HOBART HUGHES ........home

Athens to Kalamarta


More weird trains

The Greeks just don't do trains very well, much like they don't do coffee (apart from Greek coffee) or wine. (this is somewhat unfair as their wines are just very distinctive) Had a saga and a half getting the ticket anyway (see last installment) So I got on the train and got all the way to Corinth (about half way so two hours) and the train takes off but it just went back and myself and these two lovely Italians didn't realize. No one at any stage said you have to change trains. Not the ticket office or the electronic sign on the platform; it just read the final destination of Patra. You see they are two completely different rail companies, one mainland the other peloponnesian. The umbrella of the national rail system has the frame but no fabric. It goes back to the Spartian wars this thing. One of the Italians realized by checking her timetable that the stations were going backwards. We got off halfway back to Athens on this station that was built into a freeway interchange. All very modern and incredibly noisy. Waited an hour but had a a great time talking to these friendly intelligent couple. Got on the next train amazingly full of day trippers and changed into a very Spartian train indeed. When we all (two hundred people) tried to board the driver ran up and down pulling people off and waiving his arms like he was trying to fly. Everyone just got on anyway. We didn't have the correct tickets for this train and everyone had seat numbers but it was so confused and we were in the end carriage. People were a bit desperate and heaving bags and looking for seats but it was so full that you had no chance of moving through a carriage. The conductor was shouting and directing people to sit in the closest seat. Our carriage was full of the worst Australian yobbos but after a while the guy who travelled with the inflated swimming bed and had nammed it warmed on me. None of the guys had shirts and all had a completly different hair universe going on up top. Mohawk, mullett, shaggy, balding on top long drizzle of hair to the shoulders, words fail me. They talked total crap the whole time. Who's a wanker, who did this, who did who, who wanted who, you get the idea. All this talk was at top volume, but this goes without saying, which is an ironic expression in the context I suppose.

The conductor looked at our tickets and was just past caring he clipped them like fate had thrown him into this mess and he was just coming along for the ride. Half way through we realized why he was so weird and why the driver tried to pull everyone off. There had been a landslide and a mass of earth had slipped down the hill. We went from being thrown around the carriage with these alarming banging noises to inching along at walking pace through the worst section of landslide. It is weird that the driver just gave up trying to do the safe thing and threw the train and us all to the winds of chance.

In passing I suppose I should say that this costline, and the train follows it the intier trip, is stunning. Aqua water and cute cute towns with this distincting room tiling that makes ever house like a tiny temple.

After I got to Patra I got instructions from the ticket office that the same train was going all the way to the south so on the spur of the moment I hopped back on just as it was pulling out for another five hours, the second half of which I was the only person on the train. It was so dream like to wander through the entire train and see no one. It was kind of special. I set my video camera up and did a long monologue just to record the moment as well as an animated track through the train.
I've just spent the night in a nice hotel, for a change, in Kalamarta and will look for somewhere to spend a few days now. I went for a swim last night just as the sun was going down off the breakwater that rims the harbor. It was so weird as it was such not a place you'd think to swim. Fishing boats coming back to harbor for the night my only company. But the water was crystal clear and really amazing. Then had a perfect meal of a plate of fried sardine with a plate fried zucchini in one of the sixteen  huge  but totally empty marina front restaurants.  I think the holiday makers have finally gone home.