Posted by: lindsaygoes | September 6, 2011

The wheels on the bus…

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So after my Cornwall trip I took the next logical step and headed to Athens. As you do. So I managed to navigate myself to the hostel and then ended up meeting someone from my next tour in my room, and then some other people in the hostel bar. So that was nice. Getting mauled by bedbugs overnight (including bites on my face) wasn’t so nice.

The next day went on a walking tour around Athens. There were only four of us on it, and we were apparently an awesome group. I think that meant that we ended up back at the meeting points before we were due to. We did start off the tour near the hostel and seemed to be getting lots of instructions of ‘Don’t go there after 9pm’ ‘Just don’t go in there.’. Well, as the only girl on the tour most of those instructions seemed to be for me. But it was very interesting walking around all the ruins and we managed to reach the Acropolis before the cruise groups so didn’t have to wait for too long. Although it seemed like Greece was conforming the EU regulations of having scaffolding on a certain number of historical sites. We also ended up an an secret spot for the changing of the guard (ok, so it was outside the Presidential Palace but don’t tell anyone because there was no one else there) and got a fantastic view and some photos with some of the guards. The outfits they wear are incredible, and it was such a hot day as well! That evening we went to the flea markets, bought some souvenirs. and then ended up having a big group dinner with a load of people from our tour group.

The next day it was an early start to join the tour. Slightly bizarre at the hotel we were meeting at as there were a load of backpackers, as well as a load of pilgrims and nuns all mingling around. There were 37 people on our tour, and by the end of it I think I probably learned about 10 names. But anyway, we then spent the rest of the day on the bus. Eventually arrived in Corfu and then went out for a traditional Greek dinner and a toga party. Apparently just dressing people in togas doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to go crazy. They might just sit around talking, in togas.

The next day was seriously hot, but I made an effort and walked to the top of the old fort in Corfu, and it really did have a fantastic view. And then I had an excuse to eat an ice-cream. Admittedly I probably would have had the ice-cream anyway. But once we’d done our sightseeing for the day we basically hung around the pool for the afternoon (we were staying at a surprisingly nice hotel, the only weird bit was the fact that the bathroom doors were just frosted glass and we were in mixed rooms). I ended up having a conversation with a woman by the pool (nationality will remain anonymous because I have some American readers. Oops!). She was asking where I was from and we were having a bit of a chat about Melbourne and the weather, it seemed to be quite a surprise to her that seasons were reversed in the Southern Hemisphere. Ok, fair enough. But then she seemed to be amazed that it could take more than eight hours to fly anywhere. I explained that I hadn’t actually travelled that far because I was currently living in the UK. Then she asked where the UK was. At that point I decided I needed to leave. That night we headed back into town and we were lucky enough to have an organiser in our group (no it wasn’t me, I’m much more likely to go ‘I don’t mind’ when it comes to plans, which I know is annoying) who found somewhere for us to eat and managed to get us all a free drink. Some of us decided that rather than hitting the bars afterwards we’d get some ice-cream and then walk home. The people who went into bars ended up catching the bus back and beating us home. Apart from a group of guys who headed across Corfu to get more drunk.

So, we didn’t hear the guy who was in our room coming back in the night but the alarm on his phone went off for about fifteen minutes the next day and didn’t wake him up. The other girl in our room and I couldn’t see his phone, and we weren’t going to go looking for it. Eventually the girl in our room prodded him to wake him up. He swore a little and made us turn around when he realised he was naked. At least he had a sheet on. So then it was back on the bus, with a group of still drunk guys who entertained us?? (alright, annoyed) with inappropriate chants which then got stuck in our heads. From Greece it was on to Albania, where the roads deteriorated. We got to get up close to an old bunker, but also had a random lunch (apparently chicken? I’m still not sure). We ended up at our ‘beach resort’ which was apparently a former military compound, and had a bit of a swim (I kept to the pool) and went to the shops. The directions were ‘Walk along the beach, turn right at the pile of rubbish, go past the fake McDonald’s and then you’ll find a shop. They’ll take any currency’. The pile of rubbish was why I kept to swimming in the pool. Our dinner was included in the trip, but it gave me flashbacks to the food they gave us when I was living in college. And then I got kept awake by a mosquito buzzing around my head all night. Apparently Albania is going to be a very different place in 10 years. Perhaps wait a little while until you make your visit.

And then the next morning we were back on the bus again. It took us two hours stuck in traffic to get to the border. That was painful. So we got to Budva in Montenegro a bit late, had a swim in the sea (much cleaner but seriously crowded!) and then had an awesome barbecue at the hostel. They asked us to give them a song list, and it was cheesy music the whole way! Only then they played two of our songs, and then some random techno stuff. Not impressed. Then they made us all go to bed.

Guess what we did the next day? We got back on the bus! But then we visited Kotor, a lovely city in Montenegro with a fantastic old town where we got to stretch our legs and explore. Next it was on to Croatia. We stopped in Dubrovnik for lunch, but by the time we had eaten we only had twenty minutes to get back to the bus, so I think Croatia might be somewhere I need to get back to. I guess we picked the wrong place to eat, but it might also be that famous Mediterranean service. Driving through Croatia we had to pass through ten kilometers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Again the queue at passport control was insane, but this time our driver headed down the wrong side of the road, pushing into the lane of traffic every time we came across a vehicle coming the other way. It was insane, but rather awesome and we saved about two hours time. Plus, we weren’t exactly pushing in as once we got to the front we could joint the bus lane, which was empty. That night I had a brief stop in Split, which I also feel I need to see more of, and finished my first Eastern European tour.

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