On a sunny September morning, I called 3 friends from work to see what they were upto the next 2 days, I told them that there were some seats available on staff travel to Athens that afternoon departing Luton at 14:40 it would give us 24 hours in Athens before departing back for Luton the next night, so we booked, in the meantime I was speaking to fellow anetter Kazzie, she asked how I was and what I was upto, mentioned I had just booked a trip to Athens later that day, she said it would be pretty cool to go, so after a couple of phone calls and emails to HR at work, Kazzie was eligible for staff travel for easyJet and her ticket was booked, now for the mad rush, we had just 2 and half hours to get packed, get to airport and checked in....
20 minutes later, I left my house and went to pick up Kaz, we headed to Luton to pick up Lucy and Luke who were my friends from work, Tyron another work mate met us in the staff car park at LTN, we jumped on the staff bus and headed around to the terminal, we went straight to check in and used the "hand baggage only" desk, apart from kaz who appeared to bring just about everything bar the kitchen sink so she had to check in as normal.
As usual we flashed our staff passes and got pre-boarded, our aircraft was to board from Gate 11 as our aircraft today wasnt the usual easyJet 737, it was a subchartered 757-200 from Air Finland OH-AFJ....
So we all checked in and headed for security, cleared there and headed straight to 'Bar Est' for a nice cold beer, we decided not to hang around in departures so headed to the gate area where we would be boarding from.
Our flight was called for boarding at 1400, as usual, families with children and pre-boards to wait at front of lounge then people segregated into their boarding groups A, B, C and finally D, D being the shittiest one as you the last to board.
Photo © Globalpics
At 1410 the aircraft was ready for boarding, along with the families with children we walked down the stairs and out to our aircraft, we boarded through door L2 and chose the seats 1 A, B and C and 2 A and B, boarding took around 15 mins to complete, in the meantime myself and Kaz went to the flight deck to speak to the crew who advised us that the trip would be smooth with clear skies and would take 3hr 17mins.
At 1430 the despatcher boarded the aircraft to tell the captain that we were missing passengers and the gate had been closed, meaning a delay in departure whilst there bag was identified and offloaded. Finally after 15 mins the bag was found and we were on our way, we pushed back and taxied to runway 26, as it was quiet at LTN there was no holding, we backtracked to the turning circle, did 180 degree turn and off we went, rotating about 2/3 down the runway, up over the town of Luton turning left to avoid the residential area, turning left again over Hemel Hempstead and heading out towards Clacton, on the left hand side we got a good view of LTN as we climbed out. The cabin crew announced that they would show a movie, to help pass the time, todays film would be Shrek 2 but said they had no earphones but we were welcome to use our own they also said for those that didnt have earphones the movie is subtitled but failed to tell us they were finnish subtitles...in the end i decided to give it a miss and got out the PSP and played gangs of london...anyway time slowly went by, the captain didnt once update us on our position, estimated time of arrival or weather in Athens, we sorta knew we were far away as it was dark about 2 hours into the flight....
Before we knew it we were descending, a few turns here and there before making approach into Athens, cant recall which runway...anyway taxi to the terminal was about 5 minutes, we docked with the airbridge and exited via door L1, then we had a trek (accompanied by Gurkha Guides) to the passport control, Luke our friend realised he had left his passport on the aircraft so had to run all the way back....we cleared passport control and had to go to baggage claim to get Kaz's bag.
After collecting her bag we exited the terminal, wondering what to do next, here we were 5 of us in a country none of us had visited, with no hotel, no idea where to find one and it was already 9:30pm... so Tyron and me walked across the road to the airport hotel to see if they got a room, the only room they had was €600 which we declined but he did tell us to take a bus to a place called Glyfada where we would find hotels and a few pubs and clubs...so we joined the bus queue (avoiding the dog shit all over the pavement) and bought our ticket to Glyfada. We got on this bus that looked like it had seen better days and seemed like it had Michael Schumacher behind the wheel, the journey took about 40 minutes. First thing we did was find McDonalds, we were starving, eventually found one and had a good feed. Next stop was to find a hotel we eventually found one on the sea front in Glyfada, being 5 of us it could of worked out expensive and as we were only gonna use the room for about 10 hours we decided we would all bunk down in a twin room, so Tyron and me took all the bags, leaving the others outside and asked for a twin room, he gave us one for €100, we dumped all our stuff in the room and headed out to find a night club, after walking for what seemed a lifetime we found one, we went up to the door and was told €15 to get in and included a drink not bad we thought, but then was told it would be €10 a drink after that, eventually we decided we didnt wanna be ripped off so walked away into the night looking for another club, sadly we never found one our only alcohol that night came from a 24hr street vendor selling Heinikken for €1 after walking around for 2 hrs we finally found the hotel, we sneaked in and got our heads down for a nights sleep.