148. Death on the Road

All the troubles I had been obsessing about regarding my bus out of Swaziland were, in the end, totally misplaced. I got on the bus with no problems and the ride was super nice with complementary snacks and all you could ever wish for. Two hours in we had crossed the boarder and I’d even started to doze off, when suddenly, BAM, a loud noise interrups everything, the front screen goes dark and the vehicle comes to a hard stop flinging me forward and forcing me back to reality. The front screen cracked into a million pieces and the front of the car was covered in dust. Everything was quiet for a second before questions were flying in the air and everyone jumped out of the bus to assess the damages. 

No one was hurt, but the poor springbok that was now in the ditch writhing and thrashing about, desperately trying to stand up on its broken legs. Eventually the police came and they took the now stiff body with them, but not before many of the other passengers in the bus had had their chance to take loads of pictures of the dying animal. When the shock had settled another unease spread – when will the next bus arrive? When will we be in Joburg? Everyone became busy with making calls and changing their plans. Fortunately I was one of the few who could sit back on the sideline and watch the chaotic aftermath unfold, calm and untouched by the high stress level while chatting to a mother and her daughter from Dansk Vestindien. It took two hours before another bus came and by then half the people on our bus had already left, catching a ride with the few cars that passed us out there in the South African bush. It took another two hours before I arrived at the airport and was left, for the first time in five months, all by myself. 

With all the practice from our trip I checked-in and boarded the plane like a professional traveller. As we aprproached Caitro airport, where I had a three hour layover, you could see the Egyptian desert beneath us and even the pyramids! After a short flight in a half empty plane I was finally in Athens and feeling terribly exhausted and gross – a chronical backpacker syndrome. 

My hostel here is right in the centre of Athens with an amazing view of the Acropolis and the temple of Hephaetus from the rooftop bar, where I enjoyed the evening drinking a couple of greek beers with one of my new roommates. 

The next day I spent with aforementioned roommate walking through the city trying to find our way to the Acropolis – which turned out to be more difficult than expected. There are no signs telling you what direction to go, as it is situated on a big hill you can see from all over the city, but that doesn’t help you much when you have to go through a gate at a specific spot. So we wandered back and forth on the periphery of the Acropolis which took us through the narrow paths and stairways  of a quaint picturesque miniature Santorini (which coincidentally also is the name of my dorm here) from where there was an awesome view of the city. 

When we finally did find the gate and bought our tickets it was close to midday and the place was flooded with tourist. As a uniform mob we all pressed along up the slope and between the ancient ruins, trying not to slip on rock beneath our feet which have over time have been polished so finely by billions and billions of feet that they are more like ice than rock – I would not dare set foot on top of that hill during rain! 

On our way back we came across a big church in the middle of town surrounded by people, funeral decorations (which made me dread the news of yet another terrorist attack), police and, tv crews. However, it turned out to only be a former not-so-popular prime minister who was being laid to rest – phew! 

By late evening we went for icecream in the most unexpected corner of Athens. If you walk down the street parallel to our hostel the first thing you’d notice is the walls on either side of you covered in bright colour graffiti, then that above you there’s a roof of different unique lamp shades all the way down to the end of the steeet where you now will have stepped into a small isolated fairytale bubble – it’s like you’re literally standing in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory! 

Today I saw the last of the big turist attractions and can well satisfied leave this town behind for my next stop on my jurney as a solo female traveller. I walked all over town visiting the panathenaic stadium, national garden and the temple of Zeus – so now, I’ll put up my feet and not move an inch before I get on the train for Thessaloniki tomorrow.