From Tokyo to Athens

Well, we're definitely not in Tokyo anymore.  I thought the transition into Japan would be the most jarring portion of our trip, but I was mistaken.  After a 12-hour flight from Tokyo to Munich, and then a couple more hours to Athens, we arrived in Greece at about 11pm local time.  I slept for several hours on the plane, but it didn't seem to help all that much.  I was stick-a-fork-in-me done.

The culture shock hit right when we got off the plane.  There's no jetway at the Athens airport, so we headed down the stairs to waiting shuttle buses.  The airport smelled of cigarette smoke and the unique scent of European crowds.

Determined not to repeat the mistake in Japan of being caught with no cash, I tried to get an advance on my corporate Amex card.  Alas, I had neglected to set up a PIN for the card, so it wouldn't work in the ATM.  So, I used my personal visa to pull out 40 Euros.

Then it was time to get a cab to the hotel.  My boss and I headed outside, into a mammoth line for taxis.  It took about 20 minutes to get to the front, but we eventually got a cab.  By this time, it was about midnight and I needed sleep badly.  Unfortunately, this was the cab ride that seemed to never end.  I'm not sure how we managed to get the only cab driver who obeyed the speed limit, but we eventually got to the hotel.  It was definitely not the sparkling location we had in Tokyo.

When it came time to settle the cab bill, the meter read 27 euros, and that's what the driver told us the fare was.  My boss gave him 40, and got 3 back in change.  That started a long, tense discussion about the costs of the fare, and the extra charges for our luggage (putting it in the trunk, I guess?), the tolls on the highway, and the "airport surcharge."  I wasn't the one arguing, and my anxiety was still through the roof.

We eventually just agreed to disagree, and went into the hotel to check in.  Our rates were supposed to include breakfast and internet, but the guy at the desk said they didn't.  I was too tired to argue.  The room itself was fine, if a little run-down.

I crashed hard at about 1am, and woke right back up at 5:30am.  I tried to go back to sleep, but there was nothing for it.  I eventually got up and went down to the fitness center to run off some of the anxiety.  It helped a little bit, but after getting dressed and going down to the lobby, I got to watch a really angry American argue with (you guessed it) a taxi driver about something.  Stress level went right back through the roof again.

If I've learned one thing over the past few years, it's that being anxious is no way to live your life.  So, I went to the front desk, and asked about the included costs in our reservation.  He said they didn't show we had free internet or breakfast, but they'd check later today with the main reservations group.  I also asked about taxi charges to the airport, and what we paid last night sounded about right.  We can also just reserve through the hotel and it is a fixed price.  Definitely sounds like a low-stress option.

So I'm feeling a little better.  I'll get some breakfast, hopefully nap later today, and try to keep enjoying this opportunity to see the world!


  1. A taxi driver in Greece - Athens no less - who obeys the speed limit is UNHEARD OF! I'm Greek, and having been back to the 'motherland' many times, I've never been in a taxi that doesn't feel like it may very well be my last drive on earth, ever. And there will always be an argument over the fare. I love Greece and all, but Good Luck to you! I don't know how much time you're spending there, but hopefully you'll get in some great sightseeing and get to do some islands and eat lots of really yummy food!

    P.S. EFHARISTO = Thank You
    OHI = No
    Ne = Yes
    Yiasou = Hello

  2. I'll definitely use that advice if we end up coming back! We're out tomorrow morning early, and off to our next European destination.