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March 2001 Daily Diary

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(Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Greece)



We took off from the Cologne Bus Station at 18:01 pm.  Wow we are off. We can not actually believe it. We are finally doing it. Just one thing about bus rides, do not think you will be able to sleep. You can't.  Along the way it was snowing and when we got out at a rest stop we froze.  We had mixed feelings about leaving, on one had the trip was starting on the other hand we were leaving everything and everyone behind.  We had a weird feeling in our stomachs.



We arrived at 6:30 am in Prague.  We found a Hotel called Express.  Lonely Planet had said it would be a Youth Hostel, but that info was 5 years old.  We took a room anyway.  In the morning we did a little sight seeing around  Prague Castle.  Too bad it was wet and snowing.  In the evening we went out to eat at a really nice restaurant called David.  The dinner  was a gift from my former employer. Thanks,  it was great!  The main thing we realized was that our bags were to heavy and we a had to much stuff with us.  It was a killer just to walk to the Hotel with all of our stuff. Some of our stuff has to be sent home.



We bought our train ticket early in the morning for an overnight train to Krakow.  Again the weather in Prague was not the best, rain.  We walked around a lot, checking out the Jewish Quarter. Later on we decided to lighten our packs and send some unneeded stuff back to Germany.  We lighten our packs by 3.2 kilograms. Still not enough!  We will certainly be getting rid of more later.  In the early evening we had a few beers before we took the overnight  train to Krakow.



We arrived in Krakow at 7:15 am in the morning.  Again the weather was gloomy. After walking with our heavy packs for an hour we found out that the youth hostel was full. We changed our plans and decided to head for Budapest on the night train.  During the day we traveled to Auschwitz. We were very disappointed. We thought it would  be more interesting. Other concentration camps we have seen we though presented what happened better. Poland basically did not leave us with a good impression. 



We took the night train to  Budapest and arrived at 9:30 am.  We walked around Budapest for the day checking out the main attractions.  The weather being cold and miserable, made us decide that we should go south.  So we bought a train ticket to Thessaloniki.  The train ride took over 35 hours.  We had our own compartment, which allowed us to relax, catch up on some sleep, and write a little for this web site.  One problem with these train rides,  the custom police love to wake you up at every possibility and stamp your passport.  A couple of times at the same boarder crossing the group of custom agents looked at our passports more than a couple of times.  Prague, Krakow, and Budapest are really beautiful cities,  but we are both looking forward to Greece and for the warmer weather.


Train ride through Romania, and Bulgaria.  Relaxed on the train. I began to teach Maren the great game of Pinnacle. Otherwise we did a little computer work and read our books.  We were glad we were heading south! At every border crossing the border guards would come and knock on our door and stamp our passports. Once they looked in our closets to see if we were hiding someone.  the two man sleeper was really nice and luxurious.  So the trip went fairly quickly.



We arrived in Thessaloniki Greece at 6:00 am.  We first noticed how alive the streets were at this time. We took a bus to the Harbor to see about ships to the Greek Islands. There was not a lot to choose from during this time of year.  So we did the smart thing and bought a Lonely Planet book for Greece. After walking around all morning we decided to take the 12:00 pm bus to Trikala and then to Kastraki.  Near Kastraki are the famous Monasteries of  Meteora. They are built on top of  massive rock pinnacles. Another thing,  the weather here is much nicer!!!  We found a camping site in the evening in Kastraki.  There we cooked some noodles for dinner and walked around to town a little.  



Today we decided to go hiking up to the Monasteries.  It is really hot early in the morning.  The Monasteries were really magnificent, but of course really touristy.  During the main season it must be flooded with people and buses. Each monastery charges a separate entrance fee, so we just went to one. There we did not even pay because there was no one at the door when we went in.  It was very hot hiking in the sun the whole day, but worth it.  Our camping site is ok (Vrachos Camping),  a little dirty,  but it has electricity which will allow us to charge all our batteries.  We stayed a second night.  Maren also shaved Kirk's head completely.  Took a while and she went through a couple of razor blades. 


We took the bus early in the morning to Athens (5 hour trip from Kastraki).  Arriving in Athens we tried to get a room in the youth hostel, but again (as in Krakow) it was fully booked, so we stayed in the hotel next door called Hostel Argo.  It was not too nice but it was cheap and the people were friendly.  We then walked around Athens to get familiar with the surroundings.  We took a walk through the Plaka and the National Gardens.  For dinner we had a Souvlaki and went to bed early.



We visited the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum in the morning. Maren got in for half price with her student card, Kirk had to pay the full fare.  They only excepted international student cards. In the afternoon we checked out the ferry schedules and decided to go to Chios in the evening (8 hour trip).  Later in the afternoon we went shopping at a typical Greek market,  where we bought olives, feta, and Greek salami.  The salami was not very good.  Before we picked up our bags, we climbed up Lykavittos Hill, one of Athens 8 surrounding hills.  One has a great view of Athens from the top!  We then took the metro to Piraeus Harbor,  to our ferry to Chios,  which left at 8:00 pm.  We slept on deck in our sleeping bags.



Arrival at Chios was at 5:30 am.  We wanted to see the medieval town in the South of the Island.  So we took the bus to Pyrgi.  We left our heavy backpacks at the bus station in Chios, while we did not yet have a hotel room.  The town of Pyrgi is a small town that seems not to have changed for a few hundred years.  The houses have all different patterns which is typical for the medieval towns in this area. At this time of year there is not much going on on the Island.  The tourist season has not yet started which was nice and relaxing for us.  We walked around for a couple of hours  and once in a while we got a lift by some friendly locals on their sort of miniature tractors. We were happy to have our Lowa boots. After 10 days now, they have become really comfortable and we have no blisters! We ate a tasty Souvlaki for dinner.  We stayed the Amalia Rooms for the night (5000Dr).  It was clean and the people were friendly. 


We got up early hoping to catch the 8:00 am ferry to Cesme, Turkey. After just sitting around till 12:30 we it was clear that the ferry was not going to leave today because of the stormy weather. They think it will leave tomorrow morning.  We then decided to take it easy and work on our website on our ASUS Notebook and walk around town a little.  Tonight we plan to update our website and send some emails. At night we went to an internet cafe and uploaded our website. The internet to use was not too expensive,  but the beers were outrageously expensive (1000Dr). Hi Mom + Dad,  I  miss you a lot,  will try and call you soon.  Hallo Mutti  + Norbert,  ich vermisse euch! Ich auch!

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