i have discovered several important things over the past 48 hours:
[side note, it is almost 9pm in Athens, Greece]
firstly, i was not fully prepared for the psychological ramifications of international travel. at 1:30pm on Wednesday, i boarded a very, very, VERY large plane in Seattle and flew to Amsterdam. whereas most of the individuals around me seemed content, over the next 9 hours, to sit in their seat and peruse the many options on their personal screen in front of them, i found myself growing more manic by the minute. i read an entire biography of a 20-something journalist who developed a rare brain disorder, i did yoga in the stand-up area, and journaled like crazy, writing down every observation of the people around me.
sheesh. add to that, our flight was perfectly correlated with the patterns of the earth in relationship with the sun. meaning, it never set. my next door neighbor, a young woman who had spent the last year and a half as an au pair in Seattle, and was now [reluctantly] heading back to her native Germany, pointed out this phenomenon to me. her first comment was, “look how pretty the sunset is.”
when the sunset lasted for an hour, we both became puzzled. then, we realized that the sunSET had seamlessly morphed into a sunRISE, and that the sun was now blazing with the light of day. it never got dark. conveniently enough, this coincided neatly with the time difference. so, as i finished my day in Seattle, all of Europe began the following day. no night necessary.
i found this baffling.
[i apologize for the grainy photo. as near as i can figure, this was somewhere north of Saskatchewan where there’s a lot of ice].
upon arrival in Amsterdam, i transitioned my dollars to euros, ordered three shots of espresso over ice, and tried to decide if the massive amounts of “duty-free” goods were worth all the hype.
my fellow excursioners and i lapsed into conscious comas, and i bought three pencil sharpeners shaped like wooden clogs for my siblings. they said HOLLAND on the side in enthusiastic letters.
euros are so beautiful! they have this sparkly stickers on them that flash in the florescent light of an airport, and that reminds me of the Lisa Frank foil stickers that i was obsessed with as an adolescent.
oh, and then i set off an alarm.
never one to merely fade into the background, i set off flashing lights and loud, heavily accented alerts in the Amsterdam airport . . . don’t tell my mom. [mom, if you’re reading this, it was an honest mistake!]
there was a large door that stood between where i was, and where i wanted to be. there was a small button next to it that had words written in Dutch. so, i pushed it.
please bear in mind my previous statement, in which i clearly said that the long flight took a mental toll.
next thing i knew, i had set of some kind of alarm. the escalators stopped working. security guards came. i stood as far back against the wall as i could and tried to look confused, which wasn’t hard. a few women who worked for airport security mumbled, swiped a magnetic card, and glanced heavily at me before turning to walk away.
i still don’t know what i did.
which leads me to the second thing i’ve learned: i’m incredibly envious of short people when on a plane.
my friend curled up the tiny seat of our connecting plane from Amsterdam to Athens. I, on the other hand, did my best to fold my 6 foot tall frame into the middle seat without crushing either her or the non-English speaking gentleman to my left. she slept peacefully for the entire 3 hour flight, whereas i twitched.
the third thing i’ve learned is the best: none of that matters once i’ve gotten where i’m going.
an odd thing happened the moment i stepped out of the airport and felt the warm Grecian breeze on my face. i forgot all about all of that stuff. i didn’t notice that i had been awake and stuffed in an airplane seat for 24 hours. because none of it mattered once i witnessed the cultural beauty that is Athens, Greece.
as we drove through groves and groves of olive and pistachio trees, i found myself welling up with immense gratitude.
[this is where the 2004 Olympics were held]
[this sculpture made of blue glass represents the very first marathon runner. notice how it gives the illusion of movement… so good!]
and feeling a strong sense of joy that i had the opportunity to spend time in such a culturally and spiritually rich city.
[you can definitely sense the years and years of culture].
[i absolutely LOVE how they have their streets lined with mismatched apartment buildings. so poetic]
plus, our hotel makes everything out of marble and has a rooftop pool. so, i can’t complain.
[breathtaking, isn’t it?]
well, i guess i will fall into bed now.
i’m excited for tomorrow!