August 25 – It was an all too familiar tale of travel struggles that greeted us trying to get to Athens Greece.
I will provide details below for those of you who want to know what led to what was likely the most unnecessarily stressful series of events on my trip (see below the pictures). For the sake of a quick summary:
- I believe Stansted Airport is absolutely the worst airport I’ve experienced
- Ryanair flights are cheap for a reason, worst airline I’ve experienced
The good news is, by some miracle we made it on to the plane in time to board. The morning hadn’t gone smoothly so breakfast ended up being an odd coffee (with the filter built in to the lid) and miscellaneous snacks. Followed by an incredibly obnoxious person seated next to me that literally turned his back and proceeded to lean on me until he got a sharp elbow to the ribs. He then proceeded to fart and just be genuinely obnoxious. All I could think was “wow, your mother must be so proud”. Somehow I made it through the flight without totally losing my cool but the combined with the rest of the events of the morning had left my blood pressure high.
Man was I happy to be off that plane and yay, we’re in Greece! Hard to be mad about that. We took at look at the train schedule and thought we’d figured out which bus to take. Sadly finding the actual bus stop was not quite as simple. After wandering around in the heat for a bit I said “forget it, lets just get a taxi”. Some things just aren’t worth the struggle.
Despite what felt like a long distance from the airport to the hotel the taxi fare was only 20 euro. We had a very friendly driver that spoke English so we talked with him along the way. He mentioned Athens was a beautiful city full of the typical Greek villas. In the 1960s the city saw huge growth due to immigration and a lot of the communist style concrete buildings were build to accommodate all the growth. I’m sure the old city was stunning but time marches on, right?
We got checked in to the hotel and were greeted by the DreamTrips host. In our room we found a delicious platter of fruits and desserts, a bottle of wine, and gift bags that included filtered water bottles. We unpacked a bit and headed to the hotel restaurant to get something to eat. The incredibly sweet and helpful waitress made some meal suggestions and I was so pleased with my choice. I guess I was so eager to dig in I didn’t bother with a picture.
We lingered long enough the rest of the DreamTrippers were making their way into the restaurant for the Welcome Reception so we simply moved to one of the reserved tables. As has always been my experience we met some wonderful new friends that we looked forward to sharing some fun memories with in the coming days.
*Details from the morning struggle: we had arrived at Stansted with what should have been plenty of time. The day prior we had attempted to check in to our Ryanair flight but were instructed we had to check in at the airport. We made another attempt to check in using the kiosk at the airport and were again denied. We made our way to the line we thought was correct to get checked in. After waiting for quite some time we were told by the clerk at the counter we were in the wrong line and directed to another line on the other side of the wall. The line was enormous and incredibly slow moving. As we waited people were being ushered to the front of the line because they were at risk of missing their flight. There was a lot of tension building as the people who had been waiting in line were being delayed further. As the time ticked away our risk of missing the flight grew. Closing in to the start of the line more people were brought ahead. People around us started to protest. I started to protest. Things were getting heated. The guy monitoring the line was an asshole and his attitude was not helping calm the situation. We were at a point where we were going to miss our flight. Seriously, over an hour and a half in this mess. We still had to get through security and to our gate 30 minutes before departure. I continued running my mouth and they finally called us forward to get our tickets. Apparently the usual process calls for you standing in yet another line to have your passport checked. Out of time and a filter for my mouth they took care of it for us. We were ushered by the asshole to the security line where he tried to get them to put us through the “express” line without charging us the additional fee. No luck, of course. What a bunch of pricks! Another line, another fee, more stress. We get into this “express” line. Its a weird line where there are 4 or 5 slots and people queue behind each other in lines. I made the mistake of taking the last slots. All the people in the lines for the prior slots kept placing their bags in front of mine. My bag was going nowhere. I pointed it out to the gal monitoring the situation and she told me not to worry about it and move on to the scanner. Bitch, I am worried about it. Everyone elses stuff is being pushed in front of mine. It does no one any good to have me standing over there still waiting for my bag! She finally paused everyone and moved it forward. Was that so damned hard?!? Obviously I’m stressing. The “30 minutes prior to your departure” had come and gone. And another delay, Jennifer didn’t realize cream counts and a liquid and is forced to open her bag so they can do an additional check. My head is about to explode. We get that situation dealt with (she had to throw it out) and make a mad dash to the gate. But first you have to get through the spiral of stupidity that is Stansted. It is literally a spiral of bad perfume, Toblerone, and whatever shit you usually find at the airport and you have to walk in a circle around all of these things to get to the terminals. I HATE THEM ALL SO MUCH!! We finally make it through that shit show and down corridor after corridor to get to where there are actual gates. At this point I’m just going. I’m not even looking to see if Jennifer is keeping up. If at least one of us can get there maybe they’ll hold the plane for the other. It was with a lot of sweat, RAGE, and relief that I got to the gate and joined the tail end of the line to board the plane. Jennifer made it as well. No one died that day, at least not by my hand). Never again!