My Big Fat Greece Adventure During the Pandemic--the Beginning
For teachers, summer should be a time to rest, relax, and recharge. I've never felt the need to do that more than I did this summer. Between teaching during a pandemic (virtual start, hybrid schedule, back to virtual, hybrid again, in person, repeat) and things changing in my personal life, I NEEDED a break. I wanted to do something big and amazing in my life...something I always dreamed of! So I did. I booked a solo vacation to Greece!
Now, before you all panic about me traveling alone since it was my first big international trip, I would like to clarify that I wasn't really alone. This trip was actually a girls trip, but I didn't actually know anyone before I went. We all came from different parts of the country, so our flights and things didn't necessarily align. I actually didn't get to meet up with anyone from my group until I arrived in Athens, Greece, so I definitely felt alone. But now I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.
So, I was totally ready for an adventure. International travel has been something I always wanted to do and I really didn't have anyone that could drop their lives and just travel with me. I'm a pretty independent woman, so I just decided to find some people who were interested in what I wanted to do and make some new friends. Why not?! I actually found out about the trip in a women's travel group on Facebook (there are tons out there) and just booked the trip on a whim and never looked back. Best decision ever!
As if it wasn't exciting enough to know that I was going to an amazing destination for a week, traveling there turned out to be a complete adventure in itself! I typically fly a few times a year, but take direct flights as often as I can. So, spending a whole day hopping off one airplane and catching a connecting flight to another airport was more exhausting and fun than you could imagine.
I started my day at Yeager Airport in Charleston, WV. My flight left at 7:00am, so I made sure to arrive there early to get through security and all that. Turns out I was so excited I was one of the first people there and waited nearly 2 hours before boarding my flight. 😂 From Charleston, I was flying to Atlanta, Georgia, so it's a pretty quick flight--around 1 hour. Once in Atlanta, I had a few hours before I had to board the next plane, so I grabbed some breakfast while I waited.
From Atlanta, I flew to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. I was a little excited because I had never been to NYC and should have a little time in the airport...but then plans changed. As we were nearing the airport, our pilot announced that we weren't able to land in New York, but nobody knew why. We were delayed and circling in the air for what we thought would be just a few extra minutes. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Due to a water line break in one of the control towers that damaged equipment, they weren't letting any airplanes land at JFK. So, we were rerouted to Baltimore....what?!
At this point, all the passengers on the plane were stressed about what to do next. They didn't tell us how long it would be or what was going to happen. They just told us to stay put on the plane and they brought us drinks and snacks. One hour later, we were still sitting on the plane as the realization set in that I was going to miss my connecting flight, which was my final flight that was taking me to Greece. 😱
The pilot made another announcement to update us that he basically didn't have any new information, but we were going to deplane so we could sit inside the airport and at least be a little more comfortable. During our time just sitting on the airplane waiting, I had made friends with the girl sitting next to me. So off the plane I went with my new friend Jessica in search of some food.
Jessica and I set an alarm on our phones so we didn't lose track of time since they told us to return to the gate in 2 hours. We grabbed some dinner, hung out, had lots of laughs, met some other strangers we didn't know 😂, and then headed back to the gate a few minutes before the time they had given us. When we got there we stopped in our tracks--it was like a deserted island...we looked at each other and panicked just a little. Luckily as we arrived at the counter, someone walked out and told us we better get on our plane because they were boarding and getting ready for takeoff! We took off in a mad dash and made it just in time.
Once our plane finally took off from Baltimore, we soon arrived at JFK and into the madness. So many flights had been missed due to the delays and lines were loooooong to get a flight rebooked. There were thousands of frustrated and upset people. I was fortunate that my Delta app was updated and I was able to rebook my flight from there....but not until the next day. I was going to miss a whole day in Greece. 😢
While rebooking my flight on the app, I phoned a friend to see if I could get some help finding a hotel. It was a holiday weekend, thousands of people were in the same situation as me, and the chances of finding a hotel to stay in for the night weren't looking good. Hotels were full everywhere and on top of my exhaustion since I had been awake for over 30 hours, I started to feel a little panicked! Luckily, my friend had a friend that lived in NYC and I was able to stay with them. So yes, I stayed at a strangers house in NYC....it's all part of the adventure, right?! lol
I was thankful for a bed to sleep in and a nice, hot shower the next morning! My flight wasn't until 5:15pm, so I was able to sleep in and rest before I continued my journey to Greece. I was pretty bummed about missing a whole day there, but I knew that it was out of my hands and I wasn't going to let it ruin my good time.
The rest of the day went smoothly. I headed to the airport super early, just in case of traffic delays. There were plenty of restaurants in the airport, so I was able to slow down and have some lunch. I met another couple traveling to Greece while I had lunch. They were celebrating the wife's 60th birthday and were excited for their trip as well.
When it was time for my flight to leave New York, the plane boarded and left on time. I was finally on my way and ready for a big adventure! Off to Greece I go!
Watch my blog for the next post as my adventure continues and to find out what I did while in Greece.