I’m sitting on a plane flying over the Atlantic Ocean right now, so this will likely be my last entry. I just wanted to give one final update on the end of Yitka and my journey; that being our time spent in Geneva and then one last day in Amsterdam. As I think I mentioned before, in order to get to Geneva from Athens we had a long journey. We started by taking the Greek metro, suburban, and national rail from Athens to Patras (a port town in the Northwest of the country). From Patras we caught a Superfast Ferrylines boat to Ancona, Italy. The boat ride was 22 hours long but it went by quickly; probably because Yitka and I both slept for about 15 of the 22 hours. The ship itself was basically a cruise ship complete with multiple bars, restaurants, and stores, and even an internet cafe. Unfortunately or not... we spent so much time sleeping, we didn’t actually take advantage of any of these things.
We boarded the ferry about an hour before departure and both proceeded to fall asleep and nap until about 5 hours in to the trip. When we woke up it was about 6pm, so we decided to have dinner and even some dessert. After dinner we played a nice game of scrabble (of course) and then after a little reading we both fell asleep on two tiny deck chairs that we pushed together. Despite the sleeping space being probably the most uncomfortable that we encountered on this entire European adventure, we were both able to sleep pretty much straight through until about 10am, just an hour before we were to dock in Ancona. It was pretty great. After arriving in Ancona, we walked about 1.5km to find the train station where we caught a train to Milan, and from Milan we got another train to Geneva. It was about another 12 hours of travel after we had docked and finally at midnight about 41 hours after leaving our hostel in Athens we were picked up by our lovely host at the Geneva train station.
Our host in Geneva was actually a friend of mine that I went to pre-school with who moved to Switzerland with her family when we were about 3 years old. They’ve been living there ever since, but luckily Helen and I are still in touch and her family was happy to take us in to their beautiful house. They don’ actually live in the city of Geneva, but they’re about 30 minutes from the center of the city. Their house is this amazing old farm house with beautiful views of snow capped mountains and vineyards all around. Although we did manage to get in to Geneva for a little bit of touring on one of our days there, we were both happy to simply appreciate the amazing house and countryside that we found ourselves staying in. On both days that we were there we took long walks with Connie (Helen’s mom) and their dog and Matthew and Charles (father and brother of Helen) on the second day. These walks were not only wonderfully relaxing, but we also got to see a bunch of old Swiss villages and of course appreciate the wonderful scenery of their neighborhood. It was definitely an amazing visit and it is now a goal of mine to return to Switzerland for another, longer vacation with the Stevensons.
We left Geneva on Saturday night in order to catch an overnight train that got us in to Amsterdam Centraal at 9:30am on Sunday. That gave me a whole day to appreciate the city that I have come to love so much one more time. I had a whole list of things I wanted to do on my one day in the city, and I think I was pretty successful in getting stuff done. Most of the things I wanted to do involved eating certain things that you can only get in Amsterdam, so for each of my three meals yesterday, I had a different Amsterdam delight. Maoz (falafel), toasties, and frites, it was a good food day. I also picked up a few last minute souvenirs and even went to see a movie!
This morning I had to sell back my cell phone to my program and then I took a cab to Schiphol Airport. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the most relaxing of travel days. My travel plans involved a connecting flight in Frankfurt, but my flight to Frankfurt from Amsterdam was delayed about 45 minutes and so by the time we actually landed in Frankfurt my flight to New York was already in the boarding phases. Also, Frankfurt happens to be the biggest, most annoying airport to make a connection in that I’ve ever been to. Our plane wasn’t taken to a gate, instead we came out on the tarmac and then had to take a bus to the terminal, but the terminal is so huge that by the time we got there I still had to walk/run for about 20 minutes before I actually got to my other flights gate. On top of that, I had to go through Immigration. Luckily I was carrying my Amsterdam Residency Permit on me, otherwise I think I probably would have gotten in trouble because I’ve been in the EU longer than is allowed without a visa or residence permit. Good thing I got my Dutch professor to translate that note for me way back when that told me to come pick up this card. Anyway, after all the hassle, I made it to be gate about 15 minutes before the plane was due to leave and all was well. The flight so far has been alright, a little turbulent at times, but Lufthansa is a pretty great airline so I can’t complain to much. Three more hours and then I’ll be in New York... But likely by the time I post this and any of you get around to reading it, I may be off in Honduras!