A little Rhodes, some Marmaris, and a lot of ‘story time’

The whole reason The Ferry Fiasco (see the post if you’re curious) was even a thing was so I could take the ferry from Ρόδος (Rhodes) to Marmaris. And before said ferry ride across the short (30 miles) stretch of water began, I was given shit by the agent ‘letting’ me out of the Schengen Zone. There was no stamp in my passport for when I entered Greece because I entered via Iceland on 30 January. It was 26 April and I had 2 days left on my tourist visa.

For the record: US people have 90 days out of every 180 on a travel visa. Most people are unaware of this as they simply stamp your passport at the border, and let you in without any paperwork or anything. Most of the time, they don’t even say a single word to you. So I understand why this is not common knowledge.

Agent: “When did you enter Greece?”

Me: “I don’t remember, I entered the Schengen Zone at the end of January.”

Agent: “Wait over there.” After everyone else had gone through the line. “You’re going to Turkey?”

Me: “Yes.”

Agent: “When did you enter Greece?”

Me: “Hang on, I’ll check.” I opened the Hostelworld app to see when I checked into my first hostel in Greece. “6 February.”

Agent: “And when you’re done in Turkey, will you come back to Greece?”

Me: “No, I’ll move on.”

That seemed to satisfy her…sort of. She put an exit stamp in my passport, and let me continue to the ferry. There had been several times through the process when she’d stopped, and thought about what to do. She’d even ran off and talked to another agent before calling me back for the second time. I get the impression a lot of people exit Schengen then come right back, and overstay their allotted visa time. Anyway, I had escaped the border agent so all was well with the world.

An hour long ferry ride later, I arrived in Marmaris (Turkey). While standing in line to see the border agents, I saw a price list for visas for different countries. It made me glad I’d gone though the Turkish webpage, and bought my visa online as it saved me over $5. I also noted that it costs Canadians double that of other 1st world countries. Canada, what did you do?

When I got to the agent, he looked at my passport, checked online for my e-visa, stamped my passport and handed it back to me. He totally wasn’t interested in the e-visa copy I’d printed out; thanks, technology! Then I was directed to a bag scanner like the ones at airports. A quick scan later, and I was in Turkey. It was so much easier than I expected. Between the pseudo war between Greek and Turkish fighter planes over the Aegean, and all the news in the ‘west’ about how dangerous Turkey is; I expected more of a fuss.

News flash: I’ve been in Turkey for almost a week now, and I have always felt safe. Even safer than I’ve felt in the large cities in the US. As long as you don’t plan on going near the Syrian border, you should be fine.

I walked 20 minutes to the hostel. It was 25 degrees (77F), and I was carting around my backpack so I was pretty warm and a little tired when I arrived. I was greeted by a nice, old lady who insisted I sit down while she made me tea. The common area at Meltepe Pansiyon (pansiyon is Turkish for ‘guest house’ so almost all hostels, hotels, and lodging facilities have that word in the name) is gorgeous. There are small tables and chairs set up under a canopy of vegetation making it shady and cool.

When I was finished with the tea, I was shown to my room which was far better than expected. I’d booked a single bed room with a shared bathroom, but I was shown a two bed room with its own bathroom. The next day while talking to the owner, I was told he’d upgraded me; winning!

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Random shots of Marmaris, Turkey.

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The next few days were spent wandering around the city; mostly along the coastline, and through the grand bazaar. This city was built for tourists. It sits on a bay that’s largely cut off from the rest of the Mediterranean Sea. That makes the water a little warmer, and is why there’s a huge stretch of beach interspersed with a couple docks. All along the water sit a bunch of hotels, restaurants, and boat owners offering a plethora of tours.

The grand bazaar is also close to the water. It’s several blocks of shops. The roads are ‘closed’ to traffic (although they can’t completely keep motorcycles out, and covered which is a welcome relief from the hot sun.

There are also small, local buses all over the city. If you see one passing, you can even flag them down for a cheap ride (3 Turkish Lira, which is than $1). So getting around is very easy.

