Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wabbit Hunting

Today started with a Frostychino and Choclate Croissant at Omonia Sq. Now as a rule I usually avoid milk and milk based products but at the promise of a Coffee thickshake I made an exception here. A coffee place by the name of Petit Coffee provided me with a coffee thickshake topped with whipped cream and caramel along with a criossant sprinkled with and filled with warm chocklate. Yummy (Though the criossant was a bit rich for my taste).

While drinking my Frostychino I was continually approached by pidgeons, so close I could just reach out a grab them. Now I have better sense than to start grabbing pidgeons in the middle of a crowded square with an audience (and police officers) looking on, so I thought on a better way to handle this situation. Elicting serial-killer-like powers of deduction I came upon the perfect place to corner and entrap my prey, the park from yesterday! I then finished my drink and headed off to the park poste-haste.

Now every good game needs some rules and here are the ones I came up with on the way there:
1. No baiting the pidgeons. I would have to capture the pidgeon without distracting it with food.
2. I couldn't be seen trying to catch the pidgeon. If seen I would need to start again from the entrance to the park.
3. Once the bird was captured I would need to hold it for 5 seconds for it to be a win.

And they say computer games aren't murder simulators.
After around 15 minutes of waiting, being interupted by joggers and bike riders and it was finally me, and a single pidgeon in a fairly secluded area of the park. Showdown music (Old western style) started playing in my head as I closed in on the bird.

Now after all of this the conclusion to the story is going to be a bit anti-climatic, but in the end I decided on not grabbing the bird. When I finally got the pidgeon alone and had the oppurtunity to capture it I decided that it would be best to leave the pidgeon alone, as it was much happier off unmolested (I also had qualms about being able to grab it without injuring it). There we go, I ruined a perfectly good story with an unsatisfactory ending. I then spent the remainder of my day in the park enjoying the good weather.

Now it's coming on 6pm and it's time for me to head off to the Airport again. So when you hear from me again I'll probably be in Israel.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Ministry of Silly Walks

Spent most of my day in the Athens National Park nearby the house of parliment. It must be some sort of Athenian holiday or something as I ran into a parade of soliders in funny hats and slippers on the way there complete with their own brass band. They were doing some crazy walk which I managed to find a video on youtube of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmMhNnzfOWY

The park was pretty big, and I spent most of relaxing, reading and generally having a look around. My only real interuption was when some weird old guy started coming on to me. He started rubbing my leg whereby I said no and shook my finger at him tsking. He then proceeded to put his hand on my crotch which I then took and put back into his own lap. Seeing as he seemed to be ignoring the message I decided to try every gesture for no I had at my disposal (Said no, shook my head, did the stop motion [Showing him my palm], etc). He then started tounging his thumb [really the only way I can think of describing what he was doing] and he even tried for a reach around (Which I stopped, said no and shook my head at him again followed by a bit more tsking). By this point he finally seemed to understand that this was a lost cause. I tried then to to find out why he was trying to do what he was doing, but he didn't speak any English though so I didn't have much luck there. I'm not sure if he was seriously coming on to me or if he was trying to make me feel uncomfortable (A lost cause either way). He went pretty far for a joke if that was the case though, so if that was his aim then I'm pretty impressed.

I've also left the buildup out whereby he approached me while I was reading, tried to strike a conversation (Mostly in gestures), and even gave me some flowers (Really tiny ones when he lifted from some bush somewhere [I did think that it was a little odd for him to give me the flowers, but I didn't think much of it at the time]). A fairly bemusing encounter all in all.

People are silly sometimes.

At the center of the National Park they have a zoo of sorts. As I was interested in checking out the indiginous animals of Greece I had a look around. It's safe to say I wasn't overly impressed as Greece's claim to fame as far as animals go seem to be Chickens, Cats, Donkies and Budgerigars (Budgies). No wonder Greek tourists are so impressed by Australia's native animals if that's all they have as part of their nation's natural fauna. Things like our Platypus (Duck-Otter) and Kangeroo (Rabbit-Dog) would just blow their minds.

At the center of the park they also have a really huge tree:

UPDATE (11:28am 25/02/08)
After getting back to my hostel I met up with my new bunk mate (A Vietnamese Uni student that was using his school holidays to go travelling) and as we were both interested in checking out the Athenian night life we finally tracked down a night club (With the help of a guide book that he had photocopied a few pages from) and had a look. Compared to clubs and bars in Australia, Athenian clubs seem to be somewhat on the small side (If the club we went to is the norm for Athens). Apart from the size of the place it wasn't too bad and my roommate and got up and danced for a bit (*sigh*) before leaving to try and find another place (No luck there though, they seem to be very scarce). In the end as it was fairly late (and a Sunday night) we ended up going back to the Hostel. An interesting outing and I can now cross off clubbing in Athens off my mental checklist.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Proposition A

Woke up bright and early today, walked to a square in Athens and followed a stray dog around for a bit. After a short while the dog met up with another dog, and they went around peeing on various things. Eventually the dog ended up back with what I assume is it's owner, as it lay down on a piece of cardboard layed out behind one of the cigarette stands that you see all over Athens. It seems this particular dog has an owner, or at least someone who cares for it.

With nothing else planned for the day I went to see if it was possible to leave Athens on foot. I picked a moutain range in the distance as my point of reference and started off. I walked through the city center, industrial areas, suburban areas and what I believe to be some of Athen's outer suburbs without seeing a break (Was hoping to see the Athenian countryside or the like). After around 6-7 hours of walking, and as shops started closing I found a suitable bus and took that back into the city center. Athens really is *that* big (The seem to build out instead of up for some reason and have no real sky scrapers. 2-3 stories seems to be the average for most buildings, and you get the odd 5-6 story building). Zoom out on the following map to see what I mean (Omonia Sq is pretty much my base camp).

