Monday, October 11, 2010

The trip to Greece - Part IV

Recap
Part I - It all started like this  , Nice to Greece, which covered the journey from Nice to Ancona and the encounter with the Police there
Part II - Then once we were in Greece, Ferry to Patras and Athens,we had many interesting experiences one of them being the friendship with a thief.
Part III - This had a chain of upsets, which made the trip seem like one of the unluckiest ones.Athens to Athens, I ended this post saying that the next part would tell on how I  was molested by police and the transporter like car chase. For all that excitement, you may go ahead clicking the read more

It was a mix of confusion and excitement for us..with butterflies in stomach we reached Nafplio at around 2-3pm..It was very cloudy and raining. One side of the railway station was the sea coast and the other side the Nafplio town. The sea looked so scary with dark clouds over it. We thought of waiting there at the station for sometime till the rain comes down. It's one of the smallest stations I've ever seen. Just a roof, a single track and nothing else. There were 2 small standing train compartments, One compartment was used as waiting room and the other for issuing tickets. I guess the station master's family used it as a temporary house as it had all required furniture within it. Here again we faced some kind of racial discrimination as the lady didn't let us into the waiting room initially. We sat on the ice cold metal bench and had our bread ketchup there . It was not at all pleasant as the cold wind was hitting us from all directions.
*Upset 1*
Once we were done with our lunch..We left to the town to find a car. There were many rent-a-cars available. We walked into almost every shop but the reply was same. They all said that there was no car available. Finally one shop we found where the owner, who had a really scary face, said he had a car. We were happy for a moment till he told the fares. The car he said he was giving for rent looks worse than an old maruti 800 and the rate he quoted was of Merc level. We understood that it was a very decent way of showing middle finger.
*Self - realization*
We were so disappointed we walked randomly along the streets and found another rent-a-car, in this one for  a change they said they could give a car but they cannot give immediately as they were closing the shop then and it would re-open around 6pm.
We then realized that there was something wrong with us only. That's when we re-looked at each of us for a while and discovered that it was wrong with  the way we looked.
No bath for 3 days,the shabby hair, the crumbled shirts and worst of all was the plastic covers, each one had 2 blue covers. With all that even rag-pickers looked better than us. Check out this paint, we looked exactly like that. I guess people thought we were some terrorists.

After this self realization we decided to dump all our luggage at the station and then go for another round of car hunt. We walked back to the station. We wanted to sit inside the waiting room as it was very cold outside, we asked the station master if we could sit in the waiting room-like compartment. Looking at our faces sympathetically he allowed us but told us that they would closing it by 4pm. So till 4pm we rested there, I slept, Swad was reading book and Venky also did something. At 4pm they pushed us out. We were back to our icecold bench with all luggage scattered around us. Swad and Venky wanted to take a walk along the track to the fields far off, where they saw  orange farms, while we were in the train. They got a lot of oranges. So somehow we whiled out 2hrs like that. After that me and Swad left to town. This time we made sure that we looked decent. We first went to the same shop who promised that they wld provide us the car at 6pm. But to our disappointment he showed empty hands. We were so pissed with our bad luck, and actually there was one last return train at 7:30pm.... so we strolled along the streets to find another rent-a-car then we found an all-in-one tourist office. They were offering remittance service also to people. These guys had a tie up with another rental, and the lady who was sitting there was very kind to provide us car as soon as we told her that we were looking for a rent-a-car. It was a pleasant surprise for us cos we thought she would be skeptical on us, like the others did and might say no. But she didnt even ask for any valid documents also. I believe she took just a xerox copy of our passport and license. The fare was a fixed amount of 40Euros perday. We booked the car for 2 days. 

We then went to gas station along with the lady to fill the tank after which she handed over the car to us. We both were so excited that we were all yelling.. yippee.. then we left to our adda, the station, where our man Venky was waiting with all the luggage. We then dumped all our luggage in the car and were so relieved that from then on we need not carry the load like donkeys. Swad was the only who knew driving and had an Intl driving license.[ I've learned driving only recently] I had the Greece map and I was the official navigator for the trip. Venky took the back seat along with the luggage and rested for whole of the trip, and our hero of the trip Swad took the driving seat.
 

