#14 – Athens by train – 30 Days, 30 Countries
Crap. I’m 2 hours away from Thessaloniki, and apparently there is a strike going on in whole Greece (just announced!) completely shutting down all public transport. For now it seems that I can go no further than Thessaloniki, so no clue how I will go to Athens by train. There goes my goal…..
Destination #14 – Athens. I think this has been the most “inexperienced” moment in my life. When I left Sofia there was already something weird going on, instead of the Greek train bringing us to Thessaloniki there was a replacement train to the Greek border, where the other train waited for us. Meanwhile there were rumors of a strike in Greece, however that would not be of influence for my trip since it would start on the 8th. At the Greek border however we heard of an immediate strike effective for all public transport in Greece. So there I was, on some shitty boarder and the only destination that I could still reach was Thessaloniki. According to the conductor: no train no bus no.
The easiest solution at that point was to simply give up on my goal: not continuing to Athens (how was I supposed to get there?), but stay overnight in Thessaloniki waiting for the bus I would take at 5:30 PM. After a while the conductor came back: Thessaloniki out, bus. Again…. what the hell was I supposed to do? Apparently there was a bus replacement to Athens, but how in God’s name would I come back from Athens to Thessaloniki? A Greek guy I spoke said that we were lucky that there is replacement now, probably because they just announced it. The rest of the strike for sure no replacement. Hence the most “inexperienced” moment: What to do?
I decided; screw it – I’m going. So together with a German guy we pushed ourselves forward between a massive amount of people to the bus. Even the driver did not know what to do; Athens? Yes – ok we went in the bus. Few moments later: Alexandroupoulis? No? OUT!. A few minutes later: ticket controls and yes the bus went to Athens. Weirdly enough I’ve slept throughout the whole night, woke up in Athens at 6 AM in the morning. I made a quick planning of what I wanted to do, and stopped meanwhile at a hotel to ask if there were any busses to Thessaloniki. They gave me an address, and I decided to take my chances and would try to catch a bus around ~10 AM (this would give me enough time to catch the bus in Thessaloniki to Skopje).
At 8 o’clock I was at the Acropolis and I’ve climbed it all the way, with my heavy backpack. I can say that the Acropolis is absolutely mind blowing; so ancient.. with an astonishing view over Athens. I arrived at the address that was given to me at 9:25 AM, where I got one of the last tickets ($$$) available for the bus to Thessaloniki at 9:30 AM – unbelievable lucky. I’m writing this while I’m on the bus to Skopje, so that means that I’m still on schedule… It feels like I’ve left Athens in a rush – but I will definitely once go back there.