Having never been in a Muslim country before, I was a little surprised the first time I heard a ‘call to prayer’. There are megaphones all over the city that broadcast the voice of a priest singing in Arabic (at least I assume it’s Standard Arabic which is what the Quran is written in) several times a day. I was surprised again when I saw people continuing whatever they were doing rather than stopping to pray; even though I’m pretty sure most people are Muslim. Relatively secularized? I have no standard for comparison so I don’t know.

What I can say is I spent about half an hour one day talking to the pansiyon owner about Islam. He was quite sad to hear I’m atheist, and was concerned for my ‘soul’. One of the things he said is that God has to be proven logically which I agree with completely. Our conclusions turned out to be opposite, but the premise is dead on.

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Tiny castle and archeological museum.

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He also told me that heaven is like a castle with 1,000 gates. Each gate is only valid for a certain time period, and one can only enter through the gate that corresponds to their time on earth. For example before Christ, the gate was Judaism. After Christ, it was Christianity. And after Muhammad, it is Islam.

I found this fascinating as The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (The Mormon Church) also builds on the base of Christianity. I was curious to see what his thoughts on that would be, but I didn’t want to be rude so I didn’t mention that. I also didn’t want to start punching holes in his view as I was still trying to understand it. One must be aware of what they attempt to refute before coming to a conclusion.

Moving on, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Marmaris and the pansiyon. The owner and his mother (the woman that greeted my upon arrival) are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and are incredibly hospitable. When I would use the kitchen, the owner would poke his head in the door, and tell me he wanted me to treat his house like my own and that he wanted me to be comfortable. On the day I left, he even gave me a ride to the main bus station on the back of his motorcycle; saving me time and 3 Lira! If you ever go to Marmaris, I’d encourage you to look up Meltepe Pansiyon.

And now that I’ve talked your ear off…does that work with blogging? Anyway, until next time….

The Ferry Fiasco

Anyone that’s traveled before will tell you there are times when things will go wrong. This is even one of the reasons some people travel: to be pushed out of their comfort zone and overcome unforeseen obstacles. Well, buckle up readers, because I have one such story for you now. But first, I need to explain what was supposed to happen.

The plan

My allotted 90 days in the Schengen Zone will come to an end on the 28th (of April). So I’d been looking at future destinations for a while. Should I go further up the Balkans; maybe hit up Bulgaria; run off to Egypt? There were plenty of choices, but I settled on Turkey. (Note: this is not where things went wrong. As far as I can tell from people I’ve met along the way, Turkey is an excellent place to visit.)

I noticed the island of Ρόδος (Rhodes) is right next to it, and some quick searching on Rome 2 Rio told me there’s a ferry that goes between the island and a place called Marmaris, Turkey. Better yet, there’s a cheap hostel in Marmaris that looks amazing. So that was settled; Rhodes would be my last stop in Ελλάδα (Greece).

Quick travel hack: if you want to know how to get from one place to another, Rome 2 Rio is an excellent website that can give you a bunch of options. It can even direct you to the various transportation company’s webpages.

And how would I get to Rhodes? There’s a once a week ferry from Κρήτη (Crete); specifically Ηράκλιο (Heraklion). It arrived at 0030 (12:30 am) though, and the hostel I wanted to stay in was a good ways from the port and its reception closed at 0100. No problem; I’d book a place closer to the port, spend a night there, and move on the next day to the better, cheaper hostel that’s a little farther inland.

I’d heard Heraklion kinda sucked though so I’d spend most of my time in Crete in Χάνια (Chania/Hania). I could take an overnight ferry to either city from Αθήνα (Athens), and save a night at a hostel in the process. The plan seemed foolproof.

When things went wrong

Things started to go wrong in Hania two days before my bus to Herakion. I thought going to the beach would be fun, and it was! But this was the first time all year I didn’t wear jeans outside, and my legs and feet got really burned. Showering hurt; putting socks and pants on hurt; trying to lay down and cover up with a sheet to sleep hurt…. I spent the entire day (at least while the sun was up) before my bus to Herakion inside the hostel in shorts and flip-flops trying to be in as little pain as possible.

