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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 13
Greece, Turkey and Spain


At the Parthenon  
Day 2
Phoenix - Athens

Happy Birthday Carol!!


Woke at 3:30 am and took the hotel shuttle back to Sky Harbor. Boarded a Continental 737 for a smooth 4.5 hour flight to Newark, passing over the Painted Desert northeast of Phoenix, Meteor Crater near Flagstaff, the snow-capped Rockies, the Great Plains, Great Lakes and many rivers swollen by recent Hurricane Ida. When we spotted the Empire State Building off the starboard side, we knew we were minutes away from touching down at Newark.


Rested in the Continental President’s Lounge, caught up on calls to brother Jim and Carol’s Mom and Dad, Harriett and Hal.


At 5:00 pm we boarded the Continental 767, found our seats and settled into our first-class cocoons. The Continental service is always astounding, and we were wined and dined over the next several hours as we enjoyed movies on our personal entertainment centers.

Welcome to Continental!
We toasted to Carol’s birthday with complimentary champagne and ended the meal with ice cream sundaes custom-made by the flight attendants right at our seats.
Happy Birthday Carol!

Being unable to sleep on most of these international flights, I kept my eyes on the stars as we cruised at 40,000 feet above the dark, cold Atlantic, and listened to music on my headset until I spied the orange hint of sunrise to the east at around 5 pm Tucson time.


I changed my watch to Greek time, and after a delicious breakfast we landed in Athens at 9:45 am, cleared customs and then jumped on the metro from the airport to the Acropolis, where we jumped off and found our hotel, the Airotel Parthenon.

Hotel Parthenon, Athens
The hotel is in a great location close to the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Plaka. We settled in and freshened up and then walked out into the throngs of tourists to explore.

The afternoon is warm and sunny and the tourists have covered the city like a plague of Euro-spending locusts. The news is full of Greek economic woes but we don’t see evidence of it.


After wandering through the Plaka we sat at a shady outdoor café on a tree-lined boulevard and sipped cokes while we relaxed and people-watched. Most of the traffic is motor scooters, bicycles and yellow cabs. The blare of honking horns never stops.

Welcome to Athens!

Rested, we continued exploring the Plaka a bit more, then decided to jump on the Happy Train, an open-air sightseeing mini-train that wanders among the many magic areas of Athens.

The Athens Happy Train
Carol checks the map on the Athens Happy Train
The breeze was enjoyable and the sights were spectacular, but the highlight was meeting and visiting with Theo and George from Florida who have spent three months exploring the charms of Greece (Theo was born in Greece but moved to the States at a very young age and did a tour of duty in Iraq. George, an x-ray technician, was born in Germany and holds dual US and German citizenships.)
Theo and George

We also enjoyed meeting and schmoozing with Jeanne and Lisa, mother and daughter from Florida and Phoenix, respectively. Jeanne was spunky at 84 and was going to jump off the moving train when she saw a sight that she wanted to explore further. We nearly had to beg her to wait until the train stopped.

Lisa and Jeanne

Our new friends departed but we stayed aboard for more of the tour. It was nice to give our feet a break and we enjoyed it. As Carol so profoundly put it, “today is the brush stroke; tomorrow we fill in the details.”


We jumped off the Happy Train(actually a truck-driven chain of open-air compartments,) disembarking near the Parliament building, then slowly ambled back through the Plaka to the hotel, where we washed off the sweat and grime of one of the world’s great cities at the end of summer.

Parliament building in Athens

Refreshed, we walked one block north of the hotel where we found Tabepena, a typical outdoor restaurant catering to the tourist trade. The Greek salad, tsatziki, pita, wine and mineral water hit the spot and was a delicious way to experience our first real meal in Greece.

Our first meal in Athens
Delicious Greek salad!

We left Tabepena and decided to walk northwest along the Grand Promenade, the pedestrian walkway built at the foot of the Acropolis for the 2004 Olympics. Enjoyed some delicious gelato along the way, snapping photos and enjoying the cool of the evening before realizing we had been up for about 30 hours and were dead on our feet but too excited to be in Greece to realize it.

Near the Acropolis
Near the Acropolis Wall, Parthenon in the background

Walked slowly back to the hotel, showered, and literally fell into much-needed coma-like sleep after a long two days of travel adventures.


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