At last the long awaited day. I did my handover list, cleaned up my desk and said my happy goodbyes for the next 12 days before waltzing my way home after work! It was a 2am flight that evening so the night seemed so young and evidently my friends thought the same – our #Greekon WhatsApp group had been buzzing a few days before the trip!
Changi Airport – a place where excites me of the infinite places that lie ahead of all who come through its gates. We were flying via Scoot this trip and were all NOT looking forward to a 11.5 hour flight with no food and no entertainment.
HOW WE SURVIVED AN 11 HOUR FLIGHT ON A BUDGET FLIGHT
- Eat something, anything
We checked in early around midnight and went to the foodcourt on the second floor of the departures section. As all 5 of us wanted to eat something different, a food court works best. Soon, there were steaming bowls of Ba Ku Teh, Pig’s Trotters, Kimchi Stew and Beef Noodles on the table, with happy, hungry faces slurping everything up.
We also bought snacks to eat on the plane once we got hungry. By snacks, I meant sushi rolls, Onigiri, grapes and, by ‘once we get hungry’, I really meant every 2 hours. #foreverhungry woes.
2. Water, water ,water
We brought water bottles or bought water bottles from the nearest 7-11 before we boarded. Of course, we had to finish our water before going through the bag checks but Changi is awesome with water coolers everywhere so no worries, fill up your bottle before boarding the plane.
Why should you do that? Because a bottle of Evian on Scoot is 5 SGD and you need more water than one bottle of 350ml. consider yourselves warned.
3. Netflix, YouTube or…
Whichever your choice of video entertainment, prepare before hand by downloading videos onto your phone or tablet! My vice of choice is Netflix as they allow you to download episodes for future offline viewing! (The videos do expire but only after 2 weeks) So I downloaded Anne with an E and Bad Guys (Korean) onto my iPad before leaving – which was really GREAT as each episode was 45 mins and I finished 4 episodes on the plane = 180 mins or 3 hours of the 11.5 hours, 8.5 to go!
A red-eye flight means you should get as much sleep as you can – at least you wont be sporting massive eye-bags when you begin your vacation. At 1.65m (5 feet 4), I have just enough space to stretch my legs and get a good number of hours of sleep before feeling uncomfortable. For this long flight, I was on the aisle but was also wishing for more space!
If you are taller than I am, always request for aisle seats or cross your fingers and pray that no one seats behind you on the flight then you get to push your seats further down and have your own ‘almost-premium economy’ seats.
5. Wrap up warm and comfy
Believer of airport fashion or not, airport and airplanes in particular are generally cold. If you come in shorts or a tank, come prepared with a jacket or a shawl to keep the body warm whilst you try to fall asleep! Especially important in budget flights as they do not have blankets provided – although there is an option to buy a blanket, eye mask and back pillow on Scoot for upwards of 10 SGD / set.
So with all that, we finally landed in Athens at 8am local time, all surprisingly awake and enthusiastic from the flight. Queue for immigration moved fast – faster for the EU queue but the presence of many booths made our ‘All other passports’ queue moved quickly too! Once out of the Arrivals gate, we went searching for breakfast because #priorities. We had to collect ferry tickets from Dolphin Hellas (a tour operator) near the Acropolis which was about an hour away but the tummy needed feeding and fed it shall be.
After breakfast at one the cafes in the airport, (which had the most amazing lattes by the way) we walked out of door 4 of the airport arrivals and connected to the train station nearby. We bought a 90 min ticket for all transportation modes for 1.40 euros and were soon on our way to the Akropoli (Ακρόπολη) Metro station!
We reached the Akropoli metro station about an hour later, after a picturesque train ride into the city center and started looking for where we were supposed to collect our ferry tickets as we were to travel onward to the islands that evening. Found the shop after walking around a little and got our tickets to the islands! We got one way tickets on Blue Star Ferries to Paros and then to Santorini, taking a flight back to Athens after.
Dolphin Hellas is a tour operator we found online that sold ferry tickets in advance at reasonable prices! You can book tickets here for both ferry and plane rides within Greece.
Next up was lunch! We walked around the area around the Acropolis in the Grecian heat and chanced upon Smile Restaurant – recommended by Tripadvisor coincidently! Official website here for reference! We sat outside because, why sit indoors when you have blue skies and you are on holiday?
We ordered pork gyros, fried meat balls, prawn linguine, with fried greek donuts (Loukoumades) served with vanilla ice cream and honey for dessert to share between the 5 of us. The waiter also recommended this drink called Mountain Tea which tasted like a mix of chrysanthemum and elderflower.
I highly recommend the pork gyros with pita, along with the greek donuts. Pita bread in Greece tastes so much better than I have ever tasted – fragrant, soft and sweet. SO GOOD. Not just limited to Smile Restaurant, every where we went, gyros was almost always ordered and pita bread was savoured – eyes closed with a smile. The Greek donuts were amazing as well – and this was the only time we actually had the greek donuts because so many things to eat, too little meals to eat them all 😦
The next thing we did was to walk around the Acropolis – the architecture, the streets and the blue doors against white walls. Our ferry was to leave at 545pm and we just needed about 40 mins to get to Piraeus Port from where we were.
We walked down a few metro stations and got SIM cards along the way to the Piraeus port! (Details on sim cards in Greece here) Continue reading about day 1 in Greece in the next blog post: Next Stop, Paros!