Last day away and the flights home
Apologies for taking so long to write this. It is now Thursday night, the first part of my flights home left Athens at 4.20pm on Thursday, after a wait of around four hours at Dubai we left at about 2am Friday morning, landing at Kuala Lumpar at about 1pm and landing at Melbourne at 1am Saturday (local times used). Having an awesome daughter who insisted on picking me up from the airport regardless of the time of my landing, I decided to book a room at the Parkroyal at Tullamarine Airport (with super comfy beds).
Last Thursday turned out quite interesting. Another Greek breaky of ham and cheese on buttered bread, this time with full confidence (all the awkward peering under lids to inspect the contents having been done the morning before). I asked the kind man at the hotel front desk to book a taxi and I left my packed cases at reception for a last 2 1/2 hours of Athens. I sent a couple of photos of the street to daughter, Olivia as I walked up toward the north end of the road. On the way, as I passed quite an impressive building that I thing was like the town hall or something similar, I remembered I had two awesome things to play with, loads of data and a full charge of the phone, so I video called Olivia using Messenger.
That was awesome! It lasted over 90 minutes, we took a tour of Athens while chatting. I took her to the Athens University, through the narrow streets of shops, she heard the Greek street musicians, crossed the roads with me, just pretty much wandered and chatted. It was so good to be able to share just a little part of my trip, particularly with someone who I missed so much.
After the call and a quick stop in Marks & Spencer and H&M, it was back to the Hotel Cecil for my taxi. It was about then that I remembered that I had a small bundle of Dubai money in my big case… (case gets checked in at Greece, flies to Dubai, Kuala Lumpar and then Melbourne before we get reunited). After a deft manoeuvre in the reception area of Hotel Cecil I had rescued about 170 dirhams from spending the rest of history in my luggage- ( 170 dirhams equates to about AU$60 – but hey, that was almost a fist full of notes, helped by the fact on the way over there almost three weeks earlier some shop assistant with a snotty attitude decided to give me about 40 dirhams change in 5 dirham notes).
As I said, hotel guy booked my taxi for midday so I made sure I had a few Euros for the fare. Like all my destinations, I had done a fair amount of research online, one thing that came up a bit about Athens was the dodgey taxi drivers, so I had figured anything the hotel suggested should be ‘legit’. Taxi man arrived about five minutes early (I saw that as a good sign) and seemed quite nice, PLUS he insisted on lifting my bags down the stairs and putting them in the boot. He asked if I needed a receipt and said if I didn’t he would give me a cheaper rate, but I had already consulted the rome2rio website so I had an idea of what was a reasonable fare and his quote was realistic and on the cheaper end of the spectrum. As it turned out, I got yet another Greek taxi driver ready to share his wisdom and philosophy on life and the importance of family.
At Athens airport, it was my third time there, but first time departing and I have to tell you that border control at Athens airport seems more stringent leaving the country than it is arriving there. Of course I arrived with plenty of time, so I checked in for my flight on one of the consoles near the entrance, chilled a bit until I could check in my big case (next seen in Melbourne 1am, Saturday morning). Then I went through to border control, (where even my watch had to be removed) and on to the duty free enclosure. Realising that I had close to fifty euros in notes, I decided to find something for my kids(x 3) for around fifteen euros each. After a while, I found teeny tiny Greek gladiator helmets mounted on a plinth of marble with an upright pole….. the helmet could fit Barbie, (ok, if Mattel bring out archaeologist Barbie, I suggested it first!)
OK, the flights…. it is my experience that Emirates (all the way down to the back of the plane where I booked my seats) is still very,very, good. Although one thing that was annoying (and many folk would argue against the time delay if more time was spent at a stopover) is the frustrating stop at Kuala Lumpar (and Changi on the way there) which pretty much involved everyone gathering their stuff from the plane, leaving the plane, going into the terminal, going through customs and through to the waiting area before getting on the same plane (NO SHOPS involved – sad face). The opportunity to go to ‘somewhere’ would’ve been good.
The main thing that made my flights home from Dubai frustrating was the tool in front of me who put his seat back without notice, or reason as it seems, (some of the time he was just watching his screen,) …… seriously, WTF? Even though I had grown so much during my trip, I still found it out of my comfort zone to tell this 20ish old fella that he was doing air travel wrong. Maybe next trip?
We landed in Melbourne at 1am, as expected. Customs are somewhat ready to clock off at that time, but I got to stick my passport in a machine so it pokes out a card, which you get to poke into a machine while it looks into your eyes. Then it was across the road to the 8th floor to stay at the Parkroyal for a few hours with my amazing daughter and my beautiful grandson.
Don’t forget to appreciate the wonderful people in your life.