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Greece – Days 2-3

Ah… the long, torturous day(s) of flying. I got up at 5:30 am. I protested, but my mom insisted that we HAD to be at the airport at least 2 hours early, more if possible. I thought this was ridiculous. I’ve never encountered a situation where I needed TWO WHOLE HOURS to get through security and check in at the gate. That was before this day. I stand corrected.

We got to the mile-long line for checking in and waited our turn. When we got to the desk, the unlicensed, clearly inexperienced women there instructed us to check in using the automated kiosk. My mom began to protest, but I cut her off and suggested we at least give it a try. I put my credit-card in and the flight came up Washington/Dulles. Sure, we were going there, but that was not our final destination. AND the kiosk wanted to charge us to check our bags. This was an international flight. There shouldn’t be a charge to check our bags. I complained to the kiosk attendant (with my mother as a VERY vocal backup) to almost no avail. They gave us the runaround until our whining and holding up the line finally got them to relent and direct us to “special services”. I use quotes because “special services” is apparently where the only remaining licensed gate agents work these days. Once there, we met a somewhat agitated (at her computer, not us) woman was able to sort out our multiple e-tickets (thanks United for screwing that up too) and send us on our way.

Then we got to the security check. Surprise! We were “randomly” selected for the full special security treatment. The TSA agents were very polite and did their best to hurry us through, but we were both rolling our eyes at the irony of one unnecessary delay after another. On the plus side, I got to go through this telephone-booth looking contraption with giant “scanner” bars that rotated around us. I could only imagine that some licensed agent in a remote private room somewhere was taking a gander at my private parts. Get a good look – perverts!

We finally made it to the gate with about a half hour to spare. My mom felt the need to rub in the fact that we DID need the extra two hours. I countered with an inspired diatribe about the evils of bureaucracy and the confluence of multiple statistically unlikely (and unfortunate) events. My argument fell on deaf, adamantly vindicated ears. At least I had half an hour to work on my blog before we boarded the plane. Yes, I’m still wearing that stupid Nuggets shirt. I figured wearing it on the plane would save a nicer clean shirt for later in the trip when I actually cared about what I looked like.
One 3.5 hour flight, one 4 hour layover, and one 8 hour overseas flight later – we were in Frankfurt. I must say though, the attention we received on the overseas Lufthansa flight was night and day compared to the crap they call service on domestic flights. We were treated to multiple drink services with free alcohol, a nice dinner, and a pleasant breakfast. When one of the other fliers complained about her overhead not working, ALL of the flight attendants gathered to give an honest effort in solving the problem. They were unsuccessful, but I admired their willingness to try. They even gave a complimentary gift package to her as a consolation. Altogether, I scored 1 free beer, 3 cups of wine, and a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream for free! If I have a choice on my next overseas flight, I’m choosing Lufthansa. Once in Frankfurt, we met up with a couple more tour members and exchanged travel horror stories as we waited for our flight to Athens.
Athens! Here is a picture of the Olympic ring sculpture which is visible from the pickup area out in front of the airport. My mom snapped this picture while we waited for our group to gather and board the bus.
After we arrived at our hotel and settled in, we all gathered to meet and go over the basic rules and plans for the tour. As a semi-experienced tour person, this was all old hat. This is my third tour. Some people on this tour have been on as many as thirteen previous tours! I can only imagine how boring this meeting was for them. There was a cool mosaic of a bull on the floor outside the meeting room, so I snapped a picture of that.
Dinner! We were treated to a hotel-quality (read: mediocre) dinner buffet. At least the wine was free and we happily partook of their generosity in a constantly-begging-for-more-wine sort of way. The dining hall was not as large as it seems in the picture. There were mirrors along the back wall. You can see the reflection of me taking this picture off in the distance.

Tomorrow the tour starts for real. Tune in!

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