Today was a good example of the vicissitude-esque quality of our Grecian vacation. It started out kind of rough.
Maria had given us directions to get to a place called Napflion, which involved a city bus ride followed by a 2-hour private bus ride. First, the city bus almost didn't show up, and when it finally did, it drove us through the ugliest part of town ever to the private bus terminal. Then it turned out that the next private bus wasn't leaving for an hour, so we hung out in a bus terminal in a gross part of town for an hour. Then we rode the private bus for 2 hours, never being exactly sure of where we were supposed to get off, and being bitter the whole way (we had already drafted our negative review of Maria and her apartment whilst waiting for our second bus). Plus, we decided that maybe the dogs we had seen earlier weren't sleeping because they were tired. Maybe it was because there just wasn't enough to do in Greece to keep them awake?
We finally made it to where we were going, and I had read that the old fort on the hill closed early in the winter months (i.e. only 45 minutes after we arrived thanks to our multiple bus delays), and we didn't want to waste all the money we had spent on bus tickets, so we raced up to the top of the hill, which was awful because it was really high up and there weren't any hand railings and I was really sweaty. We were kind of incredulous that Maria would send us so far out of the way to somewhere so relatively unimpressive (but again, we were bitter).
The view from the fort.
We climbed around the fort for a while, and when it was time to walk down, we decided that we would take the exit to the parking lot instead rather than backtracking the miserable way we had climbed up. We were hoping that the parking lot exit was a foot path leading to a parking lot, but it turned out that it was actually a looong road that was going to take FOREVER to walk down (if we didn't get hit by cars on the way) and that would also put us on the opposite side of the mountain, errrrgh. But it was too late to turn back, so we kept on walking. We hadn't been walking for too long, when we saw a car that had driven past us stop and then back up to us. It was the young couple we had seen getting into their car a few minutes earlier, and they offered to drive us down the mountain, which was really realllly nice of them, because it turned out that it would have been a really bad idea to keep on walking. They were really nice too, and after we chatted for a while down the mountain (everyone here speaks perfect English), they dropped us off at a cupcake place they had been to earlier in the day and which they highly recommended called Liz's Cupcakes.
This is another example of a people-in-Greece-really-like-to-talk-and-are-very-friendly situation. We decided to get sit in and have cupcakes, and the guy at the counter gave us a run-through of all of our different coffee options, including what he usually drinks and what he recommended we stay away from, etc. We finally decided on (delicious) freddo cappucinos, which our first cab driver had recommended (it's an iced cappucino). After talking with him for a while and enjoying our (delicious) cupcakes, a woman showed up behind the counter who was the Liz of the title, and the guy working there introduced us to her as "Sarah-from-New-York!" and "Amelia-from-Los-Angeles!". Then a woman named Rhonda came in, who was English but who lived in Napflion, and she and Sarah chatted about New York for a while. Then the guy working there (I wish I remembered his name) took a bunch of pictures of us all together to be added to the Facebook wall for the store. Sarah and I told Liz that while cupcakes are gaining popularity in Paris, it's rare to find cupcake places. She disappeared and came back a few minutes later with a piece of paper where she had written not just the names of some Parisian cupcake places she recommended, but also their phone numbers and addresses. So helpful! We ended up being at Liz's Cupcakes for a while just talking with everyone, but on our way out we asked Liz for her lunch recommendations (apparently since it's Carnival, right before Lent, seafood is particularly expensive right now), but she recommended a new place a few blocks over called Popeye's (not the fast food chain!), run by an Englishwoman and her Greek husband.
We ended up at Popeye's, and even though I usually prefer to eat traditional food when traveling, this burger place was really great because the burgers were DELICIOUS, and because we had to sit at the bar (it was en extremely crowded day in town because of the holiday), but this was nice because as busy as it was, the owner managed to keep up a conversation with us literally the whole time we were there. She was so great, and asked us lots of questions in addition to telling us her entire life story (part of it involved drinking too much with her Greek now-husband, which led to them having a bilingual baby and opening a restaurant). It was just a little inexpensive burger place, but it was great for the company.
After eating, we walked around Napflion, and it was the first truly charming area we'd seen since arriving a few days ago. There had obviously been a BIG Carnival celebration earlier, based on the amount of confetti on the ground everywhere we went, and everyone was in costume and there was even a parade that we caught the beginning of before we had to get back on our bus. Napflion in general was just a cute little part of Greece that I wish we had more time in, and that I would definitely recommend a visit to! Apparently Maria wasn't so wrong when we sent us here for the day after all.