Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Big Fat Greek Adventure - Back to Athens and Back to Reality

July 14th was the day we left Santorini.  It was actually really quite a sad day for us, as we had both fallen in love with the island.

At some point in our stay, Jenny clued me in to the fact that we had been staying up pretty late, and usually end up back at the hostel at around 3am.  I cannot even begin to tell you how surprised I was! Well, suffice it to say, we had been getting up later than usual.  So, on our last day, we wanted to make sure we were in the ocean for one last time.
Last time in the Santorini ocean
But we only really got to spend about 20 minutes in the water due to us having had another late night that last night with the Albanians from Fusion Bar.  We had to pack, and be really creative about it since we managed to buy a couple of souvenirs for folks back home.

At around 10am, Tony brought these 2 German dudes, Jenny, and I back to the Athinios Port.  And in true Greek fashion, he stopped at a waiting area and said, "Okay! Thank you for staying with us! Goodbye!"

We hopped out of the car, not having a single clue where our ferry was going to be and what to look for.  "Okay. Now you jump."

Ferry Good Mother
I ended up going to a travel agency just to find out what we needed to do.  The guy behind the desk pointed to a picture of the ferry that we needed to be waiting for, and said that it would be at the port at 12pm.  As we waited, other ferries were arriving and folks were announcing where they would be picking people up.

Eventually it was our turn.  They told us to go to a specific terminal where we were treated to a port fee of a couple of Euros.  Then we saw our ferry approach the port!
12pm Ferry to Athens!
It started to back it's butt up, and I noticed little figures waiting to exit the ferry.  It was exciting to see the ferry approach the dock, though I was mainly excited to ride and fall asleep in my first ferry.
Look at the people!
Oh, I remember that feeling of landing in Santorini...
After the people came pouring out, the cars and motorbikes followed suite.  Then it was our turn to board.  We had to leave our stuff in the bottom deck area, and when we went upstairs, I was surprised that it felt so much like a gigantic plane.
Our last look at Santorini.
As we got settled in our seats, noting where a little snack area was located and enjoying the Greek television, we noticed that an Australian family sat in front of us.  Three little boys, perhaps cousins, sat in a middle section and some of the adults had seats a little bit in front of us.  Then a mom and her 10 or 11 year old daughter sat in in the seats in front of us and proceeded to have this conversation:
Mom sits in the window seat.
Daughter: Mom, I want to sit at the window! Why don't you let me sit there? You sit on the window all the time!
Mom: Because this is where I sat down.
Daughter:  But, moooooooomm, c'mon! Let me sit there!
Mom: Just sit down, won't you???
Daughter: You're so mean! You're going to give me psychological problems!
Mom: (you could tell she turned her head to look at her daughter just to say, and I kid you not) You're a psychological problem.

The rest of the trip, however, was quite irritating.  The daughter proceeded to continue to say ridiculous things, and at one point one of the boys started to fake cry because his dad wouldn't take him up to the roof deck or for some other random reason.

I in no way feel sorry for the parents for having such ridiculously bratty kids.  All the whining and talking back has come from somewhere, perhaps even from the parents themselves.  Either way, it was kind of grotesque to be viewers of that family's relationship.

About 5 hours and a little more family drama later, we land in Pireaus and it's our turn to exit the ferry.
In the belly of the ferry
Luckily, we were staying in Monastiraki, an area we were already somewhat familiar with.  The Pella Inn was somewhat tucked a couple of blocks away from the square, and surrounded by buildings that seemed to be either in the process of being renovated or were completely abandoned.

We had to climb up to the 2nd floor to get to the reception desk, where these 2 nice looking ladies greeted us.  After registering, they told us that we were on the 4th floor, and to take the elevator.  But the elevator was another floor up, and it would only hold 1 person and 1 luggage.  At first we tried to put our stuff in the elevator and push the button to make it go up and we would catch up on the stairs.  But the elevator wasn't moving.  I proceeded to climb up another 3 flights up to the 4th floor, and Jenny rode in the elevator with our stuff.

