Friday, August 31:   I have a 6 a.m. flight to Athens this morning on Egypt Air.  I am anxious about it because I know I have to drive from Nizwa beginning at 2:30 a.m. to get to the airport by 4 a.m., two hours prior.  I debate about going to Muscat to spend the night, but even the cheapest hotels in Muscat cost over $50 and I know I am going to be spending a lot already in Greece.  As it is, I take a nap from about 10 p.m. Thursday night until about 12:30 a.m. Friday, get up and shower, make sure I have all my documents in order, and drive early to the airport to make certain I don’t miss my flight.   I have been looking forward to this trip for a long time and I am determined I WILL BE ON THAT PLANE!

traveling to Greece on Egypt Air

The flights are fine: 4 hours from Muscat to Cairo, a 2 hour layover, and another 2 hour flight to Athens.  However, after standing at the baggage claim for a long time, as every other passenger departs with their bags, I realize my luggage has gone on a trip of its own to some unknown destination.  It certainly isn’t in Athens!  This is a highly unpleasant surprise because in all of my MANY travels, I have never lost luggage!!  I guess I’ve been lucky.  Once I met a girl traveling in Istanbul who had been waiting 5 days for her luggage ( I don’t know if she ever got it)!  One of my closest friends says Delta Airlines knows the route to her house by heart because they’ve lost her luggage so many times.

one of many colorful mansions in Plaka

I used to pack a carry-on bag with pajamas, toiletries, and a change of clothes, JUST IN CASE.  But because I’ve been so lucky, I didn’t have a carry-on bag at all this time!  As a matter of fact, I prided myself on fitting all my stuff into one medium-sized suitcase that I checked. All I have are the clothes on my back, a small backpack with my camera (but no charger for my battery), my phone (but no charger), money, credit cards and my passport.

a VW beetle in front of an old building in Plaka

The Egypt Air staff takes all my information and tells me they will let me know whenever they find it.  I tell the woman I am heading to Crete on Sunday, so I hope it will be back in my possession by then!!  She says she imagines it is still in Cairo and will likely arrive via tomorrow’s flight.  I tell her to please call me as soon as she hears something.

a door to a private world in Plaka

I’m sure most intrepid travelers are a lot braver than I am about diving into a new city.  I am always overwhelmed at first, being all alone and faced with a confusing transport system.  I worry I might have to go through a bad area of town, that the metro or buses will be bewildering or scary, or that I might be traipsing the streets lugging my suitcase looking in vain for a hard-to-locate hotel.  Possibly most people arrive in a new town and just grab the first hotel they see, but I usually plan ahead by reading reviews on Trip Advisor, looking for prices in my range (I budgeted around 35-50 euros a night for this trip), and booking the hotel.  There were too many times when I lived in Korea, where it was next-to-impossible to make hotel reservations, that I walked up and down streets looking for a reasonably priced and decent accommodation.   I find that too frustrating.  I don’t have the patience for it, nor do I have the courage.  I admire travelers that do, certainly.

For me, one of my priorities in travel is to have a clean and comfortable place that is a bit charming and has something special to offer.  In the case of the Acropolis View Hotel, it has a rooftop terrace with a perfect view of the Acropolis, the staff is friendly and helpful, and they let you buy a drink at any hour of the day in the lobby and take it directly up to the terrace.  The price is right at 52 euros a night.

The Acropolis View Hotel

So, I confess I usually take the easy, and EXPENSIVE, way into to a city on my first arrival.  In this case, I arranged a hotel pick-up at 55 euros!!   That’s about 72 freakin’ US dollars!!  I know it’s crazy, but for me it is the most comfortable way to approach a city for the first time.  Most hotel pickups are not that expensive, but I am still willing to pay for the convenience and peace of mind.

Outdoor cafes along the street beside the Acropolis Museum in Plaka

Since my luggage is nowhere in sight, I could have probably taken the metro easily; however, the hotel pick-up has already been arranged and I feel too dejected to do anything but sit quietly in the back of the taxi trying to figure out what on earth I am going to do for 2 weeks if they never find my suitcase.  Here I must admit I can be a pessimist; it usually works for me to be this way as it avoids disappointment.  As long as I believe the worst will happen, I am always prepared for disaster and am pleasantly surprised if everything turns out fine.

more cafes on the pedestrian street in Plaka

At the hotel, I check in, although I really have nothing to check-in!  I glance quickly around the room,  sizing it up.  It is fine but nothing fancy.  I head out to explore the streets of Plaka, intending to go to the Acropolis Museum as my introduction to the Acropolis itself, which I plan to see tomorrow.

the Acropolis Museum, right beneath the Acropolis in Plaka

I take my camera along, taking shots of the Plaka neighborhood, where my hotel is located.  All the time, of course, I am worried about taking too many pictures in case my battery runs out of charge.  Plaka is the old Turkish quarter which used to be the whole of Athens when it was declared capital of Greece.  Its paved narrow streets run along the base of the northeastern slope of the Acropolis and pass right by the Acropolis Museum.  This area reminds me a bit of the Sultanahmet area in Istanbul; it’s a tourist-friendly and charming neighborhood with leafy trees, outdoor cafes and shops selling artsy jewelry, Grecian urns, T-shirts, paintings of the Greek islands, souvenirs and trinkets.  I love its ambiance, despite its tourist focus.  On the periphery of the cafe-lined streets are quiet neighborhoods with restored neoclassical mansions.

nuts for sale!

