Thursday, August 25, 2011

Part 3: Day 9 - Get us to the Greek...Islands - Athens/Mykonos

Getting from Croatia to Greece was a bit of a hassle and Day 8 (when we left Croatia) resulted in a long day of travel and into the wee hours of Day 9.  Even though the countries seem fairly close together, we had to travel quite the distance to go from one to the other.  From Croatia, we flew to (Vienna) Austria, then (Frankfurt) Germany and then (Athens) Greece.

I have to say, Austrian Airlines was awesome.  And when we told the guy that, I am pretty sure he thought we were nuts!  But hey, we got the emergency exit seats without even trying, when we asked for ginger ale, the attendant told us he had something similar, but better (and it was, or at least very close!) and they had the best wafer cookie snack we'd ever eaten.  And besides all of this, when we landed in Vienna, they started playing funky Austrian music that made us happy and want to get off the plane and stay right there.  Next time, maybe.

Look at all that leg room!

Oh, and yet another added bonus, was that the Vienna airport has FREE wi-fi.  Yes, free!  None of this trial for 30 minutes and then pay a ridiculous amount in Euros per minute, etc.  Just plain, old free.

Of course, the greatness had to stop at some point right?  How about when we were delayed leaving Austria to get to Germany, and then we had to run to get our flight in Germany, and sure enough our bags didn't make it to Greece with us, and we were left waiting at the carousel empty-handed .... and had no luggage for 3 full days of our 4 day cruise.  Yeeeeeeahhhhh.  That sucked.

So, yes, we get to Athens and are waiting, and wating, and waiting for our bags to come along the belt and they never did.  We went to the Lufthansa desk, gave them all our info about our cruise, and went to find our cab driver.  He was there, waiting for us with a sign that said our names.  I was so happy to see him, as our pick up time was supposed to be 1:30am and at this point it was probably around 2:15am.  I had no idea if they were required to wait or what.   But luckily he did.  He was a nice, honest man and he gave us some helpful information; a) the hotel he was taking us to was not very nice and not in a great part of town - lots of drugs, prostitution, and "people without their papers" and b) taxis were on strike as of 5am, so "hopefully" a ride would be coming for us to take us to the part.  Eeek.

He dropped us off at the King Jason Hotel in downtown Athens (after driving by some sketchy locals). I would say that the online pictures of the hotel are slightly incredibly deceiving and it was our own fault for not looking into this one more (it was just the one our agent quoted us for), but we knew we were only going to be there for a few hours, so I guess when we booked, we just didn't care. 

 When we checked in, there was a little package from the travel agency that our transfers had been arranged through.  There was some general information about Athens and a note that said we would be picked up from the hotel at 9am by bus instead of 7am by tax as originally planned, due to the strike.  It was about 3am at this point and we just wanted to sleep, but we got a little panicky at that note, because we knew we were supposed to be at the port at least 3 hours prior to departure time (11am).  However, we thought maybe it's just like how they tell you to be 3 hours early at the airport and then you go, check in and just wait around for 2 hours and 45 minutes.  So, we slept on top of the dirty covers, because I was NOT getting underneath them and at 6:30am, we woke up, debated about what we should do and then called the number we had for the agency at 7am when they were to open.  The first time, I got hung up on.  The second time, I called the emergency number, the same woman answered and she said the same thing to note said; the bus would be there at 9am.

We got cleaned up as much as possible (remember, our luggage was lost at this point, so all we had is our carry-ons), then we went downstairs to use the computer/internet and check out. 

9am rolled around and there was no sign of any bus.  The guy at the desk told us not to worry, it'd be fine, but if we wanted, he could arrange for a car to come and get us.  At about 9:10, a bus pulled up.  We thought it was ours, but the guy asked us for our travel plan.  I showed him what I had and he wasn't sure, but another guy on the bus said, "No!" and got back on without another word to us.  The first guy apologized and said, "sorry, but this is not your bus."  I immediately went inside and the guy at the desk still said it was going to be fine.  I called the emergency number again, spoke to the woman who also assured me, it would be fine and that the bus was on its way.  Seriously people, we have a boat to catch and we're already almost 2 hours past when we were supposed to leave.  It's not fine!

Our bus finally arrived at about 9:30am, but we had to make a bunch of other stops at other hotels along the way to get other people going on the cruise.  We arrived at the port just before 11am and it was madness.  All the taxi drivers on strike were blocking the entrance to the port, so we had to park and then walk in order to get in.  Because everyone was in the same situation (trying to get there with no taxis), we finally realized the ship would not leave without us AND it was actually kind of nice to just walk right in, get through security right away and get on the ship.

I should mention that when we were walking into the port, I asked the guy who was bringing us in about our luggage.  He first said, "ahhh, that is why you guys have nothing!" and then said this happens and  to talk to the reception desk on the boat and they would help us out. 

We finally made it onto the ship (Louis Majesty) and checked into our room.

We'd never been on a cruise before this one, and I can tell you this was not like some of the ships that I have seen in pictures or that people I know have gone on.  By that I mean, it was not huge and incredible and beautiful, but it was fine.

We went to our welcome meeting and met Vicky, our Air Transat rep who literally took us under her wing.  We told her about our lost luggage and she just took over.  She called all the places so we didn't have to sort out the bag situation, got the ship to do the laundry that we did have with us, and she even gave me clothes to wear.  She so did not have to do any of that and I still need to write a letter to Air Transat telling them what an amazing employee they have. 

For that first day, we were at sea heading to Mykonos.  We just explored the ship (including finding the duty free shop and buying up toothpaste, deodorant, etc.), went to our "welcome" meeting to figure out how the heck cruises work, took a nap and got ready to get off the ship and go to Mykonos! 

I should mention too, that we had our carry-on bags with us.  Tim was smart and had much more clothing in his than I had in mine.  Smart man, that one is.  On the bright side, I had multiple pairs of clean underwear  :)  plus a bathing suit, towel, my hair straightener (key item!), and one extra shirt.  So, I was pretty much forced to wear leggings since it was my only option until Vicky came to the rescue.  

We arrived in Mykonos at 6pm.  It was beautiful and I wished we could've stayed longer, but we had to be back on the boat at 10:15pm at the latest.  We explored the quaint little streets, did a little shopping, checked out the views from near the windmills, ate gyros and then headed back to the ship.

Our quick visit to Mykonos was awesome,  but we did not see Paradise Beach, or Super Paradise Beach or get to experience any of the parties that it's known for, because apparently they don't get going till after 1am and we were long gone by then.  So, we've decided we'll just have to go back! 

Up next, Kusadasi, Turkey and Patmos, Greece........

1 comment:

  1. Holy Crap what an adventure! We were in Mykonos only 13 days ago! It's a beautiful city. I you love the architecture and the layout of all the little paths. You know how it is all tight and inclosed? How you can't really see around each corner, or anything above you most of the time? They designed it that way hundreds of years ago to confuse Pirates. If you felt like a rat in a maze, is because essentially that's what you are! If the pirates come into the city, they wanted to make it as hard as possible to get back out....while the locals rain down pots and shit from above! haha

    Crazy Greeks. God bless their kind hearts.

    I love the islands and can't wait to go back...

    Have fun on the rest of your cruise! Make sure you know your emergency routes and muster stations....and of course, where the best bar is ;)