17.11.2014 - 18.11.2014 77 °F
My travels to Athens from Bangkok were long, but not too unpleasant. I had an early afternoon return flight booked back to Bangkok from Chiang Mai. The timing of this flight was a function of my personal travel paranoia. I traveled to Chiang Mai on a ticket separate from my RTW ticket. As a result, if I was delayed on the local flight, I would have no recourse on my bigger ticket, so rather than take any chance, I gave myself way too much time in case of flight delays or other excitement. In fact, I arrived at Bangkok around 2 PM for my 2 AM (!) departure - a bit of overkill, right?
My next challenge was what to do - I didn't think that racing into Bangkok for another adventure was really a practical option, so I decided I would try to settle somewhere and play with my blog and photos. Since I am on a business class ticket I had access to the lounges. However, to access lounges you have to check in first. I was booked on China Airlines and when their ticket gate opened around 3, I tried to check in and was politely told I had to wait to 11 PM. facing 7 hours in the departures area, I used my puppydog eyes and made whimpering noises and the agent was moved to allow me to check in early.
I entered the international departures area of the airport, and it is simply enormous.
Lots of opportunities to spend money at yet more designer shops. I wandered around and finally did buy a locally produced tshirt with cool elephants on it with the last of my bahts (must be the 9th inning - a little baseball humor there).
It was then time to settle in the lounge. China Airlines had a lounge but my online research indicated that the Air France lounge was better; in particular, it included a shower. So, armed with my by-now legendary puppydog eyes, I talked my way into the Air France lounge. This gave me a bunch of hours to blog, snack, nap and shower before the flight. The only way to fly!
Finally at 2 AM I boarded. It was an older aircraft and the seats reflected this - the usual oversized reclining chair. Older aircraft also have older consumer electronics, so choices of entertainment were fairly limited. This became a bit of an issue as we took off and the crew darkened the cabin. I slept for maybe 6 hours. When I woke up the cabin was still dark and it remained dark until 1 1/2 hours before landing - a total of 10 hours in darkness with like 2 movies available. Hey-I'm not whining here; just reporting the facts! Life is NOT tough in business class.
Anyway, we landed in Amsterdam and I connected to a flight on KLM to Athens. Here I encountered the very smallest business class seat I have ever seen.
Must be those egalitarian Dutch. The seat is just an economy seat in a 6 across arrangement in a 737. We did have a very good lunch with some nice wine, so when I disembarked in Athens, I was really in pretty good shape, a 30 hour journey notwithstanding. I had booked a room at a hotel near the airport and a room through airbnb for the rest of the stay, so I headed to the hotel. I slept pretty well until 1:05 AM when I was awakened, not by jet lag, but by an earthquake shaking my bed back and forth. This was part of a magnitude 5.2 double earthquake that did some minor damage in and around Athens. I didn't sleep quite so well after that....
In the morning I took the train (brand new, very smooth - installed for the 2004 Olympics) into Athens and met up with my host, Andreas. And the Athens adventure begins.