Day 1 (Mon, Sep 15): Flight from Seattle (SeaTac) to Athens (Ελληνυκον)

SEA Seattle JFK JFK ATH Athens

United Airlines 40
15A, 15B
Boeing 727
Seating, amenities
1,721 mi
3hr 50mn

Olympic Airlines 412
Boeing 767-300
Seating, amenities
4,823 mi
9hr 15mn

We awoke at 5:30 in the morning and left for the aiport at 7:00. Rode out to Sea-Tac with Karen's sister Chris (we had spent Wednesday night at her home in Seattle), her daughters Rachel and Kathleen and my grad student Doug McMullin. There was a girl in the restaurant with a parrot or macaw in a large bag. It was also on our plane -- we could hear it muttering somewhere the cabin behind us.

Our original plan had been to tour Greece and northern Italy, but American Express canceled that tour and switched us to Greece and western Turkey (ancient Greece) instead. The morning we left for the airport we learned that there had been a military coup d'état in Turkey Sep 12, the third in a series of coups (1960, 1971). The generals had abolished Parliament and the Constitution and would continue to rule through a National Security Council for three more years. They had sealed the Turkish border. The world would learn later that the US was behind the coup; our ambassador cabled Washington, saying, "our boys have done it." We had no idea, at SeaTac, whether we even had a tour, but decided to take our chances.

United Airlines 727Olympic Airlines 747

United Airlines flight #40, Sea-Tac to JFK. Our flight took off on time at 8:30, arriving JFK at 4:25 EDT. Our seats were 15A,B. We flew north then east along the 48th parallel. Seated behind us was a man from Pisa, Italy who spoke no English. He talked to more people than anyone else on the plane, somehow or other. Another interesting person was a man from Israel who had been a general and is now the head of a cosmetics firm. He was talking to a couple seated ahead of us and observed "Women like to deceived." A little girl named Caroline, blonde in a blue-striped middy dress, about 2 years old, made innumerable trips up and down the aisle. The flight was calm throughout, over a blanket of clouds most of the way.

I started reading Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mystery Murder Must Advertise. Karen began Marcel Proust's Swann's Way. She also started memorizing the Greek alphabet. She thought it might be useful reading street signs, which it was; they also do them in English approximations, but they're more confusing than the Greek. I was already familiar with the alphabet because I had (ancient) Greek in high school - a background which prepares you not at all for modern (non-Erasmian) Greek.

Olympic Airlines flight #412, JFK to Athens. We began the second leg of the journey at JFK. The Olympic Airlines flight left at 7:00 EDT, 45 minutes late. There were many Greeks on the plane, especially in our rear smoking section. The lady who sat next to us, on the aisle, spoke no English and had numerous boxes and bags on and around her, packed with god-knows-what she was taking back to the old country. Getting to the aisle, to get to the restrooms or to take a walk, was a major production. I was smoking back then, but with all those Greeks lighting up in the smoking section all you had to do was inhale the cabin air. A baby cried most of the night, which induced a woman to scream hysterically about midway across the Atlantic.