During my senior year in college, my sister Jen and I planned a trip. We traveled many times together (to places like China, Brazil, Argentina, and Scandinavia), but for this trip we had our sites set on Greece. Together we planned a ten day journey that included a few requisite sightseeing days in Athens followed by ferries to the islands of Santorini and Mykonos, where hotels boasting cliffside pools and relaxing terraces awaited us.
On the day of our departure, just after my college graduation, I got a stressful call from Jen. She was flying from Denver (and I from St. Louis), and we were set to meet in New York before flying into Athens together. Her morning departure had been cancelled, however, due to mechanical problems with the plane. The airline couldn’t get her on another flight to New York that would arrive in time for our flight to Athens, which departed 8 hours later. While I was en route to the St. Louis airport from Columbia, Missouri (about 2 hours away), I frantically called travel agents and airline helplines to try and sort out the situation. She furiously fought with the ground crew at the airport, trying to get on any flight on any airline that would get her to New York in time. Despite both of our best efforts, we could not get her on a flight in time to make our connection.
The airline’s best advice was to send my sister two days later on the next available flight, meaning she would arrive in Athens just as we should have been departing for Santorini. (I, on the other hand, would have to continue on our itinerary as planned because my flight schedule was still intact and the airline was not responsible for rebooking me. The idea of touring around Athens alone for 2-3 days was not appealing.) But our hotels had been pre-paid and her vacation days had been pre-booked, and we could not change our plans so last minute.
With heavy hearts, we decided this trip was not to be. Before I had even made it to the airport, I called our travel insurance company and cancelled our trip for a full refund. Jen, who is highly skilled at getting what she wants from Customer Service Representatives, rose hell at the airline counter at DIA and had the money for both of our tickets refunded on the spot (which the travel insurance people later told us never happens), and later wrote a scathing letter that prompted the airline to send us each $300 flight vouchers. Even with the full refund, however, we were both sorely disappointed that such a small setback cost us our Greek vacation.
Ever since that ill-fated trip, both Jen and I have felt a little bitter toward Greece – it’s the one that got away. Jen put that bitterness aside last year when she and her husband visited Santorini as part of their honeymoon. I finally made peace with Greece when we arrived in Crete last week. Above is the view from the rooftop of our apartment building in Crete. With views like that, it’s hard to harbor any bitterness towards this country. I may be 8 years late, but I’ve finally made it.
Now if you’ll please excuse me, its time for me to go eat a boatload of Greek Salad.