My sister and I stood at the little kiosk on the little platform at Patras station. We had our passports, as always, and our Eurail passes and all our money. We knew how to say ‘thank you’ in Greek, but that was it. We had not heard of Patras until we tried finding cheap ways of getting to Greece.
We were seasoned communicators, though, having travelled through Italy with just a few words of Italian. So we went quite confidently to the ticket booth at the station to find out what our options were. We wanted to go to Olympia and to Delphi, but as students on a crazily low budget, we needed to consider carefully.
Armed with clear speech and hopeful-friendly smiles, we asked the gentlemen at the kiosk, “Hello, how do we get to Olympia?”
My sister and I exchanged glances. Non-communication was not new to us. How could we ask it better?
Before we could figure it out, the gentleman ran out of the booth. Bewildered, we tried to call out to him, but he paid no attention. He appeared on the platform — and he flagged down a train! “Olympia, Olympia!” he cried.
“Olympia, yes! Olympia!”
Frantic head shaking that we did not understand.
“What to do? What can we do?” we asked each other. What happened to our careful planning? Delphi or Olympia? How could we choose?
“Olympia!” the gentleman said again, gesturing frantically to the train that had stopped just for us.
We shrugged and boarded. What else could we do?