Last long day(s)

Majella and Emily had packed their suitcases the previous night at least in part because Emily was concerned to see if she had space for that special pair of hot pink shoes. I hadn’t been too worried about packing because I knew I had not added to my load since leaving home. We were in no great hurry because our flight was not leaving until 6:00 pm so we rose sometime after 8:00 am and walked to a cafe at the corner where we had breakfast.

Majella and Emily went straight from breakfast to the metro station and headed off to Viktoria to buy Emily’s shoes. I went back to the room, packed my suitcase, checked email and continued to work on the web site and DVD preparations. The shopping went smoothly and they were back in less than an hour. By that time I had packed my suitcase and established that I had room for the shoes so that it wasn’t necessary to do further compression on the contents of Emily’s suitcase.

We spent the rest of the morning making sure that we were packed, using the Internet and generally making ready for our departure. Just before noon we checked out of the hotel. The lift had a nominal capacity of 4 persons but was just large enough for the 3 of us and our baggage. We rode it down to reception to check out and then, having arranged to store our bags for collection later in the afternoon, had to squeeze back in to take them down to the basement storage area.

We had decided that 2:00 pm would be early enough to catch a train to the airport so we had a couple of hours to have lunch and see what more we could of Athens. I had read somewhere that the guard on the tomb of the unknown soldier in front of parliament changed every hour. We decided to walk up Ermou Street to Plateia Syntagma and see if we could catch the change with the Evzones in their traditional uniforms doing their ceremonial marching. The stroll up Ermou Street was pleasant. We were able to walk in the shade on one side of the street stopping periodically to check clothing and shoe stores. About half way up we came across a band playing and thought the sound pleasant enough to buy a CD. We bought sandwiches for lunch at a cafe just off Syntagma and ate picnic style on one of the grassed and shaded areas in the square. We watched the changing of the guard at 1:00, finished lunch and then headed back down the street, taking our time to enjoy the sights and sounds.

We collected our baggage from the hotel, made it to the station around 2:00 and jumped on the train that we found waiting. It was going in the right direction but terminated several stations short of the airport. We waited about 15 minutes at that station and caught the next train going to the airport where we arrived at about 3:00. We were able to check in immediately and, before relaxing over a drink at one of the cafes, had time to visit the airport museum with its display of archaeological material collected from the site during airport construction.

Soon enough we were on our flight to Dubai where we arrived around 11:30 pm. The check in desk at Athens had noticed that we were seated in 3 separate rows for the flight on from Dubai to Brisbane but had not been able to change it and advised us to do that on arrival in Dubai. Even then it apparently wasn’t easy and took most of 15 minutes to accomplish. We took the bus to the hotel and made it to bed around 1:00 am. Our wake up call rang shortly before 6:00 and by 6:30 we had checked out, had the sandwich and drink provided for breakfast and were headed back to the airport where our flight was due to leave at 8:45 am. Majella swapped her last 10 Swiss francs for 28 UAE dirhams which bought a drink for Emily and some souvenir sweets. Our flight set down for just over an hour in Singapore where we took a short walk in the terminal and then boarded again for the last leg to Brisbane where we arrived just after 6:30 am on Sunday.

Jane, Lea, Joel and Sam were there to greet us as we emerged from customs. Hannah called to say that she was at Beenleigh on her way to Jane’s place so Jane, Lea and the kids headed off home while Majella and I waited, not as long as in Rome but still too long, to collect our hire car before heading off to the Batham’s for coffee and the distribution of goodies. Emily was excited to show off her purchases, especially her prized shoes. We left around 10:00 am and were back in Toowoomba shortly after 11:30 am.