Finally, we are allowed to enter the terminal.
All goes smoothly – although our flight from Athens to Santorini is on a different ticket than our flights to Frankfurt and Athens, Lufthansa checks our luggage through to Santorini and tells us we don’t need to even think about it until we get there. Although we will clear customs and immigration for the EC in Frankfurt, we do not need to pick our luggage up – it will automatically get loaded onto the plane to Athens.
The red wine in the lounge tastes delicious. Most of the planes to Europe leave about the same time as ours, and the lounge is full. Many people talk on their mobiles – we wonder who they’re talking to at 12:30 in the morning; a number snore loudly.
Sadly 'Exiting India'
An hour before the flight, a Lufthansa rep comes into the lounge and asks us to go down to the gate – there is a huge line for security, and there has been a gate change. We get through the process of exiting India and get to the gate just as they start the pre-boarding. Once on board, we find that Bill and Danielle are sitting right across the aisle from us. Hailing from Seattle, we sat with them in the lounge at the Lake Palace in Udaipur, talking into the wee hours of the morning, before we went to bed and on our separate ways the next day. We express surprise at the coincidence of seeing them again and compare notes on our experiences. We ask each other, and we leave unanswered, the question of whether either couple will make back to India.
We decline the offer of dinner, and are soon sound asleep. Greg nudges me at about 5:30 Frankfurt time (6 ½ hours from takeoff, not a bad night’s sleep considering everything): the Lufthansa attendants are serving breakfast.
Everything goes as smoothly as possible – we make our connections in Frankfurt and Athens easily. There is a convenient place right in the Athens airport to buy a prepaid SIM card for the mobile – only Bangkok and Athens, so far, have been this organized. The flight to Santorini is in a small prop plane, big enough for 40 or so. The views of the islands as we fly over them are exquisite.
We are the last people waiting at the baggage carousel.
Although we’ve made it easily, our bags have missed one of the connections. The baggage agent expresses dismay that Lufthansa checked our bags through from Athens – they shouldn't have done that, she tells us. (I reckon that it was our time for lost luggage – we have averaged 1 flight every 6 days so far during this around the world trip, and this is the first time we've had any trouble with our bags.) We notice on the drive to the hotel that everyone is driving on the wrong side. After four months in NZ, Australia, and Asia, it looks so strange to see cars driving on the right.
We get to our hotel, and as promised, we have a balcony overlooking the caldera. The weather is perfect – a beautiful spring day, the temperature hovering in the mid-20s, windless, intensely hot in the sunlight. We smile – we have the only things we need: A great view, and a bottle of duty-free vodka. Tomorrow will be for worrying about things like luggage and Lufthansa– the rest of today is for enjoying the view, and getting a good night’s sleep.
We’re surprised by how late the sun stays in the sky – it doesn't set till after 8. For almost 2 months we have been in areas close to the equator, where day and night are roughly equal all year long.
It is nice to have the sun lingering in the sky.