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2020 has been a tough year for me as for everyone and as result of the pandemic all my plans of abroad travel were dropped.
With my last flight on October 4th 2019 this had been the longest period on land for me, 711 days, almost two years. Moreover 2020 is the first year since 2008 without making any flight.
Since I've graduated in July 2021 and the italian vaccination campaign is going quite well (got my second dose on 29th July), I decided to take some courage and book an international vacation for summer.
My best friend and I evaluated many different countries (Austria-Hungary, Belgium, France, Croatia) taking into consideration prices, things to visit and Covid-19 restrictions and overall situation.
We ended up planning and booking a 8-day vacation in Greece, spending 4 nights in Nafplio and 4 nights in Athens. The first part of the trip would have been dedicated on visiting Peloponnese's archeological sites (Mykines, Argo, Tyrins, Epidauros, Olympia) and enjoying some time by the sea. Along with flights and hotels we rented a car from Europcar.
Departure was set for 15th August and return in the morning of 23rd.
A couple of weeks before leaving we started to have some doubts, due to the increasing cases of Delta Variants. Being both vaccinated with two doses we decided to buy a very strong insurance in order to be full covered against a forced quarantine in Greece.
Regarding the flights, the best solution was with Alitalia and Sky Express, a greek low-cost carrier. We payed 120 € per person for FCO-ATH route and 118 € per person for the return flight. In both cases we had to book extra-baggage.
To give some stats, this would be my first time with Sky Express, first time on a A320neo and second time on a Neo-Class Airbus.
It would be my second time visiting Greece and Athens and the first time on FCO-ATH route (the first was CIA-ATH in 2016).
Since my friend and I got our second dose more than 15 days before departure we were eligible to enter Greece
We were also required to fill the Passenger Locator Form on the Greek Government website. It contains personal information, transportation information about the incoming flight/ship, Greek adresses, contacts and vaccine information. The form, containing a QR code, is generated automatically and needs to be filled more than 24h before the entrance into the country
Our PLFs were checked at the check-in counter in Rome, along with our Digital European Covid Pass. The check-in agent wrote "Docs OK" on our BPs in order to make the control at Athens in a breeze
The night before the flight we checked in on Alitalia's website. Italian Government requires to fill a self-certification before opening the check-in procedure
We didn't buy the option to choose seats so they were automatically assigned. Fortunately we got a window and a central seat, 22A and 22B
The flight was scheduled for 8.55. Usually I prefer to be at the airport around two hours before, but since we didn't know how much time Covid Pass control would have take we decided to arrive at the terminal around 6.30
Since my friend lives quite closer to Fiumicino I slept at his place the night before the flight, so we could go together at the airport. We left around 6.10 from his home
At 6.30 we arrived at Rome "Leonardo da Vinci" International Airport. So excited to be here again, after all this time…
Terminal 1, closed due to Covid since March '20 and reopened in August '21, which now hosts Aegean, Air Malta, Albastar, Eurowings, Ryanair and Vueling only
Our flight would depart from Terminal 3
Terminal 1 expansion, due to open by the end of 2021
An agent from the car valet parking we had booked picked up our car in front of Terminal 3
Even if it was early in the morning, the terminal was busier than expected
Temperature screen was carried at the entrance
This part of Terminal 3 is the oldest section of the whole airport, built in '60s and renovated in 2017 with a new glass facade
The gate was already reported, A6
It's very sad and strange to see most of the flights bound to european destinations rather than non-european ones…
We headed to AZ check-in desks, located straight in front of the entrance
Since we checked-in at home we were able to use the bag drop queue
The operation was a bit slower than expected
My friend's Green Pass didn't show the second vaccination and he had to download it again from the government's platform
It causes us 5 minutes of anxiety ahaha
