I made it to Greece after fifteen months in beautiful South Africa. Initially I was visiting South Africa for two weeks back in March 2020 before making my way to Europe for a bit of fun then starting work for the European summer. Obviously this didn't go to plan and with the pandemic and SA going into hard lockdown I decided to stay.
We had jobs on the Greek island of Crete and had planned to work the 2021 summer season. With Covid and Mike having visa problems I decided to go alone in the hopes Mike would join me within the month (we are still hoping and have our fingers crossed SA doesn't close its borders... again).
I packed all my belongings back into my suitcase (plus an extra bag with all the bits and pieces I had accumulated in the last year) and left my South African family behind for who knows how long. I had a flight booked out of Durban and then a one night stop in Johannesburg saying goodbye to Mikes family (who I now call my family). After a rushed drive to the airport, leaving my boarding pass at the counter (the sweetest check in lady came and found me) and a very sad goodbye I was off to Johannesburg.
My international flight was Johannesburg -> Doha -> Athens -> Chania (pronounced Haa-Nee-Uh).
After not travelling internationally for 15 months I was super nervous, even after travelling half the world solo in the six or so years prior to Covid. It had been a long while and I just hoped everything would go smoothly. I had about twenty hours of travel before I would be arriving in Chania to start a new job in a new country after a year of already living in a foreign country, hardly working... I was slightly terrified.
I hoped I wouldn't come into any trouble as I had the negative PCR test, work contract, my European passport and other new Covid related travel documents. Boy was I in for a surprise, I got to O.R Tambo airport exactly three hours prior to my flight to be halted at check-in. I apparently hadn't verified the payment of my flight and therefore had to show the credit card used to book my flight. The only problem was mum booked it from Australia (I thought I would be able to use my flight credit from my 2020 flight... but there was no available flights and I was starting work in a week. So mum did me a favour as I hadn't saved enough money to book my flight, so thanks mum).
Tears, stress levels through the roof, a few swear words, running to atms, phoning mum at 2am Australia time, hours at the check in counter, having to pay for my flight three times and delays on the tarmac, I was definitely having second thoughts.
The plane finally took off and I was finally leaving SA, with very mixed emotions.
I had literally twenty minutes in Doha and got escorted to my next flight. When I arrived in Athens a rapid Covid test was needed, a quick look at my passport and then I was in Europe. What a relief.
The relief was short lived as I was just about to find out my dive bag had been left behind in the mad rush in Doha. I literally laughed out loud and tried not to yell at the poor lady having to give me more bad news. I got all the paperwork and was ensured my bag would be on the next flight. So I dragged myself up to check in for my domestic flight to be bombarded with happy Europeans heading on Greek Island holidays. It definitely lifted my mood.
I had a few hours to kill so I snacked on South African muesli bars and spanakopita.
On arrival in Chania a colleague was waiting for me and we headed off to Almyrida (my new home). I expected a day off to settle in, but was told I was starting work the next day. It didn't bother me as I didn't want to think of the 24 hours I had just had. (My bag did arrive the next evening as promised).
I settled in to my apartment over the next few days, tasted greek food and got stuck into work, trying not to miss Michael.
I am super stoked to have a second summer and be working again.
I got a big welcome back to the world of travel, it's safe to say I was way out of practice.
In the next few weeks keep an eye out for another post about diving in Crete, the local area and some of my favourite greek dishes.