Landing in Greece – by ferry to Patras

(written by Nancy)

As Dave mentioned in his earlier post, the ferry ride was surprisingly easy and actually enjoyable – not at all what I expected.  We did go for the luxury accommodation option, so having our own cabin with nice beds to sleep in helped!  There were many people sleeping all over the ferry so there are obviously cheaper ways to travel on the ferries.  Sometimes sanity is worth paying for though and I was happy we had our own space.

The ferry was supposed to arrive at Patras at 1:30 but we didn’t dock until after 3:30 and by the time we got to our bikes and got them loaded it was 4:15 before we rolled off the ferry.  We experienced the usual culture shock – we had only a vague idea how to get to the city area and had no city map to help us.  All the signs were in Greek, which we have no hope of understanding.  We headed out of the port and in the direction we thought we should be going but it started to feel a bit wrong.  We pulled over at a petrol station to see if we could get some help.  Thankfully the fellow working spoke a little bit of English and told us to turn around and head the other direction about 3k to the city proper.

We rode along for a bit and miraculously saw one of the hotels on our list right there on the right side of the road we were on.  We pulled in and Dave went to check.  He came back with the unfortunate news that they were fully booked but on the plus side they were very helpful, gave him a city map and told him where some other hotels were located.  Big sigh of relief, at least we could have some way of knowing where we were going.

We headed into the city area, keeping our eyes open for a phone shop so we could get a sim for the phone.  We found one shop that would sell us a sim but they had no cards that we could use to add credit to the phone.  So we pressed on into the city proper, passing by several bike shops and other phone shops that were all closed.  As we rode along I spotted a sign for another hotel on our list so we pulled in to check it out.  It was a nice hotel, the Galaxy City Center Hotel, and they had rooms, wi-fi and a place to store the bikes.  We knew the campground up the road was not yet open and by this time it was after 5pm so we decided it was not the time to circle the city looking for a cheaper room so we checked in.

We unloaded our things and headed out to see if we could find somewhere to get the phone sorted out.  Unfortunately it looked like most of the shops closed early on Saturday and were not going to be open on Sunday.  Not looking good.  In our wanderings we came upon a Starbucks – first one we have seen since we left Asia.  We went in to see if they could offer any advice.  The gal behind the counter said that most places were closed but that she actually had an extra sim card that she would give us for no charge.  Very nice and goes to show you that frequenting Starbucks can pay off!  Unfortunately when we tried to use the sim to check email it didn’t seem to work so we were back to square one.

Eventually (after a snack or two) we ended up back at the store we had first stopped at to get the sim and see if they could help us get it to work so that we could get data.  This is always a very confusing process, particularly when all of the instructions are in a foreign language!  After multiple trips to a kiosk down the road get credit on the phone and some very patient workers at the store, almost 2 hours later we had the phone working!  I think we went through 3 different people at the store, getting passed from one to the next as they got a bit tired of trying to help us.  Dave was pretty determined not to leave until we had it working and thankfully the workers had a good attitude.  In particular it was the security guard, of all things, that spoke pretty good English and was the friendliest and most helpful!

With that taken care of we set out to find some dinner.  We came upon a nice looking café where they were grilling lots of kebabs – smelled delicious.  We paused a minute but were not put off by the 9 or 10 guys sitting around the big table wearing Hells Angels jackets and headed in.  The menu was, of course, all in Greek, but fortunately the cook was a friendly guy who spoke great English and helped us get an order in.  We ended up with some very tasty chicken and pork souvlaki, little pita bread rounds, garlic bread and a bag of chips!  Not sure what more you could want for your first dinner in Greece.  Though, I must say to Stella and Dave that it wasn’t quite as good as Lucky’s in Santorini….!

We took the food back to the hotel to eat as we needed to do some planning for our route in Greece.  After eating we fired up the computers but unfortunately could not get the internet to work.  Very frustrating as we really wanted to do some research and did not want to use up the phone credit right away.  Dave went down to talk to the manager to see if he could do something about it but he seemed to be completely uninterested in helping.  It is annoying when hotels say they have wi-fi but don’t do anything when it doesn’t work.  We finally did a bit using the phone and decided we would head along the coast road to Athens rather than crossing the bridge over to the other side and riding up that way.   The coast road would be faster and would give us a bit more play in the number of days we have left in the Schengen region.

Even though you know it is coming sometimes culture shock is very tiring.  Off to bed, too tired to think anymore.

Limited photos today and tomorrow – low bandwidth internet…

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