Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Journey to Greece

The final days leading up to our departure fly by in a flurry of packing, organization and last-minute attempts at enjoying the beautiful fall weather. We know that when we return the winter rains will have descended, so we attempt to relish the glorious early fall weather. The morning of our flight arrives, and we are greeted by plummeting temperatures and slashing rain – an appropriate change as we head for drier (and warmer) climes. As before, our friend Jeff Thomson graciously offers to drive us to the airport from his lovely home near UBC, and this makes the transition much easier on us. Thanks Jeff!

We have booked a total of four different flights to get us to our destination in the Greek Islands and it’s an arduous journey, to say the least. We start with a quick jaunt to Seattle and from there board the big plane for the big stretch to Amsterdam. Other than odd encounters with the surliest flight attendant I’ve ever met (we are on Delta, by the way) the flight goes smoothly. It’s a daytime flight so Elise is up for all but an hour of the journey, which minimizes our ability to relax and rest. We receive compliments from other passengers on how good she is, something we have come to accept and sometimes fail to recognize.

Pam and Elise napping in the airport.

The layover in Amsterdam goes quickly and we soon find ourselves on our third flight to Athens. Elise and I pass out, but Pam seems unable to rest. Once in Athens, Elise looks at me and says, “I don’t want to get on another airplane”. No kidding. Neither do I. Fortunately, the last flight is short (one hour) and we sit by the window so I can point out the Greek islands and boats in the Aegean sea, far below.

The island of Telendos, just across from our apartment in Masouri.

We arrive at the airport in the evening and our luggage starts to appear on the carousel. Pam comments, “If it all makes it after that journey, we’ll be very lucky”. She’s spoken too soon as our final bag (the one with Elise’s stuff) fails to appear along with many other passengers’ bags. There is a lot of shouting in Greek and then we are all escorted to a small counter to fill out forms for our missing bags. This airport is tiny and we are the only flight going in or out each day so we’ll have to wait for at least a day to get our bag. Suddenly, the carousel starts turning again and the bags all appear. More shouting in Greek! Somehow, they “found” the missing luggage. Where could it have gone? Ours was the only tiny plane in this tiny airport. Welcome to a new culture.

A taxi takes us to our apartment and we get set up. It’s a small studio with two beds (a double and a single), a small bathroom and a little kitchen nook. It’s acceptable and clean, but there are a few problems: there’s no hot water, the pillows on the firm (!) beds are hard as rocks and the lack of screens on the windows allow tiny mosquitoes to infiltrate the apartment as soon as we try to get fresh air. This affects poor Elise as she wakes with a number of tiny bites on her temple after our first night. A new pillow and screen on the window helps with two of the problems, but we are still without hot water

We get up early and head out climbing on day one, but all lack the energy for much of a physical outing. We call it a day at lunchtime and head back to do some more organization, let Elise nap and visit the beach, which is directly across the street from our apartment. Elise tests out her new snorkel and spots a number of small fish near the shore. Afterward, I bury her in the sand and sculpt a mermaid tail over her feet, much to her delight. We finish the day deeply fatigued and head home for dinner and an early bedtime. Elise and Pam sleep through the night, but I lay awake for hours, managing only three hours of rest! This is some of the worst jet lag I’ve ever had can only hope it improves quickly.

As the weather is quite warm, we plan to tour some of the islands beaches in the coming days and attempt to begin a climbing schedule, but fatigue and sleep will ultimately determine the outcome of that plan.


PS - The hot water has been fixed!!!

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