The day of my bus trip, I put my socks and jeans on as gently as I could (it still hurt though), and waddled down the road to the bus station. The bus ride took 3 hours. Then, I had to walk to another bus station to take the city bus out to the Heraklion suburbs where I’d foolishly booked my hostel. I ended up spending about 5 hours clothed until I could strip back down to shorts and flip-flops. I had managed to find some vaseline with aloe in it when I was grocery shopping though so I put some on my burns.

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Brunch

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The next day was the day of the ferry to Rhodes. But the ferry left in the evening, and check-out was around noon. So I hopped the bus back into town, and chilled near the harbor all day; which would have been pleasant if not for the cloths rubbing against my sunburns the whole time.

Finally, it was FerryTime © (just kidding, people can’t copyright that). I went to check in, but the guy was taking a long time to find my ticket. After a good 10 minutes of back and forth, he figured out that the ferry I was supposed to catch had left 12 hours earlier than I was expecting — wait, what? The ferry from Athens to Hania was 8 hours long, and it was far shorter from Heraklion to Rhodes. After some post-crisis research, I discovered that the ferry takes 14 hours to traverse that relatively small distance. Talk about slow-boating….

The fix

So now, I had to hurry up and catch the ferry to Athens (that was leaving in 2 hours), and from there, go to Rhodes. Which is far more expensive and would take me over 24 hours to complete. So the overnight ferry to Athens left at 2130, and arrived at 0600. Then I took the 0930 ferry from Athens to Rhodes that arrived at 0315 (yes, that’s the next day).

There were two fortunate things I discovered during those long hours on boats. The first is that I’d almost gotten used to the pain of cloths rubbing on my sunburns…almost. The second is that the hostel I really wanted to stay at allowed for late/early check-in. I simply informed them of when I would arrive, and the host arranged for me to find the key in a pre-determined location.

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Before the city wakes.

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So I arrived in Rhodes at 0315, spent about an hour trying to find the bus station, took the local bus at 0445, and arrived at the hostel (in Ιαλυσός/Iallysos) around 0530. At which point, I found the key and my room, and promptly went to sleep. And for anyone keeping track, I’d been fully clothed for over 40 hours.

The aftermath

Fortunately, the first, expensive hostel I was going to stay at didn’t charge me for the full night; they just kept the security deposit: $5.58. That ended up saving me $31.46 (you know how I mentioned they’re expensive).

The original ferry from Heraklion to Rhodes was €21; which was just lost money. The ferry from Heraklion back to Athens was €46 euro, and the one to Rhodes was €63.50.

So when that’s all computed, I basically lost $103.73, and spent a lot more time in pain from sunburns than was necessary. A pessimist would probably say something like ‘worst most of a week ever’ or something.

Summary

But I’ve been surprisingly upbeat (relatively) this whole time. I mean, just look at today’s brunch:

Brunch

How could you not love that? Granted, I was wearing socks and long pants that still hurt a little, but that view though…it’ll be even better for dinner once the sun’s gone down.

So if there’s anything to take away from this it’s that sometimes bad shit happens. But it’s typically not the worst thing ever, and afterwards, it makes for a fantastic story (or blog post). Until next time….

Thessaloniki: Greece’s mainland gem

I’d spent a little over 2 weeks in Αθήνα (Athens), and it’s Greece’s largest city so I expected to be in Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki) for roughly the same amount of time. What ended up happening is I stayed for just under 5 weeks! Where did all that time go, and what captivated me so much?

Thessaloniki has a population of around 1 million. 10% of that is students of which a large number are non-Greek. Europe has a program called Erasmus that lets anyone enrolled in an EU college take a semester or two abroad. With a school named Aristotle University, warm weather, and a (relatively) cheap cost of living, Thessaloniki is a destination for a lot of foreign students in addition to local ones.

This gives the city a very young and international feel; particularly in the area close to campus where you can find a lot of bars and cheap (but also good) food. It’s quite a juxtaposition since that’s also the area with an old Roman temple and the ruins of Galerius’ Arch and Palace. So it’s an everyday sight for a shitload of young people to wander by 2000 year old structures. “What am I going to do today? Just wander around some super old buildings; no big deal.”