First we thought of sleeping in the car for that night and then leave the next day early morning as we thought it might be risky driving in the night, but after sometime we got bored sitting there, We decided to drive for sometime and then sleep somewhere in the midway.
Initially we were scared of the road rules and were strictly following the signs and speed limits. From Nafplio we reached Tripoli in almost 2hrs. And from there in about 1.5hrs we reached Sparta. Since Sparta was in our plan to visit we decided to take a stopover somewhere outside Sparta. We parked our car along the road, under a tree and then rested there for the rest of the night. The next day morning we got up at around 8am. That place was very beautiful. The whole area had many eucalyptus trees and there was a river flowing next to that place. We brushed our teeth there, quickly had our bread ketchup and left to the castle village called Mystras. It was on a hill. Thanks to our ISIC card it was free for us. 


In Europe most of the archealogical sites and museums are free for students. Either you should be a resident student in Europe or an ISIC card holder.
The highest point of the castle was simply amazing. We get a bird's eye view of whole of Sparta from there, and the wind at that point was so strong that we were literally flying. After spending almost 2hrs there we walked back to our car and then set to go to this place called Githio which is the southern tip of the main land. On the way we picked our ammunition i.e. bread,salami and ketchups. We were very hungry by then, so we were looking for a spot to park our car somewhere and feast ourselves. We didnt want to park along the main road as it might attract any suspicion, and also we dint want people to look at what we were eating. After almost half n hour, the desparate we, discovered a small road which branched out of the main road. Either sides of this road was totally deserted with small shrubs and trees here and there. So for us it was ideal setting to open our ammunition and load ourselves. We took a right turn, went in and parked our car at one place. 
Got out of the car.. took photos ..posing in front of the car(It's Kia Piccanto)..You can see me and Venky there in the pic. This drama went on for sometime till we remembered that we actually stopped for lunch. Then as usual we made our sandwiches with the bread,salami and ketchup...and had it after a round of cheers.


*Attacked by Police*
Just when we were feeling very comfortable about our Greece trip..a police car passed by that road..and the police inside were staring at us.. I thought.. "OK" again it started...but the police car dint stop..in another 5mins another police car arrived..this one slowed down.. so I thought "OK"..again the interrogation will start... in a minute one more police car arrived..So I thought "OK" now thats a battalion.. in no time the one which left earlier..even that came.back..It was a war scene in front of us...Each of the car had 4 policemen so there were totally 12 men..now readers u have to imagine how the situation was like...sorry I couldn't take their photo.

Then one of the police spoke something in Greek..and was walking casually towards us..so I thought ..may be he was asking for my passport....so I bent down to pick out my passport from the lower pocket..and thats it.. 3 police took out their guns..and the one who talked.. he pointed the gun at me..I was dumbfounded by that scene... was shocked on what was happening.. now guys just imagine this situation ...where a loaded gun is pointed at u..and u have no clue on the reason why it is..nor u can understand what the person is talking about..

*Molested by Police*
We were in the same situation..then these 3 police came closer to us and yelled at us to face the car..and keep hands on the car..check the pic to the right..it was like that
One of the pocliemen took our passports and other 3 were busy frisking us...whenever we looked down at them..they would shout at us to look up... I was wearing this 6 pockets Levis cargos..it's a 3 part pants, I mean u can wear it like a full pants, 3/4th or shorts by unzipping the zips between each  of the parts... So this policeman who was checkin my pockets..unzipped the middle zip of my pants and was feeling my knee...I was :O.. I said it's my knee for GOD sake and not a pocket...then he stopped..

