Aristotle born 384 BC, Died 322 BC
Day 133 - Goodbye Turkey
After one month in Turkey, it was time to leave. We were up at 4:00 and out the door to the airport by 4:45. Our plane would be boarding at 7:25. Traffic was non-existent at this time of the morning as we zipped along the freeway. Returning rental cars here is a bit different. You basically pull into the car park area, write the space number on the parking ticket, and drop the keys, paperwork, and parking ticket on the counter. No one was available at the desk when we arrived. Strange.
Each time we fly, the check in procedure and security seems less and less tolerable. On this trip we were only allowed to take 8 kilograms (about 18 lbs) of hand luggage. Ordinarily, we are allowed 20-25 lbs. We moved as much stuff as we could to our check in bags, creating concave hand luggage, but even that was overweight by a kilo. We had already checked in our luggage when we weighed our hand bags at the checkin. Fortunately, the clerk tagged our cabin luggage anyway, and told us to move some things into our backpack. (kind of like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic), like it would really make a difference in the overall cabin weight.
We boarded the plane and took off for Istanbul where we would have one flight change. We were concerned that we would not have enough time to change planes, but were assured by the check in clerk that it would not be a problem, as the airport was small. We would arrive about 9:15 and boarding for transit plane would begin at 9:30, and take off at 10:15. (So if all went well, we would have an hour.) Well, all did not go well. First our plane did not leave on time nor arrive on time. We arrived at 9:30.
We were in the middle of the plane, so while they were unloading from both the front and back exits, we were still some of the last people off. For the size of the plane, there should have been three large busses to take us to the terminal....there were two, and we had to push our way with our hand luggage onto a bulging bus. Some passengers were left behind...at least we made the first round of busses.
When we arrived we followed the signs to international transit. The doors were closed. Two official workers told us the gates were closed and to go somewhere else, but the first worker told us to wait and the gate would open in about 5 minutes. So we waited 10 minutes.. It is now 9:55. We still had passport control, which was quite easy once the gates were finally opened. Home free as we started quickly toward the gate, only to discover there was another security line 100 passengers long. #$@@! Why would there be an interior security for transit passengers?
No one was around to help expedite passengers who needed immediate boarding so we waited in the line, until 10:05 when finally someone came up and started a line for passengers leaving on 10:15-10:20 flights, about 1/3 of the line.
Fortunately, we were some of the first ones through security (yes, belts, hats, bottles out -- the whole enchilada...grrrrr). We put ourselves back together, and started hoofing it to the gate. Our plane, we hope is being held as it is now 10:15. We run down the crowded halls, up a flight of stairs, more halls, down a flight of stairs, more running, but getting closer. A clerk is yelling, "Athens", 10:15, this way, this way!" Russ and I make it through check in and are shuttled out to the waiting bus. We are the only ones on, but we see some others coming behind us. Another couple gets on.....and we wait while a young man is having an argument with the attendant at the check in desk. Finally, as tempers seem to be flaring inside, the attendant rushes the young man on the bus, the doors close, and the attendant and man carry on their heated discussion.....his girlfriend who went to the toilet got left behind. He was leaving and had her passport and wallet. They would not hold the plane any longer. What a mess!
By the time we arrive at the plane, it is poring rain. The plane is hot and humid and the passengers all of whom are seated except the five us are all grumpy looking. We make our way to our seats, dripping with rain and sweat, stow our luggage and collapse in our seats. It is now 10:30. Not a relaxing transit to say the least, but can't imagine being stranded in Istanbul without luggage, passport, or wallet.
Finally, we are on our way to Athens.
Hello Athens, Day 133
We arrived in Athens in the early afternoon, and were met at the airport by our AirBnB host who would also serve as our Taxi to his home near the Acropolis, and back to the airport in a couple of days. It took us about 45 minutes from airport to to his place. Christos lives in a 1950's flat. Our room is very spacious and includes a sitting room, use of bathroom, kitchen, laundry, and roof garden.
We do not have a rental car here, but everything we want to see is within walking distance of our flat. The weather is dark and rainy, and not conducive to any island hopping, so for this trip we will confine ourselves to Athens. During a weather break, we walk to the local market and pickup some provisions, and stop for a meal at the eatery a block from the flat, then home to bed. It's been an exhausting day.
Zeus reigns Over Athens - Day 134
The clouds are dark and threatening as we left with ponchos and umbrella tucked in the backpack. Zeus is unhappy and threatening to be even more unhappy as the day progresses. Our goal today is to visit the new Acropolis Museum and the Tourist Office. We'll leave the outside stuff for a better day. To get to the museum however there is a hill with ruins we must climb or go around. We go over the top, watching as the black clouds get closer. By the time we reach the museum, it is raining. We don't want to be on top with the thunder and lightening.
The museum is beautiful and built with peek-a-boo glass floor over the ruins of ancient Athens. The original archaic Acropolis buildings (before the Classical period 480-323) and the first temples were sacked by the Persians in 480 BC. The Athenians did not lose this war, but when they returned, every structure on the Acropolis was leveled. To preserve the old, sculptures, reliefs, and other artifacts were buried in pits, later to be discovered in recent times and are now being restored and displayed in the Archaic Gallery of the new museum. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed in the archaic gallery, but the sophistication of the artifacts from 800-480 BC, are very impressive.
By the time we left the museum, Zeus was clapping his hands and throwing lightening bolts towards the earth. We decided to go around the big hill to get back to our flat instead of over the top. We did not want to be one of Zeus's casualties. The wind and rain whipped around us as we trudged back.
Once we arrived at the flat, we cooked up a big pot of cream of broccoli soup for dinner, drank red wine, and played cards before turning in for the night.
Day 135 - Looks like the least rainy day!
We will be leaving as soon as I post this blog to explore more of Athens. I'll post more photos this evening when we return. http://worrallwind.blogspot.com
All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's in Athens