Second Time Around travel blog


Master of travel arts

I have discussed transfer anxiety in previous blogs, so I will not bore you with that issue here. We had to return from Marrakech to Casablanca for our next flight. Muhamad had recommended bus, in premium class. We chose train. First class. Maybe it was memory of the bus driver versus police incident, or that in Europe we feel at home on the train.

No over booking this time. We had seats in a berth from the start. Along the route, we noted many track and highway improvement projects, no doubt a boon for future tourists as well as the national economy. I understand auto manufacturing has passed mineral exports for first place in the Morocco economy.

We arrived Casablanca airport around 5 PM for an 11 PM flight. It's an uninviting, near grim place to while away six hours. Two tiny cash-only snack stands, no newsstand, no T.V., virtually empty. Unheated, too. Even the guy in the enclosed exchange booth was zipped and scarved for warmth.

We snacked, read, wrote, and dozed, with an occasional wander to keep alert.

When at last our check in booth opened, there were four other passengers in line behind us. Yet they chose to scrum for first place. Mo, the strong one of our team, refused to give in.

Then it was passport check, filling in a form (address in Morocco was Intrepid Travel), and x-ray of carry on bags. Free to go.

At final check, the gate agent suddenly changed our seats from row six to row 25. Before I could express unhappiness, she told us the flight was not full and that we could have rows to ourselves. Well, that was ok

On board our Boeing jet, Mo was disappointed that a) we were seated side by side and not in our own rows, and b) there would be no movies.

She settled down when an attendant assured me I could move when the door was shut.

It was perhaps the most empty international flight I've experienced. Maybe 50 passengers in 200 or so seats. Regardless, even with a row to myself it was impossible to get comfortable enough to really sleep. I dozed off and on and was luckily awake for the chicken and cucumber sandwich.

After landing in Athens, totally groggy, it took us a few minutes and redirection by a passport guy to realize we were not supposed to be in line for a connecting flight.

We made our way to standard passport control. It was the first time we were the only passengers in the passport hall and baggage collection. Almost spooky.

Now we had a mere four hours to while away before boarding a domestic flight for Crete. More groggy than before, whiling away was getting painful.

Fortunately our flight to Crete was only 50 minutes, just long enough for a tiny coffee and cookie-like thing.

We decided to save wear and tear and got a taxi to our hotel. €15 well spent. "Only fifteen Euro, one five," the driver confirmed.

Deposited at the hotel, we asked the desk guy for a lunch suggestion. We were asked of course what we wanted.

"Authentic Greek," Mo replied, "souvalki."

Horrified, the guy said "That's not real Greek food. That's fast food! You want real food." He then directed us to real food.

First, though, we tried to decipher the local bus station in spite of our groggy jet lag. The little chaotic place made me disoriented. Every word was in Greek. I didn't even know what to ask.

We left to find the real food place.

Now my menu anxiety reared its ugly head. If everything was in Greek, I'd starve. I walked in reluctantly, maybe with dread.

Then I saw the food arrayed buffet-style at a counter. I said out loud, "Thank God all we have to do is point." Indeed. And the staff knew a bit of English. We were saved. Only €16 for real food for two. Transfer successful.

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