spent 10 days in the port town of Hora on the Greek Island
of Naxos waiting to see if the weather looked more promising
to continue south (another 6 hour ferry) to Crete.
It´s just as well that the threat of rain (as forecast
on the internet) continued all through my stay. I enjoyed
spending 10 days in one place in a great room with a great
balcony and roof with great views. I needed a vacation from
my vacation. And it did not rain that much either, though
I could easily see why they say that Mediterranean weather
could change rapidly. And when I left Hora, I was sorry
to leave. Actually, I've been sorry to leave most places
- but this one was beginning to get that "home"
the 6 hour ferry to Athens - severe culture shock. Athens
is by far the ugliest, dirtiest big city I've seen. I had
to stay another night there and chose the hostel I stayed
at 12 days before. Not in a great part of town, lousy facilities,
poor internet, lockers with no doors, peeling paint...but
close to the train station and only $8.35 a night. Still,
it was a far cry from my place on Naxos.
next day I took a train back to the port of Patras (at least
it was not an hour and a half late again), and took the
overnight ferry to Bari, Italy where I caught the next 8
hour train to Venice (36 hours travel total). While waiting
for the ferry to depart Patras I found the town's only internet
and made a reservation at a hotel in a little town just
outside Venice so that I didn't have to search for a place
to stay when I arrived at 9PM.
The next day I moved to a hotel in the city of Venice (also
booked ahead). I spent two full days in Venice getting lost
and lost again. On the first day I was only about 300 meters
from my hotel, but it took me 3 hours to find my way back
and I backtracked routes more than a couple times. Even
though it rained a lot the first day, a little the second
and was threatening to rain more days, I could have stayed
longer in this charming city....but I knew that I had alot
of trip business to conduct (shopping and online email and
research) before leaving Europe and decided to spend a full
6 days in Vienna, thinking that the cost and access would
be better than Venice where it was hard to find a connection
and was very expensive as well. Naxos was so much better
day I left Venice I had some time in the morning to walk
around some more and noticed that a lot of people where
wearing high rubber boots. I soon came to see why - high
tide... the canal water is not much better than raw sewage
and often smells like it. I pitied some people trapped in
a hostel with only one water-covered walkway out. Some took
off their shoes and waded. Yuk!
Vienna was a nice orderly city but pretty boring. The first
night I spent in a hostel some drunken kid woke everyone
in to room up when he urinated in the waste basket (the
bathroom was in the dorm room 4 feet to his left). The next
day I found a very large room (actually 3 rooms) in a budget
hotel for $2 more which included a great breakfast.
city not a city (no cars): Venice
town: Tie between Hora and Manarola (CinqueTerra)
city: Athens, ugly, dirty and only two sites worth visiting
well spent: Renting a scooter for a tour around Naxos
wasted: Tie between the $1600 Eurarail pass and the entrance
fees to all the museums (not one was even worth my time).
entertaining sight: Puppy fights on the ruins of the floor
of the coliseum in Rome
entertaining sound: The conversation between an old woman
and a younger woman (who was about 55 or 60) on the fast,
but otherwise boring, train from Paris to Tolouse.... they
were both speaking in english with heavy french accents.
The old woman was a curmudgeon and had an "attitude",
but because of her age, it was comical. It was clear from
the conversation that the younger one was either the older
woman's caretaker or her daughter whom she must not have
seen for a long time....though why they were speaking in
english had me puzzled because there were only two people
within earshot and both of us were clearly amused by the
At one point the older woman asked the younger, "Are
even with men."
said, yes, even with men."
are a fewel."
amazing sight: "The Birds" in Rome
amazing sound: "The Birds" in Rome
beautiful sight: Tie between the Alps and Gaudi buildings
beautiful sound: One afternoon, as I was sitting in a mostly
empty plaza in Venice, I heard the sound of singing approaching
from one of the many alleys. It turned out to be a middle
aged man casually but conservatively dressed, singing an
old beautiful Italian song with a very beautiful voice.
He continued on behind me and then across the plaza and
out another ally, singing all the while. He was not a street
performer. He was just a man walking and singing.
strained to listen, the further away he got. I almost followed
- it was that good.
I prepare to leave Europe I am beginning to miss it and
the time I have spent here.... but the days are getting
much shorter here and further adventure awaits.