The worst part of this whole ordeal is.. a lot of passersby would look at us with an "awww" expression on their faces, and we looked no better than terrorists...
Once the body search was done..the police revealed us the secret, it seems they got some information that drugs and weapons were being smuggled by some unknown people..hence they suspected us...They asked us for the car keys..without any question we handed over the keys.. after which they royally ransacked our car..by throwing all clothes down..and opened the neatly packed souvenirs... this whole rampage went on for half n hr..finally a police came up with this tablet sheet...he asked Venky if it was his.. Venky quickly said.."No No".. then he asked Swad if it belongs to him.. he said "No No".. he showed the sheet  to me and asked me if it was mine..without even thinking for a sec I said "Yeaaaa.." cos I am sure he would have slapped me if I said No..as it was from our luggage.. I asked him from which bag he picked it.he showed my bag.. so then I was like..ok it belongs to me..Then comes the shock. The police claimed that the tablet sheet is drugs according to them and is banned in Greece.. It was Erythromycin.. Me and Swad tried a lot to explain him that it is not drugs and a valid medicine in India..later Swad suggested him to check in google..after which the police believed us.. man..Google rocks! I should say..
Later another police found a curry powder packet, which was brown in color, got by Swad. Our man then started  explaining him about how we make curries in India..the police smelled the powder ,tasted it and was convinced.

Once they were fully convinced that we were clean..they left the spot wishing us to enjoy our rest of the vacation.. but they weren't sorry even a bit for screwing our happiness..
We picked up our scattered clothes, packed our bags.. and drove to Githio..for about half n hr..none uttered a word..of course we all were in a shock...but we broke the silence with a laughter..hehe on our fate and the adventures we were going through.The beach at Githio was very beautiful, it is the place where Paris fell in love with Helen.
 
After Githio we headed to Aeropolis which had the west coast unlike Githio. The waves at Aeropolis were stronger and the view one gets while getting down the ghat road is breathtaking.  Check out this pic which we took from top of the ghat road.






It was a beach with full of pebbles.We didnt spend much time there. We wanted to go to Monomvasia before it gets dark.





On our way to Monomvasia we discovered a beach which was pristine I should say. There was an abandoned ship which looked like the one featured in Pirates of Caribean movie. We spent a lot of time there..Swad And Venky tried to click some stunts ..and none would believe this that they both did the same stunt for more than 100 times.. I myself got bored in between and left to discover something interesting there..Check out the photography skill, doesn't it seem like was pushing the ship? clicked by Swad, Idea by yours truly :P
*Dog Chase*


By the time we reached Monomvasia it was very dark.. we parked our car next to the port there.. had our bread salami ketchup and set to walk along the streets to explore the place...It was a village but had  houses built with concrete..everyone had individual houses..no apartment like thing we found there..we wanted to check out some internet centre as it was almost for 5 days we were cut off from the whole world..,..it was  very dark along the streets and there were hardly any streetlights.... while we were walking we passed by a house..where the compound wall was not that high..we could see a huge dog sitting inside.. and the dog was growling at us...as we were walking along the wall..the intensity of the growl went up...and this dog quickly ran from the main door to the gate.. OK we know this old proverb "barking dogs seldom bite"..so we ignored that.. but to our shock.. the main gate was open..and the dog almost reached.. the gate..and thats it..hell to the proverb...without looking back.. all three of us ran to save our lives.. till the dog's growl was not heard.. all three of us were so scared..we were all panting..for breath.. then we decided to walk back..and came back to our place where we parked the car...we drove the car to a lonely place which was dark and  there were a few cars parked ..we parked our car there and slept . it was one of the worst nights i ever had..couldnt sleep  properly cos it was cramped inside..and there were a lot of mosquitoes..I was desperately waiting for dawn...I was first one to wake up..we brushed our teeth..got ready and had our bread ketchup..[by now readers should know ..what our regular food was..it was always the same]


We walked all the way to the top of the Monamvasia hill top castle.. It's a beautiful place one should definitely go there, it has one of the oldest villages of Greek civilization. They have preserved the old construction still. You can check the village behind me. This was from the top of the Monamvasia hill.

  


Then we did some stunts there.. we took some risky pics..and finally walked down from a different route..which was more adventurous..

This pic might seem simpler than the way it looks. It was at very high point, and it was like sitting on a wall.. the hill was steep down. It was so high that even a big rock at the foot of the hill looked like pebble from there. Even Swad was so scared to take the pic that he shouted at me to get back soon.
Later everyone of us took the same pic in turns.







