Friday, October 16, 2009

vacation logistics

Even when you’re on vacation (as it turns out), it’s important to check details. Like, for example, which airport you’re supposed to pick at. On Wednesday, I woke fairly early, wanting to say goodbye to folks leaving the meeting (like my dear roommate, Aimee). And wanting to enjoy a last dip in the bowl of honey.

And, perhaps most importantly, wanting to get my rental car and begin the next portion of Cretan fun with Krista. Since she lives in Germany, we see each (by means other than Skype) far too infrequently. Her flight, however, wasn’t to arrive until 2:20 in the afternoon, so I was grateful to find a friend to do a bit of touring (and coffee drinking) in Hania with, while I (impatiently) passed the time until her arrival.

Negotiating old Cretan cities alone, by rental car, is not my specialty, so it took me a bit longer to get to the airport than I’d hoped—I was already nearly 20 minutes late. And, rushing into the lobby, I didn’t see Krista. I looked around a bit, retrieved my computer to confirm her arrival time, and wondered. The little Hania airport has no “arrivals” board posted, so, eventually, I asked about the 2:20 flight; “there’s no such flight,” they told me. I considered the options, and decided that perhaps I had the flights departure time—and that she’d arrive at 3:15 on the next flight in from Athens.

Then I ran into some folks from my meeting—Zachary from Chicago and Enoch from Uganda, and we had a nice visit. (I had been feeling bad that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to them.)

After 3:15 passed, I began to get more suspicious. So I logged on to Facebook, to see if there might be any update there. Sure enough, she’d made it to Athens (a relief). But a new discovery: she was waiting for me in the Heraklion airport, on the other side of Crete, not in the Hania airport!

The drive along the coast is lovely—the new national highway skirts the coastline for much of the journey. Greek driving is a bit of a trip—lanes seem more like suggestions than regulations, and people are bold in passing. But then, the cars are all like tiny, toy cars, so there’s space.

Then came the best gift ever: Krista, waiting watchfully outside the airport as dusk was falling on eastern Crete, ready to hop into my car. It’s possible that I’ve never been more thrilled to see her.

Time with Krista, exploring rural Crete, is well worth airport confusion.


Here are a few snapshots of adventures yesterday:

The beautiful south Crete countryside, a patchwork of olive groves.

A tiny church tucked in the bottom of a dramatic gorge. There was a well-built path down to the church, which is just above a set of waterfalls (on the Megalopotamus River, according to my guide. Second coolest name I’ve encountered on Crete). The icon inside showed the saint it’s named for, Saint Nicholas of Somewhere, standing near these falls.

Up in the mountains here, the village of Spili is a beautiful destination, with all the treats a tourist could ask for: cute shops with locally made things, fun restaurants (serving up tasty mountain snails), a fountain offering fresh spring water in abundance through 24 lion heads and striking church buildings (one, next to our lunch spot, with a funeral procession by foot to the local graveyard).

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