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Greece Day 7: We Nearly Came Back-Lava

By Meghana Veldhuis

· Greece 2023

Due to technical difficulties, pictures will be added later.

Day 7: March 24th, 2023

Hello my lovely readers—I am back within the same time zone as most of you! I’m sure some people would be unhappy to hear that, upon my return, I immediately opened up Word to draft this blog instead of sleeping or catching up on vitamin c or making a scrap book or something that doesn’t scream “screen-addicted teenager,” but I will accept the blow to my reputation. Such is the sacrifice I make as your blogger. You’re very welcome.

Anyway, today we had our latest departure from the hotel—11:00 am. Of course, in the true spirit of high schoolers, I think today was the one day where everybody got up early to enjoy their last foray into Athens. Today was Greek Independence Day—rather fitting with the values of our trip!—and many were out and about preparing for the festivities. It was a prime opportunity to practice the seven days’ worth of Greek I’ve learned. Kalimera. Efcharisto. S’agapo.

Then, directly on schedule, we left the hotel for Athens airport at 11:00 am. Most of the bus ride was spent complaining about all the homework we’ll have to catch up on and trying to convince Mr. Madden to turn next week into excused absences for all of us (he did not go along with it because BCA is not a democracy and he does not have to listen to us). We said goodbye to the orange trees, the sheep, the cats, and the acropolis (though that one took a while; we had to get pretty far before no longer seeing it).

At the airport, we had a fun hour of ticket mishaps (not all the chaperons were initially on the same flight) that ultimately got rectified. Then we had another hour of enjoying the airport before our flight, of which there was much to enjoy. I bought a 0.75 mL bottle of water for 0.90 Euros! And there wasn’t even tax added on later, because that’s how Euros work! Of course I bought another one: just looking at a bottle of water in an American airport probably costs more than 0.90 Euros.

Our first flight was a short one to Switzerland. Swiss airline gave us nice little chocolate bars at the end, because they know how to retain customers. We landed at about 4:45 pm CET in Zurich (so 5:45 pm EET). As I said before, it was a short one. However, we had scheduled only a 50-minute layover in Zurich, and our flight had been delayed by 25 minutes due to the wind. 25 remaining minutes is a difficult layover, especially in Zurich airport where there is the standard lengthy passport check on top of terminals that are connected by trains that only run every six minutes and are filled with people angrily shouting French at you. For those 25 minutes, despite our chaperones’ reassurances, I know many of us genuinely thought we might not make the plane. We tried to use our skills as quasi-New Yorkers who’ve been to Port Authority to push our way onto the train, but the French force was stronger. I shouldn’t judge them too hard, though; I considered using my IB French SL skills to angrily shout back. The tension just does that to you.

Fortunately, I did live out my Hallmark movie fantasy of dramatically running through an airport, except, instead of running towards a lover I am soon to lose, I was running away the possibility of spending 24 more hours in Zurich airport. It’s a lovely airport, but I’m honestly kind of eager to end this blog series, and I think “Day 8: Zur-Itching to Actually Get Home” might have been a bit much.

None of us missed the flight; rather, the gate security complimented our running—I told you BCA stands for “Bergen County Athletics”—and we all boarded the flight together, on time.

Our flight left at 6:00 pm CET and was a total of eight and a half hours—a fact of which our pilot was very proud of and repeated many times. Of course, this meant we landed at 2:30 am CET, or 9:30 pm EST. This meant that we effectively time traveled backwards, proving anything anybody’s doing in AP Physics wrong.

(Please don’t come after me, AP Physics students. Calculate my velocity as I run away.)

This flight did not have stairs to a bathroom, but it did have more chocolate and, even better, near-constant views of the sunset. Due to the perfect time of our departure, we were perpetually flying over the area of the Earth that was experiencing sunset. I saw the sunset over the ocean, the sunset over land, the sunset over the ocean and the land, the sunset over the airplane wing, the sunset over the clouds…I fell asleep to the sunset and woke back up the sunset. It was like living in a Monet painting.

Because of this time travel, we were served two meals—dinner as it was evening when we were exiting Switzerland, and another dinner as it was evening when we were entering Newark. The Swiss dinner was on a white tray with cutlery and dessert; the American dinner was folded pizza in a cardboard box. Swiss airlines just wants us to remember whose culture is superior.

When we landed in Newark, we were immediately yelled at for standing and trying to take attendance in an inconvenient spot, and I knew that I was back home. Greek hospitality was starting to feel just a bit uncanny. We went through customs and saw the group that went to the London Theater trip, which was a fun real-life crossover, and then collected our luggage and went to find our bus. Somehow, we ended up walking downstairs and back upstairs for this because we kept getting the bus’s location wrong. We were all tired.

We finally arrived at BCA to be picked up by our families at midnight EST, or 6:00 am in Greece (so at that point we may as well just have stayed awake and started our days).

Well, I suppose that’s it, everybody! Here I am at goodness knows what time—the world has too many time zones—finishing typing this up so that we may all have a record of our lovely time in Greece. Thank you BCA for sending us to Greece and thank you Greece for receiving BCA so well. Thank you to everybody involved in making this happen.

And, at the risk of sounding insufferable, thank you to all of you readers for trusting me to share this journey with you. I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip as much as I have.