Ireland, France, Italy and Greece all in one!
07.25.2009 34 °C
After a somewhat rainy 3 weeks in England, i decided to take a ferry over to Ireland! So i packed up my bags, said goodbye to a great city (Liverpool!) then made my way to the ferry port. And man was i wishing i packed lighter! i had to take a bus from one part of the city to the other then take the subway, then walk a good 45 minutes! i thought i was gong to die! i every so often i would just drop all my bags and sit on them in the middle of the sidewalk to take a little rest. i was never so happy to get to the ferry port! to save money i didn't bother booking a cabin so i ended up sleeping in the kids play area, which has a nice padded floor. dinner and breakfast was included in the price of my ticket, so when it came time to eat i ate as much as i could to make sure i got my money's worth! the ferry was an 8 hour ride, but ended up being 9 cause it was an hour late! when i got to the ferry port and finally got off the ship, i figured there would be some kind of public bus around, and in my guide book it tells you which number bus to take.i decided to ask someone there where everyone was checking in, and a lady told me that the company i was with didn't match up their ferries with the buses so i just missed a bus and there might be another one coming in 30 minutes.... maybe! so i waited and a bus came that had the number it said in the book but he wouldn't let me on the bus and pointed at another bus! so i went to that bus and this driver was going back to the bus yard place cause his shift was over, but thankfully he was super nice and took me to another bus stop where i could catch a bus into the city! when i finally got into the city centre of Dublin, i found the bus station, to get yet another bus to Drogheda, my home for the next 3 weeks. Luckily for me my mum's friend Majella and her husband Michael let me stay with them! When i got into Drogheda Majella picked me up from the bus station, and i spent the rest of the day just relaxing. I'm always super tired after spending 24 hours traveling, via bus/train/boat or whatever. Drogheda is just a small little town but it was a great place, i spent a lot of time walking around, trying to get lost and finding my way back, that way i know the town like the back of my hand.
One of the things i got to see was near by, The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange http://www.knowth.com/newgrange.htm i included the website here so you could get an idea of what i saw, i thought it was pretty neat!
i took a 2 day trip up to Northern Ireland, the weather wasn't the best for me, but it was still a great trip, the day i arrived, i went to the Crumlin Road Gaol (a jail) it was a great tour, although it was hard to understand the tour guide cause his accent was so thick! so i had to make sure i was watching him the whole time because if i looked away, i would miss something! the next day was the Giants Causeway Tour! it was amazing! besides that fact that it rained, it was still amazing to see! on the way we stopped at a Castle to take pictures, and the tour guide showed us, a city that used to be there but because of the rising water levels, all that is left is the top of the church, you can see it sticking out of the water!
i spent about a week traveling around Ireland, in my travels i went to Cork, to take a day trip to Blarney, where i kissed the Blarney stone, and i made a few friends there, that i toured around with, i find it so funny that when you meet up with other backpackers in places,the last thing you find out is each others names! there were 4 of us walking around together and we stopped to take pictures and a girl asked us to take her picture with her friend, then she asked if we want a picture of the 4 of us together and we were like yea i guess so, and shes like are you guys not traveling together? and we said nope we just met like an hour ago! she thought we were all best friends! but we didn't even know each others names!
After that i headed up to Killarney, where i did the Ring of Kerry tour, and the weather was just amazing for it! i got really like to get a week of really nice hot weather! http://www.ringofkerrytourism.com/
The day i got to Killarney i met two girls from Australia that were staying in my hostel, we went out to a local pub for drinks had a great time, there was live Irish music, and all the locals were there. It was great fun! then the next day me and one of the Aussie girls did the Ring of Kerry Tour together so that made it even better cause i had someone to go with!
I got up early the next morning and took a bus to Galway! This was only a brief stop, i just wanted to go to the Cliffs of Moher, which were amazing! i cant believe how lucky i got with the weather, again it was another one of those sites that you need to see when the sun is shinning or its no good at all.
At the end of the tour i was hoping to catch a 5.30 bus back to Drogheda, but the tour guide had said earlier that the earliest we would get into Galway would be 5.45 and i was a little worried so i talked to the guide/bus driver and he said not to worry he would get me to my bus on time! i was so grateful because if i had missed that one i would have had to wait around an hour, and i would have had got in at midnight!