It’s also a beautiful city. It’s built around the bay, and stretches into the adjacent hills/mountains. There’s a ‘boardwalk’ (actually reclaimed land) that runs along the coast where a lot of fancy (for Greece) restaurants are. And up in the hills you get amazing views of the city and bay below. Every day around sunset, a bunch of young people grab some alcohol and snacks, and hang out on the old wall (another 2000 year old structure) admiring the scenery. Of course, I had to hang out there with a few friends; it’s just what you do.

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Waiting for the sunset

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In the mornings (after I’d visited most of the sights), I also liked going down to the dock, and staring at the sea. During the week, there aren’t too many people there until the afternoon at which point the aforementioned throngs of young people would arrive. (I swear, they’re everywhere).

I also found the most affordably priced Greek classes I’ve ever seen. If you’re going to be in Thessaloniki for a while, and would like to learn a little Greek in a classroom setting, check out ΒΑΒΥΛΩΝΙΑ. They do a lot of culture related things as well. So if you’re into dance, art, or theater, and don’t mind receiving instructions in Greek, you can also check them out for that.

And of course, no talk of my time in Thessaloniki would be complete without mentioning the hostel. It’s called Little Big House, and OMFG, it’s awesome!* I could tell you about how every room used to be an apartment (flat) so they each have their own kitchen (with utensils, and cookware) and bathrooms. Or I could mention the reception area is a cafe where locals drop by for coffee, snacks, and drinks. Or I could say something about the free breakfast having the most variety I’ve found in any of the Greek hostels I’ve visited.

While all of those things I could have told you about are amazing, the thing that most impressed me, and made me not want to leave was the staff. My first morning there, I wandered down to reception for the breakfast, and the on-shift hospitality person (who I had not met the previous evening) greeted me by name! I was more than a little surprised; I don’t even remember my own name half the time.

And the friendliness continued from there. Need advice on what to see? They can list the most popular attractions. Need some help getting around the city? They’ll tell you what mode of transportation will work out best as well as scheduling trips or booking tickets if necessary. Have a car, and want to get out of the city? They know a fair bit about the surrounding countryside.

Hell, I’d even ask them questions about the Greek language. “What gender is this noun?” “What’s the Greek word for change (like money)?” “How do I say ‘Stone Age’ in Greek?” (Yes, I actually asked about all that. If you’re curious the answers to the last two are: ψηλά, and Λίθινη Εποχή). One time, I had to get something printed as a homework assignment, and the person on duty read it, corrected my errors, and re-printed the corrected version I sent her. I don’t think the Greek trees were too appreciative, but I sure was.

After a month of peppering them with incessant questions, I feel like I developed a genuine relationship with these people. Even one of the girls that doesn’t speak English, and never talks to guests as a general rule would say “Για σου” (hi) when she saw me (sometimes). On the day I left, I got no less than 3 hugs, and a few “I’ll miss you”s (which really says something considering how introverted and generally un-huggable I am). And I’ll miss them too. Hell, I miss them now and it’s only been a couple days.

So yeah, I definitely recommend Thessaloniki and Little Big House. They are, without a doubt, the best place I’ve been so far.

 

 

*If you like chill hostels. For a party hostel, I’m sure there are plenty in town that would be more suited to your taste.

So many antennas

Perhaps the best reason to stay in a hostel (especially as a solo traveler) is the fellow guests. You’re all travelers, and most people don’t have any plans. It was on one such occasion that I ran into a couple from Germany (because Germans are everywhere). They had a car, and were heading to a hill/mountain that overlooks Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki). A plan was quickly hatched for a few of us to join them. Five people in a tiny car; what could go wrong?

The hostel is in Thessaloniki’s άνω πολή (ano poli: upper town) which means there are tiny, cobble stone, hilly streets. Some of these hills were too steep for the car to make it up them with all of us in the car (at least from a dead stop). So the driver had to find a (relatively) flat spot for us to pile in. First problem solved…though we were worried for the rest of the trip every time we came up to a steep hill (which was every couple kilometers).

