Monday, May 17, 2010

Everything Will be Fine, I said.

Everything will be fine when I get to Greece, I said. I said it or thought it so many times yesterday that it was like a mantra.
I have finally made it to my hotel in Athens--or, well--the hotel my hotel sent me to because they had guests who extended their stay.
It was a trip in keeping the current vibe of my life.
Left LAX 1 hour and 10 minutes late.
Heard my name being paged as I raced to my connecting flight in Atlanta. "Please report to gate E5 immediately or your boarding pass will no longer be valid." I made it. 
Shortly thereafter sky marshals came onto the plane and removed a woman from the first class cabin. The other first class passengers applauded.
We taxied out. I dozed. Fell asleep in my tiny economy seat, actually. Quite soundly. I woke to, "Flight attendants, prepare for arrival and cross-check." Holy shit, I thought. I was unconscious the whole way? No. We were taxi-ing back to the gate. The hydraulic system went kaput. Mechanics came on. We passengers got off. Four and a half hours later, we re-boarded. But alas, the pilots had "timed-out." They went home to sleep while we waited for new pilots.
So I arrived 5 hours or so late in Athens. 
Then things turned around. The cleanest taxi I've ever seen. Fresh flowers in the cup holder and a sprig of bougainvillea laid across the dash just so.  Air-conditioned.
When I got to my hotel and was told I would be staying at another hotel across the street, the desk clerk and the taxi driver insisted on carrying all my things--which I could have quite easily managed myself. The taxi driver gave me a postcard with his number and a hand-drawn heart.    
 "Would I please call him for a ride back to the airport when I leave?" 
My tiny budget hotel room has fresh flowers, too. the face of the horrid economic strain the Greeks are under, they have apparently decided to turn the place into a garden.
The city looks good--clean, very little litter. Although it did look as though the grande dame of Athens hotels, the Hotel Bretagne was in the process of removing plywood panels from their front windows which face Syntagma Square. Workers were pulling the panels down and putting the finishing touches on metal rolling shutters (the same sort of thing I want for my windows on my patio.) Once the shutters were up, an elegant cornice of ironwork was placed over the top. No firebombs will be lobbed through their windows.
So things are tough here in many ways. But you wouldn't know it. It seems like the Greeks are just trying harder to bring beauty into the foreground.


Elizabeth said...

I don't know why this post has made me teary. Because I'm stressed, perhaps, and wish I were in Greece? I don't know, but I hope you'll continue posting your travels there!

Shanna said...

Saddest part of this happy story: "No. We were taxi-ing back to the gate." Cue the sad trombones. Pleasepleaseplease blog from Greece, I beg you. xoxo

Elizabeth Harper said...

Sorry you had such trouble in my home state, but glad to hear you have arrived safely in Greece. I too hope to see you post from Greece.

JallieDaddy said...

Quite a start! I hope the rest of the trip carried on as it the post ended, & not as it started!