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Monday, 17 June 2013

Six days to go - and problems already?

I had a bit of a fright today - but then again, this IS Greece, and as much as I enjoy living here, I shouldn't be surprised.  Let me explain:

"Contact the cargo terminal no more than 7 days before departure to check the exact arrival/departure of the ship" I am informed by my agents in the UK.  And so today, approx. six days before departure, I call the terminal in Piraeus.

I should learn not to be so British - you'd have thought I'd have learnt after four and a bit years in Greece.

The first bit is easy.  I am told by a nice man that the ship arrives on 23rd June and leaves very early morning 24th June.  As I'd been given the Internet site for tracking this, I knew this already.
"Just give the men at the security gate a ring to let them know you'll be boarding" says the nice man.

So I do.  And this is where the 'problems' start.

"This is not a cruise ship.  You cannot just turn up and expect to get on" the man shouts at me.  'Shouts' did I say?  In retrospect, maybe he was just at normal Grecian pitch.

"I have a booking" I patiently explain, lowering my voice, hoping he'll lower his.  Er, no...this merely serves to increase his shouting.

"Listen to me, kyria [lady].  You have to contact the agent and we have to get papers stamped to approve you.  You cannot just turn up at the security gate, expecting to get on a ship."

I was in the middle of telling him that I was told to call him when I heard the distinct click of the phone being replaced.  Hmm, OK, time for Bex to get 'efficient' (think no more lowered voices from me).

After a phone call to my agent in London, she kindly sorts it within an hour.  I, in the meantime, had been given the wrong agent's details in Athens, yet was liaising with a VERY nice man, a Mr. Klimis who spoke in a calm manner and even teased me good-naturedly about my efforts to speak Greek. 
Once we established (after about an hour) he was the wrong shipping agent, he even wished me a nice day and gave me the correct agent's details, plus the name of who to speak to.

Upon phoning the correct agent, the man there was equally as nice. 
"We can come and collect you from the airport Kyria, take you directly to the ship."

"I live in Athens.  Can you come to my home instead?"

"Ah no, I thought you come through airport.  So, you must clear Immigration first as no immigration at cargo port.  Call again later this week - more likely we will arrange to meet you at the cruise terminal where you will clear immigration and then we take you to ship.  OK?"

Yes, this was OK thank you very much as both the wrong and the right agent were very nice!

"Will you help me through the security?" I hesitantly asked.

"Yes, don't you worry Kirya, we will help you. Call later in the week, it's too early at the moment" (I mentioned I'm so British sometimes).

So now I am becoming somewhat excited!  Here's a little video I made so you can see and hear the Face of Bex ...also good practise for my video camera.  You'll notice that I'm not very good at making such films, so please cut me some slack!

Stay tuned all.
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