I have been having this debate in my head for quite some time now. Should I write the blogpost of my last hours in Greece and how I made it home? Of course, the simple answer is yes. I got back and was knee deep in stuff to do in San Diego. The whole
Come up with a topic for thesis that adds to the profession of architecture.
kinda had/has my time. Not to mention I hit the ground running with the simple necessities of life. Since I am no longer vacationing, there’s the whole ‘I need real food, and not from a restaurant.’ I have come to the conclusion: Excuses. I have to do it. Years from now I will thank myself for being able to remember every detail of my travels. I just hope my thesis professor understands why I am not diagraming, analyzing, and reading instead with my time. Which he won’t, so in that case, I hope he doesn’t find out. I apologize in advance for some foul language that ensues, but it was a pretty hectic journey home.
Hour 0-1 _ Thursday September 22, 2011 1:00-3:00pm
The bus to the airport, I was helped by a lovely gentleman. We talked about travels, Greece and California. I felt really awkward when he didn’t know California was apart of the States. But, what can you really expect with a guy missing serval front teeth. He helped me with my luggage, getting on and off the bus. He made sure I was alright. I know I flew into the airport only a couple days before, but really? It was small, tinny, and infinitesimal. It is an international airport connecting flights to Paris, London, and Istanbul, yet it had to be half the size of San Diego’s commuter terminal. The first thing I notice on the giant board of flights, is one flight that is cancelled. Don’t those always stick out? Well, it was my flight. Yay, here’s to good luck. I started circling. I would say I spun around looking for my airline, but I have so much luggage I was walking in small circles. I looked like a crazy person, and most definitely lost. I couldn’t find Olympic Airlines. It turns out I was in the wrong building. This small airport was actually growing on me. Once I finally found myself in the correct building Olympic Airlines wasn’t hard to spot. I was put on the next flight at 8:30. The only bummer was I couldn’t check in until 6:30.
Hour 2-7_Thursday September 22, 2011 3:00-8:00pm
What do you do in an airport when you have time to kill? You search for wireless Internet. After finding out that the Internet doesn’t work, you search for food. Turns out the airport is so big, they only have one very small cafe that doubles as a gift shop. I ate the grossest sandwich I have had in my whole trip. But, what can you do when you are stuck? I then proceeded to watch ‘Taken’ on my laptop. I know that it probably isn’t the best choice in traveling entertainment, but I really like the suspense in the movie. Plus, Liam Neeson is bad ass. If you don’t know what ‘Taken’ is, here’s a rundown. Movie captures four or so days of the fathers(Liam Neeson) action packed journey to Paris to rescue his daughter. Daughter,merely 17, while on vacation gets kidnapped from a human trafficking gang. Perfect. Travel. Movie. 🙂 By 6:30 I could finally go through security, and check my luggage. Let’s get this show on the road.
Hour 7-13_Thursday September 22-23, 2011 8:00pm-2:00am
At 8:00 I was ready to hear boarding calls, jump on my plane and get out of Rhodes. I got pretty good about hearing and understanding calls on the intercom. I could generally tell what they were talking about. It helped that they would do an announcement in Greek and then in English shortly after. I could test myself on my Greek. I heard an announcement about my flight at 8:00. Before the English version came on, I knew I was in trouble. “New information about Flight 56 to Athens will be posted at 8:30” 8:30 came around, and by this time I am starting to get anxious. “New information about Flight 56 to Athens will be posted at 9:00” Damn. “New information about Flight 56 to Athens will be posted at 9:30” “New information about Flight 56 to Athens will be posted at 10:00” “People on Flight 56 to Athens, please walk to Everest Cafe for a complementary sandwich and beverage. As new information about your flight will be posted at 10:30” “New information about Flight 56 to Athens will be posted at 11:30” At 11:30 I was exhausted. Nothing can mentally and physically drain you like an airport. The air quality is horrible and so is the food. Not to mention, everything is so expensive, because they know you can’t get it anywhere else. At midnight we started boarding. Finally. At about 2:00am I got my luggage. The flight itself was only an hour, but it took over a half an hour for my luggage to come out.
