A Greek Turn of Events

Sunset in Patras

I arrived in Patras, Greece at about 8pm without any map, any idea what the city was like, any place to stay for the night, and merely meager Greek language skills. My goal was to find a place to stay and figure out how I was going to get to Athens the next day. I started walking towards what looked like the city’s center and eventually arrived at a row of hotels. I went into a couple and tried to get an idea for prices. After haggling a bit I was pointed in the direction of an allegedly cheap place. When I got there I ended up paying only 23euros for a room, which I figured wasn’t too bad on such short and desperate notice. I settled in, went to find some Internet, then needed to find a place to eat. In some cities finding a decent place to eat at 10:30pm could be hard. But not in Greece, and certainly not in Patras. The city was bustling with people probably enjoying their Easter holiday and having a good time. I found a nice place and sat down to devour some chicken souvlaki. I could eat souvlaki every day I think.

I had passed by the train station while looking for hotels and was told there was a train at noon the next day that was free with my Eurail pass to Athens. So, the next morning, I woke up, packed up and headed to the train station to hopefully catch my train to Athens. Let’s just say when I arrived at the small coastal town’s train station I was a bit confused. After traveling on way too many trains over the previous two months I had a pretty good idea on how to work out the whole train thing. But this was Greece and Greece is different. Allow me to explain. There was a departures board and an arrivals board, both with clocks and a list of trains. Fine, nothing out of the ordinary. However, upon further inspection the trains listed on the departures board would have left six hours earlier and the clock said 10:43. What? My previously trustworthy phone said it was 11:49 and where was the train I had to take? It surely wasn’t on the board. Looking over at the arrivals board I noticed the trains listed seemed to be the right ones but this clock also had a different time; 10:47. I then checked out an independent clock and it, thankfully, seemed right on, saying the time was 11:49. I went to ask the ticket person what the deal with the train was. She said, “oh, no train today. Here you can take the bus.” No train today? But I was there yesterday and was told there was a train at noon… O.K. then. Any reason why there’s no train I asked? “There was a problem with them. Here’s your bus ticket, have a good trip” she said. Right.
Let’s just leave this by saying there aren’t many other places in the EU something like this could happen. To Greece’s credit though, the bus was non-stop to Athens and almost empty so I had lots of space and lots of room on my couple hour trip to Athens. Greece is definitely different and this was just the start…

-Phil

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