Oct.25.2010, Athens to Nanaimo, BC, Canada

X95 bus, Syntagma to the Athens airport

0200 dark, dry, ~19 C.  Sometime between 0145 and 0220 they turned off the lights at the Acropolis.  Debbie said “They turned off the Acropolis, so we might as well leave.”  So, we did, at 0220.  We walked up Ermou street.  It was well lit but deserted.  It was the first time we had seen it so empty.  We got on board the X95 city bus at Syntagma.  I had planned on the 0300 bus but we were early enough that it was the 0240 which left at 0245.  No traffic – the bus ride can take 1 hr. 45 min. during the day.  Ours took about 45 min., at the airport by 0330.  We talked to 2 American boys on the bus.  One has visited 19 countries in the last 2 months, using Eurail pass.  The other is an archeology student who just spent a week on the Pelopponese.  He also visited Crete recently as part of this studies.  A short discussion about Schliemann’s work – I am still of the opinion that he was a treasure hunter charlatan.  At the airport we checked in, no problem, short line.  Then my last Greek coffee and a muffin shared with Deb at Gloria Jean’s Coffee, 0400.

Water bottles may not be carried onto the flight.  It’s a modern, paranoid world.  Also, 115 ml of Aqua Velva is considered dangerous.  I have to agree.  We were talking about Richard’s experience at Istanbul airport again this morning.  0420  Athens airport with an alarm going off.  That’s always going to get your attention in an airport.  Remember returning from Costa Rica when the fire alarm went off in George Bush airport in Houston?  Just paint a target on it.  0440  Through security.  Saw Deborah again whom we met a couple of days ago.  Had a short chat.  Now waiting for boarding time 0530.  0610  take off.  Breakfast and a snooze.  0915 arrive Frankfurt which is 0815 Monday morning local time and is 2215 pm Sunday night in Nanaimo.

Now, midnight in Nanaimo.  We have found our departure lounge and wandered around our little part of the airport – remaining in the secure zone so all we have is 3 duty free shops, 1 restaurant, 1 snack shop, 1 gift shop, 1 magazine/book shop and lots of toilets.  Bottled water from a machine is 2.50E.  I have reset my watch to 0910 am local time and boredom is setting in.  Our boarding time is 4 hours away.

Overcast, cloudy I think – can’t even see outside from here and no idea what the outside temperature is.  0913  Frankfurt seen on the way in – numerous construction cranes on the horizon.  Thought on the way in  – humans are a plague on the earth; extracting, converting, using and discarding resources.  It can’t last forever.

1130 Frankfurt – noticed that our seat assignments on our boarding passes are not together.  We were supposed to have seats 40A and C, instead we got 40C and 57D.  This is in spite of having selected the seats and having them confirmed via internet about 4 months ago!  Found a Lufthansa person at a check in booth and she directed us to the Lufthansa service desk.  However – we would have had to leave the secure zone and check back through the scanners etc.  I was prepared to do that but there was a tremendous line up at the Lufthansa service desk that I could see through a glass wall from my side of the secure zone.  Instead, went back to our checkin counter.  But the clerks there were dealing with another flight and refused to help us with our flight.  At 1220 our flight service reps. arrived at the check in.  I was second in line.  I spoke with the service rep. softly and without anger.  She reassigned the other party to a window seat back in row 57.  Seat problems resolved at 1230.  Congrats to the Lufthansa rep, but the question remains – how did this ever become a problem in the first place if I had reserved the seats months ago?  Grrr.  Don’t like the way that any airlines treat passengers – cattle.

1300  Sunny now, might be 18 C but hard to tell from the inside.  Here’s a travel nightmare story we heard in line waiting to check through the boarding lounge.  A family was booked on a Celebrity cruise line ship for a 12 day cruise through the Mediterranean as far as Croatia.  On day 2, the ship breaks down – rudder, irrepairable.  So the ship says sorry, you’re on your own.  Then they agreed to let the people stay on board one more night.  They also said that the bottled water would cost 4E – aren’t they supposed to provide free water on board?  So, 2000 passengers had to figure out what to do with the rest of their holiday until their return flights take them home.  Nice!

1330  Frankfurt time.  We are all loaded onto 2 or 3 buses then took a long ride out to our Lufthansa plane out on the tarmac somewhere, maybe in the next town.  Airbus 340 and we have our TVideo access for each seat.  It is now 0430 am Monday in Nanaimo.  Oh, it was cool outside as we loaded through an uncovered stairway ramp onto the plane.  With the wind blowing it felt like 14C.  Someone reports that it is raining hard in Vancouver.  1412, we take off and Debbie says “What city is this?”

1040 Nanaimo time, clear, can see snowy land 35000 ft. below us.  4 hrs and 20 min. to go, presently flying over Baffin Island and eating a chocolate bar, drinking orange juice.  They fed us again at 1400, a full meal.  1500 Arrival at YVR Vancouver.  Another thing I don’t like about travel is the end of plane trips – hasty and inconsiderate fellow passengers.  No problem clearing customs – YVR has it automated now.

Windy and feels cold but probably 14C.  Caught a south airport shuttle but it doesn’t go to the seaplane base anymore – so hopped out on the corner and walked to the SeaAir seaplane base.  Debbie not happy about the walk.  We started today walking up a long empty road (Ermou) and we ended it walking up a long empty road.

1715  SeaAir float plane to Departure Bay, Nanaimo, arrive 1730.  1800 Richard picks us up.  1830 arrive home, Chrystal there to greet us.

The excellent adventure is complete!

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