Sunday, September 16, 2007

Greece: Day 16 How Baggage Gets Lost

Red Eye to Athens Final Leg

Madrid to Athens:
5-hour stop over in Madrid (I arranged my itinerary so all my stop overs are 5 hours. So far, that is just about enough time to clear customs and deal with other kinds of snags and have an hour to relax.

Airline: Iberia
Flight: 3 hours

How Baggage gets lost:

My pack weighs about 35 pounds. It feels like a lot more, especially taking it on and off in the airport.

As I'm on the breezeway boarding the plane, I'm thinking to myself I should have checked this thing instead of lugging it around. Then I notice the people in front of me are laughing and pointing to something on the pavement below us.

There is a road that goes around the Iberia terminal. In the middle of a road lies a suitcase. First, a small truck with an empty trailer for bags slows down so it can go around the bag. Skillful driving job. Unfortunately, some poor passenger's bag is still lying on the pavement. Then a security van drives by, again skirting the bag. Impressive: they've got a lot of good drivers, but no one who wants to stop and pick up the bag.

Next a small street sweeper type vehicle makes a slick maneuvre to avoid the bag. Who says the Europeans are all bad drivers? Finally, a fourth vehicle goes by and doesn't stop for the bag. We point out the bag to an Iberia staff person walking by. He couldn't have been less interested. I guess when they make those announcements about not leaving your bags unattended they're not talking to airline employees. I think I'll continue to carry my bag on the plane.

I get into to Athens airport, call my hotel on my cell phone and ask for directions using the subway. It turns out to be easy. Actually, getting around Athens is very easy.

My hotel (about $65 per night with breakfast) is in Omonia Square, the Athens equivalent of Time Square. Some divey but harmless looking porn shops, and lots of seedy little stores. Indian/Middle Eastern guys have spread their wares spread out on the street. (They sell everything from bras to shoe horns to steak knives. My bra supply is holding up well so I don't buy anything.)

The nicer part of town, Syntagma, is only a 15-minute walk.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the Greek parliamentary elections. Citizens elect parliament. Parliament elects the president. Candidates have set up displays around town with music and audio visuals. People are roller blading, skate boarding, etc. After dearth of activity in El Yaque, this sensory overload.

I see what will likely be next big teenage hair style: a lot of the kids have moussed up their hair so the back is higher than the front. It kind of looks like they're wearing an enraged chicken on their heads. I won't be trying this anytime soon.