May 28, 2019

From cruising to flying

For some reason I was awake at  515 AM and could not go back to sleep.  We didn’t get to bed until just before 12:30AM and the alarm was not set to go off until 6:30AM.   We had an 8:00AM rendezvous in the restaurant but not to eat.  Anyone who had a flight before 1:30PM ended to have special priority disembarkation.  Long story short, instead of putting our luggage outside our door no later than midnight where it would be transported to the exit area within the port building, for us to pick up this morning, we had to carry it with us.  Our cabin was on the sixth floor and the restaurant was on the fifth floor but the elevators were full or only able to take a few people and the weight their luggage. Finally Colin just hefted them down the stairs. I know that the larger of the two weighed in at just over 20 kg, yes very heavy.  Once at the restaurant we waited.  Finally the ship was cleared and we were to follow someone who would lead us off the ship and the way to the port building exit.  However by now all passengers were waiting in the corridors with their carry on luggage.  We were to leave the ship on level three at the forward exit and we were at the back of the ship on level five.  We finally did get off and then had about a two city block walk with our luggage which fortunately is on wheels.

We did love our cruise.

The ship had docked early and by the time we got to where we were to meet our car and driver we were a full hour early.  So I called and texted the company and they said they would have the driver come early.  Sixty minutes passed and still no driver.  I called again and it turns out that he went to the wrong cruise terminal. Athens is so large that there are several.  It was then that I thought that we should just take a taxi to the airport which is about 1 hour and 15 minutes away.   Silly me, we should have just taken a taxi as soon as we got through the port  building.  As we waited that hour we saw everyone else get off and they did not have to shlep their luggage from their room to the curb.  We had been told that sometimes one did not get off until as late as 10:30AM.    We did what we had to in order to catch our flight.

Adios Greece.

So we jumped into a cab which charged the same fixed price as the prebooked car, 50 Euro. For the same price why not take the prebooked nicer vehicle?  But in our case it did not work out.  We loved our taxi driver, his English was excellent and he was a character. He made a point of driving fast to get us to the terminal in time as in 145 kph, just over 90 mph.  We learned different things about Greece from him, such as the fight to get back the artifacts that Lord Elgin had stolen which are now in a variety of British museums and the Brits won’t give them back.  Also that many words in English are actually Greek such as doctor, cardiologist, podiatrist,  neurologist, etc.  He got us to the airport in record time, instead of 75 minutes, it only took 40 minutes? I just want to add that the Mercedes taxi is a 2006 with over two million miles on it.
Bonus, we would have more time in the Swiss Air business class lounge.  Not so? Turns out that the departure area of the Athens airport is not that large and the various airlines share check in desks.  So we had to wait about 40 minutes for United to close out check in before Swiss Air could set up the desks with all their paperwork, baggage tags, feed the machine their blank boarding pass paper, etc.  Finally we were checked in and did the very long walk to security.  Colin scanned his boarding pass and went through, mine was denied.  Turns out that we had been issued the one boarding pass from Athens to Zurich and three from Zurich to out next destination ?. So with Colin on the one side and me on the other I had to turn around and head back to check in.  I certainly was getting my exercise in.  Finally I was through the scanner and then we had to go through the X-ray.  After another longish walk we finally got to the Lufthansa business lounge that Swiss Air shares.  I was rather taken aback at how small it was but it had comfy chairs, great wifi and very good food.  Which was good as it was now noon and we were starting to go through food withdrawal. This is where I need to mention that our flight was 30 minutes late and  we actually were 45 minutes late by the time we took off. This was another case of where we were bused to our plane.  Turns out that the flight was delayed because of a shortage of shuttle busses between the terminal and the planes on the tarmac.  Seriously!!
Finally we were off and soon enjoying a glass of Neuchatel Chalais Swiss wine @ 11.9% alcohol.  A lovely meal was served with a lovely presentation of the cheeses.  The dessert just might have been better than those on the cruise ship.  The wine flowed and life was good.  Then it got even better as they passed around bars of Swiss chocolate.  Because of ‘large’ tail winds, which may have been the cause of all the turbulence, we made good time.
As you can see it has been a stop and go day and it isn’t over.

Coming into Zurich.

We got about 30 minutes in the business class lounge which is incredibly busy.  I could hear French on one side and Japanese on the other.

We were on a small airplane on the next leg. The only concession to business class is that we got two seats each and of course we were fed.

Welcome to Madrid, Spain, our next destination.

Our overlarge car and driver, only 6 euros more than a regular taxi but we got to enjoy cold bottled water and received many tips and suggestions for our time here.

We landed at 7:00PM and it was 29C/84F and once we picked up our luggage we walked right out to meet our driver.  No passport control.  Turns out it was rush hour and it took a while to get into town.

Again, like Athens, we are on a pedestrian street so through the magic of texting we met our host on an extremely busy street corner.  It was perfect as I was beginning to wilt and he dealt with the heavier luggage while Colin dealt with mine.  I only had to carry my personal time carry on bag.  This is the only place that we are staying on this trip that has one flight of stairs.  Turns out that flight is 23 steps.  As I have said before, steps are not my friend.  Anyway we got orientated, unpacked and out the door to buy some wine before the stores closed as 10PM.

By now we were hungry and settled for the first a non fast food place that sold pizza.  This one came with tuna and was very good as was the house wine.

Once again it was after midnight before we got to bed.  More tomorrow.



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8 responses so far

8 Responses to “From cruising to flying”

  1. Ah, Spain! My Stepson and GF just got back as well as our neighbors. Excellent wines and cheeses there.

  2. Rae says:

    Oh, wow, reminds me of my own flight across the Mediterranean from Skopje to Barcelona, complete with the taxi driver who drove way too fast!

    I was sorry to have done Barcelona instead of Madrid, so I look forward to visiting Madrid vicariously!

  3. Been Catching Up only to see that you have both been busy. Good thing that Colin could handle the heavier Suitcases.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your time in Spain.

    It’s about time.

  4. What a great trip! I wonder what’s next?

  5. You guys are having such a fantastic holiday. You’ll be remembering this trip for a long time. We know exactly of your whereabouts as we have spent so many months in the Mediterranean countries. We were in Kusadasi, Turkey with our own yacht and of course in Athens, Greece plus cruising through all the islands belonging to Greece for 8 months then we spent some time in Spain etc. So we know where you are. Also with my recent trips to Europe I can feel for you with all the hassles in the airports which can be stressful. Enjoy your time over there and take it all in!

  6. George Yates says:

    Thanks for all the updates glad you are enjoying this vacation,
    All these airport and flying issues remained us of why we enjoy this rv lifestyle and living in our home on wheels. Keep on having too much fun there exploring and seeing new sights.

  7. Maxx Trails says:

    What a busy day, but lucky you to be in Spain! I Look forward to hearing all about it. Some great pics today, especially the one of Zurich from the plane.

  8. Dolores says:

    BOY!!! I certainly applaud u guys! It just seems like such a nightmare to get to everyplace u r supposed to be, all the walking, carrying, waiting.. wondering if u r in the right place, right time… Terribly confusing…

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