Have you ever had a great white whale? Not like an actual
fish mammal, of course. Have you ever had something that you wanted so badly, something you’ve waited all your life to do?
For me, that great white whale was Greece. Man, did I want to go to Greece. It started when I was in middle school. My mom had a calendar of the Greek isles in her office. It didn’t matter what year it was, that calendar stayed on the wall. She just liked the pictures in the calendar. And so did I. I really wanted to go to Greece.
My interest in Greece increased throughout the years. I became a history teacher, and, lo and behold, guess which topic I was assigned to teach? You guessed it – classical civilizations. And while Greece’s history fascinates me, even more fascinating to me is the pristine blue water and the picturesque white-washed homes.
Before Jolyn and I got married, I already knew where we would go on our honeymoon. We had it all worked out: she would plan the wedding, and I would plan the honeymoon. It was all set.
We celebrated our marriage on June 30, 2012. The next day, we took off for Greece. We were scheduled for a 4:20 PM flight out of Philadelphia. After waking up around noon, we hastily packed our belongings, left a generous tip for the cleaning staff of our messy hotel room, and caught a cab to Philadelphia International Airport. We got on board our flight to Athens, and promptly fell asleep. After the weeks of preparation leading up to the wedding, sleeping on a plane had never felt so good.
Here’s a list of the most disorganized airports I’ve been to:
- Athens International Airport, also known as Eleftherios Venizelos Airport.
Seriously. It’s a mess. Observing how airports and other public facilities work in Greece, I’m surprised the country isn’t even in more debt.
We booked our flight to Athens and our immediate transfer flight to Santorini at the same time. The flight to Santorini allowed us only about an hour and a half to transfer, but that didn’t seem like a big deal; I had made quicker transfers before.
None of the previous experience I had with transfer flights, however, occurred in Greece.
We arrived late. We ran the gauntlet through an understaffed customs counter. We had to collect a checked bag that we were informed could not be transferred to the next flight and would have to be picked up and brought by hand. We had to go through security all over again. And…we missed our flight by just a few minutes.
While my poor, tired wife was sitting on an airport bench half-asleep and with a massive headache, I sprung into action. I was able to book a later flight to Santorini, gain a refund on our previous flight, and depart just two hours later. All in all, not such a bad outcome.
During the flight, Jolyn kept herself busy with some light reading material that seemed concerning, considering our recent nuptials.
Finally, a bit after noon, we landed in Santorini – the home of many years of dreams for me. It was hard to contain my excitement, which resulted in me unsheathing my camera. Unfortunately, Santorini National Airport (which is able to accommodate a grand total of 6 planes) apparently is not very accommodating to annoying American tourists with bulky DSLR cameras taking pictures of their runway. But I did get this shot after I was yelled at by an extremely Greek security guard.
I think it was worth it.