While we were still in the city, there was also the issue of the narrow streets and traffic. Between cars parked on the side of the road and oncoming traffic, it was a rather stressful trip (for the driver). Thanks Maxi; I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that.

Eventually, we got out and were in the ‘woods’. The country side in Greece is rocky, hilly, and covered in evergreen trees with minor ground vegetation. It’s very different than the green forests to which I’m accustomed.

Then we got to the windy roads going up a mountain. With only a small guard rail to keep us from careening over the side of a cliff, you tend to feel your mortality a little more.

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Thessaloniki and bay

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Finally we were at the ‘top’. Mount Χορτιάτης (Chortiatis) only gets up to 1,200 meters (and we weren’t even at the peak), but the weather was different. It was still 25C (77F), but there was a lot more wind. It’s amazing the difference a few mountains to block the wind make.

Also, the peak was covered in antennas. “Excuse me antenna. Could you move out of my epic view? I’m trying to take sweet Instagram pics here.” After walking around for a bit we found a couple places where the view wasn’t completely littered with the metal monstrosities, but it was more challenging than I’d have thought.

Since the landscape shots were so difficult, I decided to get a few of my friends when they weren’t looking. Sadly, they were my best pictures of the trip. Though I guess I could say they’re more photogenic than the scenery…. Yeah, we’ll go with that.

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Waiting for the sunset

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We were all a bit cold after walking around in a tornado so we decided to head back…and we arrived in the city early enough to buy a bottle of wine and wait for the sunset on the city’s old wall. The clouds were in exactly the wrong place for sweet sunset shots, but the wine and conversation was excellent. Being around so many stoners (the locals there for the sunset; not us…this time), the conversation eventually turned to drugs…because what else would you talk about with a bunch of travelers?

This story isn’t as good as a lot of the others I’ve posted, but it was still a fantastic day. I wouldn’t change a thing about it if I could. And the craziest part is the night before, I had no idea any of this would happen. Well played universe…well played….

Financial Friday 3

It’s week 3, and I still haven’t managed to significantly bring down my spending. I’ll get a handle on this eventually, I swear…

Travel

Zero dollars! I stayed put in Athens the whole week so bonus!

Accommodation

I remained at the hostel, but I discovered a fun little trick to bring down my expenses. If you’re traveling to an area, using hostel/hotel aggregation websites is great. But if you’re already in an area…

Travel hack: ask the front desk for an extension and/or new booking.

This saved me $0.90 a night in website fees. So the price per night came to $17.62.

Food

Most of this is gyros so I’ll save you the agony of going through each one. They typically run about 2.50 euro (~$3.00) a piece, and there are 3 shops that sell them within 2 minutes walking distance of the hostel. So I’ll usually order one, bring it back, and try to find a dinner date in the hostel’s common area. Plus, tap water is free! This also works with the pastry shops hanging around. They’ll typically stuff spinach or cheese between some filo dough, and it costs about 0.50 euro less than a gyro.

When I’m feeling like I need to bring the party to the hostel (this is usually when we’re playing cards and drinking), I’ll go out and buy a tin of what I call ‘chocolate cigars’. They’re chocolate cream-ish wrapped in chocolate pastry in a long, cylindrical shape. A ‘big’ can runs around $4, and typically goes over pretty well with everyone.

On Friday, a bunch of us went out with a vegan friend to a vegetarian restaurant. Surprisingly, those exist in the land of endless meat. It was good, but a bit pricey: $13.55.

On Wednesday, a few of us went to a local bar called Σφήκα (Sfika). If you’re around the south end of the Acropolis, it’s a fantastic place to visit. An appetizer and a glass of wine ran me $11.07. And the atmosphere was amazing.

Last night (Thursday), some new friends and I went to a sports bar for karaoke night. I spent a lot less than the others: $7.38. By the end, most of the place was singing along, and generally having a good time.

Other

Travel insurance: 3.07/day.

