Stop 20: Thessaloniki, drastically changing the route for no reason…

Jumping off the bus into a huge terminal in the middle of nowhere, I was beginning to see a pattern in Greece. I’d read I needed to get the number 31 bus and then catch another bus to get to where my hostel was. Luckily for me I did because I wouldn’t have had a clue otherwise.

I asked around and got off at the first stop (kind of) then I asked people which one I needed to get, showing them the leaflet. Some shook their heads, others slowly read random words on the leaflet. Once I heard someone say “…DISSSSCOVERRR…” I realised that I was on my own.

So I walked it. I figured out ‘Ano Poli’ was something that Greeks would understand as it wasn’t English, so I followed the pointing directions until I finally got to the hostel. It was dark and I had been walking uphill for nearly an hour. I was ready to collapse.

“Sorry, full…” Was the receptionist’s response. I’m not a fan of booking things online so sometimes there are disadvantages for that. She rang another hostel on the other side of town and said they had a bed in a dorm room for me at €17 and that they’d hold it for me for 1 hour. It took 30 minutes to walk across town to find the place. At least it wasn’t (that far) uphill…

I checked in and seemingly had the dorm to myself. The other bunk was clearly taken by two people who had made it their home, but there was no sign of them. I went out and got a soutzoukhaki that was much better than the one in Trikala and decided to call it a night.

As I was on my bed a German guy checked in. We started chatting whilst I was trying and failing to sync my photos to my laptop (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t for no reason. Stupid technology, you get what you pay for…) Then two blokes invaded our rooms with sinister smiles on their faces introducing themselves. I asked where they were from and they said “Devon, a place called Totnes…”

“No fucking way!” Was my response. I have family who live in Totnes and have been there multiple times. Turns out one of them went to school with my cousin. Small world.

So me and the Totnes Two (The Germanator didn’t want to come) headed up to the castle to chill out. As they were Totnesians they were a bit more adventurous than the average bear and climbed up the broken part of the castle wall to get to the top of a derelict part.

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We made it! And our reward was a stunning view overlooking the whole of Thessaloniki. I took a few pictures but they didn’t do the scene justice so I reverted back to the old fashioned method and used my eyes, soaking it all in and feeling chilled out as the Totnes Two passed around a bottle of Greek wine.

It was getting chilly, so I left the Totnes Two to chat to another group of lads (One was Albanian, and he found it funny that I’d just been there). The two came back half an hour later and one of them was absolutely steaming, nearly treading on my laptop which was on charge in the corner as he stumbled around. I made a point of emailing the book file to myself five minutes later…

I stayed another day, mainly because I was tired and didn’t want to move (hard life) and spent the day with the Germanator walking around Thessaloniki. It was nice, but no nicer than any other place I’d been to, so after that day I was ready to say “Next!” And head out.

There were two new people that evening; an American girl with beautiful pale skin and light brown hair that suggested she had Irish roots, and an Australian bloke who did not have beautiful pale skin nor have Irish roots. I invited the two of them up to the viewpoint me and the Totnes Two had been to so they could enjoy it. We chilled out up there for a while getting to know each other before going to bed (our OWN beds. Calm the fuck down…)

As we were falling asleep we were talking about places we’d been and Aussie Ardiles said he’d been through Albania and loved it. I sighed in disappointment as me and Matt had to rush through so he could make his flight. Then I thought that I didn’t HAVE to miss it; this was a trip of my choosing, so I did what I have done memorably in the past, grabbed a coin and was ready to let it decide my fate.

“Oh my God, you’re actually going to do it!” The American girl shouted in delight.

“Heads I go to Albania, tails I go to Bulgaria!” I exclaimed as I threw the coin in the air. It landed on the floor and as I picked it up I saw it had landed on tails, much to my disappointment.

As I was about to say ‘tails’ I soon realised it was the lighting, and it had in fact landed on heads. “…Oh wait, it’s heads!” I squealed, doing a little monologue with myself.

“Wait, what was heads again?” said Aussie Ardiles, massively confusing matters…

“Heads means I’m going to Albania!” I proudly announced. Then I started frantically looking at how to get to Sarande or Corfu (the Greek island on the border) by bus.

“Oh wow, you’re really going to do it aren’t you?” The American girl said.

“Yep!” I said confidently, hoping it would impress her. She goes to Yale so she’s a lot smarter than that…

The next day I noticed that the buses towards Albania were way overpriced, so thinking on my feet I decided to go to Bulgaria anyway, but instead of doing Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Slovenia the plan is to now do Bulgaria-Macedonia-Albania-Montenegro-Bosnia-Slovenia, which may kill me, but doesn’t everything kill you nowadays…?

So I have no idea where I’ll be (a) on my birthday, and (b) when I finish my book. That’s pretty cool. I wonder what the next few days have in store for me, let alone the next few months…

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