Thursday, November 9, 2006

2006 Trip to Greece

Monday, 28.08.2006

- we were supposed to leave on Monday, not in the morning since mom and dad still had some unfinished things left to do, when don’t they, but in the afternoon
- at 6 PM half of our things still weren’t packed and none of the food was ready
- something odd happened, I got an acute pain in my left hip, so bad that I had to take painkillers, something I do very rarely and never for hip pain since I had never had problems with my hip before.
- at 9 PM when dad finally arrived home we were all stressed out and my brother and I were singing from the top of our lungs "Suparat, suparat sunt doamne iar" ("Upset, God, I am so upset again")
- mom was still ironing t-shirts, but my things were packed so I told them goodnight and went to bed.

Tuesday, 29.08.2006

- parents woke up at 6 AM, by 9 we said goodbye to the cat and made it to the car
- it was dark and almost raining and I was glad we were heading south hopefully to a warmer climate
- next stop Giurgiu near the Bulgarian border where we would spend the night in a relative’s apartment, or at least this was the plan
- the next stop took place for about an hour while waiting for the police to come after a car smashed into ours shortly after we left Bacau. There were no injuries, we just got a little shaken up when it hit us and we tried to avoid the cars ahead of us, but the back of the car was really damaged and for the rest of the trip we put and removed our bags from the car from the inside in fear that we might not be able to close back the trunk once open. You can imagine the joy!
- we made another stop later in the afternoon when the parents slept for a bit in the car and then we ate and continued our journey
- we arrived in Giurgiu around 8 PM, never thought it would take us so many hours to get there as my dad usually goes to Bucharest and back in half a day and Giurgiu is not far from Bucharest, and we invaded my second cousin’s apartment. By the way it’s a nice one.
- her parents and her brother were there too and it turned into a late night ‘cause we had a lot to catch up with
- a funny thing was that we had fried chicken legs in our bags and that was what they served us for dinner too but theirs were warm and therefor highly appreciated.

Wednesday, 30.08.2006

- my cousin’s dad works at the border and advised us not to try to cross it between 7:00 and 7:30 when we initially wanted to leave because that was when the shift changed and it would have taken us too long to get through it.
- by 9 AM we were on Bulgarian land, had gone through the check out quite fast and we were so happy because of that accomplishment that we missed the right road and got lost through some villages.
- Bulgarian roads are better than ours though a bit more grungy
- they have way too many speed restrictions signs and many police patrols on the road, thank God for the other drivers who warned us in time when we got close to one
- we ate on the move since we’d heard too many horror stories about Romanian cars being stolen, it had happen to my cousin too when she went to the beach in Bulgaria the previous month
- it’s a poor country, I’d dare to say it’s poorer than Romania, haven’t seen any construction sites for new buildings, everything looks old and not taken care of
- we only went through Sofia because we missed the road that goes around it and we didn’t see the most interesting parts but what I saw I didn’t like, it reminded me of Bucharest in a way which is not a surprise since they’re both former communist countries
- I liked the tunnels we went through to cross the mountains
- at 4 PM we reached the Greek border and waited in line until 6
- half an hour later while we were speeding happily on the highway the spoiler fell off from the back of the car, we had to run back and retrieve it before another car would run it over, one actually tried to do that, and then we had to squeeze it in the car in the back. I’m still not sure why did we have to do that.
- at 8 PM we approached Thessaloniki but our reservation at the hotel had been for the previous night so we decided to go straight to Athens, what was another 500 km when we’d traveled 600 km already?
- someone should have told us though that not the entire highway had been finished like it showed on the map
- at midnight we still had 200 km left to go
- we made a small break for dad to rest and he took a nap though he shouldn’t have ‘cause when he woke up he started to see double and had to rely on us to help him keep the car between the marking lines on the road, try to do that when going 170 km/h on the highway, but I love highways
- we arrived to Athens at 3 AM and then looked for the hotel until 5
- streets were narrow, the labels placed up on building which made it impossible to read them from the car at night, and lots of streets were one way, I lost count how many driving rules dad broke that night
- asking taxi drivers and police officers didn’t help, mom had to go out and walk around Omonia Square to find the hotel and she did
- the decorator of the hotel must have been color blind or completely blind, all the colors were clashing and the rooms had no refrigerators. Big panic because we’d brought a lot of food with us. I liked the elevators though with their large mirrors.
- at 5:30 we dropped dead in our beds

