Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The beginnings of my Greek Adventure

First of all, I love Greece.  It is so beautiful and warm.  I have so many great memories from my time there that it is very unlikely I will be able to remember them all for these posts.  That being said, I will try to give a good account of my experiences.  I won’t put the whole trip in one blog, though.  That would simply be too long.  So I’ll start with our traveling experiences on the way to our first stop (Santorini) in this blog.

We had the perfect flight time: 12:50.  It takes about an hour and a half to get to the airport from our dorm.  We take the 41 tram, the 18-47V bus, the 49 tram, the blue line metro, and then the 200 bus, which drops us off right at the terminal.  Julia’s flight was at the same time as mine and Christy’s, so we all traveled to the airport together.  There was no sitting around waiting to go in the morning, but we didn’t have to get up too early either.  We left our dorm around 9:30, and got to the airport the recommended two hours before our flight.  We said goodbye to Julia, who was on her way to Madrid to meet up with her boyfriend who is studying there, and we headed in to do the security stuff.  Interestingly enough, water bottles were completely fine going through security.  Apparently traveling with liquids is not prohibited within Europe.  Once through security we killed some time by having some lunch.  The teddy grahams were our favorite part.  Kyla’s cousin Sabrina came to visit and brought American comfort foods, including teddy grahams.  Did you know that some have their arms up, and some have their arms down, so if you lay them alternatingly it appears as though they are doing jumping jacks?

After our lunch, we sat on the floor by a planter and watched people go by, guessing which ones would be on our flight.  I’m not sure we guessed anyone correctly, but we had a good time.

We boarded at 12:30, and our plane took off right at 12:50.  We had already eaten lunch because we had American standards, and did not expect to be served anything except maybe some pretzels on the flight, but hot sandwiches, tea, and either soda, juice, or water were offered and, of course, accepted.  After our second lunch we napped until 3:30 (Athens time), when we landed.  We were referred to the X95 bus, which would take us to the center of Athens, near our hostel.  We thought we’d be nearer our hostel, actually, than we were, and we ended up walking almost a mile with all our luggage, and we were pretty tired by the time we got there at almost 6.  We checked in and headed up to room 4, which was a dorm-style room.  We had been unaware, however, that this would be a coed room, so when we walked in and saw a boy sitting on the floor we were a bit surprised.  We ended up having four male roommates that night, two of whom stumbled in, drunk, in the middle of the night and then began to snore.  Needless to say, we did not get much sleep. 
We had fun in the city that first night, though.  Pretty much as soon as we dropped off our luggage we headed out to explore and see where we were.  The hostel is actually very centrally located, right by the Acropolis.  We had supper at a cute little place called “Smile!” where we were the only patrons.  We learned later that the supper hour doesn’t really start until 7:30 in Greece, so eating at 6:30 was pretty early.  We were pleasantly surprised at that supper, because we were given an unlimited supply of water (!) and free ketchup.  The ketchup bottle was cute, too.

We took a moonlit stroll up to the Acropolis after supper, and even though it wasn’t open, we still had fun seeing it from the base.

The next morning we were up by 5:30, out of the hostel by 6 and on our way to the port of Piraeus where we would get on a ferry that would take us to Santorini.  We had tickets already, and directions on how to get to the port, but we couldn’t find the metro station where we were supposed to go.  Finally we got on a tram headed in the right direction.  A man we asked told us that yes, this would take us to the port, but we’d have to take a train from the last stop to get to the boat itself.  Ok, we thought, we can do that.  Unfortunately, though, we were on a tram that had dozens of stops, and we started getting worried that we wouldn’t make it on time.  I began praying that we wouldn’t miss our boat, since there is only one per day, when I saw the man sitting next to me check his watch and then pull out a ticket identical to mine!  I asked him if he was going to Santorini, and my heart sank when he said no, but then he said that the boat to Santorini shared the dock with his boat, and he’d show us how to get there.  What a relief!  We made it onto our boat with three minutes to spare.  Nothing like cutting it close for an early morning adrenaline rush. 
To be on the safe side, I took a dramamine when we got on the boat, and then slept for the next three and a half hours.  The nap helped immensely, and I was able to enjoy exploring the boat with Christy when I woke up.  We were sitting in what were called “Air Seats” which were like airplane seats, but bigger and with more legroom.  We thought it might be business class, but no one was checking tickets, so we stayed put.  The “air seats” section was huge, with about 200 seats, and in addition to that there were about 100 seats each in the two restaurants on board and plenty of room on the decks.  This boat was pretty swanky.  I suppose when people are going to be on a ferry for 8 hours, they need lots of room. 
The ride was fairly uneventful.  We read, walked a bit, watched islands pass by, and watched Greek soap operas on tv.  When we finally reached Santorini, we were blown away.  It was even bigger than we had expected, with sheer cliffs and towns sitting on top.

When we docked, we were immediately bombarded by men trying to get us to stay at their hotel or ride in their taxi.  While we already had hotel reservations, we did need a ride up the mountain.  There was no way we were walking.  We finally accepted a ride from a stooped, honest-looking old man, and he took us to our hostel for 10 euros.  We had made it.

Posted by Emily MacLeod on 10/31 at 05:30 AM
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