On Friday, I tried a walking tour for 7 euro ($8.82). I blogged about it, but amazing would be a good summary.

On Saturday, I bought a phone since the cheap one I had in the US won’t receive the signal range used by cells (or mobiles) over here: $270.32. Then on Monday I bought a SIM and an initial package for it: $24.58. The reason I didn’t get them together is you’re required to provide your ID (passport for non-Greeks) to get a number issued. We have human traffickers to thank for this. So there’s one more reason (not that we needed another one) to hate modern slavery.

Summary

Week 3
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lodging 18.52 18.52 18.52 18.52 18.52 17.62 17.62 127.84
Food 32.07 7.93 6.81 5.63 9.66 20.18 13.24 95.52
Other 11.89 273.39 3.07 27.65 3.07 3.07 3.07 325.21
Total 62.48 299.84 28.4 51.8 31.25 40.87 33.93 548.57

So yeah, a few under $50 days! If it wasn’t for the phone, this would have actually been a pretty good week. I could have not done the phone thing, but having one has made staying in touch with people so much easier. Everyone out here uses WhatsApp.

20 Hours in Frankfurt

I didn’t initially think there would be any story to tell here. I was just flying in and out of the Frankfurt airport with a brief stop at a hostel; how much trouble could there be? But there were enough little surprises, that I figured I should share so….

After flying in, everything seemed normal enough. The bustling airport with 24 hour restaurants, and all the typical features…and then I stepped outside…. Seeing how this is a European airport in the heart of a major city, I figured there would be an obvious way for me to walk out into the craziness. Wrong! There were 4 separated roads, full of taxis, buses and private vehicles…and the whole thing is a complete story above ground level. I walked around the perimeter for a bit, but no obvious walking path presented itself.

Ok, no big deal; I’ll catch one of the free shuttle buses the hostel advertised. A bus pulled up, I asked him about my hostel, and he had no idea what I was talking about in spite of it being within visual range of the airport (not that I knew that as I’d never seen the place in person before). I later discovered that the driver I was talking to was in charge of the bus that shuttles people to and from my hostel…as well as 2-3 other hotels. Seriously, this guy should have known exactly where I wanted to go when I showed him the little favorite marker on Google Maps.

Well, I was at terminal 2, and the buses to terminal 1 were free. Maybe I’d have better luck there. On the way to terminal 1, the bus stopped at a ‘bus stop’ that was on the ground level, and had sidewalks! Finally, what I’d been looking for. I hopped off and headed in the hostel’s direction.

But the sidewalks had other plans…. There were a lot of busy streets so I wanted to find a nice crosswalk, because…rules and whatnot. There were plenty of sidewalks and a very nice pedestrian/bike path, but nothing seemed to cross this one road that I knew I had to get around. So finally, I said screw it, and froggered my way across. The land of bike paths everywhere and amazing trails though the forest ended up letting me down….

20180206_144249

The hostel had some interesting features I’d never seen before. It was a 6 person, mixed dorm with… 2 bunk beds, and 2 single beds pushed together. I couldn’t stop myself from wondering what if the bunks were taken, and 2 strangers walked in? Would they have to sleep in, effectively, the same bed? Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out as it was just me and a woman in the room. But it still seems so odd…

Something else I’d never encountered before was the apparent lack of power. I flipped all the switches, and checked all the outlets: nothing. After about 5 minutes of trying to figure out how I was going to charge my devices, I noticed what looked like a light switch with a slot on top. Figuring it couldn’t hurt anything, I slipped my room key (an electronic card) into the slot…and the whole room lit up! So someone has to have their card in the slot for the power to work. Interesting. I wonder if that caused any problems for the woman who was staying there when I had to leave in the middle of the night to catch my plane. Oh, did you just wake up and want some light? I guess you need to find the slot on the wall in the dark.

I eventually got hungry and decided to get some food from the airport. Because me, being the idiot I am, didn’t think to just get some before I left. The path back to the airport was pretty obvious until I got right next to the building. It turns out there’s this ramp for cars that has a tiny sidewalk next to it (like only large enough for one person at a time). That worked for me, but I wondered how someone significantly larger than myself would have felt having cars flying by him. Once I discovered this, walking became a whole lot easier.

