Finally, I found an internet cafe that can put my blog site in English!
Getting to Greece was hell, if hell is dirty/hot/sweaty/smelly/in another language. Because of "weather in New York"-man, that stuff is everywhere- our flights from Boston were delayed. I got into New York around 12:15 and spent about 2 hours doing everything short of using a lasso to find an employee who could tell me where the Olympic counter was. By the time I found it, they wouldn't let me on my 2:05 flight, and put me on the 4:30 one instead. Insert histerical tears here, because I am convinced that I am now totally alone in this situation/airport/universe. However, Lauren's flight was so late she missed it too, so we both got on the 4:30 flight to Athens. I entertained Lauren on the plane by lip synching to my ipod. Apparently Greeks clap when they land in the mother country.
We get off the plane to find that one of my bags has been left in New York. Thank you, JFK. We drag our 50 lb bags around the airport in desperate search of food. Everyone is smoking. Grandma's are smoking. Teenagers are smoking. I was sitting next to a baby that I am fairly certain was also smoking. GROSS. I am a spoiled American used to making smoker's feel like social pariahs, but here, they reign supreme. We got pizza & condesending looks for our $50 bills. Everyone hates making change.
We navigate the all-greek map for the metro [Thank Zeus for Lauren's 2 semesters of Ancient Greek] and we're on that for an hour. Slowest metro ever. We arrive and lug our bags up a flight of stairs. Allow me to mention that it's now about 1pm on Sunday [6am on Sunday RI time]. I have been awake since 4am on Saturday, with the exception of maybe a 5 or 6 hour nap. Lauren has not slept. We have barely eaten. We are, judging from our headaches and swollen hands, severly dehydrated. We buy tickets for the train to Katerini and find it doesn't leave for another 4 hours. Oh joy.
We sit in the waiting room, watching a 90 pound woman light up a cigarette as long as her finger, while staring at the universal "no smoking" sign. We listen to all greek annoucements which might as well be in gobbledegok for all we understood. We feel our stomachs gnaw at our insides because there's nothing to eat except for gross train station food. Someone thank Nana for those granola bars, they saved my life.
We get on the train for about 3 hours. They made us check our luggage. Very sketchy process. Because of a fire on a train, they make us get off after 3 hours, and get on busses. No one speaks enough English to tell us where to go. We see our luggage & have no idea where it's being taken. We finally just get on a bus & hope for the best. We're on the bus until about 11pm. We get off to find that our luggage isn't on our bus, and we have no clue where it could possibly be. We get on another train to finish the trip to Katerini, having no idea how to tell which one is our stop. We get off the train around midnight, and miraculously, our luggage is sitting at the end of the platform. Prof. Tomazos has sent someone to meet us and help look for our luggage, but since we already found it, he tells the taxi where to go. We get to the apartments [I use the term loosely] to find 3 students sitting outside. Thank god they were, because the gate would have been locked and we would have been sleeping in the sheep dookie covered street. Everyone was really nice, and had some horror stories of their own. We take ice cold showers [literally, ice cold. We didn't know we had to turn the hot water heater on] and pass out-me, without a pillow, because it was in my other bag. It didn't matter by then.
For anyone who's wondering about my safety because of the fires, for now I'm fine. They're farther south of us at the moment. In about 2 weeks I'll be going to Athens to do all the tourist-y stuff but they're hoping to have it cleared up by then. Greece appealed to the European Union to send foreign firefighters and military.
I'm already picking up some more greek-please, thank you, water, etc. I've started eating my gyro's with tomatoes. I lost my phone charger in our mess of a room. Our bunks squeak whenever you move. A stray dog we've named Dougie follows us everywhere. There's 20 of us stuffed into a hallway. We have one tiny common room/laundry room/smoking room with a fridge, a wooden bench & a few plastic chairs. We have 2 showers and 4 toilets, and somehow no one has killed each other. Yet. Dion is teeny tiny, but we're making the best of it. And the wine is TASTY. Gotta catch my bus back. All for now.