During Sukkot hol hamoed (the intermediate days of the holiday), Noah and I took a four-night, five-day vacation to Greece! Being in Israel, there are so many amazing countries only a short distance away – and getting there is a whole lot cheaper than it would be from the USA! I had a break from classes for the Sukkot holiday, so a couple months ago we started talking about planning a trip to take advantage of our geographical location. Greece became the destination because we hadn’t been there before (technically I went in junior high, but I didn’t really remember anything) and there were good options for both city exploration and island relaxation. We left last Friday bright and early. The sherut (shared taxi) picked us up for the airport at 3:40am! Of course…we ended up not packing until the night before.
Okapi-i got some sleep even when we couldn’t:
When we made it through security (always an ordeal at the Tel Aviv airport), there was some time to walk around and explore before our flight.
There’s something so lovely about kosher burger joints and an Aroma over the standard airport food!
We had a layover in the Istanbul airport for about 4 hours. As soon as we got off the plane in Istanbul, we saw that we were in an ENORMOUS internationals terminal.
There were American-brand stores everywhere:
And massive duty free shops selling everything in supersize:
Noah and I had a lot of fun looking at all the goofy stuff at duty free, such as this Angry Birds perfume pack…
…and the sample shots of whiskey (at 10am??):
After sufficient exploration, we settled comfortably down with Starbucks and looked at our Athens guidebook until it was time for the flight:
When we arrived in Athens after another quick 90 minute flight, we immediately were on our way to Piraeus Port to catch a ferry to the small island, Hydra. While in Greece, Noah and I wanted to spend a couple days in Athens seeing the big sites and a couple days on an island chillaxing. At first, we were looking at some of the larger and more iconic islands – like Santorini – but quickly decided that it would be better to go somewhere nearer to Athens to reduce the amount of time we needed to spend on a ferry. Plus, there are no shortage of amazing islands in Greece, so we didn’t feel like we were missing out at all! We settled on Hydra because it was supposed to be beautiful and we were attracted to the fact that it is a no-car island.
It took about an hour by public bus to get from the Athens airport to Piraeus (we passed an Ikea!):
After getting to the port, there was some extra time to walk around and check out all of the super-sized boats:
We were also lucky to be there just as the sun was setting:
Our boat was a high-speed hydrofoil ferry that was a lot smaller than some of the monsters around the dock but still seated around 100 people.
Noah and I were seated in the very front of the ferry and it sure was bumpy! Our seats seemed to be right over the foil lifts, and it led to an extremely crazy ride. I felt a little nauseous at the beginning, but luckily the feeling lessened slightly as we got further into the ride (the transport time was about 2 hours). About halfway through journey, we had some
terror excitement. Out of nowhere, we heard an explosion and smoke started to fill the boat! Some of the Greek men sitting near us jumped up and were congregating in the center area of the ferry. Needless to say, Noah and I were totally freaked out and readying ourselves to make a quick escape from the boat and swim to shore. As we were frantically looking around, we saw what appeared to be a fireball outside the window next to the ferry. AHH! Eventually our panic started to subside a bit when we noticed no one else was jumping out of the boat or making tearful last phone calls to friends and family, but we still had no idea what was going on.
Eventually, some of the people near us returned to their seats, and they must have noticed we looked totally freaked out because they explained that a flare had fallen off the wall and gone off inside the ferry which caused the explosion sound and smoke. The flare had then been held outside to prevent more smoke from getting into the ferry (this was the fireball). Luckily, we were able to see the humor in the situation at this point…
but it was seriously freaky when we thought we were going to have to jump out of the boat and swim to safety!!