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Well, Greece is considered to be one of the dream destinations for millions, be it for a destination wedding or a honeymoon getaway, people desire to spend some quality time with their loved ones in the picturesque location. And, alike others even I desired to visit this part of Europe at least once in my lifetime. Guess god heard my wish and I got a golden opportunity to be in the historical country for good 3 days with my colleagues for an international conference planned by our organisation. While, for the rest it was a joyful three day trip however for me it became five. You want to know why...keep reading!
Excited beyond compare to explore the country and make the best of it, my preparations started in full swing. From buying clothes to surfing the net for hours, my exhilaration was palpable. For me the journey turned out to be adventures rather than soothing.
My journey began on 1st June at 10 AM and I landed in the historical capital of Europe, Athens at 7:30 PM. Till 8:30 PM the sun wasn't ready to set and we had enough time to roam around the city. From airport we headed towards a local restaurant which was quite popular for its Greek food. Well the food couldn’t satiate my taste buds to that extent, but I was spell bounded with the warmth of the people there. We could see the hospitality in their eyes, there one and only motive was to make us feel at ease and content. Around 12 we reached our Hotel and slept after checking in, as we had to head for our conference the next day at 10 AM sharp. The breakfast spread at the hotel was really fancy with loads of options available, especially for non-vegetarians, for vegans it was quite a task. The conference went well and as soon as it got over, we ran to catch the glimpse of the ‘Sacred Rock’ of Athens ‘Acropolis’. It is the most significant reference point of ancient Greek culture, as well as the symbol of the city of Athens as it represent the apogee of artistic development in the 5th century BC. Indeed an experience of a lifetime. Well it was 8 PM and we had to rush back to the hotel to dress up for the ‘gala dinner’ planned for the evening and needless to say it was quite a treat for all of us.
Well, next day our group had already made a plan to visit one of beautiful islands in the world Santorini, remember the song 'Tauba Tumhare Yeh Ishare' from Chalte Chalte…yes it was shot at the same place. The moment we landed at this magnificent creation of God, we were speechless. What a splendour, every part of the isle was making us forget everything in the world. The beauty of Santorini was soothing to our eyes. Given a chance I wouldn’t mind staying there for the rest of my life. While writing this piece, I got a little stuck as the imagination took me back to the serene beauty, which I had witnessed for the first time. The beaches with black sand and so much depth, was another attraction. For me an experience of its kind was my visit to the white village in Santorini called ‘Oia’. Pronounced as Ia, Oia is known for its quiet life and fantastic sunset, and is certainly the most beautiful and picturesque village of Santorini. I couldn't express the scenic beauty in words. With charming houses in narrow streets, blue domed churches, and sun-bathed verandas, the place is a must visit. How can I forget to mention about its sunset which is famous world-wide. Santorini’s sunset enters your soul and lives there forever. Each spot shows you the best sunset with its own colors and landscape. The sunset enhances the beauty of this beautiful island.
The finger licking and mouth-watering food we had in this islet, was flavoursome. And the cordiality of the people added brownie points to it. When you get treated so well, everything else becomes secondary. While, I continue to write, the twist in the tale is yet to come. Next day we returned to Athens and joined our group for lunch at a local restaurant called Saffire. The food over there was scrumptious. While rest of the members head towards the city tour, we decided to shop at the flea market at Monastiraki Square. We shopped for good two hours, ate and had a gala time.
While the best time was still on, the hard part was about to come. After sometime I got to know that someone’s wallet from our group has been stolen in the same market where we were busy shopping. And that was the time I thought of checking my bag just for my satisfaction and what happened next scandalized me to the core. My passport was missing, it was stolen. Tears started rolling my eyes, my life came at a standstill. All that my frozen mind could think was, what next! My batch was supposed to return the next day which was Sunday and I was in deep trouble. Once back at the hotel, I checked every pocket, every bag, hoping that I would pull out the precious piece of paper. To recall, I had seen my passport before having lunch at the restaurant.
