Today it’s a drizzly grey day in North East London and the kids are playing X-Box and arguing with each other. It seems hard to believe that a day ago they were arguing with each other in the far more picturesque surroundings of the Athenian coastline. But it happened. And here’s how….
There was an early start. No, *really* early. Take that time you’re thinking of and subtract at least two hours from it. We’d all gone to bed early the night before but there was still a certain blurriness about the kids as we tipped them out of bed and straight into the car, wrapped in blankets (they’d gone to bed in their travelling clothes, for ease of transition). In fact, there was a blurriness about everything given that there was fog everywhere. As we drove to Luton, it felt eerie but it hadn’t yet occured to us that the eerieness may lead to delays. Oh how naive we were.
There’s not much to do at Luton before security, I’ll be honest. We’d already had a long wait on an airport bus as it tried to get through the traffic gridlock into the airport itself and we were reaching the hungry and irritable stage of early morning travel. So we went through security, almost without incident. I mean, Roo and I both got searched but we had nothing to hide. It was all fine. Not terrifying at all. And we went for a breakfast at The Smithfield, which did a lovely fry up for me and Nathan and pancakes with bacon for Roo. Eva ate almost nothing, but that’s a recurring theme of the holiday I’m not going to dwell on too much so from now on whenever I mention food, just assume she’s not really partaking.
Our flight was still on time at this point so we had to bolt the food a little and rush to our gate. Everything was moving smoothly so we had final toilet trips, bought some bottles of water, boarded and….waited. And waited a bit more. Fog apparently. Wizz Air couldn’t have mentioned this while we were still eating our expensive breakfasts could they? I’m not sure how long we were sitting on the runway at Luton for but it was somewhere in the region of 1.5 hrs. Long enough, as Reuben pointed out, to have watched a whole movie. Luckily he had a book he was reading so I could have a fitful nap while we were waiting. But I woke up every time he asked when we were leaving and the answer was still that I didn’t know. Across the aisle, Eva was drawing ponies and Nathan was having a sneaky 40 winks too. Well, maybe not 40. Maybe 28 or so.
We did eventually take off and neither of the kids freaked out, which was lucky as it was Eva’s first ever flight and Reuben’s first one since Germany in 2011. A combination of books, Top Trumps and notebooks kept them relatively quiet for the 3.5 hrs we were in the air although I had to skimp on the snacks, given we were travelling hand luggage only. There was enough space for some lollipops for take-off and a cereal bar each and apart from that they just had to cope.
When we landed – an hour and a half late – our transfer driver was waiting for us. I’d booked the transfer in a panic the week earlier because our Plan A (catching the Airport bus) had been scuppered by a bus strike. As lovely as it was for the Athenians to make us feel at home by recreating London tube strike chaos, it wasn’t the most helpful. Still, after a long journey we were grateful to be able to just sit in an air conditioned car and not have to worry about where we were going. We used Welcome Airport Transfers and they were honestly amazing – we had an e-mail with our named driver and his contact details, they provided age-appropriate car seats and even gave us a cold bottle of water each when we got in the car. Honestly flawless. Not too expensive either.
As soon as we got to our hotel we needed to eat. Our body clocks had totally given up by that point but it was around 3:30 Greek time and a very long time since that hasty breakfast. We found the vast Peñarrubia Lounge right by the seafront, which was a sort of nightclub-cafe-restaurant and they provided us with chicken nuggets and chips for the kids, a burger for Nathan and a rocket salad with goats’ cheese and strawberries in it for me. Yeah, I wasn’t sure about the strawberries at first either. But it worked. And it was just what I needed in the heat after so many hours cooped up.
Sleep was beckoning but before we succumbed, we wanted to try out the local beach – Kalamaki Beach. It wasn’t the most beautiful – you had to duck through a broken fence to get there and there was a bit of broken glass mixed in with the shingle. But the water was clean and it was so very close to our hotel. We had a quick swim but quite frankly, we all needed to be asleep by about 6PM. So this is where I’ll leave Part One. Join us again for a post about actually doing stuff instead of just playing Top Trumps on a budget airline. It does get more interesting, honest…