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EUR07: The Black Gate is Closed

My luck, of course.

After a long and fairly fidgety train ride from Athens to Thessaloniki, I get in a long queue for International train tickets (mine being to Mordor Istanbul). Meet a Brit there who is also pressed for time, worried that a train ride from Beograde to Budapest will take 36 hours or some nonsense.

She’s in luck. I’m not.

To her delight, my Eurail timetable points out that her train is only 6 hours long. On the other hand, my train is full.

Bid her farewell as I check for coaches heading in my direction. The only one today left two hours previously.

Welcome to sunny Thessaloniki.

Wander along the main strip towards the centre of town, looking for an internets. Meet an Australian who, when not in Thessaloniki, is living in London. She has a map, she can tell that I’m lost, we both need internets, and it’s off to see the Wizard. Our yellow bit road leads to a net café where I find out that a) I am literally soaking in sweat, and b) a fair hostel lies 50 feet from the train station, 30 minutes back in the direction I have just walked. This is becoming a theme for the trip.

Get to the hotel, have a blessed shower, realize that my train ticket for tomorrow only says Thessaloniki -> Pythion (on the Greek/Turkish border)… go back to the station and am informed that apparently my Eurail pass is good enough to get me into Turkey/Istanbul, though I was under the impression that Turkey still isn’t part of Europe. But what do I know? But as the Brits seem to be fond of saying, something seems a bit “dodgy.” I’ll find out tomorrow.

Oh, and those of you who were following on my itinerary may have been expecting me to already be in Istanbul. I decided to take an extra night in Athens, then spend (ideally) a full day in Istanbul (supposedly arriving there at 8:00 tomorrow), then sleep, then stay another day until 20:00 and take the train back to Greece (instead of spending two nights there). With the new arrangements, I’ll get to Istanbul at 21:00 tomorrow, sleep, then stay there until 20:00 the next day and immediately come back. That’s less than one full day to do everything I’d hoped. And it’s assuming the return train isn’t full either.

In the meantime, I may try to find something interesting to see in close proximity to the hotel. Or I may just have a nap.

Next stop: Cirith Ungol.