By the time we were back to our car it was around 11am. We had covered everything which we planned. before...so we had to go back to Nafplio but we werent content with that.. then struck this idea to go to Olympia..the place where the first Olympics was hosted.. now this was almost the other side of Greece..diagonally opposite direction to Monamvasia.. on map we saw there were 2 routes  to this place, one was proper highway which was thick..and another a normal road..which seemed shorter...


we decided to take the shorter route....little did we knew that it was one of the deadly roads., we wouldn't have taken that route... it was all ghat road with infinite convolutions.
At some of the places the road  was almost similar to the one you can see in the pic.

The whole journey from Githio to Olympia was almost non stop.. in between we stopped to buy our food...now this route is the most scariest. I should say... Kudos to Swad who made it seem so simple..Venky sitting in the back seat..was lost in his dreams..and me being the navigator was continously checking if we covered the places mentioned in the map along the route.. so I couldnt' sleep.. it was one of the craziest drives I had ever been to .. some of the curves on the ghat road were so deadly..and our man manoevered with mere precision..

Finally we reached Olympia around 4pm... It gets closed by 5pm..so we had 1hr to cover that place..now remember readers we had to return this car by 7pm as we had a train to catch at 7:30
so..quickly we covered the place in a hr..and took a lot of pics [which we never miss to]...we  even had a running race in the stadium.. and we were back to our car at 5pm..

Now comes the real transporter like race.. the route from Olympia to Tripoli was again totally ghat road..and there were no lights.. by 5pm it was  pitch dark there...at some places the road was as narrow as to fit just one car....in this bad light, worst roads  condition and a stiff deadline.. our driver Swad was totally playing it in GOD mode...earlier I used to control him whenever he used to speed up the car.. but this route I gave up cos we had the time constraint..and he make a mistake at any point..
it was like we were racing with time.. by the time we reached a place which was one stop away from Nafplio we saw a train passing by.. all three of us were so disappointed with that..we tried so much to reach on time..still we missed the train.. then at normal speed we went to our adda, the station.. but to our suprise we saw the train waiting there..we quickly dumped our luggage down.. Venky stayed back..as security for the luggage..me and Swad.. took the car to the rent-a-car...we managed to discover the place easily..we returned the keys to them..and the owner came out to quickly scan the car... we told him that we've a train to catch and.if he could drop us at the station....he was really kind that he readily agreed..and dropped both of us at the station.. we then hurriedly picked up all our luggage and dumped it in the train..the moment we got in the train.. the train started off...phew~....so that;s how the 2 day long power packed trip ended..
we were so happy that we could cover all of the mainland Greece without missing any place..

I tried to reproduce everything in my blog post and I hope I haven't skipped anything.
At any point of time in our future if we look back at our past am sure this Greece trip story will be one of the memories we will always cherish.. the hardships we went through, the fun we had, the adventures we did, all in all this is one of the most memorable trips to me. I am sure even Swad and Venky would believe the same.

PS: Next time when you look at a firang tourist with all dried up hair and  who looks like a rag picker, dont run away from him.
PPS: Sorry guys for the really long post. I just wanted to end it with this. It was not that easy, if it seemed so.

10 comments:

  1. hii

    this is an interesting travelogue..loved every bit! racial discrimination is still a reality sadly. the pictures are good and the dog looks really scary and wild. it takes a lot of guts to drive on that curvy road, its really dangerous..but the part that excited me most is that deserted ship! and that pristine beach too :)

    nice post :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Quite a long post. I will have to come back to catch up with the previous parts.
    With good comes the bad, too, like the frisking episode. But, i am sure that it too must have been an experience worth experiencing coz not everybody is lucky to go through that kinda situation :P

    Interesting pics. The last one is memorable indeed.
    Footprints/memories in sands of time :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. @AS
    really appreciate your patience in reading the long post.. thanks so much..
    that beach was very beautiful and we were the only 3 people there at that time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Sh@s,yea very long post..ppl wld get discouraged by the length of the post itself..anyways great that you read it:P
    haha frisking right.. very unique experience..

    ReplyDelete
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