Alive In Athens With Iced Earth – Day 1

January 20th, 1999

I was lucky enough to travel to Greece with Iced Earth in early 1999, when they recorded their live album, “Alive in Athens”. I had the opportunity to see two of the best heavy metal shows imaginable, and after that, to just hang out with Iced Earth on a “vacation”. This is my journal from that trip.

My travel started on the evening of the January 19th, as I drove down to Franklin, Indiana from the Chicago area. I narrowly avoided a 5 vehicle accident on the way down, so things were already off to a “metal” start. I got down to the house where Matt, Jimmy, and Brent were staying at about 11:30. I met Jimmy’s two snakes (one small, one giant), hung out, and listened to some tunes.

The next morning, we headed out to the airport at about 9. I quickly learned that flying with a band is a bit different than flying on business, or for a simple vacation. First, there were twelve of us in our party at that time, and we had all of the band’s equipment with us. I’m not sure how long it took us all to get checked in, but it was at least an hour, and the line grew from 0 to at least 50 people before we cleared out of there. We probably didn’t make a lot of new Iced Earth fans then! By using everyone’s baggage allowances, and some creative packaging (like completely wrapping two guitars together in duct tape so they’d count as one), we managed to get everything on to the planes. The guys then went to a hat shop there to pick up some hats before leaving (an Iced Earth tradition, apparently). Even though everyone went to the airport together, we were actually on two different flights. The band and some others would be going to Thessaloniki first, while the group I was in (me, Jon’s dad Tom, and friends John and Jeanna) was headed straight to Athens. We finally got on the plane, leaving Indianapolis, and flew all the way to……

…….Cincinatti. Yep, this was going to take a little while. After a bit of a layover, we got on another plane, and this time made it all the way to JFK in New York. The wonderful directions given to us for the Olympic Airlines terminal took us on a fun bus ride around the entire airport, and nearly right back to where we started. Well, I’m from Chicago, I’m not supposed to like New York anyway. Finally, we made it to the Olympic terminal, where it was my job to find Jim Morris, who would be producing the live album. He came up from Tampa, and had a much easier time of it than we did. I spotted him, and introduced myself and the rest of our group. I quickly found out that he’s an even bigger computer geek than I am, and we proceeded to talk technical for a while. I got to know him a lot better on the rest of the trip, finding out what a complete goofball and very cool guy he is.

At about 7PM, we loaded onto the 747, and left for Athens. Unless you enjoy a very hot and dry plane, unfriendly flight attendants, and announcements that you can’t understand even when they’re in English, I don’t recommend Olympic Airlines. Sometime during those ten hours in the air, we crossed into the next day, and Europe.

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