Filling in the gaps - 18th April 2008 @ 7:23 pm «   »

Location: Greece : Filling in the gaps

YahSU from Athens!

We arrived in Athens this evening at about 7pm after a 4.5 hour bustrip from Olympia. We found an excellent hostel, Athens International Youth Hostel, with free internet. Internet cafes are very expensive in Greece (up to 5 EUR per hour!) so we now have plenty of time for a proper update.

Naples was a real disappointment to say the least. Before even getting there, we decided to stay for 5 nights, instead of the original 3 (because of all the little towns in the area) – our first mistake. We arrived late afternoon and decided to go for a stroll through town – second mistake. It is dirty and well dodgy with washing hanging all over the place. We just did not feel comfortable there at all.

Our youth hostel was a little out of the center of town but we thought it was okay, until we decided to only stay 3 nights (after we already paid for 5). It was a real mission to get them to refund the extra 2 nights, but after many discussions and a phone call to the director (from a payphone on Capri) we succeeded!

The second day we took the train to Pompeii and spent the morning wondering the ruins. We enjoyed it and it was quiet an experience, but troubling to see the lack of care that is taken to preserve the ruins and the area. We considered visiting Herculaneum too, but our “backpackers budget” couldn’t afford another 11EUR entrance fee for one day.

At Pompeii train station we found that the next train was for Sorrento and decided to make a quick detour before heading back to nasty Naples. We were pleasantly surprised by how upmarket Sorrento was and after walking through the little town, we caught the train back to Naples.

Capri was next on the list, but unfortunately we got the worst weather ever and our “island experience” was not as idillic as expected – especially with the Blue Grotto being closed! We still wanted to visit Anacapri, but it was so cold and miserable that we decided on having a pizza in a little restaurant and just sat there waiting for the ferry back to Naples.

The next morning we got on the 08:55 train to Caserta where we had to wait about 1 hour for a train to Bari. We got to Bari around 3pm and this was where we caught the overnight ferry to Greece (instead of Albania as originally planned). The ferry to Patras was much cheaper (than Albania) with our Interail tickets, and we expected it to be very basic, as our tickets was only for “deck” access. When we got on the massive boat, it looked like a luxury cruise ship – even with butlers greeting you on board! We discovered that “deck” means outside in the wind and weather, but luckily we managed to get seets in one of the lounges (yes, there were more than one with about 3 different restaurants and a swimming pool!). In true backpacking style we camped out on the floor with our sleeping bags and the friendly waiters left us alone all night.

The boat arrived in Patras at noon and we had to make our way to the bus station as trains in Greece are not as well connected. With the extra 3 days we gained by not going to Albania and Macedonia, we decided to visit Olympia. We caught a bus from Patras and arrived in Olympia at 4pm and went straigt to the only hostel (as per the Lonely Planet), the Olympia Youth Hostel. A little old Greek lady greeted us (that also lives in the hostel) and gave us a double room for the night.

We fell in love with the small, peaceful Olympia straight way. It was like a breath of fresh air after Naples and travelling from 9am the previous morning. We were really happy that we decided to make the trip. We had a traditional Greek dinner – Mousaka and Greek salad with yogurt and honey for dessert – for only 6 EUR! This morning we visited the ancient Olympic site and it was quiet amazing to see where the olympic games started with buildings from 3rd and 4th century BC.

At 11:45 we had to catch a local bus to Pyrgos and from there another bus at 14:45 to Athens, which took 4 hours. From the bus station we made our way to the hostel and checked into a dorm room. At the moment it is just the 2 of us in the room (4 beds), so we are hoping it stays like that – wishfull thinking..

Pompeii

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Capri & Sorento

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Olympia

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