The transition from Wednesday to Thursday occurred in the air over the Atlantic. Just under eight hours in the seat, if I include the 20 minutes of taxi time after pushback at JFK. I managed some sleep, mixed into probably four hours of eyes-closed quiet time not quite sleeping.
The approach to Athens passes over a lot of the rugged land of Southern Greece, all of which has a strong resemblance to Southern California, including steep rounded hills blanketed in what probably is not, technically, chaparral, but looks like it. Even on final approach the resemblance to, maybe, Bakersfield or Simi Valley, was strong to me, except for many orderly groves of olive trees.
I came out of the arrivals door into a semicircle of at least 20 people holding signs, waiting for specific people or names of tours. But no Road Scholar. I walked around the semicircle four times. Then I decided to call the tour leader but my phone, despite having connected happily while the plane was taxiing to the gate, now had “no service”. All the pay phones required phone cards. The information desk directed me to a phone that took coins (I had some Euro notes and coins, left over from Italy two years ago). Anastasia told me the driver was there, with three other tour members, go back to the arrivals area. Anyway, found him. Met three other members and we had a nice half hour ride in a posh Mercedes van to our hotel.
Anastasia met us. The group will be 21 in all. Four are already here, arriving yesterday. My little quartet came on the same flight (and don’t ask me how I failed to connect with the other three and our driver, earlier) and the rest are coming in this afternoon.
Our rooms weren’t ready (it was only noon) so she led the four of us on a short walk. The hotel is just down the street from the Acropolis Museum, a huge modern building we’ll visit tomorrow, and the Plaka, the old town, which, because a couple of cruise ships are in port, was jammed with tourists and people selling things to tourists. Got a view looking up at the Acropolis which I may put in here later.
Back to the hotel for a very welcome shower and change of clothes, connect to wifi, make this entry. Worked out a method of getting pics off the phone, into my Dropbox folder, down from the Dropbox folder onto the Chromebook, so that WordPress could find them and upload them to a blog post (see above). Nothing more to do until 6pm. I washed my shirt, shorts and socks from the flight and put on tomorrow’s clothes.
The group assembled at 6pm and Anastasia gave us an overview of tomorrow and the following days. We introduced ourselves around the circle. I am the only Californian, to my surprise. Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida well represented. Then we all trooped out to a restaurant maybe 8 blocks away. Standard Greek fare, well presented. Moussaka is what you would get if you made ravioli, but instead of pasta ribbons, you used thin strips of eggplant, and instead of tomato, cumin and spinach.
Back to the hotel to post this and stay awake long enough (it’s already 8pm) for digestion to start, then crash.