After strolling around Plaka and checking out fashionable young Europeans sitting at cafes and walking hand-in-hand down the street, I feel a little envious of their youth and exuberance, the romance they have so obviously found.  I feel a little downhearted and worried about my suitcase.  I make up my mind that no matter what, this is not going to ruin my vacation.  I head to the Acropolis Museum…..

the nut man’s cart

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About nomad, interrupted

As of July 15, 2015, I'm now taking a break from living abroad. I'm living in Oakton, Virginia and looking for my next opportunity. Last year, I lived in China and taught English at Sino-Canadian International College. I also taught at a university in Nizwa, Oman for two years, and in Korea's public schools for one year. I love to travel and have been to 24 countries.

16 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on a nomad in the land of nizwa and commented:

    Here’s my first post about my arrival in Greece… 🙂

  2. livvy1234 says:

    I went to Greece with my greek spouse ( when he was alive) in the 1990’s. We drove the country all the way to Yugoslavia, as it was then called and thru Yugoslavia. Did you go to Volos Mountain Village?

    I have also been thru the islands. We lived on fresh tomatoes, feta and fantastic baked bread as we drove and drank bottles of water. I will never forget Greece. My spouse was born on the street right below the Acropolis.

    I have a deep respect for the culture, and love the food, and people. Did you seen any signs of what we hear about in the news in the USA about Greek poverty? Also, I remember the dogs wandering the streets. I tried to feed so many of them when I was there. Are there still many abandoned dogs?

    You offer a beautiful article here.

    • Thank you Livvy for sharing your experience. I’m sure it was amazing sharing Greece with your Greek husband. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I did not go to Volos Mountain Village; I’m not even sure where that is. There just wasn’t enough time!! I loved the food and have a few extra pounds to show for it!! The Greeks I met seem very worried about the economy and yes, I saw a lot of poverty… Very sad. I think the country is really struggling right now.

  3. adinparadise says:

    Not a great start to your holiday. I hope your luggage turned up very soon. We had a case go missing in Le Paz, but had it by the next day. It’s a horrible feeling though to be the only one who’s bag doesn’t show up on the carousel. I love the photo of that rusty old door. 🙂

    • Yes, adinparadise, you’re right. It did put me in a dejected mood, but then I shook it off and determined that no matter what, I would NOT let it ruin my vacation!! I’m glad you like the rusty door… 🙂

  4. restlessjo says:

    Thank goodness you didn’t pack your camera, Cath! Not the best of starts- I’m hoping there’s a happy outcome or the credit card bill’s going to be sky high.

    • Yes Jo, you are so right about the camera. That is one thing I would NEVER pack! I love photography too much to ever leave room for the possibility of loss!! One of the first things I sought out once my suitcase was lost was a battery charger; I found it and was ready to buy but I thought I would wait until the battery actually ran out before making the purchase. Too bad I made a lot of other purchases before the suitcase finally showed up; you’re right about my credit card bill!!

  5. Lucid Gypsy says:

    What a great post! You made me laugh about hotel transfers, I’ve tried all sorts of things in the past including paying a fortune. The best was arriving in Kuala Lumpur, deciding to catch the train and bus. It worked except for the last half kilometre which had to be walked through KLCC pulling bags, getting confused and very hot to then arrive in at one of the poshest places I’ve ever stayed!

    • Thanks Gilly! At least you got a reward for your long and sweltering walk by finding a posh hotel at the end! The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… 🙂 I have had so many stories like this, except sadly most of the places I come to are not posh! Although, I will have a story about the place I stayed in Crete which will follow…..

  6. Fergiemoto says:

    Great photos! What an experience. I have lost luggage too many times and finally resorted to a carry-on for business trips, even on two-week trips. Air France was good about losing my luggage. Also, we went to Greece on our honeymoon, and lost our luggage. Mine came the next day while we were still in Athens. We departed for Mykonos and hubby still didn’t have his luggage. He finally got it three days later, but we had to drive to the Mykonos airport and rummage through luggage because no one would deliver it to us. We were actually lucky to find it. Regardless, it was still one of the best trips we’ve had.
    Hope you get to visit Santorini!

    • Thank you Fergiemoto. I have now heard so many horror stories about luggage getting lost, it’s hard for me to believe I’ve never had it happen to me before this. Too bad for your husband on your honeymoon, but I think generally men can bear a thing like this more than women. Women always try to pack cute and stylish things to wear on a holiday. I daresay most men just throw in some t-shirts and shorts!! I did visit Santorini and it was wonderful. Pictures will follow. I just returned from my trip, so I will be writing my blog in arrears!

  7. Madhu says:

    I am reading this backwards, so not as shocked by your liggage situation 😀 The image of those roasted nuts transported me back to the Plaka!

    • Haha, Madhu, you are funny reading these backwards… I think it’s the only way to do it if you come in late to the story! I’m glad the roasted nut images took you back. I love reading other people’s posts (like yours of Egypt or Turkey) that take me back to a place where I visited… 🙂

  8. Marco says:

    It’s so pretty. I like the title : the case of the missing luggage, ha ha. Now the clever thing of me not checking the posts out as they come in, now I don’t have to wait for the next installment, yay! PS. can I hijack that nut wagon? looks amazing!

  9. Tahira says:

    Haha! I too started backwards! Now I will properly catch-up on ALL your fabulous adventures!!

    • I know; it’s hard to catch up with a blog when you come in late in the game, but luckily I just barely started and still have a lot more to write. I’m glad to have you come along on my journey, Tahira!

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