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Our Athens Move

On the 3rd of April 2021, we went for our final icy Atlantic swim – it felt so good and we really treasured it. I’ve loved the cold swims and I’m sorry I only discovered this so late into my living in Cape Town. Better late than never and for those who asked, we will continue with our ice baths in Greece, like we did when the beaches were banned in lockdown. We actually don’t need to add any ice at the moment because the cold water from the taps is about 12-14 degrees.

After our swim, we rushed back to our hotel, Place on The Bay, to pack up our final bits. It still felt like chaos at 12pm, and our transport was arriving at 2pm. We were spinning.

C-H-A-O-S
A thoughtful gift from lovely friends

We had friends swing past and that was so emotional. Lots of tears, long tight hugs and sentimental words. It was hard.
At 2pm, our transport arrived. Jarrat Tours are honestly incredible when it comes to transport! They do tours, transport for tourists and so on and always have cold waters in the shuttle and this time they had a little Easter Egg bag and toy cars for the boys. What a lovely touch. I can’t recommend them enough, so if you ever find yourself traveling to CT / JHB check them out.

It was insane to see how full the shuttle was with our luggage. Sox, George and I had 2 large suitcases each, and Alexi was allowed 1 large suitcase. We had a stroller, 2 x car seats and isofix, plus our hand luggage – so one each (4), plus my handbag, nappy bag, a backpack and camera bag. We went past Dimitra (my Mother in Law) to collect her and her 2 large suitcases, 1 hand luggage, handbag and cooler box of Insulin. Off we went.

The drive to the airport felt bizarre. I took in the views of Lions Head and Table Mountain, and weirdly enough it still didn’t feel real. It’s a hard one to explain, but I’ll try. I felt like I was on a moving conveyor belt – there’s forward moment, I’m on it and I’m going… but my head hadn’t quite caught up yet.

When we were meant to leave on the 24 March, that would have been Dimitra’s Birthday. Sox did something really incredible and he kept it a surprise for his Mom. He booked us all Business Class on Qatar Airways. What a treat!

He just said that it was probably going to be his Mom’s last flight, it was her birthday and if we were starting our new lives, we should do it in style. Of course when we postponed our travel time, we moved that to the 3rd of April.

I was SO EXCITED for this experience and also a little nervous… It is already nerve wrecking as a parent to fly with small children. You’re painfully aware of others on the flight and pray that they will be quiet little Angels, whilst being realistic that they are children. Now I felt the added pressure of flying with kids in Business Class and not interrupting others. I didn’t know what to expect – it was going to be Alexi’s first flight (not bad, Alexi) and our first flight as a family of 4.

We wrapped our luggage (we were that family with the 100 bags, which caused quite a queue) and then checked in. Sox’s brother Vassilis, his wife Jackie and our nephew Yiorgo and his girlfriend Kelly came to see us off. That was another hard goodbye.

Dimitra was completely unaware that we were flying Business Class and I loved that she got onto the plane first, showed her ticket and was ushered to the left. It took her a while to register and when Sox went to her to explain where we were she was so happy. It was priceless!

What an experience – oh my goodness! We were each shown to our seats/flat beds with private partitions and given champagne and warm nuts on arrival. We received slippers & pyjamas and when it came to dining, our trays were put down, white table cloths placed on top and the menu was paired with different wines depending on your choice. I actually don’t even know what First Class would be like, because this was pure luxury and I’m so grateful for the experience. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be really hard to go back to Economy 😉 Haha!

Absolutely delicious lamb paired with a red wine (wish I’d got the name – it was so good.)
PJS
A very happy woman
Midnight chocolates
All the positions you can make your chair/bed: WOW!

