This was the first time this young woman posed nude. I was quite happy to say that she felt comfortable and will be posing again, both clothed and nude. When she said she felt comfortable around me and I was professional, I knew I had done my job.
If you have never been to Mykonos, go. I wasn’t really charmed with the island but then I believe it was an adventure that everyone should at least try….once. The main town (only town) is Chora or Mykonos Town,
Where, as you can see the walkways are narrow and seem to run in every direction without any sort of pattern. My days spent on Lake of the Woods came in handy. How so? I learned on that big lake to “always look behind you”. Sage advise. Why? because things look completely different going out than they did going in. True wisdom.
We were spoiled on Santorini the real name being Thira. Our accommodations were 5 star and the people were as friendly as one could imagine. So, it came as a surprise when reaching Mykonos that the people were brusque and the accommodations were not what we had become accustomed to. I had read a few unflattering reviews on Mykonos and the Pelican Bay Art Hotel in particular and my radar was pinging. but I tried to come in with an open mind and few expectations. That helped a great deal. Unfortunately for Kat and I, it did not put much needed Euro in our pocket. Yes, we had cards, but no bank machine and no pocket change to hop the bus to town. The travel agent had failed to mention and we never bothered to research how far out of town the hotel was. This, my friends is good information to have because the hotel clerk had the most warped sense of distance and time I had ever encountered. I mean, I used to smoke a lot of dope and time space distortion was a common occurrence for me but this was beyond my realm of understanding. She explained it was a 45 minute walk to town. Well, what were we going to do? We hitched up the packs and began the walk. if the first five minutes was any indication of what lay ahead, I, in my portly state, was doomed. Coronary walking, as it were. It was then that whatever mythical god overlooking the weary traveller in Greece, smiled upon us. I saw a car rental place and we quickly decided it would be prudent to rent a car. Prudent and I might add, adventurous. I will get to the adventure after I finish the tail of warped time and space. We rented a car for €56 (which was about $70 CDN). SOLD! Unlimited mileage, third party liability and bring it back….empty? Empty. Little did we know, as we hopped in the car and sped off, just how easy it would be to bring it back empty. Not because it was a pig or gas was expensive but because it was easy to get turned around and turned around we did, over and over and over again. Not in that frustrating way but in the adventure type way, and yes, every once in a while the voice to my right, my muse, organizer, copilot and navigator would say, “this is the road I said we should go down in the first place.” YES! I admit that I failed to listen to the navigator more than once, but we laughed and carried on.
Back to the time space distortion. It was 45 minutes if I were the Mykonos pelican and flew a direct line. That was even sketchy. But over the steep hills and blind curves it would have easily been a death march to rival Bataan. Hell, it took us, not counting getting lost, 15 minutes to drive. I am beyond grateful for the car. I have his name and card should anyone wish to rent a car on Mykonos. One other thing while you are booking the “beach front” hotel. Ask them to define beach front and what is the actual distance in metres or yards. Our beach front hotel was as the clerk put it, 100 metres down the road again, I am unsure what sort of algebraic equation brought her to that number but it was way off. I could have gotten angry or disappointed. I did not. I learned to approach it with a sense of -laissez faire –, as it were.
Time space distortion aside. I learned to drive like a local. I learned to be patient yet drive with a sense of abandonment, ignoring the double line, the octagonal red signs that encouraged one to stop and of course the little round signs suggesting a safe a rate of speed. These items found on Myconian roads seem to be little more than decorations. The most useful of roadside aides were the convex mirrors showing one what was about to come around the corner. Very helpful indeed when on a windy road barely wide enough for two small cars and a tour bus is set to round the corner.
We did much in Mykonos, aside from getting lost in the town and on the island. We went through the maze of Mykonos town, we visited a few beaches by accident and finally made it to Ilea where we para-sailed over the Aegean sea. Alas, no pictures of that adventure. We swam, floated, ate, shopped, drank espresso and cappuccino in Little Venice visited the windmills, an old fort, some monasteries, a pirates home and we got our tattoos done in the last hours of the last day on the island. We had planned these (we try to get one done wherever we travel) from the very first day of Kat’s planning. She picked the shop and the time. Unfortunately the shop had closed a few years back. So we stopped at one place and the vibe was bad. I like to think that I am somewhat of an expert in the alter state of mind brought on by the ingestion of alcohol and drugs and it didn’t take my keen eye to understand that we wanted nothing to do with these cats. We wandered acrosss the street and immediately the vibe was cool. We set a time for the next day and found our instincts paid off. Akis, the artist and Dimitri his assistant were two of the coolest guys we had met on the island. Broken English aside, we learned to communicate. We learned about each other, we learned about the way of life on the island, what it is like to be different in Greece. The way the police treat someone different. We learned the pitfalls of two tiered health care, the passion for which the Greeks have for living, and the cost of rentals. Akis learned about moose and bears in the yard, he learned that British Columbia is NOT Texas, he learned that Canadians are polite and willing to embrace his culture, not have them bend to us.
I learned patience, even with the rooster across the road, whom seemed to have obvious time space distortion issues of his own.
