Saturday, 14 May 2011

Flexibility in Travel

I spent the morning on a train from Athens to Thessaloniki.  My next stop is Istanbul, Turkey.

Today was a bit of a cluster fuck.  When I reached Thessaloniki, I discovered that all international trains out of Greece are cancelled.  (Apparently, the country is experiencing a budget crisis, and the national train company temporarily suspended international trains.)

 Some more sailing pictures from Athens.

I spent the afternoon trying to find a private bus company that could take me to Istanbul.  The guy at a tourist information booth gave me a business card for Crazy Holidays, a travel agency that contracts buses to Turkey.  (He also gave me some ambigious directions).  I didn't know that Crazy Holidays has two offices in Thessaloniki and that the address listed on the business card is the second office, the office that is closed at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Me and a German girl walked all over Thessaloniki trying to find the 2nd office.  We stopped in a fancy shmancy hotel for a map.  Not only was our map in Greek, but few people understood us when we got lost multiple times and tried to ask people for directions.

 Steering the boat.

"Of all the countries in Europe, I believe that the language barrier in Greece is the worst," lamented the German girl.  I've only visited nine countries in Europe, but I agree.   

Defeated, I left the German girl and ended up at the hotel I stayed at when I was ın Thessaloniki four days ago.  The manager speaks decent English and he explained to me that the other Crazy Holidays office is near the train station and stays open on Saturday night.  He also explained that there is a bus that leaves Thessaloniki to Istanbul every night at 10 p.m.  He let me leave my backpack at the hotel while I went to procure bus tickets.  What a godsend!

 The island we visted by sailboat.

Docking the sailboat at the island.

In the interim, I found an internet cafe and reserved a hostel in Istanbul.

 I fıxed my busted swimsuit from Goa (see Budapest) with my IPOD earplugs.  Ingenious if I do say so myself.

The morale of this story:  international travel requires patience, flexibility and a sense of humor.  Come prepared with big doses of all three. 

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