As for the boys? ANGELS. I am so so thankful. Alexi cried a little in the beginning (before take off, and I felt clammy with anxiety hoping that this wasn’t going to set the tone for the flight.) We actually had one guy stand up and glare at us over the partition, irritated. I must have given him my “don’t-mess-with-this-Mama” inner Lioness look, because he promptly sat down and thankfully Alexi stopped crying. The dummy and his bottle helped a lot. Take off was so fun – I’ve forgotten how much I love traveling. George was so excited and squealed: “Weeeeee.” He sat watching animated movies, in his element and eventually fell asleep. I wasn’t too worried about it and I remember advice saying that “all rules are out” when it comes to traveling… so he had snacks, late bedtime, loads of screen time and it was actually just so fun! Alexi fell asleep an hour later than his usual bedtime and slept next to Sox on the flat bed. He woke up with 30 mins left on the flight and sat singing and watching cartoons. Little star!

We only had 1.5 hour layover in Doha, so we managed a quick coffee and croissant in the Lounge before we were on the next flight. Ironically this would have been the one time we wouldn’t have minded a longer layover. The Business Lounge was phenomenal and we unfortunately didn’t get to enjoy it.

Moving Dinosaur display in the Doha Airport

George slept the entire 5 hours (missing all the delicious food) and Alexi slept for 3 hours, so I actually got some sleep too (and even watched a movie.) It was bliss. Thank you Sox for an incredible treat.

Iced coffee
My first view of Greece

We arrived in Athens on 4th April, 2021 and kind of “ignored/distracted” that it was Easter. I didn’t need added pressure of an Easter bunny egg hunt with George. It made me feel better knowing that Greek Easter is happening on 2 May, and so I will do the hunt then.

Even though we had our negative Covid tests, they randomly chose people to have another Covid test on arrival. Sox was the “lucky” guy to be tested again. It was pretty quick though and we were through the doors, with ALL our luggage.

My brother in law, Kosta and nephews, Yiorgo and Yianni fetched us from the airport and took us to our Air Bnb in Marousi. We rented it for the month of May. We were going into 7 days of self-quarantine, and as such Sofi, my sister in law had stocked our fridge/ pantry with everything we could need. She is so thoughtful and we were very grateful.
As we settled into the apartment, we both had our cries at different times. It just felt completely overwhelming. For so long it had been “We’re moving to Greece” with the exciting/romantic notion of it and suddenly being there was like an overwhelming hard hitting reality of: “Holy shit. We’ve actually done it and we’re actually here. OMG what have we done??” Emotions were so high because the fear of the unknown sort of hits you in the face.

Quarantine also didn’t help – and don’t get me wrong – I was grateful it was only 7 days and not 14 days… but under ordinary circumstances, you’d move into your place, take a walk around your neighbourhood, go for a coffee, eat at a restaurant, see friends/family (if you had)… and instead it felt super unsettling not really knowing where you were or where anything even was – in your neighbourhood and in a strange home. I’d pour over Google Maps, but it just looked like a hard Geography lesson to me. Our Air Bnb, to be honest, wasn’t great either. It was fine for what we needed for a month, but we didn’t have our familiar things / comforts and I actually have bruises on the side of my thighs from the bed springs. So in the beginning it all just felt like a lot.

Today as I write this, 3 weeks in, these little idiosyncrasies are part of our journey that are really funny now and I’m actually glad we have some funny stories. Things like: the leg bruises (not so funny), the shower/bath – the shower extension doesn’t have the greatest pressure, so rinsing shampoo and conditioner out of my long, thick hair takes a while. Our fridge stopped working and so they replaced it… We understood it as we were getting a new fridge. No. When I opened the fridge up, my insides turned. It stank and had obviously been sitting in some storeroom because I had to clean out the dust/leaves and I don’t want to know what the stickiness was.

On day 3, I took the garbage out. It was my sad/funny little “outing”, but it made me feel better getting out into the fresh air. I popped Alexi into the pram for the “big excursion”, took the rubbish bags and walked down the street to the large dustbin. I took a few pics of the pretty street. It really lifted my spirits.

Pretty Bitter Orange trees line the streets everywhere (I’ll share more about these in my next post)
Sunshine at our front door
A glorious lemon tree in the backyard. Lemonade anyone? Tequila?
Spring (even though it was 9 degrees)

A quick story about the pic above… So much snow fell in the week before we arrived that some of the trees branches couldn’t take the weight, so the municipality cut some down to prevent injuries/ damage. Part of our entertainment was watching the various trucks come to remove the branches and clean the streets. Admittedly, it was fascinating (and not just for the boys.)