Hour 13-17_Friday September 23, 2011 2:00-6:00am
Walking out of the Athens airport I could only think of one thing. Is it worth it to go to my hotel, if I have to be back here around 6? I decided it was. My body was just exhausted, and I really wanted a bed. Turns out I really didn’t have a choice. Taxis were on strike. Limo service was available, for 100 euros each way (totally to 300usd). Bus service didn’t go to where I wanted, and I didn’t want to risk it. Hotels don’t do shuttle service in Greece. Oh, and the Metro wasn’t running because it was after midnight. I thought of everything, just to get to a bed. It totally wasn’t going to happen. I ended up sleeping on an airport chair. If you can call sleeping, thrusting myself awake every time someone passed or moved because I had all of my valuables with me. I do think it would take someone terrible to walk around an airport stealing peoples luggage who are sleeping. I mean they are sleeping in an airport, their day is already going bad. But, it only takes one person. At 5, it was time to go find where I was supposed to check in. Looking up at the big board of flight information, my flight to Istanbul was cancelled. This is becoming an unfortunate habit. Another 45 minutes was wasted as I rested my eyes, while not sleeping. The desk finally opened up at 5:45am for me to figure out what I am doing. After a short wait in line, I was ready to see what else the universe was going to throw in my direction. I hand the guy behind the counter my passport and explain I am on the flight that’s cancelled. It’s 5:45 in the morning, everyone in line was on that flight. He’s doing a lot of rebooking. Instead of hearing, “The next flight I can put you on….”, I hear, “We cancelled your reservation, you weren’t on that flight.” Huh? What? You got to be kidding me. What does that even mean? Why? At this point I think Greece wants me to stay. To try to explain this, I booked 3 flights with Turkish Airlines. I took my first flight, didn’t use my second flight, and was wanting to use my third flight to get back home. Due to not using my second flight, they cancelled all of my reservations. SOB. (If you don’t know what that stands for, it’s probably best that we keep it that way.) The lovely man, whom I am falling more in love with by the minute, is telling me the next flight to DC, for me, is tomorrow. Not to mention he wants to fine me 350 Euros for… God knows. At this point being put on a flight tomorrow means I would have to buy another ticket from DC to San Diego, as well as paying for a hotel in Athens and possibly DC. The dollar signs just started rolling though my mind, the same way a slot machine works. But instead of getting money, I was thinking of how I definitely didn’t have it in my travel budget. All in all, it was going to be around an extra thousand dollars. I resorted to well… A woman’s last resort. I started a scene. I started fake crying. Keep in mind, I certainly don’t do this on a daily basis, and no actual tears came out. But, I don’t have a grand to throw away. My hand covered my eyes, as i rambled about money. The entire time I was acting like an emotional mess, he was typing. I thought I was really going to have to pay. He hands me a piece of paper and explains I’m on a flight at 8:20am. I took the paper without lifting my head, and asked in a sad voice, “Am I done? Is this it?” He replied, “Yes.” I immediately lifted my head, gave him a cheery “Thank you” with a smile. By this time, it was almost 6:00am.
