Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day 28: Return to Athens; Hostel Environment

My senses are assaulted on the trip from the Island of Karpathos to Athens

In the airport on the way back to Athens, I notice how badly the Germans dress. Most of the women dress like lesbians: butchy haircuts, shapeless pants. Most of the men take their cue from the women and also dress like lesbians. I see a guy wearing the same shoes as a girl I met on a recent ferry ride. I see men wearing capri pants that stop at their shins. (Disclosure: I will likely never been nominted for any haberdashery awards. Most of my girlfriends at one point or another have tried to revamp my wardrobe.)


On the subway from the airport to Athens, I'm sitting in a pod of four seats, two seats on one side with another two facing them. Naturally, the seat opposite me is empty. There is a cute, young woman sitting next to me and another across from her. The subway door opens and a supersized, middle-aged woman gets on. She zeros in on the seat opposite me. When she sits down, our knees are touching. I smile weakly.

-Then my eyes start to tear. My nose starts to run. I'm having trouble breathing.
-I start having flash backs to Vietnam (and I never even served)
-It's like someone ignited a bottle of toilet cleaner. The large woman is wearing an overpowering perfume.
-I take my hat off and hold it over my face like a gas mask.
-A brilliant white light is drawing me towards it; my life is flashing before me.
-Then before I know it, the trip is over

Hostel Experience: Good with a Few Quibbles.

I arrive at my first hostel. It is in a dark alley in a nice part of Athens called Syntagma. The desk clerk walks me to my room. The common areas remind me of a bombed out German bunker from a WWII movie. There is broken plaster all around and parts of the hallways need serious work. They appear to be taking this Greek ruins thing a little too far.

The bathroom also poses a bit of a challenge.
- There is no handle to flush the toilet. To flush, you have to remove the lid from the water tank on the back, reach in, and manually pull the lever. This is not something you want to do before eating dinner.

- Across from the toilet is a little sign that says "Do Not Put Any Paper into the Toilet." What if you have to wipe yourself? This starts to cause me some anxiety. Eventually, I work up the nerve to ask the night clerk.

"Üm, excuse. I have a rather embarrassing question," I say.
"You've come to the right place," he says in a heavy Greek accent.
"You know that sign in the bathroom about not throwing paper in the toilet? What if you, ahh, ummm, you know, have to wipe yourself?"
"Don't worry about a tiny piece of paper. Go ahead my friend. Enjoy."

On the upside, the room is decent.
It is 11 feet by 10, about the size of a small bedroom. The bed is a full-zized bed. But like the bed in Karpathos, it has a full-sized bottom sheet but two single sheets that you overlap for the top sheet.