The last thing of note is that German airport security to get into the secured area is the most strict I’ve seen. I thought US security was insane with the TSA, but now, that seems…well…still drastic, but not the worst. For one, they also have body scanners (as opposed to most of the world’s simple metal detectors). I also got pulled out of line while they searched my bag because I hadn’t pulled out my portable chargers and USB charging cables. I made it through US and Icelandic security with all that plus my Kindle and GoPro still in my bag.

Travel hack: When traveling from a German airport, ensure you remove every last liquid, electronic device, and cable. You can take them with you, but they all have to be outside your baggage when they go through the scanner.

I’m sad to say this whole experience has put me off traveling through Germany by plane. Which is even more of a downer considering how much of a hub they are for European travel. Add that to not wanting to go through US airport security, and that means 2 continental hubs are a major pain in the ass.

Next time, I’ll ensure I have lounge access. Then I’ll never have to leave secure areas until I’m out of the problem countries.

Financial Friday 2

Welcome to the second installment of Financial Friday. Where I tell you how much I shouldn’t have spent traveling…or at least that’s what it felt like this week…

Travel

Nothing happened here until Tuesday when I went back to the airport super early. The return bus trip to Keflavik was $24.35.

The flight from Keflavik to Frankfurt via WOW Air was $109.28 after the baggage fee for my carry-on.

On Wednesday, I hopped a flight from Frankfurt to Athens via Ryanair which should have cost me $33.96. Except I was a dumb ass, and forgot to check in until it was past the 2 hour window. Yeah…that little blunder cost me an additional $62.18. Bringing the total cost of the flight to $96.14.

Since the Athens airport is quite a ways from the city center, I caught the train into town: $12.44.

Accommodation

Bus hostel was still $30.44 per night for 4 nights this week.

The Meininger hostel in Frankfurt set me back $74.68 for one night…but at least I was close to the airport…. I guess. Still, ouch.

And Athens Backpacker hostel ran me $129.61 for 7 nights which comes out to $18.52 per night. This is, by far, the best price for accommodation yet!

Food

I managed to get away with 1 more grocery run in Reykjavik: $13.30. Between what I got then and on the previous grocery runs, I was able to feed myself for the remainder of my time in Iceland. I even had 2 bananas left over that I put in the ‘free food’ box.

I was pretty stuffed trying to finish off my food in Iceland so I only got one meal in Frankfurt: a personal sized pizza, a cheese pretzel, and some water…that turned out to be sparkling water. I should have known better, and read the label more closely. Anyway, that was $6.72.

When I got to the Athens airport, I got a salami sandwich with some water: $9.92.

When in town, I stopped by a couple gyro places. The first was with chicken: $3.65. The second was with pork: $3.78. And both those prices include the $0.50 bottle of water.

I liked the chicken gyro so much, I had them for two more meals on Thursday: $7.30. They’re so good…and so cheap!

Other

There’s the obligatory travel insurance: $3.07 per day.

I broke down and bought a USB-C cable at the mall in Reykjavik: $23.80. Those are the cables that my GoPro uses.

I also had the GoPro cable I left at home mailed to the hostel in Athens: $26.17. Forgetting that cable was not a cheap mistake.

On Saturday night, a few friends I met at the hostel in Reykjavik wanted to go out dancing. We ended up hitting the Paloma bar/club downtown: $9.99. It was a good time, and a lot of dancing.

On Thursday, I ran down to the laundromat and did my first load of laundry since I’ve been on the road: $8.82. About a week and a half before I had to do my first cloths cleaning…not bad.