I spent the next few days sorting myself out, planning how to get to France, my rail pass and what i wanted to see. i was sad to be leaving Ireland, but i knew there was still so much more to see! i ended up taking a ferry from Rosslare to Roscoff in France. Then walked to the train station, took a train to Morlaix to catch another train to Paris. then finally i took the metro to my hostel, thankfully the stop was right in front of my hostel. When i arrived there were guys on the streets celebrating a football match, they were throwing fireworks up and down the street, it was madness! and one guy threw them right in front of my hostel door so i had to wait for them to stop and then run in the door!
I could tell it had been raining earlier and i was hoping that i wouldn't seen any of it during my time in Paris but i didn't get so lucky.
The next day it just rained all day, of course when i first went out in the morning it was nice and sunny so i didn't bother with an umbrella, boy did that suck. i was soak half way threw the day and was getting sick on top of it. i was not a happy camper, by the time i arrived at the Eiffel Tower i was probably the angriest tourist there! i was walking around taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower while muttering to myself " stupid Paris, stupid Eiffel tower more like the awful tower, stupid rain, stupid rude french people... i hate Paris!"
The best part of Paris were the Catacombs. It was such an amazing thing to experience although kind of creepy because they're bones of dead people, if you don't know what the Catacombs are, long story short, Paris' largest cemetery was saturated to a point where its neighbours were suffering from disease, due to contamination caused by improper burials, open mass graves, and earth charged with decomposing organic matter. That they moved remains to depleted quarries for the storage of bones. its an amazing thing to see, google it to find out more. i was a little annoyed an American guy that was behind me, when him and his friends came out, he said "that's it? that was stupid!" i nearly died, and i thought and you wonder why people think Americans are ignorant, its because of people like him.
After a few days in Paris i decided that was enough and it was time to for Rome!! i cant tell you how excited i was to be going there and getting away from Paris! i took an over night train, which i slept in a cabin with 6 other people... 6 bunks, smallest room ever. Anyway around 4am the police come into our cabin! and start asking everyone whose luggage was whose. they didn't ask me but a guy in our cabin pointed out mine and they didn't really seem interested in it. but there were these two ladies i think from Spain sleeping in the bunks below me and the guy told me that when the police asked them how many bags they had they said one, but they really had two.... so he thinks there was something funny going on :S i was happy the train ride was over an hour later! i had to switch trains in Milano, this train was just a regular train, with seats. i got a seat with a little table in front of me so i put my sweater on the table and slept for the next 4 hours, and i think these Italian ladies felt bad cause they were talking and then noticed i was sleeping so they got up and moved seats! i had a good little nap on the train and was feeling much better by the time i got to Rome or Roma as its called there. i stayed at a hostel that was only 5 mins from the train station, and only 20 mins walking from all the major tourist attractions. it was a great place, the staff were so nice, and two out of the 4 nights i got a free pasta dinner! and on my last day there i got free laundry, which i was in desperate need of!
the first day i just walked around got the lay of the land sort of thing, figured out where i was going and how to get to places. the second day i hit most of the major tourist attractions including the Colosseum, which was amazing, but i always want to see these things with no tourist, unfortunately they always have thousands of people there. i went to the Spanish steps, which weren't that great, but oh well at least I've seen them, Trevi Fountain was beautiful, and i threw coin over my shoulder in ensure i get back to Rome one day! I love that Rome hasnt been modernized, you can still picture it being pretty much the same as it was hundreds of years ago, minus the McDonald's of course!
One of the places that was top of my list to see was Greece. its one of those places you see in movies and shows and you think "i would love to go there!" so after Rome i was off to Greece, i took a train down to Bari, then a bus to the ferry port.
