Saturday, May 2, 2009

Greek Adventures: Take 2

April 3
Directions in Greek = “Just over there…”
I decided that today I would venture out to see Corinth, home of Corinthians. The ones that Paul wrote all the letters to. I got directions from the hostel and started out on my adventure. I headed to find the bus stop for bus 51 in Omnia Square and wandered for a long time looking at all the stops I saw and never seemed to find it. I headed up the street a little more and realized that the square I thought was Omnia Square, really wasn’t. When I finally arrived in the real Omnian Square I looked again and still no luck. I finally stopped a younger looking girl that looked like she would speak English and asked if she spoke English. She said she did and I continued to ask if she knew where the bus stop was for this 51 bus. She said she wasn’t sure and then I asked her if she knew how to get to the bus station that went to Corinth. She started to explain that there were two stations. I tried to tell her I knew I wanted to go to the one that started with a K, but I didn’t know how to say it or where it was. She finally pulled out her datebook that apparently had a list of where the busses went from the two stations. She told me which one to go to and wrote it down so I could just take a cab. I was really happy that she had helped, she must have spent a good 10 minutes talking to me. I went to the taxi stand and got in the cab and showed the driver what the lady had wrote for me. He nodded and off we went. We arrived at the station and I got out.
I went inside the bus station and was greeted by a room full of stands that all had things written in Greek. I had absolutely no idea what any of it said. I asked the information desk which one to go to if I wanted to go to Corinth. She pointed in a general direction and said the one in the middle, “Just over there.” I had no idea and was rather frustrated but I just got in a line and hoped that someone could help me. Once I got to the desk, I said I wanted to go to Corinth and the lady said ok and then didn’t do anything. I asked if I could get a ticket and how much it was. She wrote that it was 7.50 and I paid and then she wrote 29-27 on the back. I had no idea what that meant. I headed out of the station to find the bus because it left in 10 minutes. I looked around and didn’t understanding where I was supposed to go. I asked one person and they said 3 busses down, “Over there,” and held up 3. I got there and didn’t understand so I asked another person and she said 3 busses in the opposite direction, so I finally found a bus driver and asked him. He told me I had “lost that one” and that I would have to wait for another hour. My day wasn’t exactly going as planned, but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it so I just went and grabbed a gyro and sat down and read my book as I waited. When it got close to 1:00 I moved closer to the bus and the man whom I had asked earlier nodded in approval and came over to tell me that it was the red bus that I was going to get on. Around 1:00, the bus began to load and I took my seat. The ride went by fairly quickly and uneventfully. At one point the old woman sitting in front of me turned around and started to try to talk to me. I told her I didn’t speak Greek. She tried to enunciate and talk slower and I just said “I don’t speak Greek, I don’t understand.” She finally gave up, but still turned around several more times and continued to try to talk to me as if I would magically be able to understand what she was saying.
We finally arrived in Corinth and passed over the Corinth Canal, which was pretty impressive. We stopped at the bus station, but not everyone got off so I stayed on to see where else it would take me. We went more into town and stopped at like a town square. It appeared to be the last stop. Before I got off I wanted to make sure I knew I could get back to Athens. I asked the driver if he spoke English and he said no. There was a younger guy behind me who hadn’t got off yet and I asked if he did, he said a little and I asked him. He then asked the driver and they told me I would have to go to the bus stop that was the one they had stopped at previously. I thanked them and got off and started to wander. I had absolutely no idea where I was headed. I didn’t have a map or guidebook. I had come completely unprepared. I started down the next street just to see where it went. Luckily there was a bus stop that said it went to Ancient Corinth. So my next step was to try to find where to buy bus tickets. I stopped at the next newspaper/tobacco stand and asked there. The lady didn’t speak English but we finally established that I didn’t want gum and that she didn’t sell bus tickets. So I just continued down the road, and eventually came to the water. I walked past it and then back onto the road I was on before as there wasn’t really anything to look at and it was kind of sketchy looking. I found an internet place and got time for the internet and Google mapped it. Then my plan was to try to walk there.
