It was not snowing when we went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. The buffet was impressive! Which was a nice change from last nights pathetic dinner buffet. We had 3-Ikea Dimpa bags with us, our plan was to distribute the aid we had been given (by friends and family) where most needed. While the islands in Greece are struggling with the recent snow, the situation in Serbia is reminiscent of the issues that plagued the refugees as they were arriving in Greece. Little or no support, NGO’s not able to get into the camps. Our new underwear and winter wear would be very welcome in Serbia.
The problem is that it is very difficult to get aid into Serbia- so our unexpected lay over will be a boom for the local NGO that CTF works with. Leo who works with unaccompanied minors and young people was able to stop by the hotel and pick up the 3 bags. We learned that there are approximately 7,000 refugees stuck in Serbia,they are spread out in 10-12 camps. There are over 500 children under the age of 3. The government will only let 50 people leave the country a day.
Our flight to Athens was supposed to leave at 1:15, we left for the airport from the hotel at 10:30 and had had just enough time to make the flight. In Serbia the airport security happens at each gate area (there are only about 15 gates in the airport), interesting how each country is different. The US TSA would loose their minds over this!
It was an easy 75 min flight to Athens. On our approach the surrounding mountains were
covered in snow- beautiful, but cannot help but think of the 70,000+ refugees some of whom are still in tents.
Our next few days will be full ones. We will head over to the main warehouse in Athens that opens at 11:00 tomorrow to pack up 500 baby carriers, load them into the van that gets dropped off at the hotel tomorrow morning at 10am and start our 690 mile drive North, thru Macedonia and back to Belgrade, Serbia. What took 75 min by plane- Google Maps is saying it will take us 11 hours 30 min to drive. Our plan is to make it to Northern Greece or southern Macedonia tomorrow, then head up the rest of the way to Belgrade on Thurs. Customs is open in Serbia only until 3pm Mon-Fri so we will get up extra early on Thurs morning to make sure we make it to Belgrade in time. We would also have Friday if the driving conditions are bad or we just need to go slower. Amanda is from Canada, BC and this kind of weather and driving conditions are what she is used to!
I am a little concerned about the cold so you may think i’m wearing the same clothes like, everyday- but I will continue to add layers underneath my clothing for the next couple days we are in route. My North Dakota people are shaking their heads in disgust at how weak I have become!
We went into Central Athens for dinner- to a yummy traditional Greek restaurant- there were still tons of people walking about area. Didn’t seem like that many tourist, and many of the tourist shops were closed.