It was a 15 hour overnight ferry, which always seem like they take days to get where you're going! When i finally got to Greece, the ferry docked in Patra. the next step was getting a train up to Athens, i wasn't 100% sure where the train station was but when the ferry was pulling up to the dock, by the layout of the city i kinda figured what way it was, but i thought it best to ask before i went to far in the wrong direction. i got off the boat and ended up walking behind about 5 other backpackers, and just as we were about to leave the ferry port one of them says i guess we're all going to the train station does anyone know where it is? at that point i didn't, they all decided to go to the left but my thoughts were to go to the right, to what seemed to be the city centre, and ask someone along the way. so that's what i did, the first lady blew me off and wouldn't help me but the next guy told me that i was going in the right direction and just to keep going and it would be on the right side. i asked a few more people along the way just to make sure, after about walking for 15 mins i look back and i see all the other backpackers have turned around and are now going the same way i am. when i finally got to the train station i was about to fish out my rail pass from my backpack, when the lady at the train station said, " where you going?" i told her Athens, then in a panic, she jumped up and said, " that's your train right there! hurry hurry go get on its leaving right now and its free for Eurail holders", so i ran and got on the train just as it was pulling out! And all the other backpackers missed it! i felt like i was on the amazing race and i was kicking butt!
While i was on the train i started talking to a young couple from California, and found out they were getting off in Athens as well, and i remember reading in my time table book, that i had to switch trains at some point, but i wasn't sure if it was the same for this train because it was a different time train. So we asked a few locals that were on the train and they told us what stop we had to change at and that it would be in about 2 hours. The only problems was we weren't sure if the signs would be in Greek or English.... and they didn't announce stops. so as the time got closer we got all our bags and stuff, just in case we had very little time to get off the train, and started looking out the window to see if we could see a sign for our stop. when the 2 hour mark hit, we arrived at a station with no sign!! we were like do we get off or do we stay on?? We figured cause it was such a small station it would be the one to get a train to Athens. so we stayed on.... as we were standing there wondering if we missed our stop i said to the girl, " i bet you every other person on this train is getting off at the same stop as us and they are all thinking what the hell are these tourists doing, they've been standing for the last 20 mins and they haven't got off at any of the stops we've passed, and she said, "yea and its probably the end of the line." Well we were both right.. we felt like fools but we were happy we didn't miss our stop! we had about 15 mins until the next train. so we grabbed some water and food for the next two hour train ride.
The next train was a lot nicer then the first, it was air conditioned, it announced the stops had lots of room to put our luggage. Before i left Italy i decided not to book a hostel before i arrived in Greece, because the odds of being late were pretty good, and I'm so thankful i didn't book one! by the time i got there i was so tired , and it was hot out, i just wanted to find the closest hostel. i started looking for the hostel i found on the Internet, because it was supposed to be cheap, and in a good location from the city and train station. but because of the crappy street signs, i missed the street i was supposed to take, then as i was walking along i was thinking, the next hostel i see I'm staying at. i turned my head to cross the street and there was a hostel! So that's where i stayed while i was in Athens, it was about a 30 minute walk from the touristy stuff but that was fine by me, it was cheap and the people who owned it were very nice. The only thing was i felt like i was back in south east Asia again, because you couldn't put the toilet paper down the toilet, you had to put it in the garbage. the shower you had to hold the shower head in your hand, there wasn't anything holding it to the wall, and the bathroom had the smell of the bathrooms in south east Asia, not good. but it was good enough for the 4 days i was there.
I was really hungry by the time i got there so i decided to hit the streets to find me some food! as i was walking along the street minding my own business, okay i was looking all touristy with my map in my hand trying to figure out where i was going, and the Greek signs weren't helping! anyway as i made my way around the city, i heard some cars honking at each other, so i look up to see whats going on, and one guy cut off another guy. So they decide instead of just honking and moving along, they have to stop in the middle of the streets, get out of their cars and start yelling at each other, now i have no idea what they were saying cause it was in Greek, but it was fun to watch! then a van pulled up and stopped and blocked my view so i decided it was time to move on. i continued walking, until i see a lady, who by all guesses was probably a hooker, and if she wasn't she sure dressed like one. Anyway she picked up an empty 2L pop bottle, then in what seemed to be an angry walk, dashed over to this, what seemed to me as a random old man and just started smacking him in the head with the pop bottle!! At this point, i decided, I'm probably in a shady area of Athens i should leave now, before she decides she's gonna start hitting random tourist over the head with the pop bottle! Not to far from there i found a awesome Kebab place! it was just what i needed to fill my belly!
