It started out that just Mae and I would go to Chios for her Spring Break……but in the last month it morphed into a trip with Max and 2 of his buddies added. Listen people, airfares are CHEAP right now. I know, there is a virus pandemic …..but that was not going to stop us!
We all started in Phoenix, some of us went by way of JFK in NYC, others Minneapolis….all in all we left Phoenix within 10 minutes of each other and arrived in Athens 25 hours later within 10 minutes of each other! Truly amazing!
Mae and I had a 6-1/2 hour lay over in Amsterdam and Mae had never been so of course got tickets to the Anne Frank House (can only be purchased online, sold 2 months in advance and you have to choose a time). I’d been 36 years ago but was excited to see it through Mae’s eyes.
We arrived in Amsterdam at 6am so we stored our roller bags at the airport and headed by train to the city center. It was a short 15 minuted ride- 3 stops away. The morning light was just just peeking over the clouds when we left the train station to start the 20 minute walk to the museum. The morning was cool and the light perfect. Flowers bloomed like confetti in a parade in planters lining the streets.
The city was quiet, work trucks plied the small lanes loaded with linens and produce. We found a hotel with an open tea room and stopped to get a bite to eat. We could see the light creeping into the park just outside our table window.
We started walking towards the museum along with throngs of parents biking their children to school. The most amazing bikes and configurations of bikes + kids.
We were part of the 1st time to get into the house. We were given audio packs to hear bits and pieces of the time and place that had Anne trapped in the house those years – we went from room to room, up crazy steep steps to the spaces Anne and her family and occupied. The mood was heavy and the stories told and videos shown were gut wrenching.
We back tracked our way to the airport – this time adding a tram ride to the train ride. Gathering our bags we made our way back into the airport and met up with Marin who’d flown in from NYC. Max and Sam flew from NYC to Zurich. It was an easy 2 hour 40 minute flight to Athens.
Soon we were all in the baggage area in Athens, collection the aid we’d checked in at Phoenix and making our way to our flight from Athens to Chios. It was a quick 30 minute flight from Athens to Chios. The sun was setting and the sea was shimmering in the waning light.
We checked into the hotel in town i’d stayed at a couple of my trips to Chios. A block off the main port area it is a small 7 room, “2 Star” hotel. Hasib who’d i’d met 2 years ago on my first visit to Chios met us at the airport, drove with us to the hotel and we ate dinner with him. At 21 he is a bit older then Max, Sam and Marin who are 20 but in many ways they are very similar but in most oceans apart.
Hasib left Afghanistan when he was 14 when his mother told him to leave Afghanistan because it was not safe for him. So he walked to Greece. Stopping and working along the way. It took him over a year. Today he has his Greek citizenship but it was hard won. Yet he still is quick to smile and always willing to lend a helping hand. Mae and I went up to the room and the guys walked Hasib home about 15 minutes from our hotel.
Tensions are high on the island – more so now as the last provence in Syria is falling and upwards of 800,000 people are fleeing Syria for Turkey. Last week Turkey said they would open their borders which means that Greece and the 4 islands the refugees land on have seen a steady increase of boat landings. The locals are tired, Greece is tired, the refugees are tired.