Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In Which We Arrive Safely

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We arrived this afternoon. Nothing went right with the trip except that we caught all our flights and didn’t drop out of the sky (well, that is, except when we intended to) and weren’t dumped into the ocean. That, however, is the main thing, isn’t it?

Hint from Helen: Get on the Internet the day before your trip to make sure all arrangements are double confirmed, including your seat assignments.

At one point, in the middle of the night, I looked out the window at the waxing Paschal moon and all the stars, Orion and I think Pegasus, and I admired them a longish time. Stars, beautiful stars; we were swimming in them, stars above us, stars below us… Wait a second – below us? As if we were sailing through space? No way! I turned to Demetrios and said, “Land! I see land!” Look down there – lights!” And sure enough, very soon the lights below turned from individual sparks to groups, and very soon, Cork appeared.

A thin streak of blue-gray cloud appeared, too, dividing the stars above from the “stars” below, the latter of which soon disappeared as we reached the Irish Sea (marked on our map as the Celtic Sea; has it changed names, or am I misremembering my geography?). Then we reached Wales. We flew straight over Cardiff, a huge cluster of lights that lit the town exceptionally well, I thought, until I realized the reason was that the band of blue had widened some: not clouds, but the dawn. We skirted Bristol and Bath, crossed the English Chanel, gave Paris a rather wide miss, and headed into Germany, landing at Münich.

There, we changed planes and flew to Thessaloniki. I remember crossing the eastern section of the Alps, white and rugged, but after that, my eyes were closed the whole way. Not sure I slept, but not sure I didn’t, either.

Christos picked us up at the airport. I don’t know and do not care why Kostas and Mena weren’t there; I know they would have been, had it been possible. I was too sleepy to want to socialize, anyway.

Christos paid some woman fifty Euros to clean our apartment before we arrived. For all I know, she well earned her money and then some, but “clean” does not describe how we found our little home. Everything is coated in the amount of dust you’d expect after having been gone sixteen months. Our oriental carpet had been washed and was hanging out on the line, already dry. (Washed? What had happened to it???) I haven’t looked under the bed yet, where last time I found a half-kilo’s worth of sunflower seed shells, well mixed with rat turds.

After a longish nap, we walked to the bus station and caught a bus to Kostas and Mena’s house. The major change we noted on the way is that the streets around our house have mostly been made one-way temporarily because a subway station is being built two blocks away! This is great news for us. And you’ll be pleased to know that wherever digging is schedule for this metro, the archaeologists get first crack at the spot, and only after they are finished do the construction workers begin. So far, we’re told, quite a few archaeological treasures have been excavated, including 8 gold wreaths and other ancient jewelry.

Christos says the Jews near us are doing their own digging, in anticipation of the Metro line going under our neighborhood synagogue.

“What are they digging for?” I asked.

He didn’t know. Gold, maybe.

Yeah, right…

In the evening, Mena had a light meal waiting for us. It’s always so great to see Mena and Kostas. Kostas looks very well; you’d never know he’d had that long, harrowing heart operation in September of 2007. He reminds me, again, of a lion. He’s a sweet, gentle man, with huge, brown eyes, but there is something ferocious about him. Maybe it’s his long, flowing mane that is so leonid. (His name ought to have been Leonidas. Our own Leonidas doesn’t look like a lion at all; he prefers a more Hollywood look, like a leading man.)

Mena had a neck brace on. Something about the disks in her neck, I think. I’ll ask later when I’m not groggy.

Another guest arrived while we were there, Charalambos. He only stayed briefly, long enough to pick up three plastic sacks full of newspaper that Kostas saves for him. He needs them on account of having adopted an epileptic dog.

I understand that dog now has the full use of Charalambos’ apartment and he himself lives in another.

Charalambos came in for some good-natured teasing about needing a canine psychologist. He pointed out that there are all kinds of dog doctors nowadays, dog cardiologists and dog psychiatrists and dog thises and dog thats.

As soon as he had departed, Mena drove us home. We got to bed by eleven o’clock, like grade-school children here, where even teenagers stay out well past midnight. Kostas and Mena, of course, understood.


47 Gambeta Street
Thessaloniki 54642

Home phone (from the U.S.): 011 30 2313 001-574
Cell phone: 011 30 6979 546-351

(011 gets you an international line; 30 is the country code; the next four digits are the area code, and the last six, hyphenated, are the actual phone number. So if you’re in Greece, leave off the 011 and the 30.)

Check the clocks on my blog’s sidebar before calling. You can call any time from whenever you wake up (even if you wake up at 5:00 a.m.) until about 4:00 in the afternoon. But mornings (your time) are best because we are usually out in the evenings.


Dixie said...

My goodness, I envy your ability to arrive in a country after virtually no sleep on a airplane, take a "longish" nap and then be able to stay up until 23:00! I don't have that kind of stamina.

Happy to hear you arrived safely and am looking forward to reading your chronicles.

Michelle M. said...

What a trip! I am glad that you arrived safely!

William Weedon said...

Thanks be to God for your safe arrival - may it be a blessed time for you all! Pascha in Greece - what a gift!

Emily H. said...

I'm so glad to hear you made it there safely! It's such a long flight to Munich - and then you had to fly again! Dixie's right, what stamina you have! :)

But how is the mail system in Greece? When we lived in Italy it took a long time to get mail and sometimes (if it was noticed that it was from America, a special "inspection" was warranted, and) the mail never made it.

Mimi said...

Wow, what a journey. Prayers.

DebD said...

Glad you've made it. I was thinking about you on Monday realizing we hadn't heard from you in a while.