Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dirty and Dusty

Breakfast on the ferry was amazing. Courtney went first while I guarded our stuff, and came back with bacon, eggs, sausage and croissant. It looked good but was nothing compared to the inch thick French toast I had, which got covered with a soup ladel full of thick sugary syrup and a coating of cinnamon. I got a side of bacon and some canned pears and by the time I got back to my seat the sugar syrup on my French toast had hardened into a gooey, stringy, delicious mess. I never said breakfast was healthy, just amazing.

The view was as well, as when we went to sit on the other side of the ferry in the lounge we discovered we were sailing close to mainland Greece and passing countless islands just off the shore. A lazy haze blanketed the land and made the colours of the view fuse together and blur so that you could hardly see where one stopped and the other started.

Disembarking was easy although done in a mad rush as we had to unstrap all our gear and restrap all our ferry clothes to the bike before we could ride off and access to the garage was only given at the last minute. It wasn’t long though before we were away, and once we got through the dirty, dusty streets of Patras and away from the concentration of insane drivers, the idea of being in Greece finally settled in. The entire ride was dirty and dusty, not just Patras, and the insane drivers followed but further apart from each other and our bike. Most of the ride had a view of the ocean but with the wall of heat we were forcing ourselves against, it was hard to imagine why anyone would live in one of the dirty, dusty houses. If I lived in that heat I wouldn’t clean either.

Rethinking our plan of attack at the first McDonalds (Air conditioning! Free water!) we found, we decided not to stay at the campsite we had originally chosen. I think I chose it because it was on a cliff top and had a private beach. The website proclaimed ‘only 35 minutes from the Acropolis!’ but after our experience in Barcelona and learning the difference between advertised distance and public transport distance, 35 minutes was starting to sound like a long way. I also realized that our ferry for Santorini left at 7.45am with a likely check in 2 hours earlier. While the ferry was only 10 minutes from the Acropolis and the centre of Athens, it was on the opposite side of the city from camping, so it would a very early start to get across in time. Our trusty GPS pointed us in the direction of Camping Athens, a very basic campsite on a very busy 6 lane road. It was nothing special and there was certainly no private beach but it was 15 minutes from the Acropolis (aka 35-45 minutes public transport time) and 10 minutes from the ferry. Much better!

We drove to the ferry port first to pick up our tickets to Santorini in a couple of days time and then headed to camp. As we drove through the dirty, dusty city, I looked between the workshops and offices in desperate need of TLC and there she was, the Parthenon, sitting proudly in charge of the Acropolis. There is no sight like it. I got the same feeling when I first spotted Mont St Michel, the lit-up Eiffel Tower, and the Italian border. After those sightings, the view of the Acropolis was not necessarily the prettiest, crowded in by more dirt, dust and dilapidation than any other major city I’ve seen, but it was in it’s own league, having earned it’s right to take your breath away over thousands of years.

When we finally had the tent up and the pegs knocked into the rock hard ground, we bought cold drinks and settled in. For me at least it was all the nicer to settle in for the night knowing she was just around the corner.