First step in experiencing the Greek Culture

September 10th, 2009 by | Country: Greece | 1 Comment »

As I boarded the plane of Greece’s airline, Olympic, the smell of old rags wafted by my nose.  I got a glimpse of a typical European plane – seats are obviously old as they have stains and the compartments look like as if they’re wearing away.  The airplane journey sure did remind me of my flying on Air France’s airplanes.  One of the biggest cultural differences I’ve noticed between the States and Europe is that the American’s definition of old is when industrial products, such as cars, sofas, and dishwashers are ten years old, and then they consider them ready to be disposed of into the garbage; On the other hand, by the European’s definition of old, when industrial products are 10 years old they are still considered new.  They keep their products until the day they die.  I’m sure that’s freaking some people out – the possibility of airplanes dying in the middle of the transit.  I’m sure that airplanes have different rules about what it means to be “old.”

Anyway, while the plane ride from Tel Aviv to Athens was smooth, getting to my connecting flight to Thessaloniki was not so efficient.  The plane parked in middle of the road, which meant taking a bus to the entrance of the airport!  As I reached the customs area, everyone was squeezing into DISorganized lines.  There were NO ropes to keep the lines in order.  It was like people being cramped inside a tiny room.  I did eventually get my passport stamped.

Now, here’s the worst part of my connecting flight experience!  I want to freakin’ scream at the Greek security!!!!! They told me that I absolutely could NOT take my liquid medicine on the plane. They said that I have to check my entire bag in order to be able to take the liquid medicine.  Not only I would NEVER trust checking in important stuff, but also I told them that it’s for migraine headaches and I NEED it at ALL times in case if I get one. They would NOT budge. Then, I said “Can I speak to the supervisor.” Apparently, one of them was THE supervisor and said, “NO!” So, I said, “So, you let people take 8 ounces worth of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and all the other liquids but NOT my medicine which fits perfectly inside an 8 once plastic bag? …How about you take the medicine to the gate and give it to the flight attendant?” So, they did… GEESH!  I even told them that they were THE FIRST security in the WHOLE world not to allow me to take my liquid medicine.

The moral of this situation is never be afraid to speak up and be diligent and strong about meeting your needs when you travel.  I also learned my lesson that I should have a letter from the doctor regarding my medicine in case I have to deal with this battle again.

In the end, I arrived in Thessaloniki safely with my medicine and met my friend.

1 Comment


September 11, 2009 at 6:39 am

Hello Rachel! Our common friend Rachel Dubin sent me the link to your blog, and I just want to welcome you to Thessaloniki!

yes, Olympic sucks, and OLD is the right word – not just for the rugs and the seats, but also the air hostesses and management of the company overall. But their security record is one of the best worldwide, I think, with very few and small accidents in their history, and they are well respected for their technical staff. But, in all honesty, fly with Aegean the next time you are in Greece, at least for the comfort!

Our airport is small, which is why you have to take the bus from the runway to the terminal… actually, I have had to take the bus to and from the terminal in many international airports, including Vienna, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Zurich, Athens, Detroit, Chicago and Paris. Whether you take the bus or just open the door to one of the gates, that has to do with the size of the plane, gates, runway, etc. But it does suck not to have any options! :-) At the airport in Alexandroupolis, you actually walk from the plane to the terminal! :-)

waiting lines and cues? :-) such discipline is not to be found here…

I’m sorry about your trouble with your medicine! It helps to have the doctor’s prescription with you when traveling. Or transfer a portion to a smaller bottle of 100ml, which creates no problems whatsoever. Total liquids/creams have to fit in the 8nce plastic bag, but each bottle cannot be more than 100ml. It’s the same all over Europe since 2006, and i guess in the States, too, right?

Even though it got off to a cranky start, I hope your stay in Thessaloniki is enjoyable! :-) I’m sure you’ll enjoy the food and a long long walk in the promanade. It;s also the time of the year when enough cultural events are taking place, with concerts and dance performances!

all the best

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