Summary

Week 2
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0 133.53 108.58 0 242.11
Lodging 30.44 30.44 30.44 30.44 74.67 18.52 18.52 233.47
Food 0 13.3 0 0 6.72 17.35 7.3 44.67
Other 26.87 13.06 3.07 30.24 3.07 3.07 11.89 91.27
Total 57.31 56.8 33.51 60.68 217.99 147.52 37.71 611.52

So another week way over budget. Granted, about $100 of it was my own fault between the airport check-in and the GoPro cable. At least now I’m in a ‘cheap’ country though. I think I should be able to keep my expenses under $50 a day. And maybe…just maybe…I can make up for the expensive beginning.

Financial Friday 1

Welcome to the first installment of Financial Friday. In these, I’ll tell you what I spent on everything. Your spending may vary, but the general idea is for me to see if I’m meeting my budgetary goals…and a secondary benefit could be to show you about how much traveling costs (at least for me).

Travel

On Monday…. Uber from ‘home’ to the Greyhound station: $22.16. Greyhound bus from Indy to Chicago: $31.50. Uber from the Chicago Greyhound station to O’Hare Airport (Chicago): $37.11.

Overnight flight from Chicago to Keflavik: $139.98. Base price on the WOW flight was $100. A carry-on bag and a few taxes brought it up to the total.

On Tuesday, FlyBus from Keflavik Airport to the Reykjavik Bus Station, and back: $48.69. I saved about $5 by purchasing a round-trip ticket. Half of that for the inbound journey is $24.35.

I walked about 10 minutes to the hostel for free! I also walked all over Reykjavik to see things for free. Everyone loves free work-outs!

Accommodation

Bus Hostel Reykjavik, booked through Hostel World: $203.10 for 7 nights in a 10 bed room. As I don’t travel with a sleeping bag, I also had to rent a comforter (or as they call them, duvet) for $9.95. Add it all up, and divide by 7 comes to $30.44 per night.

Food

On Monday, I got a burger and fries at O’Hare Airport: $14.31. In retrospect, I realize this was the only meal I had all day. Not the best decision, but it worked due to a huge dinner the night before, and sleep deprivation while traveling.

On Tuesday, I got a large sandwich from a local deli: $10.70. I don’t know if it was just that good, or being really hungry, but that was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had! The deli’s called Bakarameistarinn, and it’s just across 40 from the Kringlan Mall.

I had an afternoon tea at Te & Kaffi: $5.72. It’s expensive, but it’s also how I relax. So, for me, this is probably the best value out of the whole day.

For dinner, I got a chicken, feta burrito from the Kinglan Mall food court: $16.11. It’s expensive, but I didn’t want to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

Groceries from the Bónus in the Kinglan Mall: $11.96. I got some bananas, instant oatmeal, butter, and eggs. So basically, the cheap stuff. All food in Iceland is expensive due to the (relatively) small population and distance from the rest of the world.

On Wednesday, I got a light breakfast from the hostel: $5.69. Travel tip: always check to see if your hostel offers free breakfast…preferably before you order something.

And I made another grocery run: $11.88. This time I got some tea, a few ramen noodles, and some pears…because fruit.

On Thursday, I just made another grocery run: $10.68. Shopping list: more bananas, more oatmeal, and yogurt. After all those grocery runs, I think I’ve got enough food to not spend anything on it for a few days.

Other

There’s always the obligatory travel insurance which comes out to $3.07 per day. And I lost my toothbrush. Purchasing one from the hostel was $3.62.

On Wednesday, there was the Þjóðminjasafnið (National Museum of Iceland): $19.88. On Thursday, there was the Landnámssýnigin (The Settlement Exibition): $16.50. More on what I saw there in a future blog.

Summary

Week 1
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 230.75 24.39 0 0 255.14
Lodging 0 30.44 30.44 30.44 91.32
Food 14.31 44.49 17.57 10.68 87.05
Other 3.07 3.07 26.57 19.57 52.28
Total 0 0 0 248.13 102.39 74.58 60.69 485.79

So yeah, this is way over budget. Even the ‘cheap’ day as over $60, but then, no one said Iceland was easy on the wallet. Time will pass, I’ll hit up cheaper countries, and I’ll likely travel much slower, so the average should come down significantly.

I hope at least someone other than myself found this helpful. Next post: Icelandic museum review…or at least that’s the plan.