A Week-In-The-Life of Rachael: Today I Ate a Baguette

by Nora on July 30, 2012

 

Rachael

Rachael is a 25 year old New Zealander who sacrificed her early 20’s to climb the career ladder, only to find herself out of job at the age of 24, when the politician she was spin-doctoring for retired. After putting off travel for weddings and jobs, she took this as a sign – if she didn’t do it now while manless, childless, financially uncommitted, fit, and healthy – she never would. But solo travel isn’t entirely natural for her; she still grapples with reading maps and mixing up left and right, so every day is an adventure! Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Rachael in Greece!

 

 

Day One: Monday

5am: Alarm goes off in my six person dorm in Athens. Accidentally wake everyone up. I blame the plastic mattress covers for that.

 

6am: On the first metro to the outskirts of Athens to catch a bus to Meteora – home of the spectacular 14th century monasteries perched precariously on top of rock towers like this one.

 

 

6.30am: Get off the metro and commence a two kilometre walk with the entire contents of my life on my back (all 16kg of it) to get to the bus station.

 

6.40am: Dodgy greek man in a red convertible offers me a lift. I politely decline and he starts yelling at me.

 

7am: On the bus.

 

12pm: Arrive in Kastraki (village at the base of Meteora) dead on lunchtime. Haven’t eaten today. Insanely hot. Can’t find a place to stay in my price range.

 

12.30pm: Still no luck. About to have a cry.

 

12.31pm: A New Zealand/English couple I met in Athens drive past. They take pity on me, ply me with coffee, help me find a place to stay, stop at a bakery where I buy a cheese pie for lunch (cheese makes everything better), and drop me at the top of Meteora.

 

2pm: Bump into a Spanish guy on my bus from Athens while visiting the first monastery.

 

3pm: Bump into Spanish guy again at the second monastery.

 

4pm: Bump into Spanish guy again. Clearly the universe wants us to hang out for the rest of the afternoon. It’s nice to have company and to not have to take selfies for once.

 

7pm: Try Moussaka (a kind of Greek eggplant, tomato, mince, cheese, lasagne concoction) for the first time. Wash it down with an Alpha beer. In my happy place.

9pm: Crash for the night.

 

 

Day Two: Tuesday

11am: At the bus stop to get back to the top of Meteora.

 

11.45am: Bus still hasn’t come. Decide to walk.

 

12.30pm: Dripping with sweat I do the unthinkable – accept a ride from a stranger. In fairness, he is a very old Greek man and I could totally take him if it came down to it.

 

12.45pm: Run into Spanish guy again. Get his number and promise to have a beer with him when I eventually get to Spain.

 

8.30pm: Bed. All this travel is turning me into a nanna!

 

 

Day Three: Wednesday

7.50am: At the bus stop 10 minutes early.

 

8am: Bus drives straight past me. Next bus isn’t for four hours.

 

8.01am: Commence two kilometre walk with all of my gear to Monastraki (town where the main bus station out of Meteora is).

 

8.30am: Arrive at the bus station dripping with sweat. Discover I’ve just missed the bus to the port town of Volos, where I need to go to catch a ferry to the Greek island of Skiathos. Really annoyed as the timetable they gave me says it doesn’t leave for another hour.

 

8.31am: Have a bit of a cry.

 

12pm: Eat a cheese pie.

 

1pm: Catch the next bus.

 

5pm: Arrive in Volos to discover the cheapest accommodation is 30 Euro a night (well out of my backpackers’ budget). To add insult to injury, the only things it has going for it is that I can actually pronounce its name and it’s opposite the ferry terminal.

 

7pm: Decide to have a shower to wash away the day. Get out to discover the door is jammed and I’m locked in the bathroom.

 

7.30pm: Door magically opens after a bit of hysterical laughing/crying/kicking/punching the door.

 

8pm: Decide the only thing to rescue this day is a beer – or five.

 

10pm: Can’t shut my room’s ranch slider. Enlist the help of the Greek woman at reception with terrible BO to close it. I’m wide awake now.

 

Some ungodly hour: finally fall asleep.

 

 

Day Four: Thursday

8am: Day gets off to a good start when the lady at the cafe at the ferry terminal gives me a free apple and banana with my coffee.

 

12pm: Arrive on the cute looking Greek island of Skiathos (where large portions of the movie Mamma Mia was filmed).

 

1pm: Finally locate my hotel which I’ve pre-booked online. Where it says it is on the map and where it actually is aren’t quite the same thing.

