I just need to pat myself on the back for a bit...and then majorly vent!
Our last few days in Albania were wonderful...busy, but wonderful! I need some MAJOR PROPS here, because anybody that has experienced the chaos of "Kristal-and-Steve-packing", knows how stressy and awful I can get. HOWEVER, I proudly confess that this time was different!
It was incredibly important to us that our last days be good ones so that we would say "good goodbyes" and leave without regrets. Untrue to our usual natures, we had all of our things packed and the apartment cleaned and ready to go days before our departure date....we even stayed with friends our last week to help the process along.
We had dinners scheduled with all of our closest friends and special times set aside to say goodbye. It was wonderful...it gave us lots of time to do lots of extras...like buy gifts for friends, develop pictures, take care of loose ends and even enjoy a few naps. We didn't even pull any all-nighters!! (those of you who know me best, realize that this was a HUGE accomplishment for me...please clap!!). All week I was rested, calm and not-overly-emotional (I think I was just the right amount emotional for someone going through what I was going through...saying goodbye to four beloved years of ministry and friendships).
9:15 the morning of our departure, Steve calls me to tell me the bus leaves at 9:30, not 10:00 as we thought. We quickly called our "send off-ers" and rushed ourselves, and the 350 lbs of our earthly belongings to the bus station, which thankfully was just down the street from our apartment, only to see OUR BUS drive away. "S'ka gje," says the bus agency lady,"you can get on the bus for Athens, then transfer to the Thessaloniki bus at the border!"
We say our last tearful goodbyes, and off we go.
(only continue reading if you'd like to be horrifically bored...)
We got to the border and made the switch...we personally transferred the 350 lbs of luggage out of the Athens bus and into the Thessaloniki bus. Whew! We handed the driver our tickets, and he smugly announced that it was the WRONG bus. He pointed out that our bus had already gone through the Albanian border and was on the Greek side. With dozens of accusing and laughing eyes on us (none offering to help of course), we got our 350 lbs of luggage and made off to the other side. At some point, I joking said to Steve, "Let's just pretend that we are on the Amazing Race." Completely unamused, he didn't respond.
The "no man's land" between the two borders is probably about 1/4 mile...but felt much longer. Wheeling as fast as we could, we finally made it to the Greek side...hot, sweaty, embarrassed, stressed, grumpy, and irritated. Steve was so strained from the mad jaunt that he was near to tossing his cookies! At long last, our bags and selves made it on the right bus, which was not air-conditioned and miserably stuffy and hot.
We got to Thessaloniki, got ourselves situated in hotel close to the train station (another exhausting non-adventure) only to find out that the train from Thessaloniki to Istanbul is not running and would not be for a long time!! Okay...plan B....take a bus...only to find our that there are no buses running to Istanbul. Plan C...MUST find a bus to Istanbul. It took hours, but we finally found one...only it leaves a day later than we expected (argh). Through all of this, ALL of the Greeks we have met have been anything but friendly or helpful.
Then, while walking to meet some friends for coffee, it started pouring. We got drenched. Friends showed up 1 1/2 hour late. (Sigh) Finished coffee, only to discover that Steve was sick with an earache. Check back into our hotel that we had only hours previously checked out of.
Oh my gosh. The last 36 hour have been so stressful! So much for a "vacation" before returning to the States. It's just ironic, because we've (for the first time in our lives!!) been meticulous in our planning, carefully putting up several safeguards so that we wouldn't be in this stressed position after leaving Albania!! (another sigh)...
Okay...I've thoroughly vented and am finally feeling slightly amused. Now, gotta get Steve to a pharmacy.