September 17th to 22nd, a week long trip to Paris with my Mom. I packed a carry on sized bag with 4 dresses, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of jeggings, 3 tank tops, 6 shirts, 2 scarves, 2 belts, Pjs, undergarments, pantyhose, a blazer, a leather jacket, 1 pair of slip on shoes, 1 pair of knee high boots(flat), toiletries, cellphone, tablet with keyboard, plugs and paperwork. I wore the largest things on the flight and the rest fit in my tiny wheeled suitcase once all my clothes were squeezed in an airtight space bag. The bag weighed 9.5 kg, 0.5 kg under the maximum weight requirement, the perfect pack job if you ask me.
Thank god I packed so well. Once we arrived in Paris mom and I had to take a train, a metro and then walk 2.5 kilometers to the apartment she rented in the 3rd arrondissement. Our cute apartment was behind a beautiful big blue door in a hip area and up 6 flights of 100 year old steep wooden stairs. WORKOUT!
We spent 6 days of pure bliss planning our days around our meals instead of attractions. I took 200 pictures and walked at least 10 kilometers a day. To tell you the truth, Mom and I were so busy exploring everything that we didn’t even go the the Eiffel Tower!
Part two of the trip…we land in Sofia, Bulgaria. I go through customs and get asked to step aside, mom goes through customs without any problems and waits for me behind a glass wall. Long story short, I overstayed my time in Bulgaria and Matt and I neglected to do the required paperwork when we arrived a few months back (we honestly didn’t know, apparently Polish immigration laws are very different from Bulgarians laws) and now I cannot reenter Bulgaria. I sent my mom to Burgas to meet Matt while I had to jump on a plane to Athens and go to the Bulgarian Embassy to apply for a reentry visa.
What a nightmare, well not exactly. For some reason I was assigned first class, row 1 seat A. I got a fancy meal, 2 pillows, disembarked the plane first and was driven to the airport in my own bus! It was a little ridiculous for a 30 person jet but oh well. My first night solo in Athens I stayed in a 5 star hotel the lady at the airport help me find for only 70 euros, breakfast included. This place was fancy, normal room rates go for a whopping 350 (almost $500) Euros a night. I guess the lady at the airport saw sadness in my eyes and worked her magic to help me. Big fluffy bed, 2 terrible English TV channels and a huge shower, this hotel was a perfect place to lay my head while I racked my brain as to what I was going to do next. The following day I tried to eat something from the breakfast buffet but nerves took the best of me and I miss out on the craziest selection of food I’d ever seen. A crepe station, eggs, meats, several cheeses, a variety of smoked and oily fishes, coffee, tea, orange juice, ice tea, sour cherry juice, cereals, toasts, fresh fruit, all you can eat figs, nuts and yogurt accompanied by a dozen freshly made jams and chocolate spreads! The buffet had a choice of 4 different honeys for crying out loud! Oh well, next time.
I jump on the bus with my suitcase and make my way to the Bulgarian embassy a few kilometers north of Athens. Once there a guard tells me to go around the corner and speak through an old ratty intercom attached to a large gate. I can barely make out what the woman says but manage to understand that visas are by appointment only and I must return tomorrow at 11am. Gulp, I ask her where can I go from here, I’m completely helpless and homeless at this point, all she replied was a dry “I don’t know”. More like you don’t give a f*, please get off my lawn stupid Canadian girl. I cross the street, sit in a lovely green park and cry for a solid 15 minutes until I run out of tissues, old receipts and used bus transfers.
A quick search on hostelworld.com and I book a night in a 4 person female dorm at City Circus. What a treat, the hostel is in a 4 story historical building, completely reconstructed and designed with funky retro furnishings and quirky artwork. The staff is AMAZING, the place is immaculate, the beds are heavenly and you can’t beat the location, downtown with a clear view of the Parthenon from the cool rooftop patio.
Three seconds after dropping of my suitcase at the hostel I made 2 new friends; Pila, a lovely Argentinian girl living in Madrid and Mickelle, an energetic girl from Chicago living in Orlando. The girls took me out for lunch, walked around all the tourist sites and even had a short nap in the park.
Pila, Mickelle, Amalia.
My appointment at the Bulgarian embassy was useless, they didn’t even know how to help me and laughed when I said I was homeless. Every time I would ask them a question they would give me different answer, I truly don’t get why they are even there, they know nothing! I tried my luck with the Canadian embassy the following day and they were much more knowledgeable. The sweet Greek/Canadian lady did everything in her power to help me, I appreciated all her work.
That night my little suitcase and I jumped on an overnight train to Thessaloniki to meet up with Matt, Mom, the 2 cats and our camper. What a relief to be with loved ones again, I really needed a hug! The first few days in Thessaloniki I visited the Bulgarian consulate (another useless meeting) and the Canadian consulate (more hope here) and filled out a ton of paperwork, forms, pictures, lawyers, signings, etc. After that it’s just a big waiting game.
Mom spent the remainder of her holiday in Greece drinking ouzo, eating bricks of feta, playing games, sneezing (because of cats), walking on the beach with her feet in the Mediterranean, taking pictures of ruins and exploring markets. She is truly a great woman, always game for anything, unbothered by the whirlwind of events, I love her to bits!
Fingers crossed I’ll be back home before Halloween.