Hour 17-23_Friday September 23, 2011 6:00-11:00am
I checked my luggage with Olympic Airlines. I double checked to make sure my luggage would make it through to DC. She assured me it would. I was happy to be on my way, well kinda. I still had some time before my flight took off. The flight itself wasn’t supposed to leave until 8:20. In the Athens airport it takes about 15 minutes to get through security. They won’t even let you sit in your gate until 30 minutes before your flight. It was time to go shopping. I knew I needed two more gifts from the airport, and it was time to get them. Chocolates for a studio mate, and Ouzo for Tommy(sorry for the spoiler Tommy). After gift shopping, I found an outlet to charge all my devices to keep me in touch with the world. It was 8:00am, and I was thinking we should be boarding by now. When they announced we would be delayed. Ah, (insert four letter word of your choice). I ended up sitting next to this lovely couple. They so reminded me of my grandparents(a little bit of all of them, I do have 6). I couldn’t help but hear they were on their way to DC as well. I started talking to the woman, she was incredibly sweet. Her husband started being the ‘World Traveler’ and making sure we were going to make it to DC alright. I suddenly had someone looking after me. I got to hear about their three daughters, all who have masters in various fields. I was very impressed. She was bilingual in spanish and english. They were a joy to talk to. They were like my ‘traveling grandparents’. We were assured we would make our next flight to DC, only because there were 40 other people connecting to different flights. Wow! The flight from Athens to Istanbul was short and sweet, like it should be. It was only an hour and a half. Looking at my watch as we landed I realized, our next flint was in 5 or so minutes. Whhhhhhhaaaaatttt??????? I got off the plane to find my ‘traveling grandparents’ in a crowd of people. A Turkish Airline representative was hollering, “Connections to DC, Philadelphia, Los Angeles….. Stand over here.”. Once we were all in a big group, we started running. My newly found ‘traveling grandparents’ made sure I was with them every step of the way. We got to our gate. By this time there were only 8 of us. None of us had boarding tickets, Olympic Airlines couldn’t give us Turkish Airlines boarding tickets. Security at the gate was completely confused as to how we were even there. After 4 people checked my passport several times, I was able to go through security at the gate. Through security, I was asked again for my boarding ticket. They then checked my passport and printed a boarding ticket, I could have forged on a computer made 10 yeas ago using Microsoft word 2000 and the printer that came with it. He basically stamped a piece of paper. I looked at it and was impressed with security, so impressed I was wondering if it was safe for me to get on this flight. My want to get home weighed more than my worries of the flight going south. Traveling grandparents were right with me, I’m sure thinking the same thing. Not to mention, I was speaking Greek to the security. It wasnt until after I got on the plane, that I realized I was in Turkey. Oops. They speak Turkish, which I know nothing of. We boarded the plane, while I was still trying to figure out where on this computer print out was my seat number. The flight crew was confused too.
Hour 23-35_Friday September 23, 2011 11:00am-3:00pm
I finally found my seat. Yes, window seat! Double yes, no one is sitting next to me! The plane was a 2-4-2. So, the seat next to me could have all my stuff on it, because no ones sitting next to it! Things were finally starting to come together. A flight attendant came up to me, while we were still waiting for take off, “Do you want to lay down on this flight?” My first reaction, “Does this chair not recline?” It is an 11 hour flight, and I do need sleep. I need sleep really bad. He then repeated, “Do you want to lay down?”. This time he gestured, a flat signal. “Yes, yes I do.” He then gave me four seats in the center. I was able to take up all of them and stretch out. Yes! Normally, I am very much above using any feminine whiles to get anything. I kinda like my abrasive attributes, full of harsh humor, no nonsense nature, and overpowering confidence. But, it was well worth softening myself for 4 seats, with a “Thank you”. Plus, out of anyone to flirt with, it should be your flight attendant. I got extra treats through out my flight(little cupcakes, extra water, etc). Extra water may not seam like much(especially when they give out wine, beer, or liquor for beverages for free), but when you are on flight number 3 with two more to go and sickness is ensuing, dehydration is killer. Nothing tastes better than water at that moment, I don’t care how much I enjoy a cold one. It turns out the flight attendant, I forget his name, thought I was an English teacher in Istanbul. We had a lovely conversation about traveling. I got the best sleep, on a flight, I have ever gotten.
