Let me first say that my kids are amazing. Travelling internationally is incredibly difficult even without children, and they behaved very well. They each had only one “incident” worth noting. Poor little Violet screamed her head off until we hit cruising altitude on the first leg from Wichita to Chicago. But otherwise she either slept on me or slept in her car seat, and she was happy to sit on my lap and look around, grinning at strangers and winning the love and praise of everyone lucky enough to sit by us. One lady even asked to hold her, and Vi was happy to oblige. Liam was likewise on his best behavior. His only incident was in line to get on the 747 from Chicago to Frankfurt, when he lost his patience standing around and started yelling that this line “better get moving or else!” There was some feet stomping and fist clenching, but he managed to hold it together for most of our 24-hour journey.
The kids both slept pretty well on the trans-Atlantic flight. I even got to watch a couple of movies (Spy and Mad Max: Fury Road — I’m realizing what a hilarious juxtaposition those movies make!) We lucked out in Chicago and our connection was just at the other end of the terminal. Usually our connections at O’Hare are miles from each other, or so it seems. Little did we know that the airport in Frankfurt is even bigger and more spread out. We walked and walked and walked and walked. James and I were functioning on zero sleep (despite our well-behaved, snoozing kids, neither of us can actually sleep on planes), so the walk was even more exhausting. At least customs was a breeze: hardly any line, and unlike the last time we flew through Frankfurt, we didn’t have to go through a security line.
We had a couple of hours to kill at our gate, and our kids, still in good spirits amazingly, played on the floor and people-watched. I saw half a dozen airport employees ride down the corridor on bicycles. Apparently a necessity for making it around the huge place. Before we knew it, they called for everyone to stand in line and get ready to board. And off we went…or so we thought. We went through a door…then down some stairs (no easy feat with all the luggage we were carrying), then out to a bus. Wait, what? Liam leaned up and asked, “Are we taking a bus to Athens, then?” Dear, God, I hope not. Then we drove around in circles on the tarmac until we arrived at our plane.
You MUST be joking. Seriously?! An old-school stairway on wheels? What is this, the 1960s? No sweat when you’re a jet-setting couple, but for a family of four travelling with a car seat and two huge carry on bags a piece? Not. Fun. Picture a car seat on suitcase wheels being dragged up a set of bleachers. I was so delirious from jet-lag and lack of sleep, I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically at every step.
Finally aboard and buckled in (which, BTW, installing a car seat on a plane four times — we had to move it once — is also Not. Fun.), we were on our way. Violet slept the entire time, and Liam did math and writing workbooks, making me feel a little less guilty for taking him out of school for a week.
Then, feeling like an extra on The Walking Dead, we managed to collect our massive amount of luggage and wheel it out of the airport. The rest is a blur — one of James colleagues picked us up with the motorpool and got us to our hotel. With bleary eyes I soaked in all the sights and sounds: massive hills, vistas overlooking the city, motorcycles zipping between cars. He said the biggest complaints about Athens are the traffic and the smoking. He also said Greeks love children, and not to be surprised if some stranger asks to hold Violet. He said some other things…words…words…nothing important I hope. By 3 o’clock (or 15:00, as they say here. That’s going to take some getting used to), the whole family had completely passed out in our beds.
I’m sure in a few days we’ll be feeling more like ourselves again. In the meantime, no rest for the weary! We must get this kid enrolled in school!