Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Athens Day 1: Too Much Travel

Getting to Athens was an exhausting trip.  We left campus around 4 pm on the 28th, even though we weren't flying out until 3:30 am on the 29th.  Our first stop was the Mall of Arabia, because we needed warmer clothes.  We were expecting a package from my parents which supposedly had some warmer clothes in it for us, but when the US Post Office says Priority International shipping is 5-7 days, apparently they mean more like 14+ days.  We picked up a sweater jacket for Steve, two long sleeve shirts, leggings, a hat, and gloves for me.  Clearly I'm the one who can't handle cold weather.  Steve had to go back and argue with one store after we realized they overcharged us, but in the end they gave us the difference back, so small wins!

After eating (delicious grilled sub) and shopping, we decided we were done with the mall and picked up a cab to the airport.  We still had a lot of time before our flight, at least six hours, but we figured the airport would be better than a mall full of loud, rowdy kids.  Turns out that was a bad, bad choice, because we forgot that Saudi doesn't work like everywhere else in the world (or at least the US).  You can only check into the flight when they open a specific counter for that flight, whereas in the US you can basically show up at the check in desk and get checked in.  Since we couldn't check in, we couldn't go through security or anything, so we just had to sit around the airport and wait.  We ended up having to kill 2-3 hours before we could check in.  Definitely something to remember for next time!

Getting through security after we checked in was a breeze, and then we settled in for another wait, as we had another three-ish hours to wait.  Far and away my least favorite part about Jeddah is the squat toilets and lack of toilet paper.  Without being too gross, I just don't know how it's supposed to be effective when wearing pants...

Thankfully, planes have lovely westernized toilets.

Both of our flights were pretty short, about two hours, but the layover in Cairo was about 5 1/2 hours.  The airport was decorated for Christmas, which was so nice to see, since the only Christmas decor we'd seen so far was in our own apartment.  However, Santa seems to have the Seven Dwarfs in his beard, which befuddled and amused us.

Santa greeting us at the Cairo International Airport.

Santa's helper are the Seven Dwarfs?  This was so confusing!

We got some food, and seriously contemplated the VIP Lounge, but declined because all but one of the couches were full.  We've got an eight hour layover on the way back, so we might take advantage of this when we've got more time to enjoy it.  We watched The Sorcerer's Apprentice since neither of us could really get comfortable enough to sleep.  The movie has Steve's least favorite actor in the whole world in it, Nicholas Cage, so it was fun to watch, even if the movie was more than a bit cheesy/corny/terrible.

After a croissant and pizza breakfast, we headed to the gate to wait for boarding.  We both managed to get a tiny bit of sleep waiting for boarding because they had seats with no armrest between them!  They needed more of these in the airport, it would have made it more comfortable to try and get some sleep.

Steve waiting for boarding in his new sweater jacket, so snazzy!

Abby waiting, sporting a new hat.

I was pretty tired by this point, and managed to sleep through almost all of the flight to Greece, and Steve got some sleep too.  The trip through customs and the metro ride to the hostel were uneventful, which is always nice.

Our first impression of Athens was that it was just so darn cute.  It's definitely got that European charm, and even though it's freezing here, all the trees and grass is green, so it's pretty too.  We're staying in a small shared apartment so it's got a kitchen, living space, and bathroom all attached.  And it's just a few minutes to the Acropolis, which seems to be a great location to be staying.

After sleeping for a couple hours, we grabbed dinner, and the real fun will start tomorrow!

On a side note, apparently there's a 60% chance of big thunderstorms back in Saudi, so let's all hope that our apartment doesn't end up flooding!

*Catch up on our entire Athens adventure by checking Our Travel Page, or our Greece tag.*


  1. Abi, You are supposed to stay on campus and protect our apartments from destruction! Now who will describe the flooding for me?

  2. Well we do have a pet sitter, so hopefully if anything bad happens in our area, she'll let us know about it. Our best hope right now is that we're high enough from street level that we might not get flooded, but then again who knows.