Thursday, 31.08.2006

- first day in Athens
- we somehow managed to drag ourselves out of bed, eat some of the food we brought with us since we’d missed breakfast and by 11 AM we went out for a walk
- mom like a true professional she is immediately noticed lots of Greek women have a walking problem, they walk like they have a stick up their butt. Many of them still have the legendary round Greek figure, the Greek men look rather nice though
- never seen so many bikes and scooters like I’ve seen in Athens, more than cars actually. Mom wants one too… so does little brother
- Romanian tourist weren’t missing either, the last couple of years it became very fashionable to go to Greece on holiday
- I liked the sidewalks because they weren’t covered in gray depressing asphalt but in marble and mosaic and were well done, no risk of stumbling and breaking your neck or legs, also the special passages for wheelchairs were all in the right places and fully functional, go figure!
- lots of buildings are being renovated or in the process of being built
- too much graffiti all over the place, really annoying
- I liked the way the light was used on the exterior walls of the hotels, lots of hotels too
- walk we did until evening when we returned to the hotel and ate canned pork meat and cheese and tomatoes and cursed the lack of fridge again
- mom and dad rested for an hour, and then we went out again on a different street. Mom cheated and stayed in to sleep some more but we had a very nice walk. I liked the entrances to buildings, nice and cozy and quite inviting.

Friday, 1.09.2006

- a day reserved for Acropolis
- we made it to breakfast in the morning, wheee! After five days we were going to be sick of cheese and ham
- we should have left earlier but we hadn’t so when the sun was stronger we were climbing on the Acropolis. Of course there had to be a road for cars to get on top at the entrance but we didn’t have the patience to find it so we ran into some stairs anyway. Those were nothing compared to the stairs we found up there. Lucky for me I took the elevator, too bad about the others.
- we baked ourselves on the Acropolis for a couple of hours looking at the ruins and then we froze inside the museum where the recovered fragments of sculptures were stored
- I won’t comment on how beautiful and interesting everything was, and it really was, but it was more ruined than I expected it to be. Maybe after they finish the restoration process it will be better.
- laugh of the day: while resting for a moment up there I heard someone asking in a perfect English behind me ‘ok, so where is Acropolis?’
- we also heard Romanian speaking
- hungry and tired we went to a restaurant to eat. We ordered too much food but it was great and not too expensive and we stuffed ourselves
- short rest at the hotel and then we went to Plaka, old tourist neighborhood, very nice, lots of commerce there, got to the hotel after 1 AM
- I liked some white Greek traditional inspired dresses, obviously made for tourists but rather nice
- also some sort of lamps shaped as white Greek houses with colored light coming out the windows
- had high fever all night, because of too much sun?

Saturday, 2.09.2006

- victory! I found my sunglasses. They had been missing since we arrived to Giurgiu because mom instead of putting them in her purse when we’d left the car like I had told her she’d put them in her coat pocket. I really care about those golden frame sunglasses because dad brought them to me a few years ago from… Greece
- day reserved to visit Piraievs, or at least that’s what dad said in the morning – around 11 again
- we took the metro to get there, not a pleasant experience if you ask me. It was my first trip with the metro, I hadn’t been with the one in Bucharest but now I can brag about going with the Greek one that connects Athens to Piraievs
- damn Romanians we couldn’t get rid of them there either
- we went to look at the sea and there dad had a surprise for us, he bought tickets to go to Egina island
- another new experience since I hadn’t been on a boat before, but this one was less bad and quite pleasant actually, no seasickness mind you
- we climbed on the top bridge and stayed there during the one hour trip, it was cloudy in Piraievs but the sky cleared on the way
- short walk on the shore in Egina and we landed in a restaurant on the shore where we ordered lots of seafood specialties, including octopus, squid, shells, sardines, plus Greek salad
- I couldn’t eat much as I suddenly got sick from my stomach and after lunch I spent half an hour with my head in a plastic bag trying to turn my guts inside out. I felt much better once I did that
- we walked along the beach waiting for me to recover, the beach wasn’t nice there, maybe there is a better one on the other side of the island but we didn’t get to see it
- dad and my brother took a quick swim in the water
- for the rest of the afternoon we explored cute little streets and had an ice cream, the only food I had all day
- guess what? Romanians were there too!
- we watched the sunset from the harbor and took the last boat back, though one from a different shipping line that moved faster, The Flying Dolphin
- night walk in Piraievs, saw two weddings in two different churches though no brides and then we took the metro home
- I forgot to say I liked very much the lamp posts in Piraievs, they look like huge callas and mom tried to take a photo but it didn’t come out well like most of the night pics
- at the hotel we noticed my left leg had swollen becoming almost double in size

