Hangzhou Global Tour: Day 14
Today we boarded an Aegean flight from Athens to Mykonos, which was a very enjoyable experience. The plane had 3-4 more inches of legroom than our Air France international flight a couple days earlier. We boarded the airplane from the tarmac and found the flight attendants to be smartly dressed and very friendly…it reminded me a bit of what flying used to be like. This flight took a mere 30 minutes and took us over some spectacular blue waters speckled with Greek islands.
Mykonos, like many of the Greek Isles, is as beautiful as the postcards and photos you’ve seen. The skies are as blue as the water, and the contrasting white and pale colored structures make every photo look like a professional took it.
We had lunch on a patio at a hillside restaurant that provided some pretty spectacular views of the water, while also shading us from the sun with a series of sail-like awnings. We were soon off to explore the other side of the island. As we drove along some very narrow and winding roads, we arrived at Paradise Beach, a well-known area among the young folk. This area reminded me a lot of what a college spring break would look like. Beautiful bodies and beaches, amazingly warm and blue water, and lots of clubs playing dance music along with encouraging drinking games.
While some members of our group decided to soak up some sun in paradise, I saw a trail that meandered along the coast I thought I’d explore. The trail led up and over a hill that looked down on Paradise Beach. As I continued, I walked past some palatial homes overlooking the water, along with a number of mega yachts anchored just off shore. I found a spot where I could work my way back down to the water and took a seat for a moment to ponder the beauty before me. It didn’t take long before I removed my shirt and shoes to jump into the brilliant blue water to cool off.
After some fun-in-the-sun we drove to another spot on the island that is popular among visitors, where a row of windmills were on display. While the two families did some filming, the rest of us went off to explore a bit. Following the cobblestone road toward the water, I veered off down a narrow alley taking me away from the throngs of people down a path that seemed to lead me into a residential area. It was so quaint…I could smell the scent of local food being cooked, laundry being line dried and residents walking home from the market.
As the afternoon waned, it was time for the next portion of our journey to begin…boarding a Costa cruise ship. Unfortunately, our tour bus driver dropped us off at the wrong location. We soon discovered the correct pick-up spot was a long walk away, especially with the piles of luggage we now had in our possession since our bus left the station. One of our group leaders found a Costa representative who arranged for a tender to actually pick us up at the pier were we all stood. It was amazing; the folks at Costa were so gracious and accommodating. The group went from frustration, to elation. We did however burn over an hour during the delay and missed our dinner reservations on board.
We were cruising along in our transport tender toward the cruise ship; everyone was very excited for the next phase of our journey aboard the Costa Deliziosa. We arrived at the ship and were boarded by security personnel to check our passports and cruise reservations…when the unexpected happened. As an American passport holder, there are only a few countries in the world that require advanced visas, but that is not case for other country passport holders as we discovered. The Zhou Zhen family thought they had their European and U.S. visas in order, but apparently they were only allowed one entry in and out of the European Union (EU). Since the cruise ship was going to Croatia as one of our stops (a non-EU member), this meant that the Zhou Zhen family would be entering and leaving the EU twice, therefore the captain of the Deliziosa could not allow the family to board. The team had been on an emotional rollercoaster and it was quite difficult for us to leave part of our extended family behind, however we had no choice. No travel excursion around the world could possibility go smoothly all of the time, but this was a tough blow for our team.
It was after 10pm before we got something to eat and settled in our accommodations for the evening. We learned that the Zhou Zhen family stayed an extra night in Mykonos and then flew to Milan where Zhen is surprising his wife Shukun with a makeover. They will meet us in Venice, Italy in a few days, at the end of this cruise, where we will all be reunited once again.
Stay tuned for my next update from Santorini, another Greek Island we’ll visit.