 

1.01pm: Discover it’s locked and no-one’s home. Sit on the porch and optimistically hope they’ve just gone for lunch.

 

2pm: Still no-one home. Stomach gets the better of me, so I walk back into town, order the biggest beer I can find and a gyros (where the meat appears to be pure pork crackling) and drown my sorrows in alcohol and pig fat – then a nutella crape.

 

3pm: Head back to hotel. Still no-one home. Go find someone who speaks English at bakery down the road. Calls are made.

 

3.15pm: Some woman called Olga comes and gets me. She’s a friend of the hoteliers and informs me he’s not on the island. Helpful. She takes me to her hotel instead.

 

3.30pm: Crawl into the fetal position, toe spoon my own ankle and have a nap.

 

6pm: Wake up, go for a stroll around the promenade and discover for myself why Lonely Planet doesn’t recommend visiting Skiathos outside of summer.

 

7pm: Greek taverna dinner of lasagne, complete with frozen centre.

 

8pm: Commence the painful process of getting the wifi password off a Greek woman who speaks no English.

 

9pm: Finally crack the password but discover wifi is so weak I may well have not bothered.

 

9.30pm: Decide to leave Skiathos tomorrow but learn the first ferry isn’t until 7.45pm.

 

 

 

Day Five: Friday

7am: Go for a run, release some happy-feeling endorphins.

 

10am: Bus to Little Banana Beach for the day where I was intending to tick off another one of my best friend’s OE challenges for me – sunbath nude. Conditions are perfect. I have the beach to myself.

 

But as I’m about to strip off two five-year-old girls arrive with their mums. Can’t bring myself to do it.

 

3pm: Two nude prunes arrive. I take that as my exit cue.

 

6pm: Starting to feel like Tom Hanks in Survivor here (iPad would be my Wilson).

 

7.45pm: Happily catch the ferry out of Skiathos.

 

10.30pm: Arrive at the Volos bus station and am told there is no overnight bus despite what their timetable says. Devastated to learn the first bus is not until 4.45am. Have a bit of a cry.

 

10.31pm: Decide to sleep at the bus station but told I can only sleep outside.

 

11pm: Bus station closes for the night. Discover it’s just me and a few homeless guys left. Don’t feel safe. Commence trek back to the crappy hotel where I stayed the last time I got stranded in Volos.

 

11.15pm: Same lady with bad BO at reception won’t discount room from 30 Euro, even though I’m only going to be in it for four hours.

 

 

 

Day Six: Saturday

4am: Wake up, get dressed and walk back to the bus station.

 

4.45am: Bus back to Athens.

 

10am: Begrudgingly book a very expensive organized tour of Delphi and Olympia, as clearly solo travel in mainland Greece doesn’t agree with me! Gets pricier once they slap me with the dreaded single supplement.

 

1pm: Decline offer from the only other girl in my dorm room to join her in tagging Athens.

 

6pm: Decide to have a 2 Euro gyros for dinner. Inherit a Scottish girl from my backpacker’s for the journey.

 

6.30pm: Scottish girl almost hysterical when I get us slightly lost.

 

10pm: Bed.

 

 

Day Seven: Sunday

8am: Get on tour bus. Heart sinks. It’s like a golden oldies tour and the only other people around my age are newlyweds.

 

8.15am: Discover the tour is bilingual. Everything the guide says sentence for sentence is in English, then in French.

 

8.30am: iPod comes out.

 

12pm: Driven to a crappy taverna in the middle of nowhere, which looks like it hasn’t seen a lick of paint or a customer since the 1970’s. Out of sheer hunger, spend 10 Euro to eat a re-heated, dehydrated-looking piece of meat, accompanied with flaccid salad and stale bread.

 

1pm: ‘Coincidental’ unpublicized stop at a Greek vase factory.

 

2pm: Make friends with an Australian woman on my bus, who accurately sums up our tour guide by likening her to a Greek version of Judge Judy. She’s downright rude and even asked when we lost the American woman – “where’s the fat lady?”

 

2.30pm: Wander off from Judge Judy’s hour-long bilingual rant at Olympia. Take photos of angry whistle people who seem to appear out of nowhere whenever you stand too close to a ruin.

 

3pm: Run the 162-metre female track at Olympia in my jandals (New Zealand word for flip flops) and get the equally cheesy photo to remember it by.