The next day i was going to see the sights but i was really tired so i decided to sleep in instead, that way the next day i could get up nice and early and beat the crowds to the sights. so i did what i do best that day, i wandered around all day. it was so hot that day, i ended up sticking my head in a sprinkler as i walked by, that was great for a few mins. I did get the lay of the land, so to speak. i wanted to make sure i knew where i was going the next. i ended up buying a kilo of cherries which were amazing and some bananas.
The next day i was up at the crack of dawn and on my way to see the sights of Athens. My first stop was the Acropolis. You pay 12 euros, and you get into the Acropolis and 6 other archaeological sites. The view from the Acropolis was to die for, you could see all of Athens and then some, even the ocean in the distance. Since i could use my tickets over 4 days i spent the next two days seeing the sights. I saw Temple of Zeus Olympios, Socrates Jail, Hadrian's Library and Hadrian's Arch, the Roman Baths, and so much more! The thing always boggles my mind though, is how do they know what these places looked like, and what they are and who they belonged to! sure some of the sights had a lot there and a lot they put back together, but there were some places that had very few pieces left, and they had pictures of what it looked like and what it was and who it belonged to. it just seemed so crazy to me that people could figure this out.
So after my sight seeing i started thinking about where i was to go next. i was planning on going up to Berlin, Germany, i looked into trains and the ferry i would have to take, and it would have been a solid 48 hours of traveling if i went that way. So i decided to spend a little more money and fly. because the last time i spent that much time traveling i got myself sick, and it was horrible. i was flying with Easy Jet , which ended up being over an hour late, meaning i didn't get into Berlin until after midnight, and i was hoping the trains i had to take to get to my hostel would still be running by the time i got there. when we finally landed i went to pick up my backpack, only to find it with a broken strap, the strap that goes around my waist, the buckle was broken off and part of the strap had been ripped off. there weren't any Easy Jet people around to report this to, as well as i was more worried about getting to the trains before they stopped running. When i got the train station the train i was supposed to take wasn't running, and the guy at the food stall, wouldn't help me, so i went back up stairs to the main part of the station to see if i could find somebody who would help me. and just as i was walking out of the station and random German man, who spoke very little English started talking to me in German and pointing at the buses, after i told him i don't speak German he tried to use the few English words that he knew, but it wasn't helping. so i decided to show him the directions i had written down with the train number on it. and then he understood what i was trying to do. so he showed me where the bus would pull up to, but then he ended up just waiting with me, and talking to the bus driver who spoke very little English as well, and between the three of us we figured out how i could get to my hostel at this hour, and the bus was even free! i had to get off at the next train station and i knew where i wanted to go but i had to buy a ticket. and they only had the machines, and it didn't list the place i wanted to go. so i asked some locals, i wasn't getting any luck with English speaking Germans, but they were trying their best to help me. an older couple waiting for the train were trying to help me and i was trying to ask about the tickets and he just ended up giving me one of his! score! haha it was really nice of him and his wife to help me get on my way, they stayed on the trains with me (we had to switch twice) and when they got off at their stop they told me mine was 8 more stops away. i was so grateful to them, and i knew how to say thank you in German, but for the life of me couldn't remember at the time! so i just said thank you very much, a lot in English. i think they understood. When i got off the train, i must have had the 'im not sure where I'm going look on my face' cause a random guy came up to me and asked if knew where i was going. but when i looked up i could see my hostel on the other side of the train station. so he told me how to get there and i was on my way! by this time tho it was 2 am. and i started thinking while i was on the plane, did i book the hostel for tonight or tomorrow. well i apparently i booked it for the next night but thankfully they had a room, and i could stay in the same room for both nights. i was a little worried about going into the room at 2 am because its a dorm, even though if you stay in a dorm there very good odds of people coming in at all hours. i still felt bad though. but as luck would have it all my roommates were still up and just got in, so i didn't have to feel bad about waking people up.
ps make love not war.