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Matty’s Travel Diary

Monday, 27 Aug 2007

Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

MapI slept on a bench again last night. It was magical.

That's the end of the story. The beginning goes like this:

I made a detour to the town of Kalabaka, which is in the interior of Greece. The town itself is wholly unimpressive. It does, however, have a whole buttload of monasteries that are perched on top of these towering cliffs. They are perfectly carved to sit on top of these ledges and apparently monks have been doing their thang there since the 14th century. Do a search for Meteora if you want to see some pictures better than mine. I swear, my hands are as steady as a guy with palsy on crack behind that camera lense. Nothing turns out.

My favorite part about these buildings was that many of them were built before stairs could be carved in. Each one has a fishing pole thingy sticking out of its side. This is the lift tower. Picture old monks being hauled up the cliffside by this fishnet thing, dangling 200 feet above the ground. Eat my ass, cliff jumping.

Back in the town, there is only one small train station. We're talking one office and a platform. No one speaks English.

The earliest train I can catch is at 17:30, so I hop on and prepare to switch trains 20km down the line and zip up to Thessaloniki. I will have to run to catch my connecting train, as it leaves from platform four. I triple check the sign, making damn sure that it says what I think it says. I get to the platform just in time and see the proper signage on this platform. Everything is like it should be, and everything points to the fact that the train is just late.

Well, the only other train in the station rolls away a few minutes later, with mine nowhere to be seen. What the hell? An old Greek guy waddles out of the office and yells at me in some gibberish. Greek maybe? It sounds like gibberish. "Thessaloniki?" I say. Old guy starts to laugh and points at the damn train rolling away, on a different platform, at the wrong time.

Well, I LOSE it (that's for Ryan). Not really, but it wouldn't have been a problem if some staff member was present beforehand. They all desert their posts and hide in a back room while queues of people form outside the windows. Got a question? Tough shit.

That was the last train of the day. Not good. I also find that talking to Greeks is like pounding nails into your skull:

Me - Is there another train tonight?
Moron - Ehhh, maybe. Do not know.
Me - But is there?! English?!
Moron - Do not know.
Me - Can I take a bus?
Moron - Yes yes yes.
Me - Ok, good. When are those?
Moron - Do not know. Thirty minutes? One hour? (he is shrugging at this point)
Me - Am I on Candid Camera? Are you serious?

The bus ended up showing at the station four hours later. From that point, it's a two hour trip after transferring on another train. Good God. Of course the hostel registration is closed at 3:30am, and of course I am a zombie at this point. Sweet lady bench is calling my name with her siren song. I oblige. I hope to round out the hat trick of benches before the trip is up.