Getting your passport stolen in a different country is as scary as it sounds to be. Instantly travel agency was informed about the loss and the ticket got cancelled. I was in severe shudder, couldn’t sleep the whole night, but had a positive hope, May Be! Making my heart except that my passport had been stolen, all i could do was to make my heart and brain be strong. I was very upset and people could easily make out from my face. With my organization’s support my stay was extended for another two days. Still it was hard for me to believe that I’ve actually lost my most important document. By 2 PM everyone had gone and I was all alone at the hotel. In the corner of my room I was sobbing badly, cursing myself, why me?
Around 8:00 PM along with the travel agency person, I went to the police station to lodge the missing complain. At 8:00 PM too, the sunlight in Athens was quite effective. Amazed with the way police authority works in Greece. Within no time the complaint was filed and the receiving was handed over to me. A little relief to my soul but still I was dismayed. Thankfully I had the photo copies of all my documents and that eased the process for me. I woke up next morning with a heavy heart, as I still didn’t know how much time it is going to take. Being alone was making the situation shoddier, than it actually was. At 8:30 along with a local representative I headed towards the Indian Embassy. On the way when I inquired about the time it might take, she instantly replied minimum three days, I was zapped and didn’t utter a single word. We reached the Embassy and started the process. I met the officer there and what a relief when he said you can fly anytime, I just need your ticket. I was asked to complete the procedure and pen down my entire story of the passport missing. We were again called at 5 PM in the evening to receive the emergency passport. That was the time when I was unperturbed. At 4:30 we reached the embassy again and received my travel document. Thank God I had it in my hand and I could fly back now! I was pretty impressed with the quick and easy procedures in Greece, meant only to help people without any problems. I want to thank my organization from the bottom of my heart, for all the support and cooperation.
Around 8:00 PM I went to the police station to lodge the missing complain. At 8:00 PM too, the sunlight in Athens was quite effective. Amazed with the way police authority works in Greece. Within no time the complaint was filed and the receiving was handed over to me. A little relief to my soul but still I was dismayed. Thankfully I had the photo copies of all my documents and that eased the process for me. I woke up next morning with a heavy heart, as I still didn’t know how much time it is going to take place. Being alone was making the situation shoddier, than it actually was. At 8:30AM along with a local representative from the travel agency I headed towards the Indian Embassy. On the way, when I inquired about the time it might take, she instantly replied minimum three days. I was zapped and didn’t utter a single world. We reached the Embassy and started the process. I met the officer there and what a relief when he said you can fly today as well if you have your tickets. I was asked to complete the procedure and pen down my entire story of the passport missing. We were again called at 5 PM in the evening to receive the emergency passport. That was the time when I was unperturbed. At 4:30 PM, we reached the embassy again and received my travel document. Thank God I had it in my hand and I could fly back now! I was pretty impressed with the quick and easy procedures in Greece, meant only to help people without any problems.
While leaving from the Embassy, one of their office guys sitting at the ground floor called me and said, “Madam apse request hai jab India jayen aur please ek newspaper main yeh jarur daalwa den ki koi bhi jab bhi India se Europe aye apna passport bahut sambhal kar rakhe, har din hamare paas kam se kam 2- 3 passport chori hoye jane ki reports aati hi hain.”
Well, next day I flew back to my country… my home! I can’t express my feelings, I was ecstatic when saw my husband waiting at the airport. My family, my colleagues, my boss weren’t there with me in the foreign land physically, but I can understand the stress they were going through. My father wasn’t able to sleep all night, he was helpless as he wasn’t able to help me in such situation. My boss too had sleepless nights worrying about me. I’ve witnessed all this in movies, but when I experienced the same myself, trust me I had a really tough time.
While visiting Greece was like a dream come true, this adventurous experience of mine was of a lifetime. I would urge everyone who is planning to visit Europe in the near future, please take care of your passport, one can fly without money but flying without a passport is IMPOSSIBLE. That’s the most important document one should be really careful about.