Once the documents were cleared the agent completed the bag drop procedure and printed our BPs
Having nothing to do landside we proceeded straight to the security checkpoint
Last time I depart from FCO (October 2019) gates were named B, C, D for Schenghen flights and E for extra-Schenghen. The first three has been unified under letter "A" due to the upcoming opening of the new pier by the end of 2021
We got airside around 7am
Security took less than five minutes
Getting to boarding area A
As I've imagined most of the shops were closed and the airport felt like "life-less"
This was also due to the fact this part had been reopened just a week before
We arrived at our gate around 7:20, one hour before scheduled boarding time
Since the boarding area didn't offer so much we spend our time in the waiting area
Boarding procedures started perfectly on time
The agent scanned our BPs and checked briefly our travel documents
Going down to the jetway
Unfortunately this boarding area at FCO doesn't offer any good spotting point
Our plane for today
Alitalia Airbus A320-200, EI-DSA, delivered to AirOne in September 2006 (15.1 years old) and transferred to Alitalia in January 2009
Named "Palazzo dei Normanni - Palermo"
The plane is equipped with 171 seats in flexible C-Y configuration
I've flown on this aircraft in August 2010, on FCO-LHR route, when it was equipped with a special livery dedicated to Alitalia's website
For me it's the first time flying on a plane carrying new AZ livery
Alitalia is the official carrier for Italian Olympic Team, who successfuly got a record-breaking 40 medals in Tokyo 2020
The cabin is in standard configuration with the first rows convertible in Business Class seats by blocking the middle seat
The view from my seat, 22A, while boarding was ongoing
EI-RND, Alitalia CityLiner Embraer E-190 in SkyTeam livery, named after "Parco Nazionale Dolomiti Bellunesi"
Terminal 1 expansion and boarding area A under refurbishment
After boarding ended the Captain announced that we would have left the gate with almost one hour of delay due to slot issues
Meanwhile EI-RDN left his gate
Alitalia A319 in the distance
Finally at 9:39 (43 minutes after scheduled departure time) we pushed back
While waiting I started to hate this scratched window…
On our way to RWY25, generally used for T/Os at FCO
From the apron's perspective the airport feels really empty
EI-RDO, Alitalia CityLiner Embraer E-175, named after "Parco Regionale della Maremma", taking off
The queue behind us: Alitalia A320 and Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dream)Liner
In the distance, parked at the gates, Eurowings A330, American Airlines Boeing 777 and Turkish Airlines Boeing 737
So happy to see some heavies again…
711 days after it was beautiful to feel again engines going full-throttle…
Finally in the air…I've missed this so much
Vueling A320 with Level livery (?)
Boarding area E11-24, dedicated originaly to non-Schenghen flights
Eurowings A330, Lufthansa and Alitalia A320, KLM and Air Europa Boeing 737
Boarding area E31-44, the Satellite
United Airlines Boeing 777, American Airlines Boeing 787 and 777, Delta Airlines A330 and many AZ birds
Crossing RWY 16R/34L, generally used for heavies' landings
Fiumicino town, on the mouth of Tiber river
Unfortunately the scratched window made pics difficult to be taken properly…
While we reached cruise altitude the crew announced that due to Covid-19 restrictions no service would be done
Ischia Island, in front of the Gulf of Naples
The gulf with the city of Naples and its harbour
Capri Island, one of the most famous and renowed Italian and Mediterranean tourist destination
Leaving Italian aerospace over Ionian Sea
The tip is Sibari, in Calabria Region
Gulf of Patrassus, bounded by Cape Araxos (below) and Messolonghi (above)
The gulf precedes the entrance of the Gulf of Corinth
Patras Araxos Airport (IATA: GPA, ICAO: LGRX)
Patras, the third largest city of Greece after Athens and Thessaloniki
Its port serves as a gate from Italy and western Europe
Rio–Antirrio Bridge, one of the world's longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges
It connects Peloponnese with mainland Greece and was opened in 2004 with the passage of the Olympic Flame for the upcoming Games of Athens
Flying across Peloponnese penisula
Agistri, a small island in Saronic Gulf, the last span of sea before reaching Attica Region
2wayferries approaching Aegina's harbour
Athens Ellinikon Airport, closed in 2001, is visible in the middle of the coast
Vouliagmeni and Vari, two very rich Athens' suburbs
