The Champagne Backpacker: Michael's Round the World Trip 2005-2007-- The Adventure of a Lifetime travel blog


Sunday, August 7. Ferry to Piraeus, Athens. After saying goodbye to Ben and Aspa, Myrto drove Jeff and me to Parikia where we caught a slow ferry (6 hours) to Piraeus. The boat was an hour and a half late. It was packed with people returning to Athens. This was my first time on a slow Greek ferry and hopefully my last. Jeff had purchased a first class ticket while I got deck class. Deck class was outside with hard benches and plastic chairs. First class was lounge chairs and air-conditioning. I took the time to compose my journal. Upon reaching Piraeus, Jeff and I jumped on the metro. We said our goodbyes as Jeff got off at Syntagma station in central Athens and I continued on to the airport. It was the end of the journey for Jeff, and the beginning of my solo travels.

GREEK MUSINGS

Greece is a very easy country to travel in. Most Greeks we encountered spoke English and were quite helpful. Accommodations were always easy to find—usually our first choice from our Lonely Planet Greece book had availability on the day of our arrival. Doubles ranged from 25-50 Euro ($30-60). The mainland is very mountainous. Although the roads are very good condition and well maintained, they are very windy and lack night reflectors and guard rails, making driving very challenging during the day and treacherous at night. Except near Athens, most roads were undivided single lane roads. Greeks use the shoulder of the road as the cruising lane and the primary road for passing. From our drive through the mainland, it was quite apparent that Greece is a very sparely populated country (10.6 million). We saw olive trees growing everywhere. Food in Greece is very similar to Turkey—lots of mezzes (hot and cold starters), grilled meats and fish, and Greek salads. The Greek salad is ubiquitous throughout Greece—tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta cheese, and olive oil. Although bread was served with every meal, olive oil was never on the table. I always had to ask for olive oil to dip with the bread. Apparently the Greeks eat their bread plain. In terms of costs, Greece is no longer the budget traveler's haven. Since converting to the Euro, costs in Greece rose to levels comparable to other Western European countries. While traveling on the mainland, we rarely came across any Americans. We encountered instead lots of Australians, Italians (particularly on Paxos), French, and British. I was virtually the only Asian traveller on the mainland. Greeks would always say to me on the street "China?" or "Chinese?". Thankfully they at least got my ethnicity correct. In the Cyclades islands where we sailed, I saw a few other Asian travellers (non-American), but proportionately very few.



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