After exploring the underground aqueducts in Naples with nought but a candle and sampling our last pizza for a while it was time to hit the road again. Greece was always going to be interesting with its current economic and political climate. The overnight ferry from Italy where we had the pleasure of sleeping on the floor of one of the lounges appropriately set the tone for this leg of the trip. We arrived in Patras having slept little and not knowing how we would navigate the public transport nightmare ahead. Since the economic crisis only some train and bus routes are operating and we didn't know if we would be able to make it to Athens, let alone Turkey. Luck was on our side and after a bus, a train and a wild guess on the Athens Metro we found our way to the capital with minimal stress and all of our stuff. Unfortunately the super cheap hotel we had booked turned out to be smack bang in the middle of the dodgiest suburb in town (think Manchester Street pre-quake). Thankfully the Greek Police are stationed on nearly every corner from early evening allowing us to roam the streets amongst the drug dealers in complete comfort. Our second issue with the aforementioned accommodation was their lack of informing us about the Greek national holiday the following day. It wasn't until we saw jets flying over the city and most of town deserted that we realised something was up. We figured there were only two plausible explanations and zombie apocalypse seemed the most likely. With nothing open we whiled away an hour watching the Air Force put on quite a show before heading back to the hotel. Tour guides were out of our price range so we rented the movie Troy and studied up on our Ancient Greek history for the afternoon. Acropolis hill was worth the wait in the morning and oddly there were hardly any tourists around - just us and the Parthenon. It took several attempts to find a good kebab but still nothing to compete with Dimitri's back home in ChCh yet. We took a day trip to see Poseidon's Temple which consisted of 4 hours on a bus and about 14 minutes looking at said temple. Undecided as to the value of the trip but saw a lot of coastline on the way. Greece has an unfortunately overgrown and crumbling look to it which has nothing to do with ancient ruins. Houses that are midway through being built have been abandoned and covered in graffiti while hundreds of others look like no one has lived in them for a while. Unemployment is up near 27% and you can see it everywhere. The real clincher is that we are now in Bulgaria in order to reach Turkey as we can't catch any Greek trains directly there. It makes the Italian rail network look reliable. On the plus side, Sofia is an awesome little city with cheap food and we got here on a VIP luxury bus - hard work.
Rachael and Jeremy