Sunday, 3.09.2006

- my leg was still swollen and aching like during the past few days, I looked down and thought ‘so this is how it would be like if I was fat’, the pain kept migrating around the thigh
- went back to Piraievs with the metro, it was less bad and I didn’t get sick this time
- saw from outside a few gym centers built for the last Olympics and a football stadium from the inside, really liked that one
- walked on the street parallel with the shore then by the harbor and saw some more nice streets with villas
- in the afternoon took the metro back but stopped one station earlier and changed the line to go to Lykavittos, the other mountain beside Acropolis
- walked up several streets trying to avoid the stairs until we reached the funicular, which we took, it was encased and we couldn’t see out while it moved up unfortunately, and then it followed the real stairs with restaurants at each stop for those who needed to rest
- there’s a cute little white church on top of the mountain surrounded by walls and we watched the city from up there while the sun was setting down
- we didn’t take the metro back but walked to the hotel instead
- mom bought two kimonos with negligees, a white one and a red one, modeled them for us and decided to keep them both

Monday, 4.09.2006

- last day in Athens
- dad went by himself to take more photos around the Acropolis while mom, my brother and I went shopping for souvenirs to bring home for friends and family
- we visited a mall and I found a painting with a woman in red that I would have liked to have in my room but it was kinda expensive and too big to transport it in the car
- I kinda like their stores, unlike here it’s much easier to find some stuff to like
- finally found a grocery store where prices were lower, of course it was our last day and it didn’t help much
- Greek still water and Cola sucks
- we spent so much time choosing that by the time we met with dad to go to late lunch/early dinner we hadn’t bought anything yet, no I lied, my brother got himself an iPod
- while waiting in an intersection for dad to show up we stopped by a jewelry store and looked in the window. The owner heard us speaking in a foreign language and when he heard we’re from Romania he told us he had friends in Bucharest and offered me as a gift a charm bracelet which is supposed to bring luck to the person who wears it. It has blue stones with a light blue pattern on them, to me it looks like fish eyes.
- we ate at the same restaurant as we did the day we visited the Acropolis, very good food again even if too much, and time for more painkillers
- we hadn’t paid attention to the time stores closed in the evening so by the time we were done eating they were all closed and we had no presents to bring home
- half an hour rest at the hotel and then out for another evening walk though slightly shorter since we were leaving in the morning
- packed bags before going to bed

Tuesday, 5.09.2006

- left the hotel at nine and we arrived to Thessaloniki at 2 PM, the road was better and we got to see what he had missed at night
- we checked in the hotel, really liked this one, it did have a fridge!, ate and went out to explore Thessaloniki
- I liked it almost better than Athens, lovely city, if we don’t go anywhere else next year we agreed to go to Thessaloniki
- it was so hot the air burned our lungs
- we finished our shopping, found everything we needed and more, walked along the promenade by the sea and watched the sunset from there, then explored some more and stopped for an ice cream
- there were +31 C degrees at 10:30 PM
- the beer we had it at the hotel

Wednesday, 6.09.2006

- huge American breakfast at the hotel, we tried a bit of everything and it was all good
- my leg was still swollen but it had stopped hurting
- one last minute shopping trip before leaving, my brother got himself a dagger and dad got a nice lantern for grandma’s grave, and since I hadn’t bought anything for myself they got me a bracelet without asking me in advance. It’s nice but it’s a model my dad prefers and not I in particular.
- we left at 12 and at 2 we were at the border where we waited in line again for half an hour or so
- we had barely entered Bulgaria and got stopped for speeding inside a village. Mom got out of the car and used her charms to determine the police officers to let us go which they did
- we entered Romania around 8 PM, no problems at the border at all, and we went to my cousin again
- she was away to pass some exams because she’s a psychologist and wants to work for the police, but her parents were there and her brother waiting for us with fish soup and fried fish. Warm food! Delicious.
- again we stayed up late after midnight telling them about our trip and the things we saw

Thursday, 7.09.2006

- after much insistence the previous evening my cousin’s brother, well technically he’s my cousin too, decided to come with us after all and have a small vacation in our home before school would start the following week
- met with my aunt and her husband in the morning and they went to my grandma’s tomb, I didn’t
- we dropped the spoiler but not at the trash like any normal people would do but in the middle of
my cousin’s living room just in case the insurance company would want to look at it, a ‘little’ surprise for when she would return home
- we left around 11 and dragged on the highway (that’s a too nice word for the road we traveled on)
- got a speeding ticket while getting closer to home
- arrived home around 8 PM
- food was waiting along with the friend who’d been house and cat sitting during our absence
- watched the partial moon eclipse and finally went to sleep in my own bed.

The End

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