I am typing this from the airport in Athens, while my laptop recharges (secretly). We found a plug and camped out on the floor in a hallway so I could capture the last 48 hours of our Greece adventure. We depart for our final flight of our departure leg to Milos in about another hour.
Wake-up call 3:00 a.m. Pacific Time, 4/28
In an attempt to support ourselves with traveling to the other side of our big beautiful world, we rose at 3:00 a.m., packed everything up nice and neat and then headed to Kristina’s house at 8:30 a.m. for a haircut. Did you notice in the pic above my hair is all gone? Thank you Kristina, I like my new doo, even though the first casualty to Europe’s wacky electrical sockets, etc. claimed a prized possession, my HAIR STRAIGHTENER! OMG, what will I do with no straightener for 3 weeks? I guess you’ll see, lol.
10 hours to London, 4/29
We had a few errands to run before we headed out to Mark’s place for a ride to LAX (thanks Mark!) We took off around 1pm Pacific and eventually touched down in London at 7:30 am. Unfortunately, even with some sleep aids (Tylenol PM and Unisom) we were not able to sleep as much as we had planned. When we arrived in London, it was 7:30 am local time and 11:30 pm Pacific. We went from 102 degrees to a cloudy and rainy 44 degrees. We immediately checked our Amsterdam connection to see if we could improve our 7 hour layover. No luck! Off to those cozy comfy airport chairs. At least Heathrow is a cool place to hang out for 7 hours.
A Very Quick Visit in Amsterdam, 4/29
After catching a few ZZZ’s in the comfy airport chairs, we caught our connection to Amsterdam and arrived 4:45 pm local time. The city was preparing for their largest national holiday called Queen’s Day. If I remember correctly, the Queen of Amsterdam’s birthday is in January and it is too cold for the country to celebrate so they moved it out to April because that is the Queen’s mother’s birth month also. We arrived at the private home of Mary & Tineke (pronounced like our American version of Tina with a cool “kuh” on the end.) They sublet out part of their apartment that has a semi-private entrance.
We got settled in and began an adventure we had not bargained for… getting cash! Andrea had researched it and discovered that we would get the best exchange rate if we just withdrew money directly from the ATMs and every travel blogger has posts about this too! Even though we had called our banks ahead of time to establish a travel notice, evidently it was NOT working. We tried 3 different ATMs with no luck and because of the national holiday, businesses were closing early and banks would not be open the following day. We were in quite a spot… since Mary was looking for some euros for our less than 24-hour stay. Both Andrea and I got slightly freaked out at the thought of having no money while we are in Europe… gulp! Fortunately for us, our hosts were very wonderful and supportive. They allowed us to use their laptop to do some research and make some calls using Skype and we eventually got it squared away. Mary could see we were stressing out and told us “Don’t worry, I don’t put people out on the street!” and then offered us both a beer, lol.
We ended up hanging out with these wonderful ladies and their family. They were so gracious and generous. We are so grateful to have met Mary & Tineke… they really helped smooth out our rough start. We sat around at their dining table having Heineken and talking until 11pm local time. Then we got our selves freshened up a bit and headed out to the partying city. Oh my gosh is all I can say! All city streets are filled with celebrating Netherlanders. At one point, a drum line started up in a city street intersection… drumming in rhythmic synchronicity, barely interrupted by 3 trollies (this is really a high functioning electric train folks, just so we’re clear!) passing through the overcrowed city street. We forgot the camera! It was a sight you have to experience to really understand. People of all ages, dancing, singing, wearing Netherland’s national color of bright orange. Orange hair. Orange pants. Orange ribbons and balloons. Quite a sight to see! All in the spectacular backdrop of buildings you see in the movies and imagine in Europe.
Up again at 4 a.m. Amsterdam time, 4/30
We got back to the flat around 1am. Andrea did a bit more banking and then we set the alarm for 4am. Our flight to Munich/Athens departed at 7am and we nearly missed it since we learned the Amsterdam trains, which usually run every 10 minutes, do not start running until 6 am. We were, once again, in a stressful way on the second morning of this 23 day trip. It was a close call. Luckily, fog in Munich was delaying much of the flight capacity and it gave us some extra time. We did not know this though until we RAN through the Amsterdam airport huffing and puffy and asking ourselves, “Are we having fun yet?!”