I write this post as we stand in the check in line at Athens Airport. With a belly full of cheap moussaka and rose that we made a brunch of before our cab arrived and with heavy hearts. Jesse and I just love Greece! Absolutely not ready to come home but the past 5 days have been massive.
After the Transfagarasan we went to a great zoo in Pitesti. It cost the family a grand total of $8.50 AUD and included tigers, bears, an amazing array of birds and a fantastic playground!
From here we headed on to Turnu Magurele which was just a stop to break up the trip to Sofia Airport where Jesse was dropping myself and the kids off. Checkin was a total rigmarole. The host didn’t respond with our lock box code so we were stranded outside. I took to asking other residents coming and going from the apartment building if they knew the woman who was hosting. Eventually a lovely gentleman told us that she owned a fuel station somewhere in town and insisting on driving there ahead of Jesse to show him the way. The staff then called her and she gave us the checkin code. The kids had a great time in the park enjoying the fountain lights.
The next morning was Sunday but there was no Roman Catholic Churches within hour of driving so we attempted our first orthodox liturgy. It went for 2 hours. I had no idea what was going on. People kept coming and giving the kids food to eat. By the end of two hours we had acquired
1 loaf of bread
4 cheese pretzels
6 snack bars
2 pieces of slice
2 bottles water
2 holy cards
60 lei (20AUD)
We left with sore feet (there was no chairs) and quite confused about what had just happened!
From here my itinerary said we should have 3.5 hours drive inclusive of a ferry ride to cross the Danube. Jesse did some research and decided the ferry crossing might be slow and unreliable so found an alternate route just an extra 40 minute drive. Problem was he failed to confirm that the alternate route didn’t also include a ferry crossing . We arrived to close boom gates and 2 Romanian codgers informing us that the ferry was broken and we should have to carry on an additional 100k to cross the bridge into Bulgaria. This meant our drive time for the day was 7.5 hours and allowed no time for stops in order to get myself and the kids to the airport in time for our flight. The tension was now very high!
Once we arrived at the Romanian/Bulgarian border the security guard told us we owed 700 euro for driving more than 500k on Romania roads. A rule that was never made clear by any other authorities or even any of the dozens of travel blogs I had read in my research. He sternly told us he would let us off “because of the children!” And then later because “Australians are bad at the Rigby (rugby)”
I wish I could have enjoyed the fascinating mix of architecture that followed a little more. As the sun was setting however I accepted our fate and enjoyed all of the amazing autumnal scenery.
It was about this time that Muse’s “Time is Running Out” came on shuffle…
We stopped 10 min from the airport to sort out our bags. The kids minded Amadeus on the front seat while we frantically packed as the pack of a dozen wild dogs closed in around us and the sun set.
Once inside the airport kids and I had enough time for a beer/ice creams and a round of airport soccer.
I wouldn’t recommend flying solo with 3 under 5 in all honesty – but people were so amazingly helpful and I made a lot of allys along the way. By the time our flight arrived in Athens at 12.30am Giovanni was behaving like a rabid dog. Noelle was in total meltdown due to her brothers relentless attacks. I managed to get them and all the baggage off the flight with the aid of an enthusiastic 10 yr old fellow passenger, his father and 2 air hostess. We didn’t find our pre booked driver before Noelle had had an accident all over the airport floor.
Thankfully when we found our driver Marcus he was very kind and accommodating and even tried to charge us 25% less than originally quoted. Admittedly his first question once we were safely in the car was “where is the father?!”
In the mean time “the father” was only just arriving in Macedonia after his second border crossing for the day where he got revved for more confusing unpaid fines which thankfully he only owed 108 euro rather than the eye watering 700 in Romania we were meant to have coughed up!
They carried out a full inspection of his car, made him drive over the pit and everything! Luckily the hosts in his bnb left him plenty of raki to help himself to help himself to as no doubt he would have needed it by the end of such a wild day!
I was grateful for the Greeks love of black out blinds after wrangling over excited kids until nearly 2am. We woke at around 9 and made our way – first the bakery and then the beach for a lazy day while we waited on Jesse to arrive late that night.
Discovered the biggest scoops of ice cream in Europe. Gio didn’t manage to finish. Noelle was reigning champion.
Smashing out some 100 piece puzzles while Arty naps.
Playground time after we took advantage of Jesse’s absence for a seafood feast!
I made a new friend here originally from Perth now living in Morocco. Hopefully a trip visit her is on the cards in the future!
Jesse arrived late around 2:30am after being charged double (50euro) for a 15 min taxi.
We then spent a lovely lazy day on the beach where we made friends with Kamil and Caroline and their wee son and daughter. A beautiful family from Poland who we think will become life long friends.
Our final day in Greece was beautiful . We spent an hour and a half on PT getting into Athens were we wandered up
to Mars Hill where St. Paul Himself preached Acts 17. The views of the Acropolis were excellent. We didn’t feel inclined to enter given we were in there less than 18 months ago. It was nice to forgo the long lines and crowds in favour of enjoying less frequented areas of Athens
We had time to explore the ancient agora and the Temple of Hephaestus as well as Hadrians Library. All of which we missed last time we were in Athens.
I had been on the lookout for some artwork all trip and found a lovely artist on the sidwalk just outside of Mars Hill.
Giovanni was very upset that I didn’t choose to buy the painting of a windmill in Mykonos that he really loved. The artist Paola gifted him the piece he was so attached to ❤️.
It was an excellent day filled with delicious food and gorgeous sights. We explored the flea markets looking for a cow milk jug for my cousin Megg who had unsuccessfully acquired one on her own Greek holiday. Sadly we didn’t have any luck although we made a lot of friends in our efforts. One vendor spotted Arty and exclaimed “I LOVE YOU!!!” Never ceases to Amaze me how unlikely it would be for something like this to happen in Australia.
The type of second hand furniture my house would be filled with if I lived in Greece.
Noelles face when we were crammed on the metro and she wasn’t allowed to get out of the carrier.
This morning Noelle spotted a very low lying airplane ( we are 15 min from the airport) she’s finally ready to go home (or at least to board a plane again)
Giovanni’s last swim. European style as I hate flying with wet clothing.
We are now just about to board. No doubt the flight home will be disastrous as we have a 6 hour layover in Singapore and the kids are over tired and spoilt on a terrible diet of predominately sugar. However the trip had probably been our best yet and no doubt we will be researching our next one in a matter of days! ❤️