A Rough Guide: First Time Europe

That’s what the guidebook my Dad bought me before we left Australia is called. I will confess that I didn’t really begin to read it until I got to Greece in September. I probably should have, perhaps I would have been cleverer about what I needed to pack. It may surprise people that the answer is not less. Certainly, no more would fit into my pack (“oh, I thought you were bringing the BIG one,” exclaimed my father when I showed him the trouble I was having getting my clothes alone into the pack for a week’s trip to the North of England), but I discovered upon arrival in Greece that the weather was not at all the mild that both myself and my boyfriend/travel partner had expected. No, rarely cooler than 30ºC, it was decidedly hot in Greece in late September. I have since been assured that this is an anomaly, however that is little comfort when you have a single T-shirt among many long sleeves, and two pairs of jeans next to one of shorts (plus skirt and dress). This made the last week and a half uncomfortable at best, seeing as we spent most of our time walking, often up big hills (Lykavittos, Filopappou and the Acropolis being the big ones)

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On the Acropolis September 22

I sat on a train in Italy to Caserta the evening of the day before yesterday, telling myself not for the first time and in all likelihood not for the last that this is the most stressed I have ever been. My boyfriend and I saved for the best part of a year for this three-month trip around Europe, and a significant portion of the money we raised went on 3 month, global continuous Eurail passes. These cost nearly 1000EUR each. A lot of money. We used these passes to buy discounted ferry tickets from Patras to Bari, we arrived this morning. The day before, when we had gone to check in to the boat, we showed the girl behind the desk that our passes had not yet been activated (“and can you do it here?”). She looked at them, and took them off us. She wrote in the start date, and the end date. Both were wrong. We pointed this out to her, and she simply wrote over the top. We thought very little of it.

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So long Greece! Taken on the ferry, October 3rd

We discovered on the train that this was a problem. A big problem. A big problem that would cost us 156EUR. Thankfully, in the midst of trying to find a bilingual person to translate for us (we do not speak any Italian, and the conductors no English) they found a very kind woman with a passion for the English. Feeling sorry for us she convinced them to “look the other way” and allow us to dash off at the next stop in order to purchase tickets to the station at which we could change to get to Naples. The Eurail pass, they said, was not valid. We would have to go to a travel agent and get it replaced.

Ok, that was fine. We will get to our hostel tonight later than we had expected, that is okay. We will have to delay our trip to Pompeii by one day. Also fine, not a big deal. Finding a travel agent who speaks English? Could be a problem. Luckily a browse through the pass guide helped us find a Eurail aid centre in Napoli Central Station, a 10 minute metro ride from our hostel (also the train station we arrived into tonight, however we arrived a couple hours after closing and having not slept much on the ferry and still wearing the clothes from the day before, all we wanted was a shower and bed).

We visited the Eurail aid centre yesterday morning. Except it was actually just the Trenitalia ticket office, and instead of printing a new pass for each of us they wrote over the top even MORE, and put a new stamp on them. We haven’t tried to use them since, but we will find out tomorrow. Here’s hoping all goes well.

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Exploring Pompeii

We had a full day in Pompeii today (I definitely recommend an audio tour if you cannot afford a full guided one, there is very little signage through the city and the information is great—they also give you a map for free and the more tours you buy the cheaper they become, 1 for 7.5EUR, 2 for 10EUR, etc.) and we will go to the archaeological museum tomorrow, after checking out of the hostel. In the afternoon we will get a train to Rome.

Exhausted, vaguely frustrated, but happy overall.

Until next time,

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