I have never run a marathon, but I think I can sympathize with those who have; this past day and a half I have spent 4 hours sleeping and the remainder sitting, walking, carrying heavy bags, and trying to figure out where I am and what is going on (also, what time is it? Clock says 5pm, body says 7am, or maybe 10am? Or maybe, PLEASE JUST LET ME SLEEP!). But...I made it!
My flight left Sacramento at 12:30 am on Monday the 27th (mine and the boyfriend's 22 monthiversary :P) and I just got through security in time to board my plane. I was able to sleep okay for the three hours of that flight, which landed in Houston-Bush Int'l airport. Since my layover was only an hour and 45 minutes, I thought I would try and stay up until my evening flight to Athens in order to work on getting rid of some of my jetlag before arriving in Greece. I zipped over to the first available starbucks and, using a giftcard my mom gave me, asked the lady to give me something that would "keep me up and that didn't taste awful." She got me a nonfat vanilla steamer and boy was it amazing! Kinda makes me reconsider coffee.
However, it did nothing to keep me awake as I totally zonked out on my next flight, a 3 hour push into Newark, New Jersey. So much for avoiding jet lag, but I really needed the sleep otherwise I was going to puke on the two overly-large gentlemen on either side of me (I picked a window seat. However, they changed planes at the last minute and seats were reassigned. So I got to sit between two fat guys who hogged both armrests and I had to sit hunched in a tiny ball). After unfolding myself in EWR, I got to spend about 9 hours sitting in the airport because my flight to Athens had been delayed 3 hours due to flight traffic controllers striking in Athens. It wasn't all bad, however, because I watched 17 Again on my laptop, got a 15 minute massage from heaven, and met up with three other girls on my program. It was fun getting to know the other girls and talking about our interests. Turns out one of them is a creative writing major, like me!
The whole time we were waiting for our flight, the continental people were offering 700 dollar ticket vouchers plus free meals and hotel for the night to ayone who would switch their flight to the next day. I guess they had overbooked. Too bad I had somewhere to be, otherwise, what a deal! One of the girls in our group (Anna, she is my roommate) was called up to the front and they comp'd her into first class because they had overbooked the regular economy seats. LUCKY! She got tons of extra space to stretch out and even a multi-course breakfast.
The 10 hour flight was pretty rough, but not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. I switched seats with an elderly woman because she was separated from her daughter and they wanted to be together, which worked out because I got to sit next to a girl studying abroad in Turkey from Yale, who was pretty cool (also, skinny, which meant I had room to breathe!). I was really exhaused the first few hours but couldn't sleep because while they were doing their drink/dinner service they left all the lights on! But after that I was able to go in and out of sleep. The whole time there was a computer screen displaying with a map of our progress and information on it that told us how much longer the flight would be and what time it was both on the east coast and in Athens.
Once here, I was estatic to get off the plane and stretch my legs. The first thing I noticed was how smoky the airport smelled, because there were little booths where people could sit and smoke. The line through passport control went by pretty quickly and after that we set off to find our bags. My luggage came out last, but everyone had their stuff and then the four of us went off to try and find a bus to take us to the hotel. A shuttle was scheduled to come an hour later, but we didn't want to wait that long so we walked all around the airport looking for the busses (strangely enough, we didn't have to go through customs ever...weird).
It was helpful that most of the signs included greek and english, and many of the people also spoke english (if broken, barely understandable english). After some wandering, we found where the busses were supposed to be, but some Greeks quickly informed us that there would be no busses today, as there was a strike! Of course! Then a rather...enthusiastic man approached us and started saying something in broken English about how his brother was a cab driver and he could get his brother's wife to drive us...somewhere? We politely declined and moved elsewhere to figure out what to do!
After a lot more waiting, failed phone calls, and adding three more people to the group, we were able to get on the hotel's shuttle and made it! The drive over was pretty strange, off in the distance you could see a little cluster of buildings but the cityscape we drove through was very run down and covered in graffiti. Pretty much every concrete surface had spray paint on it! Also their billboards were strange because one company would run twenty of the same ad right next to each other. Some kind of subliminal messaging? Brainwashing? I'm not sure lol.
The cars are mostly the same stuff we have in the US, although I've seen one model of tiny tiny car that I'll try to get a picture of soon. And speaking of pictures...I know I promised some but I'm still working on that. So many other things to worry about, like getting a phone, keeping my computer from blowing up, not dying of sleep exhaustion, etc.
I think...for now that's all. Going to relax for a bit before our orientation at 8, then after that I'm passing out for the night!