The new Athens airport is located waaaaaay outside of town. It was built for the 2004 Olympics, so it’s modern and clean. Our plane landed and dumped us out – into a skybridge attached to the terminal, a comforting reminder of home. We picked up our luggage and passed through the secured area into the terminal. No one checked our bags either at Frankfurt or in Athens. I found that a bit odd, but hey, I wasn’t complaining.
We’d arranged to have transport from the airport into town through Cunard. As we exited the baggage area there was a Cunard rep waiting for us with the clichéd cardboard sign. We introduced ourselves and she told us she was waiting for two other couples. Once they were here we’d all hop in the transpo bus and head off.
It was now 5:00 pm. We’d been travelling for almost 22 hours and I’d been up for another 12 before that. I was running on adrenaline and glee, and probably good cheer from the Lufthansa wine and chocolate. So when our courier said there’d be a wait, I figured no problem. We could explore the airport. Why not?
Though clean and modern Athens airport isn’t very big and there’s not much there to entertain. We poked around the two or three little shops near where our courier stood, then checked back. A second couple had appeared, senior citizens from Texas, but the third pair were on a flight out of London which was delayed. The Texas couple decided to take a taxi into town, but we figured we’d stay. We didn’t have any plans for the evening and we’d already deposited our luggage on the bus.
Eventually, after we’d walked up and down the terminal about three times and used the washrooms an equal number of times, the London flight landed and our last couple appeared. We all stumbled onto the bus and headed off.
The drive into Athens was another perception check. I knew Greece was mountainous. I knew there were a lot of pine trees. What I didn’t expect to see was terrain that reminded me of the area around Summerland in BC. Dry land, not quite a desert, but definitely arid. Vegetation that is hardy and low to the ground with lots of dusty ochre-coloured earth between each plant. This is not an easy place to live and prosper.
On the bus ride in to Athens I learned some interesting, through random, facts.
- There are more goats in Greece than people.
- Over half the Greek population – 4.5 million – live in Athens.
- It only rains 65 days of the year in southern Greece and the Islands, usually between November and March.
Unfortunately the weather gods hadn’t been paying attention to that last statistic because they bestowed rain on us for the next several days. In fact, the weather was pretty much the same as it was back home.