Jared in Greece – The End

Wow…I am actually at a computer again! You have no idea what I have been through since my last chapter….but I’ll just tell ya this much…there ain’t no computers in the middle of nowhere in Greece.

OK.  It’s been a few days, so I will try my best to fill you in with all the exciting, adventurous details of my excursion through the wild.

After I last wrote to you, I spent one more day in Athens. Athens. What can I say of it?  It is fairly dumpy. The buildings are not much to speak of, and neither are the people for that matter. I encountered so much rudeness and sarcasm from the Greek people, not to generalize or anything, that I was rather turned off. But there are some very nice parts of Athens, for instance the Acropolis and the surrounding areas. There are many quaint, ancient looking streets weaving in and out of the area around the Acropolis, paved with stone and lined with the standard restaurants and gift shops.

The gift shops are full or Greek statuettes, religious icons, and more chess sets. It seems each country has its own chess set to, ahem, pawn on its tourists. Jonathan and I, who were still hangin together at that point, climbed the hill directly across from the Parthenon on our second to last night there. It was like a hike up an ancient mountain, the path looking all old and stuff. The hill was where the ancient Greek senate used to gather…I think…I am not the historian or anything…but it made for a great view of the city and the Acropolis. You could see for miles, and Athens seems to stretch forever. As the sun went down, the city slowly began to light up, and the view of the Parthenon was quite dramatic. The entire Acropolis lit up, and the Parthenon began to glow like a beacon in the middle of chaos. I felt like I was on top of the world…well…Greece anyway.

After a few days in Athens, I was ready to get going. There really isn’t too much going on there, plus the mosquitoes seem to run the place, and they attack at night while you sleep. Each morning, I woke up with a fresh set of bites that itched like crazy…and I was down a few pints of blood. Nothing a little feta cheese couldn’t fix. I was trying to decide where to go next. Jonathan wanted to stay in Athens, and I was ready to leave, so that meant we part company. Fine by me. I decided I had to go to the Oracle at Delphi, since it was the only other place besides the Parthenon that I remembered from my obsession with Greek mythology. I almost didn’t go there in favor of Corinth, but I became convinced when a friend emailed me and said he was psyched about me going there…you know who you are…

So, I managed to find the bus station, which was quite stupidly located very far away from any sort of public transportation. So, I had to hike through the nasto streets of Athens, dodging the crazy drivers, toting my bag on wheels behind me. That was fun. I arrived at the bus station to find that the next bus to Delphi was not for two hours, so I set out to wait in the station and kill some time.

I decided to play some guitar for a bit. I don’t think the people liked that too much…or the dogs who seem to rule the underworld of the bus station. As I was strumming…not singing…only strumming, mind you…a dog approached me and just stared at me for a few minutes. I smiled at the dog and made the stupid noises that people make at dogs…”heeellllooooo puppy!” And it then decided to bare its teeth and began barking viciously at me, like it was preparing to attack. My heart was pounding, and I started to think I would have to hit it with my guitar or something….but some kind Greek came and took the rabid pooch away. Thank the fates for that.

The busride to Delphi was 3 hours long, but I passed the time listening to my cd player and rockin out. The people around me probably thought I was a freak, cuz I really get into music, as you all know, if you have seen me play. The Greek countryside is absolutely beautiful.  I have seen a lot of countryside in my day, but so far, Greece took the cake (up until Italy which is where I am now). Mountains, valleys, rolling plains of ancient stones and fields. Amazing.

We arrived at Delphi, which is a small town set on the side of a mountain, overlooking an incredible valley that empties into the Gulf of Corinth, the body of water separating northern Greece from the Peloponese peninsula. I met some people on the bus, and we decided to try and find a hotel together. We happened upon a hotel that looked decent, and we rang the buzzer. This little old Greek lady came down the stairs, and we attempted to communicate, but it turned into a screaming match when we tried to haggle on the price of the rooms. “You pay 10,000 drachma!” “No, I can only pay 5000!”  “NO!  YOU PAY!!!”  We finally settled on 6000 drachmas for my room…about $18, not so bad to have your own room for that much.

The next day we set out to explore the ruins of the Oracle. It was pretty amazing to come to the place where the ancient temple of Apollo stood for centuries, where the priestesses of Apollo spoke the prophecies of their god to kings and heroes who came to seek his advice. The place, set on the side of the mountain with the same view I just described, FEELS holy. It’s breathtaking. Now, if it weren’t filled with tourists and buses, and people clamoring everywhere, it would have been a lot nicer. But, I climbed the hill, weaved around the paths and all the fallen down columns, to stand before the ruins of the temple where the oracle would sit and dispense the advice of the gods. Apparently, the way it worked was there was a funny smoke that came from the bowels of the temple, and the oracle would stand in the midst of the smoke and speak her words. I wonder what the smoke could have been…hmmmm….any guesses?

After two nights in Delphi, where there is no Internet by the way, I decided to make for Italy.  I had enough of Greece at that point, and I wanted to get to Italy and put some distance behind me. I had a 15-hour boat ride and a 6-hour train ride to Naples ahead, so I needed to get it over with. I hopped on the 3-hour bus ride to Patras, where the ferries to Italy leave from. I arrived just in time to board the boat…it was pulling away from the pier and I had to make a running jump and throw my bags…I just made it….I caught the edge of the boat and hung by my fingers and someone helped me up….whew.  of course, it didn’t happen that way, but it makes for a nice story.

The boat ride was soooo damn long. I didn’t have a cabin or a bed, only an airplane like seat on which to sit….I ended up stretching out on the floor for 12 hours, in broken sleep. Horrendous.

I’m gonna leave it off there…..suffice to say, I am in Naples, Italy right now, and I waiting for some friends to go to Pompeii, the ancient roman city buried in volcanic ash….will write more later.

Jared