As I walked out of the shop with my printed map I heard English voices. My ears have become oddly sensitive to my native language I can spot it through hoards of people. There were three people walking towards me, an older couple and a pretty young boy, probably 6 maybe 7. I asked them once I was certain they were speaking English if they could help me. The old man with a very thick Scottish accent said yes and asked me what I was trying to find. I explained I wanted to go to Ancient Corinth and he said something like, “Well you’re a right bit far.” I kind of laughed, but inside I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. The little boy then grabbed the map and looked at it. I asked if they knew how I could get there and the boy said, well there’s a bus stop and I could just take that. I said that I had saw the stop but wondered where I could buy tickets. The little boy began talking really fast, and I had to listen hard through his accent. He was saying there was a little blue box by the stop. He then asked if I read Greek. I told him no and then they offered to go with me. As we walked I learned that the older couple was visiting their daughter and 2 grandchildren that lived in Corinth. They were from Scotland. It was really neat. Once we got to the stop. The little boy went right to work on the box. He read the Greek and told me where it was going and such. We couldn’t quite figure it out so we went back to the beginning and discovered there was an English button. I took that route and bought a ticket. Then the little boy rattled off that I had to just wait for the bus to come. I thanked them both for their help and then took a quick picture with my tiny savior.
I stood and waited. I looked around and found the timetable for the busses. It said that this one was supposed to come at 5 past every hour. I checked my phone, it was 4 past, so surely the bus would just be there soon. One never came, so I got my book out and began reading. I took off my jacket, hoping to get some sun, and because I was burning up. I ended up having to wait for a whole hour for the next bus, the whole time I was being stared down by a really creepy homeless man.
Finally the bus came and I showed the ticket to the driver and asked if this was the right bus and he said yes. I got on and took a seat. It was a lot further than I had imagined; it would have been a long trek. I finally made it to Ancient Corinth and got off the bus and followed the signs to the archeological site. It wasn’t that hard to find the signs and follow them so I was lucky. Once I made it past all the tourist shops I found the exit of the site, so I continued up the hill thinking that the entrance couldn’t be far. It wasn’t really far or anything but it was still up the hill and hidden behind the masses of tour busses that were parked at the top. I got to the gate and had my student ID card ready and told the lady I was studying in Rome. She said the site was closing in 20 minutes. I asked her if I could still go in and walk through. She said I could. At this point, I began to attempt to break the world record for fastest sightseeing excursion. I was almost running. The tour groups that were exiting were talking about me in Italian, which was strange that I was in Greece and surrounded by Italian. I didn’t fully understand what they were saying but it was something like “Look at that crazy girl.” I was snapping pictures left and right and skimming signs as I walked past. I somehow managed to get a fairly thorough overview of the entire sight in my 20 minute time limit.
As I headed toward the gate, one of the tour guides was walking out. I knew she was with a tour group, that was Italian, so I asked her, “Parle inglese?” and she answered that she did. I continued to ask if she knew how to get back to Athens from here. She wasn’t sure and asked another man. He said I should take the train. She wrote the name of the train station down and told me to take a taxi to it. I left the site and walked down the hill to where I had seen a group of taxis parked. I asked one of them to take me to “Proastia Kos” He nodded and we got in the car and arrived shortly at the train station.
I and went inside to purchase a ticket to Athens. I walked up to the counter and told the man I would like to go to Athens. He said like I had to wait for an hour to get the ticket. I didn’t really understand, so I went into the little café and had a frappe (the Greeks obsess over this) and waited around. The next train was supposed to leave at 6:05 or 5:51, I couldn’t tell. The timetable said one and then the sign on the ticket booth said another. Neither had any English so who really knew. I finally decided to go ask the man again. This time he said the train was leaving at 5:51 and I asked if I could buy a ticket. They looked at me like I was dumb and said of course. I finally went up to the platform and waited. The train came right on time and I took my seat. The adventure of the day seemed to have ended. Once we got into Athens though deciding on a stop proved to be slightly difficult. The first stop was the “Athens” stop (the one I probably should have gotten off at). This is when I realized I should have planned my exit strategy a little more carefully. I got out my map and looked at the route I was on. I realized that I should have gotten off at the first stop but could still find a metro that looked fairly close at the next stop. I got up and waited by the door and got off at the completely deserted “Rouf” stop. The only person there was the cleaning lady. I asked her how to get to the metro stop. She took me over to a building in the middle of the platform and got another worker and she pointed me in the right direction told me to follow the signs. I did and I felt like I was going nowhere, but I eventually found my way to the metro stop and back to the hostel. It had been quite an escapade. A day full of “Just over there…” and waiting.

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