I know I haven’t been writing in a chronological order but I tend to ramble. My next post will be set back in Athens and…well…you’ll see.
I just have to share some fun times while Kat and I were in Santorini.
The island is small enough to drive from one end to the other on a quad, which we did. I am not a fan of quads. I never have been. They are noisy and encourage redneckedness and recklessness (the two often go hand in hand). I have even broken my wrist while flying from a quad (no, not redneck but unsafe riding). I digress, again. We decided to rent a quad for €31.00 or $38.00 a day, which consists of a 24 hour period, unlimited mileage a storage unit on the back, some basic instructions (I have crashed a quad before so I was good on the operation part), and directions to a gas station. The proprietor was stunned when we told him that gas in Canada was higher than in Greece. He immediately had a reason why. Canada and Greece do not have BOMBS. “You’ll see, my friend,” he says to me, “when we get bombs, gas prices will go down.” I could not argue the logic presented and with a solid grasp of world events, I concurred wholeheartedly.
I have to start by telling you that although driving on Santorini is not as hair raising or harrowing as Mykonos, it is a bit sketchy. I have come to believe that double lines, stop signs and speed limit signs are simple road decorations to be viewed but not followed. I don’t believe I saw one vehicle pass me or another in a designated broken line stretch of road. I suppose it doesn’t matter that there may be only a few kilometers of straight stretch on either island.
I would, however, recommend the rental. They picked us up from the hotel, brought us to the rental place and when I returned the quad, I was given a ride back to the hotel. Considering the limited reach of the buses and the outrageous cost of taxis, I highly recommend the rental. You will get to see the real island. Both, beyond the tourist areas and within the recommended sites. Off the beaten path my friends, that’s where the gems can be. I have included a gallery with highlights of the trip, including a short video of what it is like to ride the Santorini roadways.
First let me touch on the hat in the title. In a previous post; Laughter, Food and The Sea, I mentioned Jimmy the captain. Well, I had this cowboy style hat (ironic since I abhor cowboys and the hippie beating ways) and Mr. jimmy liked the hat. He wanted the hat and I denied him that particular hat. In payment, the gods, probably Poseidon, saw fit to have me leave my hat on the tallest point in Santorini. I emailed Jimmy and told him if he really wanted the ht, it was there for the taking. Let’s see how bad he wants it.
I really can’t describe what it was like driving home from Oia after eating down on the waterfront at a restaurant called Dimitri’s. The last restaurant on the quayside and owned by, you guessed it, Dimitri. The funny part of the story is that Dimitri has a wife from Vancouver, it gets better. Ellen, I think her name was, has a niece and a nephew, yes yes, so what? Well, they happen to go to school right here at UNBC! Now that, my friends, is a small world.
Now, as I was saying. There is nothing like taking roads with a 15% grade, add a quad, cool evening air, Greek AND tourist drivers, a howling wind off the sea and no guardrails to make for an adventurous ride home. I wish I could describe it better. I wish I could impart the experience through some sort of mind meld. Because, unless you have done this, you ain’t never gonna get it.
Being a neophyte at video editing, compression, formats etc…..the video is temporarily unavailable. That’s OK, it will appear somewhere at sometime in some fashion.
Here we are in Frankfurt, 2 hours sleep in the last 36 or so. Made the trip from Athens to Frankfurt in separate seats, and it was actually the most calm and organized boarding procedure at any airport or ferry terminal we had experienced while in Greece. Get this, my Vancouver friends who are more experienced in ferry travel, one walks on with the cars, throw your luggage in a big cage with all the other luggage, and there is a lot. From there, it seems like a free for all to the upper decks and seats. We had reserved “airline” seats but that didn’t seem to matter to those that did not. The masses seemed to migrate to the “reserved seats” over time. The ferry staff tried to control this migration by asking to check tickets and early in the voyage, which was 5 hours, they sent people away to their designated areas. Eventually, however, the area filled with non ticket holders. It mattered little to me, I was comfy.
Get this ferry savvy friends, when we disembarked, we stood in front of all the vehicles and they had to wait for us to walk off before they could drive off onto a tarmac that was not marked with any type of lanes. Oh yea…there seemed little concerned about how the vehicles are loaded. It is beyond me how there are not more incidents at sea. Like, I dunno, capsizing!
After a sleepless night in Athens, sleepless because we had to be up at 3am anyway and thought it best after a 10pm dinner, we try and stay awake. Operative word here, try. We tried and failed. Thank god for Kat’s internal timer and wake up calls. We have learned to get our own boarding passes, have become, airport security savvy and learned our way around Frankfurt airport pretty damn well. In and out of the myriad of security points. Hell, I even got searched with the wand and a groping hand as well as having my camera gear checked for what I thought might be explosive traces or the like. What really freaked me out was the nod one Federal cop gave the other when I went through passport check, I was scanned. Really? Dammit!
Paranoia, my friends.
I have two minutes left on my free half hour of Frankfurt Airport WiFi time so I must sign off.
Stay tuned for driving adventures through Santorini and Mykonos.