 

 

 

6pm: Arrive at palatial accommodation compared to what I’m used to.

 

7.30pm: Dinner with the golden oldies.

 

9pm: Bed.

 

 

 

After continuing her solo adventures across Italy and France, Rachael is currently dossing in London catching her breath after five months of backpacking, and enjoying being around English-speakers for the first time this year. She has a job freelance reporting for the Olympics and after that she plans on heading to Spain to throw tomatoes at people! Follow Rachael’s adventures at Today I Ate A Baguette.

 

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mondy July 30, 2012 at 9:43 am

I can sense a rather grumpy (arrogant?) tone in your account of your trip.
You mostly list things that annoyed you which is a very poor read indeed for the rest of us.
Despite any running cliches, Greece is a truly beautiful place, shame you didn’t find much to enjoy there.
As a friendly piece of advice, ditch the attitude and give the places you visit a chance by doing your research before your reach your destination.
Happy travels

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2 theprofessionalhobo July 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm

@Mondy – I actually found Rachel’s account quite humorous, but maybe it’s also part of a typical New Zealand sense of humour which I enjoy.
I won’t put words in Rachael’s mouth, but I can say that traveling solo can be a daunting experience, and not every day is an easy one.

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3 Jo July 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I am about to do much the same as Rachel and thoroughly enjoyed her account. But then I too am a Kiwi (of the golden oldie variety Rachel. I did what your doing in the 60’s ….I haven’t grown up yet!)so understood her depracating type of humour.

Your account has made me think I had better be a bit organised….which I hate! Did you go to any other Islands? I am planning a train trip London to Greece…fast one goes down east coast of Italy, then a ferry to Greece. Greece has stopped almost all trains going there because of recession according to the Man In Seat 61.
Shall follow you now Rachel!

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4 Rachael July 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Hi Mondy,

Sorry you didn’t enjoy my post. There were parts of Greece I loved but sadly a lot of things went wrong for me and I have tried to humorously reflect on them in my week in the life series. Apologises you don’t understand my sense of humour!

And to Jo,

Awesome news you’re travelling, flick me a message on my website if you need advice. I also went to Santorini which I loved and I can definitely recomend some places there.

And finally to Nora, thanks for publishing my post!

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5 ren November 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm

I dont do surfing much so email me …. Lets have beer at some destination where we meet …. When doesnt matter…. Anytime….

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6 Gina July 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

That was an awesome read! Loved the time breakdowns. Very funny. πŸ™‚ Sounds like buses are not very reliable there!

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7 Doc Wends July 31, 2012 at 12:59 am

I just love the concept of this post. The photos are just awesome, i love them.

πŸ™‚

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8 demo July 31, 2012 at 2:57 am

No disrespect, but the reproduction of negative, as well as false national stereotypes is neither cute nor humorous and we are all responsible for what we write or publish.
Some of the words used about the Greek people in the full version of the article are downright offensive.
(Btw., the Acropolis shuts early in the afternoon because the gvmt cannot afford more staff, IMF and all, and not due to laziness!!!!.
And yes the scaffolding is necessary for preserving one of the most remarkable buildings ever made)
Ignorance is bliss for those who can afford it. Hopefully our friend will eventually return to Greece with a more open heart and mind. Be well;)

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9 Andrew July 31, 2012 at 3:06 am

An interesting read, and I loved the fact cheese solves problems! Good excuse for me to eat more cheese!

Joking aside, shame that at times it was overwhelming for Rachael, but she adapted and visited some amazing locations. πŸ™‚

A good honest read.

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10 Rasz August 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm

First and formost im glad she wrote this . It was honest .
it was real feelings and thoughts by a young individual.
Second why we always got to have haters ? you go do exactly what she did budget and all and post how fabulous your trip went .hopefully you can give a better idea of how life is on the road .
B-) again i liked it :-p

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11 Baron's September 20, 2012 at 7:53 am

This was/is a good post….remember…I never promised you a rose garden. I like the candid approach and if this is how R felt, then I’m glad she told the truth…loved it folks.

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12 ren November 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Above comment was for Rachel …. I clicked on her photo but error so i cant message her… Kindly pass message to her.

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13 Lesvos rent a car March 5, 2014 at 5:24 am

I am about to do much the same as Rachel and thoroughly enjoyed her account. But then I too am a Kiwi (of the golden oldie variety Rachel. I did what your doing in the 60β€²s ….I haven’t grown up yet!)so understood her depracating type of humour.

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