Monday, May 29, 2017

Greece Trip Part One

I never want to forget this trip to Greece, therefore, I decided to have a written record of it on my blog. Got up at 3:30 in the morning to make it to the airport three hours early for our international flight from Portland to Amsterdam (10.5 hours). I have always been told how awful they are and boy were they right! The upside was Jackie and I realized that we probably hadn't sat down and watched a movie from start to finish in months. That was kind of nice! 
 Vern, Ethel, Jackie and I's feet on the carpet of PDX. Vern thought we were nuts!

 Waiting anxiously to board the plane!

On the airplane!!!

Once we arrived the Amsterdam, I was in culture shock. People didn't wait for you or move for you. I line was a suggestion. I couldn't believe how "rude" people were in my American eyes. I was terrified that Vern and Ethel were going to step out in front of a people move and die! They were going so fast! We had a three hour layover, so we went to a bunch of shops.

 The "lines" into customs were crazy!

 Ended up buying some tulip bulbs from Holland. Thought this was the best way to bring a bit of Holland to my home!

 These painted cows were all the rage! (Jackie)

 Of course beautifully painted wooden shoes!

 Got 4 hour flight from Amersterdam to Athens, Greece. Here is my first glimpse of the beautiful white city!

Flying inland to the airport.

This is when all the scary drama started! After we picked our rental car (that was a story in itself), we got lost in rush hour traffic in a city of 5 million people. Vern was driving and thought he knew the way to the apartment because he had studied the route so much on Google Earth. So we no written directions. After stopping twice and getting thoroughly lost in the seedy side of Athens where we were confronted by beggar children in a grocery store parking lot ( a whole other story in itself). When we got back on the right road to the right Marina, Vern started seeing familiar landmarks. We all realized that one of us should have bought an international SIM card so we could have contacted the poor man who was waiting at our apartment for two hours to give us our keys. By some miracle, we found the apartment and then PRAISE THE LORD, Manos was still there. I was seriously thinking I was going to have to sleep upright in this tiny car we had rented. I probably could have, considering I had been up at 30-plus hours at this point. 

 The apartment was amazing. Everything was inlaid in Marble. Floor, stairway, walls in bathrooms. Counters, tables and fireplace.

 We decided to go to bed at 7:30 p.m (Athens time). But the beds were not what we thought. We ended up making a makeshift bed for Jackie and I to sleep on by taking the cushions off two couches and the "mattress" off the hide a bed. It worked and as we laid down, Jackie said, " I just feel like crying." I replied, "Jackie, I am so sorry I got you into this!" We were both traumatized after all of our "firsts". Crazy Motorcycles, being lost, aggressive beggars, Motorists not yielding to pedestrians (I almost got killed 5 times just getting from the airport, to the grocery store, to the apartment! The next day, I almost got hit by a Tram, because there were no warning lights or sounds. I stepped onto what I thought was an abandoned track, when I got across all of a sudden there was a tram coming. Yowza!!! That was scary! I started looking very carefully after that!

The Acropolis is back there! Could see it from our balcony!

A remnant monument dedicated to the last Olympics held in Athens.

 So the next day we got up and felt the warm climate. We looked out the balcony and were just stunned by the view. We all met in the kitchen and processed the horrible previous day. We cried and hugged and prayed over the rest of our trip. It was good! We had coffee on the balcony and decided if we just stayed in this apartment with this incredible view, it would have all been worth it.
Never was brave enough to use this. They don't want you to put paper in their sewer system. Kind of a pain. 

 The City of Athens. One of our views from the balcony.
 We were in a very safe apartment-like section of town. The only thing that was gross was the smell of stray cat poop and urine. They were everywhere!

 We were on the seventh floor. Gives you an idea of how limited the parking is and how narrow the streets are. People parked on the sidewalk ALL the time..

Vern made us breakfast that morning. It was so nice of him. Watching him back in the place he loves is priceless. He used to live in Athens back in the 1950's and worked at the air force base for 2.5 years. He knew quite a bit of Greek and everyone was impressed at how good he did with their language. He kept being taken for a 50-60 year old even though he is 80! One waiter even guessed he was a pilot! I guess he just looks like one. Vern loves to fly and even had his own place when I met him.

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