Monday 1 July 2013

Greece: Day Eleven - Athens to Chios

This morning marked our last day on the bus tour and the start of our beach vacation. We had to leave early in order to get to the airport on time, so departure was at 7:15. The drive back was long and uneventful. We stopped for a few photo stops which were pointless and boring to the point few people actually got off the bus. I see it as Theadora and George trying hard to give us all - including them - a break to stretch legs. Our morning break was at the same odd cafe/restaurant stop as yesterday - the one with all the tables and hardly anything. I found some excellent Greek Chocolate which was great, but I wish we had stopped somewhere else. Lunch was at a rest stop off the highway and it was horrible. 

There were 4 places to eat - a bakery, a sandwich place, a burger place and a traditional hot Greek food place that had a decent menu. The burger place wasn't open, and the sandwich place consisted of everything pre-made loaded with mayo and butter. The menu of the Greek place looked good so I went and ordered only to find its another one of those "we have a menu but don't make 90% of it". What they did have was mostly lamb or roasted chicken so I passed and did a Spinach/Feta thing from the bakery. It warranted two bites before it was tossed in the trash. I wasn't the only one - pretty much everyone left their food uneaten as all the places were pretty horrible. 

(Photo: Leah and Pam at one of our photo stops - a monument) 

(Photo: Todd and Sydney) 

(Photo: Me on the bus) 

We got to the Athens airport about an hour and a half before our flight and breezed through check-in.  My bag was overweight but the woman was nice and decided since we were in a group she would let it slide. It was here we said goodbye to Chris, Anna and Nate as they were heading back to the US and not coming to Chios. I was dreading this flight as Jenn had told me the last time they took it it was a super small prop plane with unassigned seating. I was a little relieved when I got my boarding pass and saw an assigned seat in row 17. The plane was bigger then I expected with seating for 80. Another relief but not much. 

The Athens airport is awesome - very modern with gourmet and high end stores like Hermes. We didn't really look around much, so hopefully we have a chance before our flight back. Security however was a bit scary in the sense there wasn't much of it. We walked through and someone checked our ticket, then a bit further down someone checked again, and then just before the gate we did the bag screening etc. Brian was able to get through with a soda and beer and myself with sunscreen and hand lotions. 

Our gate was on the lowest level with nothing but some seats around. But there was free Wifi that kept pretty much everyone attached to their tablets. When it came time for boarding, a bus came and picked us up taking us to the plane. It was very similar to the way in which Toronto handles small /short flights to places like Baltimore or the Carolina's as they take you away from the main building. The plane was out on the Tarmac and we climbed up. 

The flight was short - thankfully. And it was smooth, but it hasn't made me suddenly love flying. I am still terrified of it. We arrived in Chios about 40 minutes after takeoff and it was an interesting experience. The "airport" is seemingly in the middle of nowhere and as you walk down the stairs of the plane you see the ocean. The actual building is smaller then I ever would have expected. To put it in context the airport building would fit easily inside a Metro or Sobeys store. As we walked inside we had to almost push through crowds of Greek people there to welcome family. Nicks parents and aunt were included in that. Nick's parents live in the Baltimore area but are here visiting family for 7 weeks. Our baggage came out quickly - they do have a luggage carousel - but I think our groups luggage took up most of it. We had to wait a bit while the car rental got sorted out. We ended up with 4 vehicles - Nick and Pam rented these huge 9 passenger trucks that people call "Jumpy's", Bob rented a car and John/Erin rented a car. Brian had gotten an international drivers licence in order to be able to drive one of the vehicles but the one he was out on was the truck which was standard. Brian's driven a standard but only twice so he opted not to drive. 

(Photo: Nicks jumpy)

(Photo: Pam's jumpy) 

The trip to the hotel was quick, only a 10-15 minute drive. The place we are staying is called Seaview Resorts and its in the town of Karfas. We are on the island of Chios, and where we are staying is about 20 minutes away from the main town of Chios, which confusingly enough is called Chios. The resort is beautiful, it reminds me of a smaller Wyndham complex. The main building has a restaurant, bar and spa and overlooks the pool. There are 24 units in total - some with 1-2 bedrooms. Our group has 9 of them. All the units have mini fridges, a stove, oven and microwave. Our room has two single beds - pushed into one with separate bedding, a desk, kitchen table and sofa that includes a trundle bed. We also have a balcony which looks out toward the Aegean sea. 

(Photo: Our room) 

After we first got there, I took a walk down to the beach with Alyssa, Charlie and Judy. The resort isn't right on the beach but very close - maybe a 3 minute walk from our room. The water was a bit cold since it was later in the day so I went up to the pool instead which was amazing. Such a beautiful pool and area. I sat out there for awhile and as it got dark Brian came out (since he burns so easily he tries to avoid too much sun). A bunch of us sat outside in the pool area and ordered food and drinks remaining out there until long after the pool was supposed to be closed. The closing time is listed as 8:00 but it's not enforced at all. Maybe that's due to our group being so large or they are just like that.

(Photo: The pool area)!

(Photo: View of the sea) 

(Photo: View from the restaurant) 

(Photo: Beach near hotel) 

Overall there was a lot of traveling to get to Chios, but our first night there was great.  

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