything here is probably better in summer. There was a big orange business around here up until 1960, when shipping technology improved and people got their oranges from further away where they were cheaper I suppose. There was a video about how the government needs to invest more money into the orange business or it will completely die. Kind of depressing but I don't know how to make a museum. I really liked the style of the well, it was powered by animals and the water got scooped from under the ground and poured into canals that fed the trees.

There were very attractive restored mansions and other crumbling ones all along my route to my hotel for the night, Topakas House.
It was an old farm house, and the woman who ran it was too busy even to provide me with water.
I was not happy about that. I tried to drink boiled tap water but it tasted like salt. You can't have salty tap water and not supply people with fresh water at a hotel. She's not getting a very good review, that's for sure. She even lied about how far the supermarket was. She said it's 400 metres away but actually it's 850. Is this Greek measurement? Ugh, so bad.

I still had some of my own water so I went for a hike down to the beach. Who did I see there, but my old pal George from the fishing port. He was not happy to see me. He quickly got in his car and drove away. I couldn't find anyplace to eat lunch besides a bakery. I bought three pastries (for lunch, dinner and breakfast). I knew I wasn't getting any breakfast at this place. And they were very good pastries anyway.

I did some laundry quickly in the machine and hoped they would be dry by the morning. I fell asleep at 5 p.m.

Posted by baixing 15:35 Archived in Greece Tagged kambos citrus_museum Comments (1)

Day 6: Mesta

overcast 10 °C
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I took the 11 a.m. bus to Mesta, after a nice breakfast with the best yogurt and three cups of pretty good coffee. Theodore spent most of the morning trying to help me figure out what is the best thing to do. He wanted to give me lots of options but it felt like he was trying to get me to change my flight for some reason. I don't think it will be too difficult to get back to Chios on Jan. 19 ish but he seemed to be worried.

Anyway, I stashed my stuff in his office and then hopped on the bus. I was pretty cold all the way there, but Mesta is a really interesting medieval town. Absolutely nobody was there though, and that meant that every single hotel I tried to stay at was closed. Finally I got a room in this fancy "castle" place. It was the only one left.

I put my bag in the room and started wandering around.

An old man who said he used to live in Indiana started talking to me. I mentioned that I wanted to visit the church except it was closed at the moment. He told me he could find the guy with the keys, so we went to his friend's house and he left me there with this old deaf man.
I had to scream to get him to hear me. He gave me some bread and cheese with homemade olive oil and I thought he was kind. Suddenly though, he started caressing my hair and telling me how beautiful I was. I had a knee-jerk reaction and jumped out of my seat. I sprang to the door and went back to the church. He had mentioned something about how the door might not be locked, that I should try again. So I did, and it was open.
I went into the nice church and then wandered around some more, relieved to be away from that creepy 70 year old man. The stone walls were quite incredible and I was glad I had come here to see it, even if it was a little crazy and terrifying.

Posted by baixing 07:01 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 5: Chios

10 °C
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Day 5: I left the overcrowded apartment at about 11 and then pushed my bag around trying to find a hotel that would keep it for a month or so. The first place I called was owned by a grumpy New Zealander guy. He basically told me to take a hike. I started walking around in person going from hotel to hotel, gradually going up in price each time. Eventually I hit the 40 euro mark and the owner of this hotel was happy to see me and store my junky bag until I got back. There was a jacuzzi in my room and a huge balcony. Theodoro (the owner) even offered to do my laundry. I relaxed the rest of the night and attempted to decide what to do with the rest of my time in Greece.

Posted by baixing 06:59 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 4: Chios

sunny 15 °C
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Day 4: Oh dear god it's my day off. I went to the archaeological museum for about an hour, that was nice.
The other museums were closed for the day, so I wandered around until I found the old Turkish baths. I thought they were still operational, so I was looking forward to a nice hot bath. However, they had already turned it into a museum. No baths since 1912. Dammit.
In the Lonely Planet there was a recommendation to go to some sort of small port for fish. I walked around and around and finally found it. A strange old sailor man pounced on me and I'm not sure what his goal was but I'm sure it wasn't honourable. I humoured him and he ordered me a great dinner of squid and snapper, as well as an awesome Greek salad with the best feta cheese I've ever had in my life. He even drove me home and I promised I'd see him tomorrow. However that was a lie and I decided I'd quit and take the next bus out of town the next day. I had asked the big bosses at work if I could work half days from now on and they said no in their stupid read between the lines way. Forget this place. It's insane and I'm not killing myself working 10 hours a day with no break and no preparation time over some refugees, forget it.