The former Ellinikon Airport is the site of a major development project
A massive quarry lining up to Athens International Airport
Last moments on air
We experienced a bit of turbolence while aligning to the assigned runway
The massive motorway interchange between A6 (between Eleusis and the Airport) and A62, a small branch connecting the main road to the airport entrance
We'd land on RWY03L
At 12:23, 33 minutes after scheduled, we touched down at Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos
Landing was quite smooth, despite the light turbolence
Vacating the runway
Olympic Air hangars
Olympic Air Bombardier DHC-8-400
Taxiing parallel to the second runway
SAS A320 taxiing to his T/O position
In less than 10 minutes we reached our parking position
We'd desembark at the sole terminal by loading bridge
I was quite surprised to see two Air Canada Boeing 777s and one Delta Airlines A330
Welcome to Athens
Καλώς ήρθατε στην Αθήνα
As the plane blocked into the gate the crew invited all the passengers to desembark row by row in order to avoid overcrowd
No need to say everyone stood up in a totally messy way
While leaving the aircraft the Purse handed me back my flight report, which was quite well filled
Desembaring through the jetway, already smelling greek atmosphere
Even if the new AC livery is very effective, the older one in torquoise is simply amazing
Going downstairs to the arrivals hall
Immediately after this escalator the PLF and Covid European Pass were checked
The control itself was quite brief since they were both validated at the check-in desk in Rome. It took literaly no time
Next to the control area there was a Covid-19 screening both
Belt 10 for our baggages
The baggage reclaim hall felt quite anonymous
Our baggages arrived immediately
They were delivered both at belt 9 and 10
11 minutes after getting off the plane we made our way through customs
It was 12:50, one hour later after scheduled landing time
The arrivals hall
We'd booked a car with Europcar, which is the only car rental not housed into the terminal building
An Europcar agent was at the meeters and greeters hall directing us to a shuttle for the car rental center
We got to the Europcar agency in less than 10 minutes, since it's located just outside the terminal area
In about half a hour we grab our car, a Nissan Micra, ready to make our way to Nafplio
Stay tuned for the return…
The vacation was simply amazing. My friend and I found the right balance between sightseeing and relax.
Nafplio is a perfect base to visit Peloponnese since it's short distance from many important archeological sites like Mykines or Epidauros. Moreover it's very close to many beautiful beaches like Arvanitias or Tolo. The town itself is really cozy, it can be visit in a couple of hours just walking and its waterfront full of bars is really pleasant
Olympia is not so close, it took around 3 hours to get there, but the Museum and the archeological site is worth every kilometer to get there
Athens is amazing, one of the most beautiful city Europe, in my personal opinion. Our hotel was quite close to Acropolis and it was very easy for us to visit the city just by walking
Nafplio - Palamidi Fortress
Nafplio - Arvanitias Beach
Argos - Larissa's Castle
Epidauros - Ancient Theatre
Olympia - Archeological Museum, Hermes and the Infant Dionysus, Praxiteles
Olympia - Temple of Hera
Athens - Syntagma Square and Hellenic Parliament
Athens - Acropolis seen from Mount Lycabettus (277 m. asl)
Athens - Acropolis Museum
Athens - Acropolis Museum, Caryatides of Erechtheion
Athens - Acropolis, Erechtheion and Parthenon
Athens - Agora, Temple of Hephaestus
Athens - National Archeological Museum, Artemision Bronze
Athens - Olympic Stadium
Athens - Stavros Niarchos Foundation
Athens - Acropolis at night seen from a roof garden in Monastiraki Square
Getting on a plane after almost two years was a very particular experience. I was really impressed by the lack of life inside airports (especially FCO) which have seen a big decrease of passengers.
Overall I find FCO, ATH and Alitalia quite good in the respect of Covid-19 restrictions and rules.
Apart from the pandemic, FCO demonstrates to be always a comfortable airport to fly to and from, with efficient services.
Alitalia's service become a bit lower than previous times, I don't know if it's due to the fact it's experiencing a strong financial crisis.
ATH is a kinda good airport, correctly proportioned to the traffic and the role of Greece's entrance gate.