For anyone who had the misfortune of seeing me in real life this week, I was a bit of a disaster heading into departure. We were up nearly all night before we left, cramming things into panniers and then into bigger bags and boxes for the plane. The bike boxes were well over regulation size, but in the absence of adequate time to really rebuild them, we put in the boxes and hoped no one would measure.
Gratefully, no one did, and check in went off without a hitch. Our flights were consistently on time and drama free and once on the plane, we started to relax. Whatever we left home undone was just going to have to wait. Our last flight was bumpy though and touching down in Athens left me green with airsickness and run down from 20 hours of flying, which is unfortunately when the excitement began.
While I was madly scrambling trying to get an ATM to accept our card (with no success) Ben was pulling our bags off the conveyor belt. One by one they soldiered by, looking only a little worse for wear, but then, new bags stopped coming. We were still missing a bike.
The lost luggage attendant quickly informed us that our MIA bike was still in Amsterdam and wouldn’t be in for another four hours, exactly the same time I had promised to meet our host from airbnb, whose phone number I did not have, and even if I did, our phone wasn’t working anyway. The attendant advised us to take a bus into town and let the bag be delivered to our rented apartment.
We’d intended to build the bikes in the airport and ride our stuff to the apartment because in a pile, we actually can’t even carry all of it by ourselves. We scratched our heads and tried to think up a better solution, but there was none to be had. We left the one bike in the box and teetered out to the bus station.
The bus ticket agent looked at our pile of luggage, which was so tall I could scarcely see over it, and made a muscular gesture at Ben. We all laughed, knowing trying to schlep roughly 160 pounds of gear, all packed into bags and boxes with no handles was going to be a complete joke. We bought bus tickets anyway, because really did seem like the best solution, and some nice guy helped us load our masses of things onto the bus.
Once on the bus, we found ourselves a new dilemma. The GPS, our sole map and means of getting anywhere was dead. So was every single spare AA battery in our bags. Gratefully, Ben was up for an engineering feat- he manipulated the prongs in the GPS, pulled out two AAA batteries and wedged the gum my brother gave us on our way to the airport (Thanks Colt!) inside the case to prevent the tiny batteries from moving around. The GPS booted up, just so long as we held it really, really still.
As the bus powered us around town, we were gripped to the GPS, unclear how far away the bus would drop us off from our intended destination with a mountain of things to reckon with. We hadn’t exactly seen a route map. A nice lady in across the aisle helped us make a good guess at where to get off, and soon we were standing in a bus stop roughly a mile from the apartment with enough stuff to last us for three months all packed into the most awkwardly configured carrying arrangement I can imagine.
In case we wondered what good it was doing us to run around GPP Fitness carrying weights over our heads, we now know, because that is almost exactly how we proceeded to walk to our lodging for the night. Ben was loaded with roughly one hundred pounds of stuff, one large bag precariously balanced on his shoulders, one in his other hand, and more stuff slung around his shoulders. I had the bike box in both hands and balanced two bags of my own around my neck.
We literally stopped every 0.05 miles, taking the mile long trip a block at a time, stopping at every shady spot we could see. Our arms burned and we laughed all the way at how glad we were to have been so dedicated to lifting weights this winter. By the time we arrived at the apartment roughly 90 minutes later, we were both drenched in sweat and I was fighting a migraine from exertion. Ben’s legs are all banged up from the heavy bag.
Happily, the apartment had an elevator, and before long we were relieved of our burden, showered and napping in a cute, tidy apartment in the Athenian suburbs.
We’ve still yet to meet up with the delivery guy who supposedly has our bike, but we’ve been assured it will be here in the morning (fingers crossed!) and our cards still won’t work with the ATM, so we have roughly nine Euros to our name until the credit union opens for Monday in Utah. We broke into our emergency Ramen and Ben’s mom’s emergency treat bag for dinner(as always, thanks Kim!) but we’re hopeful that Monday morning will leave us some recourse to sort out our misadventure. Meanwhile, we are happy and safely tucked into our rented space in Athens, glad to have a nice place to call home while we get into gear.
Wish us luck!