The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Friday, July 15, 2011

As hell broke loose . . .

The following takes place on Days 199-200, June 14-15, 2011

The plan had always been for Kelly and I to spend a few days in Athens before heading off on the ferries for some time island hopping. There was no doubt about that part. What islands we would go to was a bit of a toss up. We knew for sure that we would go to Santorini as that island had the famous blue and white buildings everyone associates with the Greek islands. But beyond that, we were pretty open.

As it would turn out, our plan to leave on the 16th was going to be the best decision we made.

But I am getting ahead of myself. We’re still on June 14th after all.

Kelly’s first full day in Greece. Well, mine too, but lets not get into semantics here. I only felt marginally sad that I forced her to stay awake until 11pm, culminating in her having been up for 30+ hours. It was the only way to get her body on European time and off North American time. I still remember the horror of that first week in Madrid when my sleep schedule was completely out of whack because of a mistimed nap my first day there. I just didn’t realize that she would still be up by 6:30am, raring to go. I’m not a fan of this getting up early crap. 10am is plenty early for me.

IMG_8021So, eventually I woke up and after having some breakfast, we headed out for a walk. We ended up heading in the direction of the National Gardens, beside the parliament building. We went through there for a bit, relishing in the shade from the already hot sun. It was a nice, relaxing walk with a quick stop at the park “zoo” to watch the ducks and goats and chickens. When we walked out of the park, we found ourselves behind the Parliament building.

IMG_8034When we rounded the corner to the front of the building, we hopped a downed chain and walked right up to the guards. We didn’t think anything of it as there was already a large group of people there too. Turns out, that group was part of an entourage of media and workers following a member of the Orlando Magic as he traveled a few cities in Europe. So, technically, Kelly and I just wandered into a private media photo shoot.

Just another day at the office.

IMG_8037Down the road from the Parliament Building, we came across some posters for those open top sightseeing tour buses. As we were comparing the two, a representative of one came up to us. As we were talking about our options she mentioned something neither of us had been aware of. The next day, the 15th, there was a general strike planned and the routes of everything might be changed, if not cancelled, if the roads are blocked. Kelly and I discussed it and, with assurances by the representative that we could use the two day pass over three days if the strike affects things too much, we bought the ticket and grabbed the next bus around.

qAs the bus took us around the city, we decided to hop off and check out the National Archaeology Museum. We would only have two and a half hours there, but if this museum was among those that would be shut down for the strike, we’d have no other opportunity to see it. Lucky for us that we did go to it then as there was a big sign at the front doors stating that it would be closed for the “Strike Day.”

Even with only two and a half hours we still managed to see pretty much the entire museum, including the fascinating exhibit of coins that they had showing at the time. I even got to play tour guide to Kelly through the museum’s Egyptian exhibit, explaining the death rituals and mythology. It was quite fun to do that actually.

By the time they were rushing us out the doors because they were closed, we were actually pretty tired so we went back to the hostel, leaving later that night only to find food to eat.

The next day was indeed strike day. It was strangely quiet on the streets. The few places that did seem to be open also seemed to be running at half staff. Most of the restaurants in the Plaka area, the main tourist area, were still open, as were most of the souvenir shops. Venturing out though, barely anything was open.

IMG_2244We took a roundabout way to get to our destination, the Acropolis Museum, stopping briefly to view the Temple of Zeus from behind the locked gates. This particular attraction was one of the affected areas of the strike. We only came across one group of strikers and this was before all hell broke loose. They were walking behind a large banner, chanting slogans. Most seemed to be younger people, but there were also some middle-aged people with them. It was peaceful at this point.

Lucky for us, the Acropolis Museum was open, though it was definitely working on low support. The line to go in was long as there were only two ticket windows open, with room for up to six that I could count. And being one of the few museums open in the city that day, everyone was heading there.

Kelly and I stuck together at first, wandering the first few floors before making out way to the restaurant for a quick drink. While on the terrace, you could clearly hear the scenes of chaos coming from the square in front of the Parliament Building. I really wanted to go see it, Kelly not so much though she wasn’t actively going to stop me. I decided against leaving her. Then we heard the shots. Loud pops followed by screams and louder yelling. Tear Gas.

Probably a good thing we didn’t go down to watch the commotion. Strikes in Saskatchewan seem downright kindergarten tame compared to this.

We spent a few more hours in the museum before heading off to one of the many hills for an overlook of the Acropolis. For me, it was for geocaches. For Kelly it was for . . . not getting lost without me I think. It made for a nice hike as we saw a few monuments, an underused amphitheater, and an observatory. We eventually made our was back down to civilization where, for a brief moment, my camera broke apart when I dropped it. Persistence and with Kelly’s ability to see me getting frustrated, help put it back together and working again.

We made it back to the hostel where we spent the rest of the evening with the in-house travel agent figuring out our trip to the islands. Now, remember what I said about us lucking out in deciding to leave on the 16th? Well, it was because even the Ferries were not running on the 15th. There were many people in the hostel who had entire tours cancelled because their ferry to the tour was cancelled.

In the end, we picked our two islands(Naxos and Santorini), and I had picked our hostels for our three days on each island.

Our mini island hopping excursion was to begin at 6am the next morning.

Did I mention how much I hate mornings?


  1. Whoa... sounds like a crazy few days in Greece. Interesting to read about the riots!

  2. OMG You saw Dwight Howard!!!! too cool, I like that guy, he's an awesome bball player! Love how you ended this post lol.

  3. Thanks Adam! It was definitely interesting to be there. Would've been interesting to go right into the thick of things. Wartime journalism comes to mind. But I had a friend under my charge. :P

    @Heather - Ah. That's who that was. I asked Kevin Jesus over at GlobalNews but then promptly forgot his name as it's basketball and in Saskatchewan I can only pay attention to one or two sports at a time.

  4. Arrggg... Unfair... the pigeons did not attack you! I really did not realize we walked into a private photo shoot.

  5. Hahahaha, I thought it was hilarious when they attacked you. Very Hitchcockian.