Monday, June 02, 2008

The Smith Family Robinson in Greece

June 1-2, in transit

The first thing I did, of course, was to piss off a flight attendant.

Well, the very first thing was to piss off Scott, who was not charmed by my 7:00 a.m. departure that had us leaving for the airport at six. (United cancelled its 9:30 flight to Detroit, so I had to leave earlier and connect through Chicago). Anyhow, the flight attendant wanted to people to move from the front of the plane to the back, and I, with less than an hour to make my connection at God-knows-which terminal, declined to be one of the victims. Turns out that Chicago is an hour behind Greenville, so I had plenty of time and so did my fellow nonvictim in the next row up, and attendant gave us a passive-aggressive spiel about all the people in back of us who had less time to get to their next gate. Since the whole point of the exercise was to get people out of the front seats so as to balance the “aircraft,” I’m not sure how our refusal to move deprived those behind us of their rights. In any case, I had nothing in the overhead bin and sprinted out the door as soon as it opened.

The flight crew to Boston was surly, rude and at least 33.333% racist (yes, they were Boston-based). After the exit row presentation, one of them got right up in the faces of the nonwhite family sitting in said row and made them each give a loud, clearly enunciated assent to the outlined procedures (“you keep saying yeah. I need to hear YES. You don’t understand me, do you?!?” “YES, YES,” bellowed the poor embarrassed family.)

The Iberia ticket agents and flight crews were a distinct improvement. I met my folks inside the E terminal at Logan, and got some great footage of Dad being patted down by security. Gotta love that titanium hip. We flew to Madrid and then on to Athens. That’s all a bit of a blur to me because it took place during what I’ve been programmed to regard as the middle of the night. I do recall intense sinus pain that resolved itself with a nasty sucking sound as things got rearranged inside my skull. Mom says I folded myself over my legs and fell asleep, and that the entire row was impressed with my flexibility. I also finished The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – great recommendation, Jaime!

In Athens, we were spared the ordeal of Customs and George The Famous Taxi Driver had sent an associate to fetch us in a nice clean Mercedes taxi. We drove past a freshly graffitied ancient building (a school, I think) that said something like “you will never privatize our educational system.” Apparently, a huge protest happened a couple of days ago over the current administration’s plan to have some Greek schools charge tuition. Our taxi driver sympathized with the motives of the students and teachers who had protested, but wished they had chosen a less ancient building to deface.

We checked in to the Hotel Attalos, showered, and walked down to the Plaka. Mom and I were all for ascending the Acropolis right there and then, but Dad was on his last legs and demanded food and a good night’s sleep. We ate at a tourist trap – 40 euros total including tip! We’ll have to cultivate a nice little dive of a taverna once we get back from Sifnos. The Attalos includes breakfast, so we should be able to stuff ourselves well every morning. I hope they offer a bit more variety than that B&B Mom and I stayed at in Kensington – a baked tomato should not be the only fruit/veggie a person consumes before noon. Bleagh.

The souvenir shops right on Tourist Row have very cool statue reproductions and chess sets at decent prices – 8 euros for Venus ascending! Once we come back from Sifnos, we’ll suss out cheaper shops off the beaten path. I think I’m going to need another bag to carry home my loot. (As it was, I had to beg the Borders staff at Logan for a plastic bag to hold my armful of books. Going back, I’ll have fewer books to carry on, but more statues.)

It’s 4:00 a.m. local time, and Mom has finally conquered her insomnia, but I am SOL on that front. Hopefully I’ll be able to rack out on the slow boat to Sifnos. I reviewed all the Greek letters and hopefully I’ll be able to sound out signs. I also learned five more Hebrew letters on the plane, which hopefully won’t be driven out of my brain by sheer exhaustion.

I’d like to hike up to the Acropolis at dawn, but I can’t find out when dawn is unless I get myself closer to the WiFi hotspot. Maybe I’ll do it the old-fashioned way and look out the window.


At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woohoo! A first-hand account of a country I have not been too, yes! Any chance of pictures?

Kate (aka mamakate)


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