Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Greece, Day 1: the longest day ever

Sleeping at Heathrow

Passed out at the beach in Mykonos

On May 5th we were packed and ready, nervous because just days earlier flights from Seattle to Iceland (we were flying Iceland air) were canceled and a Greek strike was looming. Our flight was at 4pm and I was so keyed up that morning I took a drop in Bikram yoga class to calm my brain (and also to limber up before hours and hours of sitting on a plane). It was exactly what i needed-- I can never do much more than focus on yoga when I'm there.

I drove to pick up Megan in Wallingford and then picked up Marc at work, since he was coincidentally going to Montana for work that same day. Marc dropped Megs and I off at the terminal and since we were hours early, we had lunch at Seatac (did you know there is an Anthony's restaurant at Seatac?) The salad I had contained some kind of crunchy noodles most of which I picked off, but still caused me to cough for a couple hours afterward, making the later discovery of gluten eating abilities in Europe that much more strange.

Our first flight was 7 hours from Seattle to Iceland. We both took Homeopathic sleep aids which I combined with a half a dramamine in an attempt to sleep on the flight. Between the loud talking on the flight and the fact that it was only 4pm-10pm at home meant that despite my attempts I did not sleep more than an hour or so on the flight.

We had a quick 50 minute layover in Iceland (the airport looks like an Ikea!) where we got our passports stamped in and out of the country and went through security again -- I was selected for a random search of my person (not my bag just my body) which was hilarious because I was wearing leggings and a fitted t-shirt-- not sure where I could have been hiding something in that outfit but a nice security lady patted me down anyway and then we boarded another plane, this one a 3 hour flight, to London. I did manage to sleep another couple hours on the London leg of the flight as we arrived around 1am Seattle time. It was noon London time and our next flight, to Athens was not until 10pm. I had booked a late flight in case we wanted to actually try and go do something in London, but the lines at Customs were long, the tube takes an hour from the airport into downtown London and we were scared we'd miss our flight, so instead we spent 10 hours in Terminal one at Heathrow, which is one of the smallest and most boring. In a sleepy daze we paced up and down the length of the terminal. We went to the pharmacy 3 or 4 times for various reasons, ate two greasy meals (traditional English breakfast and then some kind of salad I've forgotten now later on). We found an empty corner and sort of slept awhile on hard benches, though every time I fell asleep another announcement over the intercom of flights coming and going woke me up.

We were so lucky we had booked the 10pm flight-- no flights were landing in Greece that day because of a strike-- ours the only flight to take off for Athens because we arrived at 4am-- technically the next day and after the end of the strike.

The flight to Athens was also loud and it was once again difficult to sleep. We arrived in Athens at 4am with another 5 hours to kill before our final flight to Mykonos. On the 4th trip through security that day they confiscated Megan's contact solution because even though it had a TSA approved symbol on it, apparently it was more than 100mL. The woman in charge of putting items through the scanner also yelled at us because apparently she likes to put things in the bin for you. Crazy how every airport and every security checker seems to make their own rules.

I had Greek yogurt with honey from a food cart in the airport-- the girl put almost more honey than yogurt on it but I decided at 4am it could be dessert or breakfast and I was much too tired to care so it didn't matter. There are lots of stores and things in the Athens airport as well as free email access. However, once you get past security there is absolutely nothing to do. It was much too loud, busy and chaotic for sleeping so we spent four hours sitting dazed, too tired to read, but unable to sleep either.

Finally we boarded our 30 minute flight to Mykonos, grabbed a cab and found our lovely hotel which was outside of town on the beach. We were very grateful for showers and then crashed at the beach (I completely passed out for about two hours). We spent a very leisurely day at the beach, ate a good dinner and then slept 11 hours that night. Finally, we had arrived and were ready to begin our vacation!

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