April 10, 2022

Chris’ Excellent European Adventure

On March 12, I was fly out of Washington Dulles airport (IAD) headed for London Heathrow (LHR) the next day. I was traveling to attend Oceanology, which I had done every other year since 2010. Except for 2020. We all knew what happened then….

This part of the trip was a company sponsored professional development plan. Oceanology is the leading conference in underwater technology, and I’ve been in the underwater business for virtually my entire professional career. It’s a good conference with the latest and greatest ongoings in the industry.

As part of this “boondoggle”, I decided that while I was in the “neighborhood”, I would travel to Greece and see my cousin Pam who has a villa not too far from Kranidi, Greece. She’s been living there after semi-retirement from the real estate business in San Francisco. She had invited us to go last time for Oceanology, but that didn’t happen.

So, after spending a week in London I was scheduled to fly to Athens the following Saturday, spend a week in Greece, a couple of days with Pam and Emilio and then a couple of days in Athens.

The week of Oceanology went well, but on Thursday I found myself with a very runny nose and scratchy throat. I thought nothing of it as it’s spring and pollen season but unfortunately it was a harbinger of things to come.

By the time I traveled to Athens, the symptoms were bit worse, but not anything that I would call significant. Pam picked me up at the airport and it’s about a 3 hour ride westward to her villa.

After several days of bopping around the area, Pam’s partner, Emilio and I took the bus to Athens for a couple of days. We did the Acropolis, Agura, Archeological museum, and walked around a lot seeing the sights. Emilio returned back to the villa on Thursday and I was on my own.

Friday was a national holiday of some sort in Greece and so nothing was open. I need to get an antigen test and the only option I could find was at the airport, so off I went.

The test was done, and I was riding on the metro back into Athens during which time of course there was no cell signal. Exiting the metro station, the result e-mail popped up on my phone. Imagine my surprise when it said positive. Yippie-Ki-Yay.

So, I went back to the hotel and called Pam and we decided I would take the ferry to Ermioni the next day and just hang out with Pam until the dust settled. After a quick flight change to March 30th I went to bed.

The ferry wasn’t until 5 p.m. the next day, so I hung around the hotel as long as possible and took a cab to Piraeus, the port south of Athens. Getting comfortable I binge watched Dr. Who on my tablet while waiting for the ferry. It’s about a 3 hour ride, and Pam was there waiting for me upon arrival.

The next day, I began the research into what exactly this all meant. There is a lot of conflicting information and to be honest it’s a challenge figuring it all out. What I finally realized, is you can fly with a positive test result, but you have to have a “Document of Recovery” from a Doctor.

The CDC says that you can travel with a positive test result and the document 5 days after onset of symptoms. So, I could get my letter on Tuesday and be good to go to fly out on Wednesday the 30th.

I managed to find the lovely Dr. Elena in Kranidi, who found the whole thing quite amusing. I had printed out a template of a letter, and all she was willing to do was hand write the details in the blanks in the letter. So, getting back the villa, I submitted all the paperwork to my friends at United and they refused to accept it.

So I called them and after quite a bit of haranguing, it became clear. The airlines have dictated that you can fly 10 days after a positive test result. End of conversation. Ouch.

So a quick call to Melanie, and discussing it with Pam, I decided to just hang out until April 5th. The downside is I had already checked in for my flight from Athens to London on BA. I spent several hours trying to change that, and all I got was a voucher that now appears to be virtually useless. I tried to use it to rebook my flight, but it wouldn’t let me so I just paid for another fight. I’ll fight that fight another day.

After that, it was kinda like Ground Hog day, the movie. the same thing every day. There were numerous honeydoo’s needing attention around the villa, and I was more than happy to take care of those while I waited.

Pam and I did take a trip to Spetses on Saturday to meet her friend Jovanna for lunch. It was a nice trip, and lunch was very nice. It was good to get out of the villa. Spetses is very beautiful, but I’m told that in tourist season it’s very busy.

After that, it was all leading up to the flight out on Tuesday.

The day before, I tried to do the document upload thing again to United, but again they refused to accept it.

I decided to go ahead and travel. taking the 5 o’clock bus on Monday, stay the night near the airport in Athens and then fly out on the 10:30 flight to London.

All that went fairly well, and finally I was at the United check in counter at Heathrow. To be kind I was anxious about the whole thing.

The agent asked for my passport and negative test result, and I told her I had a positive test result and letter of recovery. She asked for the documents. I dug them out of my bag and gave them to her. She looked over them for a couple of minutes, doing a mental check of the timing, and then started tapping on the screen of the kiosk and then handed me a boarding pass.

Hoo boy. I’ll tell you I almost leapt with joy. Keeping my cool, I thanked her, gathered my stuff and headed toward security. After clearing security, I made my way to the United lounge and had a nice glass of wine and hearty lunch.

Shortly thereafter, I was on the plane headed home.

What a relief.

I’ve got a gazillion photos to share, and will post those over the next couple of weeks.

Until then

written by Chris - Posted in Yapping