I woke up around 9 am and had the hotel breakfast. I made a legit bacon, egg and cheese sandwich for the first time in a while (I had been talking with Giorgos the day before about how one thing that I really miss is a good American breakfast). I spent the late morning and early afternoon walking around some of the monasteries and nunneries of Meteora. It was a foggy morning, which wasn't great for the views...but it was all amazing nonetheless. As a light rain came down, I took a footpath back to Kalambaka where I took a shower and packed up my things. It was around two pm when I said goodbye to Giorgos and started running towards Trikala. It is kind of funny that I think of 22.5 kilometers as a "short" run, but it did go by quickly...along one straight road that passed from Kalambaka to the center of Trikala.
About an hour into the run I had a sudden strange sensation in my eye, and thought that I caught a little piece of something in it. I tried all the techniques of getting things out of your eyes that I know, but nothing seemed to have any effect. I still don't know what it was, but my eye was trembling and itchy and red, and tears were pouring down the right side of my face. I figured I couldn't do anything about it on the side of the highway anyways, so I just kept running, hoping that maybe some fresh air would make it go away.
In Trikala it didn't seem to get any better. I spent the afternoon wandering around town, checking things out through one good eye. I grabbed a bite to eat and found an open pharmacy where I bought some eye drops. The person couldn't speak English, and the package they gave me wasn't in English either, but I figured I would give it a try. Some of the only words I recognized on the container were "Boric acid" and "Sulfuric acid."
"Umm...I guess I'll put a couple drops of this stuff in my eye..."
My eye didn't seem to get much better after that either. I spent a decent amount of time in an Internet cafe with liquid running out of my itchy eye and nose. Wasn't a great feeling. I guess the symptoms point to allergies, which I've never had a problem with before.
I waited and waited for my potential cs host to call me. He had gone away for a business trip, and told me the day before that he might be back in time to host me. I called him a few times but never got any response.
I wasn't feeling quite as social as usual. It is a bit more difficult to approach random strangers when you have your hand over your eye and it is bright red and tearing. I got some dinner, and around 9 I went into a little bar along the main street. The place was kind of empty, but it was the only bar that I thought I could tolerate. The rest of them were packed, but were playing loud music with all sorts of flashy lights. The kind of bar that I never really like to go to.
Anyways, I had a Guinness and then asked the bartender if he knew of anything going on this evening in order to start conversation. He told me to go to the historic part of town, where there were more real bars...and I went there.
I walked around for a while before walking into a little bar that had a few people in it. I stood at the bar by myself and ordered a Heineken. I smiled to myself as I thought about how long ago I had been at the old brewery in Amsterdam. My eye seemed to be getting better, but I was still in a bar by myself with nowhere to sleep...still kind of hoping that the couchsurfing guy would give me a call back. I think the bartender (Sotiris) could see my sorry situation, and he poured a shot of Jack Daniel's for each of us. "Cheers," he said. Down the hatch. Little by little I told him my story, as he poured drinks for the people that were slowly coming in the doors. Another Heineken, another shot. Another Heineken, another shot. Another Heineken, another...
It was a lot of fun, and certainly one of the better times I've had drinking at a bar.
There came a point, however when I realized that I was past that line of feeling good when I went to sleep. I cannot handle alcohol extremely well, and this I know. I stopped worrying about sleeping, and instead about doing whatever I could do to keep myself from vomiting all of the liquid fun out of myself with enough force to pop all the blood vessels in my eyelids. The good thing about Greece, is that they always serve a glass of water with your drink, no matter what it is...so I had been drinking water consistently. I stopped with the beer and worked on just taking in as much water as I could. Sotiris knew what I was up to, and kept my glass of water constantly filled. Around 2 am I decided that I should pop out to grab something to eat to slow down that Jack from absorbing into my system. I asked Sotiris if I could close up the tab, and he asked me to remind him how many drinks I had.
"Hmm, I think 4 Heinekens and however many-"
"What?! No no...not four Euros, please..."
He wouldn't take my money. I got wasted in a nice bar for 4 Euros. Incredible.
I wandered around the streets for a while, stumbling into a pizza place where I got a small cheese pizza and a big bottle of water. It was very very cold outside, and my drunken plan of using alcohol to numb the cold feeling didn't seem to be working that well. I had to be inside, so I went back to the bar and had another glass of water before saying goodnight. I asked Sotiris if he had any suggestions, but he lived very far away and I decided to try out the train station. The train station was pretty far away as well, and I had no idea if it would be open. On the way there though, I passed by the bar that I had been in earlier, and the bartender waved to me from inside. I went in to say hello and to ask if the train station would be open. I talked for a while with the all of the people who worked in the bar who were closing up shop, and they informed me that the train station was closed. I sobered up significantly as we talked, and they offered me a place to stay in one of the storage areas that the bar had nearby. They gave me a box with some food and a couple bottles of water and brought me over to my sleeping place. It was so nice to not be sleeping in the cold, and just as incredible that I had become sober enough to not puke all over their storage closet. I slept on a desk with my feet extended onto a stool, using my backpack as a pillow. I fell asleep very easily.
21 September 2009