Hour 35-39_Friday September 23, 2011 4:00-8:00pm
The plane landed in DC and I was so excited to have made it this far. I was counting down the hours. The plan was to take a flight from DC to San Diego, with a short layover in Denver. If you are wondering, me and maps have gotten very close. Very close. I know my way around paper, plastic, Internet, and the infamous google maps. Due to Americas strict standards of flit control, we have to go through customs, collect baggage, and reenter the airport. A little silly for my standards but who am I to judge strong standards that keep me safe. I went through customs without a hitch. I walked to baggage claim and proceeded to wait for my luggage. I found my traveling grandparents once again. We waited, and waited. Everyone else’s baggage from the flight had come and gone. Yep, they lost my luggage. But the best part about it was, they didn’t even know if it was in Greece, Turkey, or the United States. Well, if they didn’t have my luggage, then all I wanted to do was get home. I’d figure it all out later. I filled a lost baggage report, and proceeded to exit the Dulles Airport to reenter it. I got to United to get my boarding ticket. Walking up, I couldn’t help but think that Rhodes International Airport was as big as the United stand in the Dulles International Airport. I got my ticket, and it was back through security I go. I was getting really good at taking off my shoes, jacket, jewelry, unpacking my laptop, and grabbing multiple bins all at the same time. Multitasking at it’s finest. When you are in line at security and something goes wrong, it’s fairly obvious. They arnt the ones to let you slide because of a cute smile. I knew it was my stuff too but definitely knew I didnt have anything bad. Apparently what I consider to be bad and what security does, are two very different things. It was the ouzo(sorry, tommy… There goes your gift). I had bought the ouzo at the Athens airport just 22 hours earlier from a duty free shop that sealed it. You know those nifty duty free bags, don’t buy them. He confiscated it due to it being over the amount of liquid I was allowed to bring in. He didn’t care that it was alcohol, but that it was 100ml over. Ugh. He informed me I could step out of line and put it in my checked luggage. I replied ever so nicely that they already lost that. My options were to buy a bag to put the ouzo in, and check it. Or leave it. I decided to leave it, to make sure I wasn’t late for my flight. Dulles airport has Internet!!! So useful! I was able to Skype with my mom, to tell her I was in hell. We stopped skipping for me to get ready to get on my next flight. But, of course, another delay. I’m not even kidding. The plane we were supposed to take, was having mechanical problems. So, we were waiting for it to be fixed, or the flight from Orlando to get to DC. Turns out the flight from Orlando was a lot quicker. But, who wants to rush a mechanic? At this point it was evident I would miss my connecting flight to San Diego. I was able to make sure I was on the next fight to San Diego, first thing in the morning(10am).
Hour 39-45_Saturday September 24, 2011 8:00pm-12:00am
I boarded the plane, finally. Off to Denver I go. I never wanted to go to Denver. But, it doesn’t matter if it’s getting me home. I didn’t have anyone sitting next to me on the flight. But my sickness from a couple days before had be showing signs of its coming back. I just felt achy, tired, and overall miserable. Odd how one great flight lead to a really horrible flight.
Hour 45-52_Saturday September 24, 2011 12:00-7:00am
Getting off the airplane, I didn’t feel any relief. The delay on the flight was Uniteds fault, so they gave me a voucher for food, and a hotel for the night. That’s all fine and dandy but it took me over an hour n half to get on the shuttle bus to the hotel. I missed the first one because there wasn’t enough room on the shuttle for me. I had to wait for it to go to the hotel and come all the way back. The airport was only a half hour away from the hotel. I had to sit outside in the cold for over an hour after the shuttle left me. I was really upset. All I wanted to do was sleep. Once at the hotel, I was finally able to shower. It was well over 48 hours sense a shower. I placed an order on the door for room service for breakfast. I knocked out in the bed. I awoke to room service coming in. Ah, yes the way it should be. French toast and granola. Mmmmmmm.
Hour 52-58_Saturday September 24, 2011 7:00-11:00am
It was time to go the airport, yet again. Shuttle ride, security, walk to the gate, and a quick stop at an Internet kiosk to get someone to pick me up. I was originally supposed to fly in the night before(12hours earlier). For that flight, I did have a ride arranged. However, as far as plans go, I needed a new ride. The flight was fine as far as flights go. Wil picked me up, and drove me home. Home! Can you believe it? Finally home!
What did it take to get home?
– 58 Hours
– 5 Flights
– 5 Times through Security
– 4 Time Zones
– 3 Delayed Flights
– 2 Cancelled Flights
– 1 Cancelled Reservation
– 1 Fake Cry
– 1 Lost Luggage
– and countless times sleeping in front, beside, and near strangers
I am not an author. To be quite honest, I always hated English class. I write so I may share my experiences and remember the man I met on a bus who treated me to dinner with his family, paying and booking a hotel only to find out its out of business, fake crying in the Athens airport to get a ticket home, or remember the strangers who looked out for me on a bus. Some live, experience, and are fulfilled by what’s in their backyards. I find there is something truly exhilarating about cramming as many possessions into a bag as possible, only to complain you brought too many. This is my life out of a suitcase, hope you enjoy.