As you may recall in my very first blog post I talked about Greece. I won’t lie…I’m still dreaming about it. In fact, on my bloglovin’ feed today, one blog mentioned that there are some Greek islands for sale. Anyone want to go in on that with me?!
Anyway, one of my suggestions was to meet the locals and make friends. I mentioned that I had a story to tell about that, and felt like now would be a good time to share. I do know some of our Greek friends have been following the blog, which just makes me so HAPPY! However, one situation I faced was an experience many of you may not have ever had!
My husband works for an international travel company and so for our trip he was already in Europe on a work tour for a little while before our official vacation. Thankfully his company encourages world traveling, and so the only airfare we had to worry about was my own. In addition, I am blessed with a very sweet aunt who has been a flight attendant for Delta for as long as I can remember. So, rather than buy the pricey summer Greek plane ticket, I chose to buy a buddy pass from my aunt with full awareness that the flights may not be what I expected. My trip started off rocky, with the flight from JFK to Athens oversold. Thinking outside of the box I was able to get a flight to Rome (and get my own connection to Athens). Pro to this- I got a first class seat on the upper level of a 747. Talk about a comfortable ride! The good news is I made it to Athens on time with just one minor hiccup along the way.
Fast forward to the trip home. There is only one flight from Athens to the US per day on Delta. That means there was only one shot I had at making a flight. However, we happened to choose the most popular time to be in Greece and as luck would have it, the flight was full. As I hovered over the flight desk (hoping and praying that something might change) I overheard a middle-aged man and a woman (Faye) discussing what they would do since they too did not make this flight. I decided to interject, as I was alone in a foreign country with no secure flight plans. Not only that, but it was 3 am in the states, and so my aunt was definitely not awake to help me find an alternative route. The gentleman had done this many times before, and had decided that Rome would be his best bet. He jetted off to find a ticket to Rome, and attempt to make a flight out of Rome the next day back to the States. He kindly offered for Faye and I to join him, but we both were unsure about traveling with a man we had never met. That left the two of us.
I can tell you that I was fighting tears this entire time. A lot of people would say “Oh how sad to be stranded in Greece” in a sarcastic tone. But, I had never traveled to Europe alone before, and I was mentally ready to get back home. I was nervous because I had no clear communication with the Greek airline employees, my aunt would be unable to help me until far later in the day, and a hotel for another night would likely break my bank account. Enter Faye, the New York Greek woman, and her amazing heart. Greek natives, Faye and her husband, a retired Delta employee, have a second home in an oceanside town close to the Athens airport, and decided to open their doors for me while we determined the right plan to get the both of us to the states. You can imagine some of my fears, and my husband’s freak out via text message, about whether or not this was a safe idea. I mean, my father is not Liam Neeson, and we all know how Taken starts. I would not condone this idea, but I also am so thankful for the choice that I did make.
This amazing couple took me in, treated me to an authentic Greek dinner (best food I had the entire trip! see photos below), put me up in a nice chilly room (it was summer- its hot in Greece!), made me authentic Greek coffee, and searched for countless hours on the Delta airline employee site for a viable plan to get me home! They did my laundry, brought me to the airport the next morning and checked in with me the entire time I was traveling.
Needless to say, this was an experience I will never forget. I had to face my own fears (of flying, of being alone, etc.) and found myself to be blessed by the true (and still existent!) kindness of people. Also, if you didn’t figure it out, I did get home! I ended up on a flight to Venice, with a stand-by seat to JFK! I made it on (another first class seat too! thank you stand by!)…only to get stuck in New York, where I finally did break down in tears. But, I made it home! Eventually!