Posted by baixing 06:53 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 3 Chios

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Day 3: I woke up early again and made my breakfast. Some German woman came in and started talking to me about work. Seriously? Just let me relax for a goddamn minute. I tried to change the subject but it didn't work. There are seriously things wrong with these people that I can't even begin to understand.
I had morning bus duty so I went to the school to await what I thought was the bus.
No one was there until 9, even though they told me to be there at 8:45. Also no one told me a small car was picking me up and not a bus. We went to the camp where we waited amongst more creepy looking loitering refugees. We got on the bus and Cordelia began nagging at me to make sure all the kids sat down. I tried but they're out of control. Especially this one kid Memati who is decidedly autistic. He's constantly got thick green snot coming out of his nose and he screams the same words in Arabic over and over again all day. He kicks and shoves the other students, jumps on the tables and rips things off of the wall. I wanted to take a break while they had art class, so I stayed back in the class. But of course someone came around to tell me I had to do it. I sat there tired and not enthusiastic. Sitting in art class is not something mandatory for us, so no I'd rather have a break thanks. I didn't come here to be bossed around by people talking to me like I'm an idiot and telling me "it's not that bad". I need to use their language next time. I'll have to say they are "invalidating my feelings" next time I complain about being exhausted.
After art class this kid had a full on break down and injured his own foot and another kid's face. They took the two of them out of the class and I had lunch with the rest of the kids. I tried to keep them colouring some random stuff while the other two students were out getting fixed up.
Soon it was time for them to go and I took them to their bus and came back. Cordelia was going to show me what to do for the afternoon and I had enough at that point. I waited for her until 2 p.m. and she never came, so I just left. I told everyone I saw that I wasn't coming back for afternoon shift. Forget this. I'm tired. Find someone else. I'm not doing 12 hours of class time with this insanity every day.

Posted by baixing 06:52 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Day 2 Chios

sunny 15 °C
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[map=1152110 lat= lon= zoom=]Day 2: I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and just decided to stay up. I needed to do laundry already after spending two days in four airports and two hotels.
They have an interesting system in the kitchen. We all contribute 15 euros every Sunday and then we can eat anything we want in the kitchen. If someone buys something for the kitchen, they just take money out of the jar and then leave it in the kitchen to share with everyone. That's pretty ingenious.
So anyway, I made a nice turkey and cheese sandwich for breakfast and did some laundry. The laundry took two hours to do because I had no idea about how to operate it. I learned that the dial should point at 7 not 1 because 7 is the fastest and 1 is the slowest. OK fine.
Another new teacher, who is from London, but originally Singaporean, Bee, came with me to meet Martha, the big head boss, so she could explain her system to us. However, she wasn't going to be there until 11 a.m., not 9 a.m., like she told us yesterday. I excused myself, so that I could buy a SIM card for the phone I borrowed from Nick, another one of my roommates. I told him I would leave if I had to buy a smart phone. He gave me his old one.
The problem was I couldn't get WhatsApp on my iPod. It was so far the only chat program I couldn't get on there. I'm sure WhatsApp needs me to have a phone number for some nefarious data mining operation. Anyway, Nick said that it would be a "safety hazard" if I didn't have WhatsApp. I was skeptical again. But Nick solved the problem for a bit. I went to Vodafone and got the cheapest SIM card. So then I had a number and I could use WhatsApp, to make Nick and whoever else happy. I turned off all the sounds and promptly ignored all the constant chatter on the two groups for information on the school's happenings. Ben noticed me doing this and lambasted me again, accusing me of "not wanting to help" in the case that someone sent a message out in whatever crisis they might've been in at that second. I didn't reply, just turned on my heel and walked into my room. "Honestly Louise!" I heard him exclaim. He is dead to me.
The school system made a little more sense and after the meeting with Martha I went home for lunch, where I was locked out of the apartment for about 15 minutes because no one was inside. I didn't have a key and guessed I wouldn't get one until someone moved out. A bunch of people would leave soon, I hoped to get a bottom bunk and a key.
This afternoon's classes went fine. The four students were Afghani girls and Syrian boys. They got along fine and they followed the lesson well, they laughed and were genuinely curious normal kids. There were no words to describe how relieved I felt. I expected at least one of my three groups of students to be enjoyable.
I was on bus duty, so I put on the bright yellow "Be aware and share" vest and took the kids back to the refugee camp, where they live. It was about a 20 minute drive, or a brisk 1.5 hour walk. Two children puked along the way. We had to leave all of them at the gate, because we're not allowed to go inside. Their parents didn't even come to meet them. They had to make their way through the crowd of shady looking desperate adult men to their caravan or tent homes in the camp.
This night there is a group of at least 100 people (mostly men) gathered with all their belongings outside of the gate. It's a little intimidating. They are being shipped to the Greek mainland, having passed the interview with Greek immigration agents. They will be permanent residents and work towards achieving Greek citizenship in the future.
On the other side however, there were 100 more people who had just arrived in the camp this morning, leading to another fire and more drama. I'm sure it was a horrible day in the camp. None of which rubbed off on my students, but I heard people were freaking out at the high school.
I walked quickly in the cool night air back to the apartment, where Ben let me in. "Welcome to my lair," he said. "Yeah, fine, great," I answered. It wasn't long before he was singing in his stupid douchey voice with the beautiful voices of a few women playing folk songs on their guitar. I didn't fall asleep for a while because of my white hot hatred of that guy.

Posted by baixing 11:28 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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