Broken buses and Hellenic help

Broken buses and Hellenic help

I’m experiencing a broken economy first hand and it’s all about buses.

The public transport in Greece has been a confusing, frustrating but fairly rewarding experience, like watching a successful surgery performed by a rodeo clown.

See, the buses here seem to do their own thing.  In Athens, the only places that sell bus tickets are the Metro stations, which would seem counter intuitive and is a literal pain in the lower regions because there are entire sections of the city un-Metro’d (it’s a word), meaning walking is your only option.  If you try and buy your ticket on the bus, the inspector, employed specifically to be nasty to ticket-dodgers, will simply shrug and let you take your (unpaid for) seat.

On my way across country, I was informed that the bus driver hadn’t been told he needed to stop at my destination.  I was dropped off, with my 20kg backpack, on the side of the motorway clutching €10 and waiting for a taxi to get me to another bus station.  All of this was communicated via a third party, an 18 year old on his way to Thessaloniki, who told me, before departing, that ‘The way to travel Greece is not via bus” while he shook his finger. ‘Then what is?!” I cried to the resultant dust trail as the driver continued on his merry way.

The negotiations for the next journey took a while, not the least because my Greek is next to non-existent, but the nice thing was, everyone piled in to help.  The attendant looked at my ticket for five minutes before saying ‘No’ (he was succinct, I’ll give him that) but he appealed to a nearby group of people, who after some discussion in Greek sorted out the next two stages of my journey, as well as way to pass the intervening time with many gestures of the kind you perform for newborns or dogs (“If you are HUNGRY at FIVE o’clock!”) until I got there.

It’s all a little haphazard sometimes but everyone will generally try to help you out.  It’s kind of like a community version of the No. 8 wire attitude; things might not work officially, but with a little discussion, the locals will get you there somehow.

Or in other words, she’ll be right, mate.

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).