Trip to Greece: part 1

This begins a 4 part series about my trip to Greece; the first two parts will be about the road trip, the third will be on the islands of Mykonos and Santorini, and the final installment will be a wrap-up of thoughts and conclusions about the trip.

Why write about it? It’s a lot easier than answering questions about what I did and saying the same thing each time. Instead I can just say “go look at my blog” and then go hide in a cave where I don’t have to deal with you people.

Day 1: Arrival in Athens

After 14 hours of plane flights/baby screaming sessions, Niki and I met up with Ilias at the airport, picked up our car, and got dinner. Every meal in Greece must have at least one Greek salad, which is basically bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, and feta. I think it’s a law.

This was also the day that we discovered the horrors of Greek plumbing. Their sewage system isn’t capable of handling toilet paper, so every bathroom has a foul-smelling little garbage can next to the toilet. You do NOT want to forget to take this out every night. Feces in a bucket + 100 degree weather don’t mix.

Day 2: Temple of Poseidon


Marc flew in from Spain, and our gang of four drove up some crazy highways to the Temple of Poseidon… or what’s left of it. Scumbag vandals like Lord Byron have left the place in poor shape.

Day 3: Delphi

Tuba music upsets the mighty Apollo!
Apollo's cat

ROAD TRIP! We set out in our Hyundai Accident Accent on the open road for the driving portion of our trip. First stop: Delphi.

The once great city of Delphi is now a mess of rocks overrun by tourists and cats. The stadium and the theater are still pretty much intact, but as luck would have it you’re not allowed to go into either.

The Delphi museum may have had the weirdest photography policy I’ve ever heard: no flash, and no people. That’s right: you can take photos of everything in the museum, but you can’t take a picture of your friends standing next to a statue. Why? The folks who worked there didn’t explain.

It was also on the third day that we started to get worried about the gas crisis. You see, the truck drivers have a program quite similar to the SF taxi medallion program, and the Greek government wanted to float many, many more medallions to help with their budget deficit. This would pretty much wipe out the truck drivers’ retirement, so almost every gas truck driver went on an indefinite strike. We were afraid of getting stranded, but without gas there’s serious consequences to emergency services, medicine, and even food. A bad situation for everyone.

Day 4: Mt. Olympus

Mount Olympus
Outlet at our four star hotel

The hike up Mt. Olympus is a grueling all-day hike with steep trails. It’s not for amateurs, which is why we decided not to do it. Instead we just took a hike around the side to a nearby waterfall, which is where the town’s water supply came from. In fact it wasn’t a trail we were walking on so much as an aqueduct.

Our hotel was pretty proud of the fact that they had FOUR STARS. Apparently though, having wiring that’s up to code does not factor into whatever equation gave them FOUR STARS. Luckily, no one suffered electrical burns.

Day 5: Agios Stefanos

Monastery sign
Monastery Meowers
Garden gate
Restaurant Meteora

The surprising thing about this cliff-side monastery is how peaceful and serene it is, despite being a tourist magnet. The nuns feed the cats who live there and maintain the garden.

The view from the monastery is beautiful, and the little town below is actually kind of charming. We went to a restaurant there where in lieu of a menu, they took us to the kitchen and shows us what was available. I wish more restaurants would do this, it’s adorable. And the food was great.

This was also the worst day of the gas crisis. We had to take time to calculate the gas mileage we got in our Hyundai Accident Accent so far, and confirm that we would be able to make the next day’s drive without filling up the tank. It was a close call. This is also why you should always travel with nerds.