The 7 days went really quickly and one positive to us not being able to go anywhere, was actually getting a chance to breathe. It had been so crazy and non-stop in the month leading up to our move and being homebound was helpful. Plus it was really cold. I don’t know what we were thinking (we weren’t), but in my head I kept thinking: “we’re going into another Summer”, so I sent all our Winter clothes on the container and took my denim and leather jacket only. Luckily I actually packed all the boys winter tops – but their thick jackets I sent with the container. Of course, it’s still Spring and Spring is chilly in Europe – even in Greece. We arrived the week after it had snowed. The temps were at 2 and 3 degrees at night and on some days were a high of 9 / 10 degrees. I had to buy the boys jackets and we borrowed jackets from Kosta & Sofi.

These pics below might be the real reason we moved to Greece 😉 Bougatsa! They are heavenly and definitely not on my eating plan, but worth the cheat! Bougatsa is a delicious creamy custard wrapped in golden brown crispy phyllo. It’s best served warm and dusted with sugar and cinnamon. It’s considered a breakfast pastry and I would happily live on them daily! If only.

The boys yet again, blew us away! They were so happy with everything and every time I was worried about their adjustments or what they’d left behind, they surprised me. I suppose “home” for them is anywhere we are and I was reminded again about what’s important in life. It’s not things / comforts (sure, they help), but the people you have in your life and your health.

9 degrees = tea, movies and popcorn under blankets

Our first day out was pretty incredible and it really raised our spirits. Even though everything is still in lockdown, when we arrived, some shops had reopened, which helped a little. However, you need to make an appointment to go inside. You can’t just walk in.
Our first day out of Quarantine fell on a Sunday. All shops are closed on Sunday, which is considered Family Day. I really love it, even though it means needing to be better organised. There’s no popping to the shops to get food or something you might need. You need to be prepped for Sunday/Monday morning. We also found a park close by that the boys loved, we ordered a coffee and took in our surroundings. Marousi is really beautiful and I find myself pinching myself.

Most coffee shops don’t know what a “babyccino” is and we explain it each time. I’m hoping it catches on.
Some streets have ancient artefacts in glass displays.
George had his first Milko (Chocolate Milk)
Train Station

Yet again, I’ve written a novel, so I’ll leave it here. I still have so much to share. I’ll share where we are moving to this Friday, and so many funny moments I’ve experienced in a country that doesn’t even have the same alphabet.

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9 Comments

  • Reply Linda Brown

    I can so relate to all you have been through… I wish you all the happiness and peace with your move and new life.

    April 26, 2021 at 8:06 pm
  • Reply Mariam

    Love following your adventure!!!

    April 26, 2021 at 8:51 pm
  • Reply Helen

    Loved reading this thank you for sharing

    April 27, 2021 at 4:33 pm
  • Reply Margaret

    Love reading about your move
    How is your MIL enjoying being home in Greece, although I’m guessing wherever Sox, you and the boys are is home

    April 27, 2021 at 4:45 pm
  • Reply Faaizah Ally

    Always love your blog posts. All the best on this adventure. Can’t wait to read more

    April 27, 2021 at 6:49 pm
  • Reply Natasha

    Love your honest assessment of everything!

    BTW, did your Instagram name change? The link on here doesn’t seem to be working.

    April 30, 2021 at 11:20 am
  • Reply Hayley

    Loved reading this! Wanted to ask about your folks Bailey…did you get to see them before you left? How are they feeling?

    May 3, 2021 at 12:27 pm
  • Reply Caley

    LOVED reading this my Bails – what a whirlwind but so glad you are all safe and sound, and settling in!
    Well done my friend, you area rockstar! x

    May 12, 2021 at 7:26 am
  • Reply Vanilla Blonde - It’s All Greek to Me

    […] It’s a lovely area, but sadly the Air Bnb was not great. I shared some things in this post: Read Here, like bruises on my thighs from the horrendous bed’s bedsprings and the trickle of water out […]

    May 14, 2021 at 1:13 pm
  • Leave a Reply to Hayley Cancel Reply