Round the World, Travel

Strike Three

November 30, 2010

I do promise to post some positive things about Athens but this place is nuts.  How the birthplace of democracy turned into a mess of a socialist country is beyond comprehension.  Instead of being grateful that a dozen or so nations (and by association, many others) are bailing this country out of its economic mess, the people get angry because big government can’t keep the gravy train going.  They don’t want to retire later.  They don’t want to give up a thing to get this country back on its feet.  It’s a fact of life that people live longer than when many of these programs were instituted.  That means the government has to take care of more people for more years.  It’s not a bottomless pit.  Therefore, it stands to reason that you can’t expect to have about a third of your life catered to by the government.  So what do they do?  Go on strike.  Doctors plan a two-day strike this week.  The media is having a one day strike.  There is a general strike set for Dec. 15th.  And who else is on strike?  The ferry workers.  The same ferry that I had planned to take to Mykonos for three days of rest and relaxation.

At 4:56PM last night, I received an email from the travel agency informing me that the ferry workers decided to continue a strike from last week (I didn’t even know there was one – who can keep up with all the strikes, not to mention nothing was said when I picked up the ferry tickets) and there would be no way to get to any island for the next two days.  Their offices closed at 5PM.  Noooo!  Stuck for more days in Athens?  Then there was the no-refund policy of the hotel I had booked and calling Expedia.  Then there was getting a refund for the ferry tickets.  Then there was figuring out what to do for three more days because I didn’t want to stay in Athens.

Then there was the announcement late, very late, that the Greek government was ordering the workers back.  But no one knew if they would honor it.  So I set the alarm clock for 4AM to be able to call the Port Authority to see if the ferry would be going (it was set to leave at 7:30AM).  Tried to call.  No answer.   Went to the hotel reception to ask if I was dialing correctly.  They tried.  No answer.  They called the ferry company.  Not in til 6AM.  They said they would call me to let me know.  Went back to sleep (well, tried to anyway).  No call.  Called reception.  Said they would call me back in two minutes.  Reception calls.  Can’t get through to ferry company.  Will try again and call me.  Never called and I fell asleep.

At 9AM I went to the travel agency as they had requested.  They told me that they would refund the ticket for today but weren’t sure they could refund the second one because the strike was not set for that day.  Uh, but how can I use it when I can’t get there?  She made some calls and guess what?  The workers went back and the ferry did go.  Nice.

So they said they could book another one for tomorrow.  But I had paid for a night at the hotel, plus would have to pay for another night at the Athens hotel.

But, turns out there is a later ferry today from another port.  At 5:30PM.  Sold!  So I lose a half day in Mykonos but I gained breakfast at the hotel (which I would have forfeited to leave at 5:30AM), don’t have to rush around and deal with the bags on the crowded Metro, and the ticket was 6 euros cheaper so I got a refund.  All in all, a decent ending for a stressful situation.  As long as I can get the ferry back to the airport on Friday!

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  • Reply owen November 30, 2010 at 10:55 am

    In such circumstances Metaxa and baklava are your friends.

  • Reply Michael December 1, 2010 at 4:58 am

    Not ouzo?

  • Reply owen December 1, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Sure, why not. Sounds like you need all the help you can get.

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