Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lost in the City

We have driven to Thessaloniki a lot this last month. We've applied for our loan, registered at the consulate, met with the underwriters, etc. Actually, I don't want to say "we" because Kosta has signed all of the paperwork and met with all of the important people that one deals with in order to purchase a house. My job is to sit in the car while it's double parked. I would've never guessed that my trips to the city would force me to sit in the car while my husband runs errands. Parking in the city is a joke. There is no parking and if there is, whoever has it won't budge their car in fear of losing their sacred spot. I've made sure that I have reading material and good CD's with me to pass the time. People watching is great too! .

Wednesday Kosta had two appointments. The first appointment was at the courthouse and there was no parking within a mile so I assumed my post. The appointment lasted about a half hour and I didn't have to move the car so I was relieved. The next appointment was in the center of the city at a bank. At first, Kosta wanted to park on the sidewalk across the street from the bank. He informed me that he'd parked the car there before without incident. I wasn't going to be a part of it so I made him move the car off of the sidewalk and double park. For those of you who aren't familiar with the way things work here-parking half of your car on the sidewalk or sometimes completely on the sidewalk is quite common since the streets are so narrow and/or as I mentioned before, there is no parking available where it's technically allowed. So, there I was at my post reading a magazine and listening to my Jennifer Lopez CD when all of a sudden a bus came up behind me and the driver was sitting on the horn! He was cussing me out like you wouldn't believe so I drove the car forward. That didn't give him enough room to pass so I turned the corner. He was still behind me so I kept driving. The bus finally turned on to another street when I realized that I didn't have a clue as to where I was going. Oh crap. I am not familiar with Thessaloniki at all. I don't have a mobile phone yet, I don't know Kosta's number on his by heart and I didn't really look at the name of the bank that he went into. I started to tremble. I hadn't been this scared since I lost Foti in the airport in Munich. I was trying to remain calm so that I wouldn't really lose myself but it wasn't working, I was trembling and almost went into full panic mode. I turned onto a side street which, luckily, was a dead end. I sat there for a minute to piece myself back together when saw an Asian woman cross the street. I though that she'd speak English for sure and that I'd find my way back to where I started. Well, she didn't even look at me. That's another thing about being in a big city like Thessaloniki, nobody hears you. They have to hear you before they can help you, but how can they help someone that didn't even know where she started out to begin with? That's what I thought immediately after she didn't respond. What the heck was I going to ask her, " ah, I lost my husband, do you know where he is?" . Or how about, " I was parked near a bank in the center of the city with a blue sign can you help me?".
As I sat in the car trying to decide what to do I remembered that Kosta had pointed out a statue of a man on a horse, King George or someone and that the bank was on the street right behind it. OK, so now I had something to go on. I turned back on to the very busy street and kept driving forward. I decided that I was going to try to make a circle out of my journey so I only turned right. I kept driving until I found Ippocratus, one of the city's main streets. I turned right. I was driving so slowly that everyone that passed cursed at me but it didn't matter, I needed to look at everything. After about 5 minutes I saw the statue but missed the first turn that I would've need to take so I decided to just take the next one. As I was trying to look for the bank I saw my husband walking down the street. He looked worried and said, " Chica, where have you been?" I burst into tears and told him what happened. He was very supportive and started talking about how we should find a landmark to meet at and getting me a mobile phone soon. He offered to stop at Starbucks for a little coffee so that I might down. As we drove away from Starbucks he figured that I was calm enough for him to say, " you should have just let me park on the sidewalk, then you wouldn't have gotten lost." I guess that I had that coming. After all this is Greece, anything goes here...BUT it's still not right to park on a sidewalk!!


  1. Gosh, I know EXACTLY how you feel. I sort of know my way around the city center, but that is if I am on foot. There are so many one way streets that I wouldn't have any idea where to go if I was driving. And even areas that we have driven a hundred times I don't feel comfortable driving by myself, because roads here are so confusing - especially those diagonal intersections where cars are coming from about a million different angles. It is very intimidating!

    I had to laugh when your husband had to rub it in about parking on the sidewalk! Still, if *I* had walked by and found you parked on the sidewalk, I might have given you a dirty look!

  2. Mel-I know, if I were on foot I might not have freaked out. You hit the nail on the head, the streets are so confusing and cars just keep coming at you from every direction-with no patience. All of the one way streets is what screwed me up. It was freaking. I think that I'll let him park on the sidewalk next time...and go inside with him so no one looks at me funny! :)