Well, stuck in Athens an extra day now. No worries though, I'm used to it by now. And really, you can't be stuck anywhere when you've got nowhere to be, right?
When I last wrote, I said I was on my way to the Greek Islands...I still am, it's just been a week of taking the long route.
I woke up early on the 17th for my 7 AM flight to Athens. Called a cab to the airport. Headed for the door. I thought there was no way a flight from Rome to Athens could be cancelled by a volcano in Iceland.
My hostel was already completely booked with stranded travelers, so I had to move to a new place. All the decent places were booked, so I wound up in a roach motel that smelled of mildew and old curry.
There I met a man who was the opposite of all the great people I've met. Manjul. The dest clerk at "Beautiful Hostel". He was a night clerk at a dive. But if you ask him, he was a world famous titan of hoteleering. A genuis his boss loved so much he was ready to give him the hostel.
Being the kind and gracious man he is, he game me a 'free' coffee on my arrival. (All coffee is free at hostels.) in a dirty cup(and it was cold instant coffee at that.) then said "See, I am a very kind man..hahaha! aren't I? aren't I??" and wouldn't stop asking until I said "Yes, yes, you are."
Then he regailed me with stories of his genius and charity for an hour or so before I, fearing for my sanity, went to bed at 8. (And it wasn't a bed, more a cot with an itchy blanket.)
The next morning I woke up-with a stiff neck-to check my flight. The hostel, obviously, had no wifi and no computers available. So I had to ask to use the office computer to check flight status.
"Of course!" he said "but first, can you check your email?"
I knew where this was going. You see, in the hostel world today the single most important thing is your online rating. My sacrafice of rating the hostel was my betrayal, checking my flight status would be my 30 pieces of silver.
And boy did Manjul get his money's worth. Not being under durress my rating probably would have been a 40% or so and my comment "Not recommended." But with Manjul over my shoulder I tried an 80%. "Oh no. No. We need a 100%! Give us a 100 I'm very good to you!"
Ok, no comment at least.
Not with Manjul!
"Please write: 'Great service. Manjul is the best ever.'"
And, of course, he made sure I spelled his name right.
What a moment of utter shame-betraying fellow travelers everywhere like that.
And my flight was cancelled to add injury to insult. I was pretty aggitated at this point, decided I needed a break from the wait and see if the volcano has stopped game and gave myself 2 days instead of 1 before I rebooked.
So, I bid a fond farewell to the great Manjul (not before he gave me a special breakfast of more dirty coffee and the butt of a loaf of bread-my final shame.) and got the hell out of there.
There were enough stranded backpackers that finding a hostel was a bit difficult, and I definitely noticed the prices go up 5 or 10 euros a night. I spent 2 hours in an internet cafe-banging my head into my rock of stability, Jeong, before she managed to tear me out of my shame induced rage.
I got up, put on a fake smile and headed to the hostel that just gouged me for 30 Euros a night. Determined to be friendly god damn it.
The line was chaotic. A good 20 miute wait to check in. I decided to find like minded people to bitch with.
The girl in front of me seemed friendly so I asked her if she was stuck too. Nope, she'd just arrived on a train from Switzerland. I told her my story and her response was...unexpected.
"Oh, well, if you're here for another 2 days, you can show me around the city!"
"Uh...well...yeah, yeah I guess I can."
Hell, my alternate plan was to brood in my room and read depressing books about starving North Koreans. Giving a tour sounded better.
I have to say, the next 2 days completely changed my opinion of Rome. A few reasons 1) I already knew the city layout, so there was no wandering around lost, pulling out maps. The less stress the better. 2) You take the time to read information, and remember it more, when you're telling someone else the facts of a city. So I definitely had a smoother, more informative time.
So those last two days worked out perfectly, both for her(who doesn't love a free tour?) and for me (we all know how much I love to tell people things.)
The next day my flight to Athens went off as scheduled. Yesterday I took a tour of the city and visited the Acropolis. (Which is the home of the Parthenon.) I had planned to leave for Santorini this morning, but we (me and a New Zealand guy who decided to go too) found out when we got to the port-general strike in the city today. No boats going anywhere.
So another day in Athens. No problem. A chance to write, a chance to check out the museum.
Tomorrow the strike ends and it's off to the islands!
Unless there's a plague of locust, or maybe a down pour of frogs.
(An update the next day. Stuck in Athens again! Overslept this morning. Stupid iPod stuck under the pillow. So, to recap-Volcano, worker's revolution, personal stupidity. Seriously, about to give up.)
Though Athens is really a great city it seems. Fun, clean, easy to walk around. Definitely suggest it.
More in a week or so.