Stuck in Athens

I don’t move from this chair and am quite proud of myself for it. Kids walk in through the steel green door at the end of the skinny partially outdoor hallway and I stare up from my phone screen at them. I give everyone a well pronounced, “hello” and listen back, part of me hoping for an American (or Australian) accent.



Today is day 7 at this cheap hostel. The excitement of being around other young travellers has begun to taper off. There have been several days blending together of unlabeled wine in plastic bottles bought from kiosks and buckets of expensive American fried chicken. We’ve danced in the kitchen while pasta overcooks on the flimsy gas stove and I have been scolded by the owner of the building for venturing up a ladder to a dark hallway full of old carpet and dusty torsos of forgotten mannequins.  I joke that perhaps I’ve fallen in love everyday at this place.

A Greek voice comes over an intercom,

“have some respect!, It is quite hours.”

“fuck that its happy hour in America”, says one my new friends. It is 3pm, siesta time in Athens and here we are sitting with 2 liter bottles of Bulgarian wine and two out of tune guitars playing alongside a bluetooth speaker. As terrified as I am about insulting a cultural norm I do end up telling myself “well I did pay for this place.” The woman who runs the hostel says to me every night, “you leave tomorrow Joshua”. Her tone is authoritative but I have come to the conclusion that she is simply asking me a question. Maybe I live here now.

The format of every new hostel conversation has become stale. I crave consistency and even found some with a few rowdy Americans from New Jersey and also with a trio of lovely Australian girls.The problem is I have spent an unordinary amount of time in a place that is intended for brief stays. A group will form here and then fizzle away as everyone moves along with their trips. But I am left in this chair with no energy to be part of a new nightly party crowd.

Same chair moved to different spot

Jason has followed the Australians to the islands until Tuesday and yesterday I broke my self-imposed rule to never leave the hostel. I figured I would go mad if I sat in the chair much longer obsessing over shallow analogies of what it means to exist at this cluttered corner table. A girl gave me a ticket to the Acropolis (20 euro value). I walked the 3km up the hill to the main entrance of the site. It felt like a theme park. At the gate a woman scanned my ticket and said, “no good”. It seems the ticket had been used and would not scan. I argued with her for several minutes and went as far as to cook up a story about how I bought the ticket yesterday but had to help a friend to the hospital who had slipped on the steep marble leading up to the gate. She just said, “ok, still no good.” Behind me was a ticket office and a line with hundreds of people fanning themselves and drinking yellow slushies in a miserable manner. I walked around aimlessly listening to Tom Waits on my headphones. Forty feet to the left of the entrance was a stroller storage room and a fence. I figured the risk of being escorted away by Greek police officers was certainly worth the 20 euro and time standing cattle-like in a line. So I hopped the fence. Many people waiting in line saw me do this and as I glanced back I could notice people talking in a revolutionary tone. Maybe I would look towards the crowd on my way up the mountain and there would be a crowd of families shoving their kids over the fence, tumbling over clunky dslr cameras and then scattering into the crowd on the steps. But no one seemed to care about me so I went along exploring the ancient structures at the top.

The womans voice came over the intercom, “Joshua! You need to pick up the blue telephone”. I realize I have been here long enough to now be receiving phone calls on the landline. It is our mechanic from down the street,

“Yes, Joshua, I have the parts for Jason’s bike, will you come in Tuesday morning at 10?”






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