Friday, 5 November 2010

Return to the rock ...

Despite the tube strike in London, I made it to terminal four in very good time for the flight to Athens. This was entirely due to my brother Adrian who drove me there all the way from Aldeburgh.

Sat in Cafe Rouge eating a baguette, after checking in my substantial luggage commitment. (Thank you to the Greek god on Mount Olympus - who arranges the blind eye to the excess) Suddenly felt very tired.

I love travel but at the point of starting, i start yawning - not good if you are in conversation - or have just driven someone 150 miles to the airport, and have yet to get home.

A last wave as i went through departures and security into the bright lights of the shopping experience of pre-boarding. Simple text message to Kamila, do you want anything ? The reply get this for me, that for you.

I got 'that for her' and that was it, that made three things i had to carry for the next eight hours, and i was not up for it ...

Watching the screens intently OA266 Will board at Gate 2 was enough to get me to the gate for the next wait to board the aircraft. Finally when I was in my seat, luggage in the locker, then i could relax with my usual flight plan.

Seat just rear of the port wing, I can see the operation of the flaps and airbrakes and view down - in this case concrete - Good
Stretch legs - Plenty of room - Good
Book in the seat back pocket - Done

Plan ahead:

Free newspaper - International Herald and Tribune - So So
Dinner - Usual Chicken Meat balls - OK
Glass of red wine - Peloponessos Agiorgitko - Good
Sleep for an hour or two - No Chance!

Plan crashed and burned ...

At that moment around 40 Greek schoolchildren boarded, all excited. I realised the spare seats would all be taken, and the chance of catching up on a few hours sleep were gone. Two people swiftly changed seats on the plane, but no way was i going to fight my way down the aisle with a rucksack, box and bottles. So settled down with the kids, and a spare seat between me and another lady passenger.

After take off, and as soon as you could move around, two lads spent most of their time in the aisle chatting up the girl in seat A in front of me. She was getting lots of attention, however from my point of view the goddess of the row, was in seat B and was into her studies.

To be fair the kids were very well behaved, and the flight was uneventful. Great service and a lovely landing down in Athens. Swiftly off the aircraft and though the formalities. I watched all the bags come off and the conveyor stop. My bags not being there, great they were checked all the way to Skiathos.

Three hours to kill, in an airport that you spent seven hours a few days ago. What shall i do first? Went outside, Brrrrr a bit cool, came back in after a few minutes in the smokers haze. Free Internet machine would not let me open mail - damn (Why ? laptop at home in a few hours)

A Coffee at Ritatza - My boss used to call it the 'distress purchase from Eurest' only used when in dire need on a railway station.
I have always found it to be ok, better than the awful Starbucks option. The lady recognised me and we joked as i scrambled around with Sterling and Euro coins to give her the correct money. A friendly soul, but looking tired as the airport came to life at 5am and everyone wanted coffee, and probably all she wanted was sleep ...

There is something about the people of the night, those who work in the sureal world after dark, and sleep by day. Why do they do it ? I have worked nights, and you do not really do it by choice. Its for better money, or to make use of the daytime hours, as you seldom sleep properly. Working nights is like flying to Australia, you turn your body clock backwards and forwards. By the end of the week you are exhausted, you eventually sleep, have a day off then do it all again.

Off to the gate, B22 for the last hour, and further fun and games at security, as the bags are inspected and x-rayed and the man from Group4 asks me 'what is this' as he looks at my daughters new books, and a dundee cake - now that took some explaining ...

Gate 22 populated by strangers and a few faces that i recognised. Looked busy as people traveling home for the elections, to vote. Counted 32 on the bus including Michaelis from Taverna Alexandros.

Fought my way up the steps with my assorted luggage, and stowed away and seat in 3A before occupant of 3B arrived. Occupant of 3B large and female, I bounced up when she bounced down. No words exchanged

Seat under the port wing, slightly behind propellor and clear view down - in this case again concrete - Good
Stretch legs - Hardly any room - Grrr
Book in the seat back pocket - No in one of the bags
Pretty stewardess - Good

In flight service - I had coca cola and great views of the clouds, the coast of Evia and the island and landing. My neighbour saw off the 'Greek Deli' biscuits with hers, and mine were stowed in my pocket for home.

Off the carousel last came my bag and box, on to the trolley, then the rucksack, box and bottles. Into the lounge where Tommy and Andrea were waiting.

I am indebted to Tommy and Andrea, they always offer to pick me up after my travels. Great friends, and Tommy sporting the start of a beard ...

Home again to an empty house, the girls were still asleep as Tommy and Andrea helped me unload my bags into the house from the harbour.

A beautiful sunny day, and then when i thought about it later, i had been up for most of it ...

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