Flying to St. Petersburg via Munich
Trip Start Oct 17, 2010
14Trip End Oct 24, 2010
The big day has come….
I am traveling by Lufthansa via Munich to St. Petersburg and till the very last moment I am trying to fit everything. My luggage should not exceed the 20 kilos and I am 3 or 4 kilos overweight. I want to buy a few things from the Duty Free shops in Athens and probably buy one or two things for Katerina from Munich also.
I am anxious to see if I can make it pass through the customs without paying, because I was reading that Lufthansa is very strict when it comes to extra kilos
Yianni and Mum drive me to Athens but they leave back for Evia after seeing our grandchildren late in the afternoon. The flight is for 6.45 a.m Sunday, but normally I have to be at the airport at least 2 hours earlier. I call a taxi company and arrange to be picked from our house in Athens and driven to Syntagma ( The Constitution Square) where I am taking the coach for the airport.
Yianni is worried that I might not wake up promptly, so we arrange that he calls me up so I won't miss the flight. Luckily, I sleep immediately and wake up 45 minutes earlier, have a shower and get ready.
The taxi arrives exactly on the set time. Because I have arranged to be picked I have to pay double the fare. (Normally it is 5 euros) Νow I have to pay 10. On the way to Syntagma the taxi driver tells me that usually those who arrange to be picked go directly to the airport by taxi. Out of curiosity I ask what the cost would be if he drives me there, and he replies – 50 euros. I reach Syntagma 3 minutes before the time of departure so I am lucky that I don’t have to wait.
I always like to buy local things for my friends abroad, so I have plenty of time to move around, and buy different things that I think my friend would like. I always travel light, but on this trip I bought a number of different things that I think Katerina would love to have and which are quite heavy. I am happy that this does not happen often.
When I arrive at the airport I go straight to hand in the luggage. Luckily I am not charged for my extra kilos, and I politely ask to be given a good seat. I tell the man at the desk that I was about to faint in the coach because somebody in the coach from Athens to the airport smelled badly.
The man at the desk smiles and gives me No.7F , just at the very front, and the best of all is that the other two seats are empty! After breakfast I sit in the middle seat and believe me….it feels so good to have nobody sitting next to you! All three seats are to myself! There are only two or three other people who have a single seat next to them. The flight is full.
I have to wait for two and a half hours in Munich before take off but I love idling around and I try to find one or two things from the Duty free shops
I really don’t notice the time pass because I am moving around and an hour before departure I decide to get to the gate. 10 minutes before getting on board the plane, a group of 5 or 6 priests from Athos arrive carrying a huge box. It is the icon of Virgin Mary Gorgoipiikoou, and it is an icon which is very precious to all Christians. I see Greek letters on the box and I decide to approach the priests and ask if they come from Athos county.
Athos is like a separate country in the north of Greece. It is a peninsula in Chalkidiki, where there are only Monasteries and Monks. They have their own laws and in many of these churches there are Russian Orthodox monks and I also know that there is one very famous Russian Monastery there. Women are banned to come to Athos and it is strictly forbidden! So, no matter how much I love to travel and visit new places, I will never be allowed to visit Athos. I can only have the cruise around the Monasteries …..which I did some years back. No women here!!!!!
The companions of the icon insist that they want to have this huge box with the icon in the plane with them. The icon is REALLY a masterpiece from what I already know
Anyway, the plane takes off with a delay of 20 minutes until the icon finds its right place on board the craft. (Occupying the space of 3 seats).
This time I am given a seat #6 and there is an empty seat between a French man, and me. My seat is next to a window. During the flight we chat a bit and he tells me that he will be working for 10 days at the Hermitage museum and his company is paying for his trip. When we land we say goodbye and I can’t wait to meet Katerina.
I am waiting for my luggage….it does not take more than 10 minutes and I am soon outside where Katerina and Alexei are waiting for me.
Hugs and kisses follow, we get in the car, and Alexei suggests that he drives us home, leave the suitcases at home and do some sight seeing of the city. (He does not speak a single word in English, …just a couple of Greek words and Katerina is translating all the time).
This we do, we leave everything at home, - Katerina’s youngest daughter is having her birthday party this afternoon so we leave the youngsters at home and get in the car and drive off
My first impressions are great! It is a beautiful city just as I was expecting it, but one who comes here should love walking like me. The whole centre and these interesting Museums and Churches seem to be spread all over and it seems that I am going to walk a lot here. We take some photos but it is already getting dark and to be honest I cannot wait for tomorrow’s sightseeing walk!
I have a very comfortable room, the family is adorable, the girls wonderful, and I am sure we are going to have some nice time together.