After the regimented schedule and constant company of my yoga girls at yoga teacher training, solo travel has been quite a change. Since I said goodbye to L, A, and J on Sunday, what I do each day is only up to one person—me! I really love that I get to do what I want all the time, but it can be a bit lonely too. My life as a backpacker has officially begun and here are my thoughts on a few topics.
BackpackingI have a love/hate relationship with my Deuter backpack. I love it because it allows me to independently move around, and when I watch people struggling with their suitcases on stairs, hills, and cobblestones, I am very grateful for my backpack. I hate it when I’m struggling to hoist my backpack on my back and when it feels so heavy that I just want to fall over backwards. I would highly recommend Deuter backpacks—they’re German-made, extremely durable, and smartly designed. However, my feelings towards Deuter are beginning to take a turn for the worse. Deuter is on Instagram, and encourages you to tag your photographs to be featured on their Instagram account. Well, Leah and I posted the most stunning pictures ever hiking from Fira to Ioa in Santorini, with the Deuter logo prominently displayed, and did we get featured? No. But some random guy with his dog in a totally unremarkable location does. Not. Fair. I guess I was complaining about this a bit much because my friend L told me it was time to just move on.
Basically I just feel like a big fake with my backpack. I’m so NOT a real backpacker. I don’t like roughing it and I don’t like getting dirty. I totally have to adjust how I dress so that I fit in with other backpackers. I was planning my outfit for today for my first day of my bus tour, and my German roommate C (Ph.D. student in geography or geology, can’t remember which one) pointed out that high heeled wedges with my sundress were probably not the look I was going for. With her advice I switched to flip flops and didn’t wear my jewellery!Hostels
So I stayed in my first hostel ever for the last two nights. I was in a four person dorm, all female. For the first night, I was by myself till about 7 pm, until C from Germany joined me. She was a lovely girl and we hit it off right away, going out for dinner together and drinks at the hostel’s rooftop bar. The hostel, AthenStyle, was a bit bleak. We were on the fourth floor of the second building, and the stairway was kind of dirty and scary and the lights didn’t work in some sections. The room itself was basically clean, with two sets of bunk beds, and a toilet and shower right in the room. I was anticipating that I’d have to walk down a hallway to dorm-style bathrooms, so having them right in the room was a bonus. The only downside was a strong sewer smell from the drain and a burnt-out light in the bathroom that they never fixed. I actually had to do my makeup in the morning by the light of my iPhone! Ridiculous. And although the sheets are clean, you only get one little pillow and no blankets. Just a top sheet. I also do not recommend taking off the pillow case to see if the pillow looks clean.
Late last night when we were sleeping, two other girls checked into our room. I didn’t even meet them as they were still asleep when I got up early for my bus tour. However, one girl was on the top bunk above me, and every time she rolled over the bed creaked so loudly that I woke up. I’m sure that I annoyed them equally when I was trying to get ready in the dark and zip up my backpack at 6 am this morning!
And pretty much the worst part of it all is NO WIFI in the rooms and sporadic wifi only in the common area. As a result I’ve spent a lot of time at Starbucks lately. C said that AthenStyle was the worst hostel she’s stayed in, so I’m optimistic that my other hostels will be better. I also had to strip the bed this morning and deliver the sheets to the front desk. I would actually give myself an A+ for how well I handled this hostel experience. As my grandma would say, it’s been character-building.
Take a look at how I spent my alone time in Athens…
Rooftop morning coffee with grandmaster yogi Marita!
Beautiful wander down Adrianou Street... lots of restaurants and shops with a view of the Acropolis
Eating and drinking for cheap at the highly-rated Souvlaki Bar... less than 5 euros for a delicious chicken gyro and pint of Mythos
And a double decker bus tour is always a relaxing way to spend the afternoon
So hostels don't have cups. I bought a mug at Starbucks to match my Prague one, and drank some yummy Greek wine on my rickety hostel balcony.
Chicken rolls (an appetizer) at 360 Rooftop with a stunning view of the Acropolis
Not happy the next morning...7 am and Starbucks wasn't open yet. Fortunately I could use their WiFi perched on their window ledge.
So now I’m on my first bus tour ever, rolling down the highway in a big, comfortable tour bus. I don’t have wifi so I’m composing this post in Word to upload later. There are only ten of us on the tour—three Canadians, a couple of Brits, and of course the rest are from Australia. Our tour guide is named Jen and she’s Scottish, and our busdriver is Andjelko from Croatia.
Stay tuned for my adventures on Busabout's Balkan Trek!