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Athens Bus Station - Why Greece Does not work

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 8 July 2013

I am now in Corfu preparing for five days of rest and writing before my deluded lefty partner arrives to whisk me off to the former socialist paradise that is Albania. I travelled here by bust from Athens – a 10 hour trip and so feel a little on the tired said as we arrived at 5 AM. Athens Bus station is a total shit hole. It is what I imagine that Stoke on Trent is like. Only hotter.

I arrived early (fleeing the clip joint) to buy my ticket and wandered into a ticket hall with a desk for each location. At that point there were four of us trying to buy tickets and I counted 11 staff manning the desks.

The Corfu counter had no-one behind it but a full ashtray (in a non-smoking building) and cup of coffee suggested that there was life somewhere. But fear not, the adjacent desk/counter marked Ioanina was manned by a fellow reading a book.  After staring at the empty Corfu desk for a minute or so I asked if he could help. The man motioned that I should wait and so carried on reading his book.

After about five minutes even he got embarrassed and walked along a counter and took my booking. Fab. I presented my credit card. Big mistake.  It appears that while he could help out his pal by taking a cash payment, a credit card payment was a step too far. And so I waited another ten minutes while bloke one read his book, I managed a new high score on word mole and eventually, fag in hand, the Corfu man strolled in.

He has a tough life taking bookings for three buses a day. And of course he only works one of the three daily shifts as the National Bus ticket office is open at all times as opposed to the local bus ticket office which is never open meaning you cannot catch a local bus from the bus station).  So a maximum of 120 bookings divided by three equals 40 bookings (maximum) in an eight hour shift – that works out at 5 an hour (call it 15 minutes work). That is if all the buses are full ( mine was half empty).

You and I might think that a bankrupt Government would install a row of multi destination ticket machines and leave three desks ( that would be 3 by 3 staff rather than 3 by 11) manned for those too stupid to use the machines. But then we are not thinking Greek are we?

Having bought my ticket I wanted to write an article. The one power socket I found in a café did not work. So I ran down the battery and created this week’s Tomograph as the café said that it had wi-fi so I knew I could send it off to Darren to lay out. “How do I get wi-fi?” Buy a card at the shop said the lady. Off I trotted.

“But the internet here is broken” said the Lady in the shop and threw up her hands. It has been broken for ages. Who gives a damn? This is Greece. And Greece does not work.

PS The Tomograph has now been sent to Darren from Corfu and will be with you soon.

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About Tom Winnifrith
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Tom Winnifrith is the editor of TomWinnifrith.com. When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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