18-19 June, 2012
Today was the beginning of an if-it-can-go-wrong-it-will trip back home.
Just prior to leaving our hotel on Mykonos, we learned that the SeaJet that was supposed to take us back to the mainland had been cancelled due to the unrelenting high winds! After some frantic emails and phone calls to our travel agency (in Sifnos), we learned that we could rebook on the Blue Star “slow” ferry (the huge car/truck/bus ferry) for 13:15. We also learned that we could get a refund of our SeaJet tickets (around 50 euros apiece) at the travel desk at the port. That done, we had a quick lunch then caught a bus to the “old port” where that ferry would arrive (there were no cabs available). Instead of arriving in Rafina mid-afternoon as originally planned, we would get there at 17:00. Oh well, at least we had made a connection. Though I must admit that being stranded in Mykonos would not have been such a terrible fate!
The ferry ride was long, but very comfortable–there was little to no rocking motion on that behemoth in spite of the howling wind and roaring waves. We arrived in Rafina on schedule and took a cab to Hotel Avra, our overnight lodging. To the chargin of the driver, the hotel was very near the harbor and close to the beach (it was a very small fare, for which he tried to overcharge us to make up for his waiting time at the ferry–Bob paid him the going rate, but did give him a tip).
After a short siesta to catch our breaths after this weird travel day, we began to re-pack to assure that our carry-ons did not contain anything problematic at airport security (as one of them had last year in London). Then we took a short walk, and decided to have dinner at the hotel–good food and wine. Afterwards, we finished packing, took showers, and retired early in preparation for our 5:50 wake-up call for the taxi to the airport at 6:30.
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
When we got up, we saw that the windy conditions had not let up and that the sea was still very angry. Fortunately, that would not affect our air travel. However, our taxi driver almost did.
He picked us up at exactly the scheduled time, to my relief as I always stress out at this point. The drive to the airport in Athens was through several villages and lots of windy roads. When I commented on that, he said the he’s taken this route to avoid tolls! Wish he’d told us that ahead of time, I certainly would have been willing to pay tolls for a more direct trip.
Upon (finally) arriving at the airport, we checked in with no delays and had enough time to get a quick breakfast. Then we found out our flight had been delayed! As it turned it, it was only for a half hour. That would, however, make it tricky to make our connection in London.
After arriving in Heathrow (London) 20 minutes late, we took the l-o-n-g winding walk to “connecting flights.” I think Heathrow is the most confusing, convoluted airport we’ve been to — and we’ve been to many. One must walk close to a mile to get from point A to point B–the curved walkway seems endless. The other quirk is that you must go through the checkpoint then back through security to go to your connecting flight, due I supposed to the fact that you’re coming in from a different country. Then you must find the desk for your connecting flight and check in there. To compound matters, after taking a tram to another part of the airport our gate was another half mile or so away! We finally got there with moments to spare–our flight was boarding. There was a boarding line, so we were able to catch our breaths.
Upon boarding our British Airways flight, we noted that the plan configuration was different that we had expected — rather than being a 747, it was an AirBus. That wasn’t bad, but it turned out to be an almost obsolete aircraft with services leaving a lot to be desired, including an antiquated A-V system that kept kicking out making it really hard to watch inflight movies. We did have a smooth flight, though, and arrived in SFO on time. And our really nice neighbor Nancy was there to drive us home — a really great ending to a really great trip.