Travel to Athens
30.06.2007 30 °C
June 30, 2007
We decide to sleep in a little and get up at 8:00 for our departure to the airport. Check out at the hotel was quick for a Saturday. Our cab was right there at the front door so we pile in all the luggage, 4 bags and two backpacks, and settle in for the 30 minute drive to the airport. Our driver speaks no English so with some broken Spanglish we get the point across and off to Iberia terminal and Athens.
Rick the next part of this story is dedicated to you; it seems the fruit does not fall far from the tree.
We arrive at the airport in plenty of time, 2.5 hours before our flight. We planned to arrive early so we could check in, get something to eat and relax a little before the 3.5 hour flight to Greece.
We arrive at self check in and breeze through the process. We tag our check in bags, get our boarding passes and head toward the security gate. Security Gate hits me! In my pocket is my Swiss Army Knife! Just like Rick many years ago I forgot to put my knife in check in luggage. This is a brand new pocket knife and I do not want to lose it but I have no choice. Our checked luggage is long gone and all I have are pockets and a backpack.
Cathy advises I should tell someone. I ask who and what do I tell them? You know that conversation was going no where so I bury the knife in my back pack and trudge off to security.
There is no line at security so we unpack our computers and cameras and all metal objects, well most metal objects anyway, in the trays and get ready for the fun. A woman in front of us had a cat in a carry cage. She did not want to put the cat through X-ray so she took it out of the box. The cat was HUGE, I mean FAT. It was the biggest, fattest cat I ever saw, and apparently the biggest, fattest cat the security folks saw also. While they were busy with the cat I put my back pack on the X-ray hoping the disturbance over the cat will get me through, almost.
As we pass the metal detector, the guard stops my back pack and asks whose bag is it. Well we know what is going to happen next and I prepare to agree I forgot the knife in the pack, but no. That was not the issue. It seems that he was concerned with a bottle of sun tan lotion I had in the bag. It seems that suntan lotion is a liquid and we all know you can not take liquid on a plane. So he takes my dangerous can of suntan lotion while my pocket knife breezes through. Good trade from my end, so we head off to breakfast.
After a leisurely breakfast we head off to our departure gate and wait 30 minutes to board our Iberia flight to Athens. Soon the gate is open and we board the flight for nice quiet ride. Unfortunately it was not going to be.
Cathy and I settle into row 19 and Chris in 17. The plane is relatively full and we get off just about on time. I like to sleep on planes so I settle in for a nice nap. After an hour I am awakened up so we can get a very nice lunch. I enjoy my meal and settle in for the rest of my nap, unfortunately there were other plans.
As I begin to doze there is significant movement and excitement in the aisle of the plane. I continue to try to nap, but the commotion gets worse and soon there is an announcement “is there a doctor on board” Not me I say to myself, not this time. I try again to sleep and ignore the commotion. Soon about 25 people are all over the aisle chatting, arguing any generally beginning to panic. They ask again for a doctor and soon a doctor comes from the make of the plane. OK so now I can go back to sleep right? Wrong.
I keep one eye open and watch as things go from bad to worse. It seems an older gentleman is sweating profusely, and is looking like he is going to pass out. No one seems to have any idea what they are doing and can not agree on a course of action. The doctor asks for a BP cuff which the stewardess does have on board. He takes a BP lays the patient down and WALKS AWAY. It seems he is an OB/GYN and this is not his specialty.
OK now this is getting ridiculous and I just can not stand by while they try and kill this guy. I walk up to the stewardess and tell her I am an EMT if she agrees I will look at the passenger. She says thank you doctor and now proceeds to do anything I say!
We clear the aisle; I take a pulse and do a general assessment. I need three interpreters because the patient is from Chile and speaks no English. His family speaks Spanish and I do not. The Stewardess speaks Spanish and English so it takes awhile to find out what is going on. So I find out he has been traveling on a plane for the last 24 hours and was dehydrated and suffering from low blood pressure. Since he was hypotensive he was faint. His pulse was strong so we made him lay down put his feet up and I administered oxygen at 2 liters flow. In 15 minutes he was felling much better and was able to sit up and cool down and converse very clearly. Another tragedy averted. I stay with my patient for another 15 minutes and see he is now near normal so I return to my seat to complete my nap. Many thank you’s later there is no time left to sleep as we are landing. So much for a quiet flight.
When we get off the flight I meet with the Paramedics and do a patient assessment report. The EMT spoke perfect English so when I concluded the patient was OK he said “OK then he is not FUBAR!” Hope you all know what that means. I laughed and left to look for our luggage.
Once we get our bags we meet with George the famous Greek Taxi Driver. I hired George over the internet before we left to pick us up from the airport and take us to our Hotel. We pile into a bright yellow Mercedes Benz and literally tie our luggage into the back of the trunk and off we go to downtown Athens and our 5 star hotel, the Titania.
We check in and since we have Chris for three nights they upgraded our room to a two room suite for only 30 Euro a night extra. We change into shorts since it is 35 C (95 F) outside at 6:30 PM and head out to explore Athens.
We are a few blocks from Parliament and as we walk by are treated to the changing of the guard. This is done with much pomp and pageantry and high stepping guards performing a routine that is centuries old. It takes 15 minutes and soon we are walking again toward our destination, the Placa.
The Placa is the shopping center of the city and is filled, and I mean filled, with small stores, stalls, vendors in the street, bright lights, sights, sounds and restaurants. We walk in and out of stores for quite some time and soon are starving. We settle into a small outdoor restaurant for our first Greek meal.
This time we did the local food and not an Italian delight as Chris and Cathy seem to delight in. We dined on lamb and chicken souvlaki with rice and French fries. We share a Greek salad and a very large bottle of water as we are all much dehydrated. For dessert Cathy has a baklava and I tried a local treat, yogurt with honey. It sounds bad but was actually very good and almost was like a sweet ice cream. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
After dinner we continued to walk the city and discovered the Lysicrates monument built in 334 BC. He was a producer of a play that won a local competition and as a prize he got to erect and pay for his monument. Better to lose actually but he built a small monument and it still stands today. We also walked to Hadrian’s Arch. Hadrian donated significant money and building to enlarge Athens and as a show of gratitude the city built an arch in his honor. From here we walked toward the Acropolis but since it was closed we chose not to climb the hill this evening but will do it tomorrow.
We continued shopping and essentially got lost as we went left, right, over and under until we were thoroughly confused so we decided to hail a cab. Unlike Madrid it was very easy to get a cab and in 10 minutes we were back to our base of operations and back in our room.
Tomorrow the three of us will explore the local historic attractions and I am sure continue our shopping.