We boarded the ferry and as were in the general economy section we didn’t have airline style seats but instead found a comfy sofa where we made a nest for the next 8 hours. The journey initially seemed to pass quite quickly but as the hours dwindled by I realised I had cabin fever and nothing could keep me occupied. I tried deleting photos from the holiday, having a nap, writing my blog and finally stretching my legs but ultimately nothing worked. If anyone wants to know how I felt watch Muppet Treasure Island and listen to the Cabin Fever song.Once back in Athens we found our hotel which was within a 5 minute walking distance of the port. After the ferry ride it was a relief to have somewhere so close and I told Kirstie how great she was for finding it. It looked alright from the outside and the staff at reception were friendly enough and we were given a room key. We made our way upstairs and to our room. If there had been a camera on us our facial expressions would surely have been priceless. As we opened the door there was general clutter in a long hall way but as we approached the area for sleeping I wondered if prisons were nicer.
Still, we were tired and it had two beds. Kirstie got out her sleeping bag, which i’d mocked her for bringing and I pulled what was little more than a small sheet over me.
Saturday 26th September
It was quite fortunate the room was so horrible because at least it meant we had no reason to stay and every motivation to get up and get ready. We both attempted to have a shower which involved squatting because it wasn’t possible to raise the shower head and cleaned our teeth as the basin wobbled away from the wall. At some point decades ago it probably had been quite nice and perhaps this was the most obvious example of the impact of the struggling economy.
After leaving we found an internet cafe so Kirstie could print her boarding pass however as we were in Greece it was initially out of order and we had to wait about 20 minutes before the owners son turned up to sort the computers out. We were still in decent time to catch the two trains we needed to get to the airport and made our way to Piraeus the station nearest the port.
There were no attendants serving and the ticket machine was a lot older than the one we had used at the airport so the English information was limited. Perhaps there is little need for investment, the station didn’t seem that busy and I suppose most tourists that arrive in Athens are whisked away by their tour groups so don’t have to attempt the journey in the opposite direction alone like us.
We got the adult ticket that said it covered ‘the entire network’ however once we were on the train to the airport we saw a sign that a special tariff applied. We hoped that if a ticket collector came they would understand that the ticket was not available at Piraeus station and as it was a genuine error they would let us pay the difference or at worst purchase a new ticket.
We weren’t far from the airport, probably less than two minutes when two officious and threatening looking ticket collectors did eventually arrive. Far from being sympathetic they proceeded to write out a fine, forced us to hand over our passports and to sign the form. Most of the fine was ‘Greek to me’ with one small paragraph in English unlikely to cover 9 long Greek paragraphs. The lady in the ticket office wasn’t any more helpful and so we ended up asking at the airport where tourist information kindly interpreted the form and directed us to the post office where we paid the fine.
i later received something which could be interpreted as an apology from the transport network even though the fine stood and there is more I could add about I how I feel towards Athens however it will sound petty. Suffice to say it was a bitter end to what had been a great holiday and a reminder that you are particularly vulnerable when travelling abroad. It was silly to be naive and I will be more careful in future especially in cities which are poor and may target tourists.