Most people in my situation would probably have killed themselves at this point. But I saw the silver lining in this disaster. All those projects that I had planned to do and had been collecting material for, I didn't have to do them anymore. All the e-mails from people who wanted to do business with me or exchange links or be included on my site that I had put aside to answer when I had time, no longer
needed to be answered. All my financial records were gone. It was a liberating feeling in a way like doing spring-cleaning by burning down your house. The websites were all on the server so they were saved. My old photos were on my old Dell Inspiron that had crossed the ocean numerous times with me and I was too attached to to sell or give away. Last summer's photos were on my New Sony Vaio so I had pretty much the whole collection of 35000. The only truly important things from the website I lost was
an article I had written for a Greek newspaper in Australia about nightlife in Athens that I planned to put in the Athens Guide and about 50,000 e-mail addresses of the people who had written to me in the last few years that I had planned to write back to one day to either thank or ask them to buy my book if I ever put it together. I also lost the Athens Guide for Ipod that we had been working on last spring and then completely lost interest in.
So I downloaded all the websites to the Vaio and worked off that until my computer with its two 250 gig spanking clean hard-drives came back from the shop. Then the impossible happened. The Vaio stopped being able to go online. Some program was blocking the signal even when plugged directly into the cable modem. I took it to my (new) computer pal Duncan at Dunvipe Computers and for 3 days he wrestled with it, finally re-installing the operating system. (Isn't
So now I could work but I had to re-install every program and download my websites, photos and any other important folders I could find on to two computers and a new back-up drive in case my dual hard-drive system failed again. (I know this sounds like I know what I am talking about but I don't).
So for 2 weeks all I could do was pretend to be a computer nerd and impress my family while answering e-mails which thankfully slowed down for the holidays. Now everything seems to be working and I got through my mini-vacation and am eager to begin writing and answering more e-mails and getting my routine back in order.
The first thing I did is write a review of the Gazi neighborhood in Athens. You should check it out. Its the old gas-works neighborhood, full of great restaurants and cafes and other nightlife.
I am also working on a hotel booking system with my new friend George Mazarakis. This will enable people who just want to book a hotel or two and not go through the agencies to do so. I still recommend using the travel agencies but if you just need a hotel for a couple nights or are filling in the gaps and don't care about tours, transfers or ferry tickets you can book it instantaneously, I think.
So you may ask why after all these years of railing against the automated booking sites why have I now turned to the dark forces of technology. A couple reasons. One reason is because so many people use my site to research hotels and then they just look for the best deal on sites like Travelocity or whatever. So why not just offer the hotels on my site and bring in some residual income? Also now travelers don't have to feel guilty about using my site and getting
this valuable information and then going off to book with somebody else because they got the hotel for one euro cheaper. Then when they book their hotels and do have ferry connection problems they don't have to feel bad about asking me for help. "Matt... I used your hotel booking site to book my hotels on 3 islands and there is no ferry between them. What can I do?" I have to say that even if they did not book with my site I would still help them, not because I am a saint but because thats what
I do. Helping people with their ferry problems enables me to not think about my own, a strategy that I have found useful over the years. But now they don't have to feel bad about asking, as if booking on another website is some kind of betrayal. They can feel entitled to my assistance. After all they did book hotels through my site. Either way I am cool with it.
So you might ask with all these super automated booking sites and the many offers I have gotten over the years to join their affiliate programs why have I chosen this one? Well to be honest with you I liked the guy's name: George Mazarakis. He's Greek in case you have not figured it out. Plus he was the first International travel company representative to ever contact me that I did not think was an android or a reincarnated snake-oil salesman. He seemed
like a cool down-to-earth guy so I said what the hell...lets try it.
Anyway you can try it at www.booking.com/index.html?aid=314342 and tell me what you think. I don't know if I am going to make it permanent. It will depend on the feedback I get.
Oh yeah. The main reason I began this blog entry today is because so many people have been writing to ask me what restaurants will be open in Athens on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I know that in the Plaka both Byzantino and Plaka Taverna will be open for sure. Probably To Hani as well and with any luck Saita will be too. You can check them out at www.athensguide.com/restaurants.html
Archaeological sites will be closed Christmas day but you can still wander around the lower part of the Acropolis, the free section of the Agora and Philippapou Hill, not to mention the National Gardens and the Plaka. If the weather is nice there will be lots of people out walking and there should be plenty of cafe life in Monastiraki on Adrianou Street.
If you are coming and plan to stay at the Hotel Attalos you may want to make a reservation now. Its almost full.
See you in Greece for Christmas.