Our flight, billed as an 8-hour trip, took almost 12.
We took the most circuitous route possible, traveling up the west coast of Europe, crossing the Channel, going northwest diagonally across England and Scotland, across Ireland, skirting the south of Iceland and Greenland, then all the way down the east coast of Canada. We basically made a big arc around the ocean, flying as little as possible over the open water. Just above Boston, we turned due east, then flew a jagged path south of New York and landed from that direction. (Why not just fly southeast to begin with? In fact, why fly so far west that you have to go back east again?) About the only way they could have made the trip longer would have been to have flown from Athens in the opposite direction, across Asia.
It was Olympic Airways, and the seats are not nearly as crowded as on some other airlines, and the food, being Greek, is good, although there wasn’t enough of it for such a long flight.
The passengers were mostly Greek, so the flight had its own flavor. Upon liftoff, half the passengers crossed themselves. After dinner at midday, all the shades were pulled down (and leaving them down was enforced by the crew) and everybody took a siesta. At touchdown, there was long and loud applause, and then people crossed themselves again.
After siesta, Demetrios and I went to the back of the plane, where the rear galley is, where there is room to stand and stretch. We had been there about 15 minutes, grateful to be giving our sore bottoms a rest and our legs a stretch, when a tall, grey-haired monk joined us and began speaking – in a Southern accent. He is from West Virginia. It was fun to meet him.
Then Archimandrite Maximos joined us, saying, “I thought I heard English being spoken.” (Ah, yes, one of the joys of returning is hearing conversations in English!) He is from New York.
As I returned to my seat, a Greek woman sitting across the aisle asked me, in Greek, “What is that on your skirt?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“You’ve sat in some butter or something. Ah, krima! It’s a crime.” And out came her handkerchief as she began daubing away at it, joined in a moment by another Greek woman behind me.
When they had worked on it assiduouosly two or three minutes, I said, “Thank you, thank you very much.”
“Oh, it’s nothing, my golden girl!” (I think that’s just a kind thing they say to one another and is no reference to hair color.) And she continued her work.
American women are of course kind as well, but where will you ever see them show kindness in such a way? I am going to miss that.
Shh – the suit is washable!
We got home by about 9:15 last night, which was 4:15 a.m. Greek time, and got to bed by around 10:30, having spent the interim time petting our kitties, admiring the renovations we had done immediately before our departure (but hadn’t had time to appreciate) and the construction that had taken place in our absence. (!) What used to be a screened porch is now a Florida room, and it looks great, and somehow much bigger than it used to.
Much to do today. We took our next-door neighbors, Frances and Dickie, a present from Greece and inquired about Dickie. He is looking better than he did before his by-pass surgery, but he still can’t lift anything heavy, which bothers him.
We borrowed their telephone to call the phone company and get our phone and Internet access off of “vacation” status. Called the car insurance people to get our cars out of “storage” status and the Division of Motor Vehicles to get our cars’ license plates reactivated. (The insurance company charges only $8 a month while a car is “in storage,” but that status requires that the license plates be de-activated for the duration.) So then we could drive.
We went out for breakfast, as there wasn’t a bit of anything to eat in the house, shopped for groceries, called Mom, and now it’s time to for a late-afternoon nap before we call Barbara.
Now Demetrios is saying if we could make up our minds today and get a carpet ordered for our upstairs, perhaps it could be put in before our Christmas guests arrive. That would be great, as our old one, some 30 years old, is disgraceful. But of all times to add a big project like that! We must be crazy.
Note to Self: Book an incoming flight into JFK Airport if you must, but only if New York is your final destination. Never, ever, book a flight out of JFK, for any reason.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007