Going to a place, seeing sights and then moving on to the next place is often how travel is portrayed. There is an excitement to see the new and go to a new place and a bit of sorrow to leave. Leaving new friends or leaving without seeing a sight or experiencing something brings up some bittersweet. On the other hand, have you ever been somewhere where you were really happy to leave?
Mainland Greece was it for me. I saw some neat things and am glad I spent time there, but on the ferry heading out I was quite happy to leave. I looked back at the retreating land and could honestly think, “Nope, I have no urge to come back.”
Not All Bad
It wasn’t like the entire trip was horrible. I had planned a two week trip with the first half in the islands on a boat and the second half exploring Athens and the mainland. I really enjoyed the island hopping and would love going back to see some more of them. The mainland and I just didn’t get along though. There were some pretty cool experiences, but on the whole it was a frustrating time that I do not feel the need to repeat. Maybe the island half of the trip was so much fun that the mainland had a hard time competing. Maybe I simply missed traveling with other people and didn’t enjoy being alone. But the feeling of being happy to get away and head to Italy was palpable as I watched the ship push off.
The weather was beautiful for most of the trip. I think I saw it rain once. The sun was out and yet it wasn’t so broiling hot. The country is beautiful and the food tasty and cheap. Other than with bus personnel I met some really friendly people in my travels, both Greek and traveler. So what made me happy to put it behind me?
The island half of my trip was truly fantastic. I did a week-long gap adventures boat tour from Santorini to Mykinos. The few of us on the boat bonded well and we had a blast. Then I hit Athens and almost wished I had skipped it. Roughly a day and a half there and that was more than enough for me. I ended up spending much of the rest of the trip riding or waiting for a bus.
I headed out of Athens to see two sites. Delphi was really cool to see and Meteora was the highlight of the mainland trip. These were worthwhile to me to see, but now that I have, I have no need to go back. Sure I look at a guide book and think, “well maybe one or two other things here and there”, but it isn’t enough to overcome that feeling of “ok seen enough” mixed ever so subtly with “wow that is frustrating”.
Frustrations Affect Mood
The bus system is a bit of a mess. As near as I can tell the Germanic desire to be able to plan to be at a specific place at a specific time does not function in Greece. Some small amount of this is a language issue. Another amount is a lack of understanding of the system. But as an example, although the city bus driver spoke some English he could not tell me whether the bus he was currently driving stopped at or near the city bus terminal or not. This began a pattern for the following long distance bus trips.
Oh well, it provides good stories right? Well yes, but it also provided a wasted day in a bus station and several quite stressful moments wondering if I would ever reach my destination or even get to the ferry on time. The end of this multi-day traveling jaunt left me huffing and puffing while trying to run to make my ferry boat out of town. In hindsight, I could have done a number of things better and I wish I had decided to fly home. Yet at that moment when the ferry pushed off into the water, I was happy to Greece fall behind me. “Goodbye,” I said in my head. “I will gladly come see more of your islands, but don’t expect me to come back to the mainland again.”
Travel is often about the frustrations and the stories. I don’t at all regret my time in Greece. I am just now reluctant to return with anything other than 6 weeks to spare just to make sure I can make the bus connections.
Have you ever been happy to leave a place?