December 2005. That week seemed to me endless. I was looking forward to Saturday’s morning as I would catch the train to go to the airport and pick up my sisters who were coming from Cyprus for a long week in Greece ! I was going to welcome them for the first time in my new home in Athens and I wanted to do everything to show them that I had learned everything I needed to know in order to live in this crazy city. I had already completed three months as a student in Athens and one of the most important things that was feeling proud of was that I was no longer losing my orientation every time that I was entering in the train…
Square Panormou on Saturday morning hosts one of the biggest flea markets, from which it appears that the whole neighborhood shops-except me of course! After I’ve crossed it , I walked to the subway, I bought my ticket, (then its price was only 20 cents for the students) and headed toward the escalator to catch the metro line to the DuchessPlakentias- Airport. It was the first time I was taking the train to the airport. I figured, why pay for a taxi, since there cheaper means of transportation?
I took a glimpse at my watch, my sisters would arrive at 10:15 and it was only 9. I wanted to be there before them so they wouldn’t have to wait..
At the Duchess Plakentias Station I’ve changed train line and now I was on my way to the airport. In the train, there were several empty seats and it seemed-from the luggage left all around-that most of passengers would go to the last stop(airport), like me. I sat as always, next to the window because I always liked looking this alternation of images outside, that is determined from the speed of the train. Eventually, I noticed that the train was going slower than the usual but I did not pay attention. I began to lose myself in my plans for the week that I would spent with my sisters in Athens and I was really happy as for the first time, would be the leader of the gang … until we arrived at Pallini. A gentleman came hurriedly to train and shouted: “Your tickets please!”
It was the first time that I was encounting the ticket controller. I pulled out immediately my ticket from my wallet and waited with confidence. When he came near me and took the ticket in his hands, the expression of his face was enough to make my confidence turn into panic. “Are you kidding miss? he asked me”. I asked him back what he was meaning and I felt my heart pounding. “This ticket is not valid for the airport. Applies only to the metro line until Douchess- Plakentias. For the airport, the ticket costs 6 euros, he said pointing to the 6 and making the few (thankfully) travelers to turn toward him to see what was the “smart” lady who wanted to fool the controller. I just wanted to open the earth and disappear. I was thinking that I wouldn’t convince him that I’m “innocent”. Whether he would ask me to step outside the train or I would have to pay an expensive fine for my naivety to think that with only 20 cents I would easily and economically go to the airport without even asking somebody who knows better the route.
I was about to start crying but luckily I did not. I tried to stay calm and honestly told him that I’m only three months in Athens and this was the first time I was doing the trip so I accidentally “cheated”. From his look I figured that he believed me. “Although I’m not used to it, in your case I will make a blind eye. Henceforth, be more careful, he said and walked towards the exit, before I even tell him thanks.
In my panic, I hadn’t noticed that the train was remaining at Pallini Station for over a quarter. Once I’ve realized it, I heard someone from the outside to say that there is a technical problem. It was already 10 o’clock. Instead of feeling calm as the matter of the wrong tiket was over, now I was even more upset that I knew I would be late I don’t remember how many minutes we were left in Pallini, nor the exact time I arrived at the airport. What I remember is that my sisters were already there waiting for me, feeling anxious due to the dozens of unanswered call on my cell phone. I started to cry..I was feeling stressed from all this. However, the girls left them believe that it was just tears of emotion to see them back after so long. Even if it wasn’t normal to cry my heart out only because I haven’t seen them for 3 months…
Irene and Evangelia, now you know why I insisted that we take a taxi!
The week went as happily as I’ve imagined. Shopping, strolling, late nights, bouzouki background, in the city … that gave me some of the most special moments of my life, Athens!
graduate of the Panteion University