Yesterday I did get a roommate as well. A Polish guy named Sven who I believe is leaving tommorrow (From what I've gathered, his English isn't the best so our conversations are fairly limited). From what I've been able to figure out he's trying to reach a place called Polonius for work and needed 3 Euros to get there (Had 91 Euros and needed 94 for his ticket). As he seemed a nice enough fellow, and as he was considering selling his phone to get the money for the ticket I gave him the money he needed.

Had a nap for a bit and then went out to check the Athenian night life. 30 seconds after leaving my hostel I was propositioned for sex by an Athenian prostitue (22 Euros. Cheap!). I politely declined and went on my way (Props on her English though, and the fact that she knew where Adelaide was). I may have been offered drugs by some random bald black guy as well who asked me if I "wanted any stuffs". He probably was just hawking other "stuffs" as Athens seems to have it's fair share of people selling random stuff on the sides of the streets (Though I didn't see a stall/blanket anywhere nereby, and I was in a pretty dodgy side street).

Didn't have any luck finding any clubs or bars, but found a bunch of restaurants and cafes that were open. Had some skinny druggie looking chick ask me for money out the front of one, and told her that I was short on cash myself and couldn't spare any. Back to the subject of dogs though, it seems that a whole bunch of the dogs that are ranging around Athens actually are strays, as I've seem a number of them sleeping in parks (Dog in the picture above is one example), on the streets and even venturing into restaurants (Whereby the staff have to shepard them out). I patted one which seemed to either excite it, or distress it as it started whining/yelping and jumping on me. Explained to the dog that I didn't have any food, and it went on it's way.

Not sure what I'll get up to tommorrow, but I figure I'll check with the hostel staff and see if they can suggest anything interesting to do and point me in the direction of bars/clubs so I can look into that as well.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Athens - City of Dogs

Arrived in Athens around 7am this morning (Athens time) and as my first order of business I checked into the my hostel. The room I've been assigned seems nice enough, and I should be getting bunk mates sooner or later, however they still haven't arrived at this point (Now 5pm).

Spent most of today wandering around Athens aimlessly, and actually covered quite a bit of ground using this method. Ended up at most of the touristy spots whereby I took the required photos (Which I think I'll end up deleting from the camera). The photos were nice enough however they're nothing that aren't available already, and I'm not into the whole looking at buildings thing anyway. Instead from now on I'll only be taking shots of stuff that takes my interest, if at all.

Some interesting things that happened today:
- I hung up with some crazy bum on some benches for a bit. I say crazy as he kept mumbling to himself and laughing randomly, which usually is a pretty good indicator of the Cray-ZEE. Tried striking up a conversation however he didn't speak English (Go figure) and I don't speak Greek. Instead we just kicked back, and enjoyed the day while everyone else moved about. Eventually he decided to it was time to go, and he sort of stumbled/waddled off. I considered following him to see what bums get up to while everyone else goes about their normal day, but decided that stalking a possibly paranoid, schizofrenic bum probably wasn't the best call.
- Dogs! Athens is full of dogs. Packs of them running around the place or just lying on the sidewalks. For the most part the dogs have collars so I assume that they have owner, however considering the lack of space in Athens I assume that most Athenians don't have backyards (and no dog-catchers from the looks of things). The dogs seem friendly enough, however you've got to look out for the dog poo (Which is everywhere).
- Almost got in trouble with a riot patrol officer today. Saw a few Athenian police in green camo with riot shields and tear gas launchers and stopped to look. What I learnt today? Well apparently "The Man" doesn't like it when you stare at them with a goofy grin on your face. I guess a grin usually means you find something funny (Or in this case amusing), and people that have to deal with rioters on a day to day basis usually take themselves pretty seriously, and interpret a smile as mockery. The commander waved me over and said something to me in Greek. I told him that I didn't speak Greek and at that point he said that I "could go" (In English). Probably would be a good idea to keep this in mind when I get to Israel, as the IDF are sure to take themselves *even* more seriously considering all the shinanigans that goes on over there.

All in all, a pretty cool first day. Hopefully Athens still has more to offer.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

First Stop - Singapore

After a 6-7 hour flight I've arrived at my first stop, Singapore. My impressions of the place are fairly favourable. Apart from the distinct smell of manure when entering the airport (I'm assuming that's what it was) the place if freaking huge. There are a large number of shops and stores which are spread across multiple levels. The airport is actually so big that they split it into three seperate terminals which you move between via a network of mono-rail-ish trains. I initially landed in a different terminal than the one I'll be leaving so I got to enjoy a train ride as well. As I speak I'm currently posting this from the Gold Class Lounge at Terminal 3 of the Singapore Airport.

The Gold Class Lounge is nice. Free food, free tea, free internet and nice comfy chairs. All pretty posh. I actually got in here thanks to a cool German guy named Clouse who had a spare "guest" spot on his pass into the Gold Class Lounge which he used to sneak me in. Looks like I'm not going to be using the airport hotel after all (Saved around $64 AUD in the process). Plan is to get some reading done so I can start to discard some of the hefty books I've chosen to bring along on my trip (Most of my pack weight is books really), and basically kill time until my next flight (Around 4-5 hours).

Got to test out my digital camera as well and have included a couple of pictures of the lounge below.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Starting sentences with conjunctions


Awesome. Looks like this thing also accepts pictures.

And with that I'm done.