We were pretty beat.  As we dropped our stuff and flopped down, we realized what our view was from our balcony.
The Acropolis!
The roof deck was one floor up.
What a nice view!
For our final night in Athens, we decided to walk around Plaka again.  We ended up eating at Hestia Cafe and Restaurant, which was across the street from a outdoor rooftop movie theater called Cine Paris.  After dinner, we ended up seeing "I Love You, Phillip Morris" in the warm Athenian evening.
So cool!
I mean, really, what a wonderful way to end the evening.  Before I could close my eyes in Greece for the last time, I went up to the roof deck and took a couple more pictures.

I Just Wanna Go Home
We woke up on the 15th, thinking that perhaps we would have an easy morning and leisurely head to the airport.  First, we learned that I had not signed up to have breakfast at the hostel, so I had to run back up to grab a couple of Euros to pay for food (which turned out to be toast with butter and jam and a cup of coffee).

Secondly, while I was running back up to get the Euros, Jenny learned from other hostel patrons that there was going to be a strike at the airport, but their ticket was changed to an earlier time.  They recommended that we head to the airport as fast as we could to learn more about our flight status.

We quickly ate our toast, packed up, and the women at the receptionist desk called us a cab.  We seemed to hit quite a lot of traffic, and it made me nervous to not know what lay ahead of us.

So, basically, it was the longest day ever.  I'm just going to break it down as quickly as I can just so I don't have to relive the longevity of the ridiculousness.

Jenny and I arrived at the airport, found out that the air traffic controllers were on strike from 11am-3pm.  Our flight, originally at 1pm, was actually delayed to the point that we would miss our connecting flight to Los Angeles.  We tried our best to see what Air Canada could do for us or if we could make a difference.

Eventually, we are able to check in our luggage, and as a way to make up for the inconvenience, Air Canada gives us both a voucher worth 3 Euros.  3 Euros??? That barely paid for a drink.  I was about to have a tantrum in the middle of the airport.  I felt really bad for Jenny that she had to deal with me almost having a tantrum.  The only good thing about the airport experience was the free internet booths.

Finally, we're on the freakin' plane. And it hits me.  We had an AWESOME vacation!  I hope that we'll be able to come back again, perhaps explore other islands the way we did with Santorini.  We were sad to leave this beautiful place.
Goodbye Greece
The rest of the traveling experience was pretty exhausting.  Nearly 10 hours to get back to Montreal, where they lead us through a series of mazes to get to a customer service table.  The collective group of us who were trying to get back to the U.S. were given hotel vouchers.  The shuttle to the hotel from the airport apparently ran every 15 minutes, and could only take about 10 people at a time.  People's patience was getting quite low at this point.  At the hotel, we were given food vouchers, and when we tried to get food at the hotel restaurant, we waited almost an hour to get food.  At this point, it was almost midnight, and Jenny and I and the other passengers had been awake for about 24 hours already.

Eventually, we arrive in Los Angeles, at around 11am on the 16th.  Tired, hungry, but the traveling wasn't over for me yet.  I still had another trip back to Boston on the 21st.  At this point, I was just wanting to be in my own bed.  L.A. was a blast as it always was, but I was pretty ready to be done traveling.

Lessons Learned
Goodness.  One major lesson about traveling in Greece is that you need to keep track of the news.  While strikes and demonstrations could pop up at any point, the major ones that affect a lot of travel or transportation are generally noted in some news source.

We probably would have stayed one more day in Santorini if we knew about the air traffic controllers strike.  That was perhaps one of the most frustrating things about being stuck in the airport.  We even thought about suddenly changing our flight to head back to Santorini instead, though we missed that window.

Another lesson was that we should really have just packed beach going items and few other exploration clothes.  We ended up buying several clothing items aside from the souvenirs, and my luggage was pretty heavy by the end of it all.  I loved my luggage, though!  It converted to a backpack, and it was just a good size.

Perhaps next time, if we plan ahead, we might consider finding a summer job while we're there, just so we could get even the smallest amount of funds going towards our stay there.

What an amazing country, what amazing food, what an amazing experience.  We are so proud of ourselves for making it to Greece, after talking and planning and overcoming roadblocks.
Still glowing from the Greek sun.
Happy 28th Birthday, indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Well, hello there! What's on your mind?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...