SANTORINI

I missed doing the blog yesterday. Sorry. I slept 12 straight hours. Woke 11 yesterday morning. Still had next week’s KONK Life column to do. Two days late. Guy de Boer bugging me. Took 3.5 hours to do. It was late afternoon by the time I finished. I was finished. I wanted to enjoy Santorini a bit.

Today’s blog therefore is a doubleheader. Stay with me. Some exciting things have occurred, including my pants falling down in front of two women.

Flew Athens to Santorini on Olympic Airlines. As with Aegean Airlines, the stewardesses were young ladies. Mid 20s at best. All beautiful. The flight was only a half hour. The plane was full. A pleasant ride. Especially over some of the other Greek Islands. The same experience you get when flying into Key West.

Nikos and his wife Maria own the cave hotel I stayed at last year. Nikos a gentleman. He met me at the airport.

Our destination was Oia. The other side of the island. A harrowing drive. Heart in your throat type. Very narrow two lane roads. Curves you would not believe. Every 100 feet. Many the hairpin type. The road goes up and down in huge dips. Everyone speeds.

When I e mailed Nikos to make a reservation, he sadly told me there was no room at the inn. He was booked solid. He further advised every other cave hotel was the same. I was disappointed. Also needed a placed to stay.

Nikos owns a building on the other side of the road. Nothing fancy. Typical rural Greek. He and his wife have an apartment there. He generally rents to locals. He had one empty, if I was interested.

I took it.

Love it! I call it Back Street. I am on the back side of the building away from the main road. There is a small narrow road on my side for parking. Second floor. What a view!

Beat up old buildings. One with wash hanging from the second floor every day. The other hiding its age behind large shrubs of flowers. Another side, an inner court area.

The room is huge. Four times the size of a normal hotel room. Made for a family. Small kitchen area. Very small bathroom. Most Greek bathrooms are. Taking a shower is an experience. Forget taking a bath. And the balcony. So peaceful to sit and work on, to read, and to contemplate my navel. No air conditioning. Do not need it, except at mid afternoon. Wind blows through a huge window and two doors I leave open. Even when I am sleeping. Hope springs eternal that some female will visit me in the middle of the night.

My neighbors are true Greeks. From another century. Old and young. Pleasant. Cheerful. Always saying hello in Greek.

Maria greeted me when I arrived. A two cheek kiss and hug. Maria to me is Mama mia. Not from the movie. She reminds me of my mother and grandmother.

Maria immediately wanted my dirty clothes. I had not had anything cleaned in almost a week. I said no. She insisted. I gave in. She did my clothes last year. Washes and irons everything. Will accept no money for her assistance.

The little dining table in the room held a basket of fresh fruit and a bottle of wine. Nikos and Maria also own a winery. Soon there was a knock on the door. Maria. She had a large bowl of fresh small tomatoes and another of apricots. A short while later she showed up with a tray of Greek coffee and baked goods.

Good people! The best!

Let me interject at this point a bit about Santorini. I sometimes think the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The view of the bay is magnificent. Surrounded by high multi colored cliffs rising straight up thousands of feet.

Santorini’s history is interesting. It once was one big island. In 1500 BC, some 3,600 years ago, one of the world’s largest volcano eruptions occurred. A good part of the island broke away. Now there are several smaller islands and the smaller main one. One of the islands is the volcano. The volcanic eruption explains the huge cliffs. Where the island separated. The tops of the cliffs are rust in color. Then at mid point become black and appear like huge chucks of coal.

I took some of Maria’s goodies and sat on my small terrace eating them, admiring the limited view, and thinking how lucky I was. I read a bit. I am on my third book in a week. All on the tablet.

Suddenly I was exhausted. Could not keep my eyes open, my head up. Jet lag was still with me. I went to bed and slept a couple of hours.

Dinner time. Needed a drink first. Found a new cafe. Mezza. I like it! They have gin, chocolate milk shakes, and tomato and cheese toast. Enjoyed a couple of drinks while taking in the view of the bay.

Alcohol is an experience here. Most restaurants have gin. Few quality brands. Gordon’s seems to be the gin of choice. It is like water. Does not have the kick of a stronger gin. Three Gordon’s is equal to one Beefeaters. Ozou is the popular drink. An anisette. I had a glass somewhere and put it in my coffee. Everyone went crazy. That is not how ouzo is to be drunk. You drink in straight or mixed with water. Since it is anisette to me, I drink it in the Italian tradition. In my coffee.

My first night’s dinner was not to my liking. My favorite off the beaten track restaurant was no longer there. Apparently out of business. I tried a new one on the main drag. The entre left much to be desired. The appetizer on the other hand was out of this world. Four large artichoke hearts covered with peas and potatoes, all prepared in olive oil. Delicious! Understand that everything in Greece is prepared with olive oil. There are olive trees everywhere.

I stopped at Mezza. There were what appeared to be three college age young ladies at the table next to me. Two men also. One a father to one of the girls. The conversation got a bit loud. All of a sudden I heard…..I’m gay!…..I’m gay!…..I’m gay! All three at one time. Whether they were for real or experimenting or trying to convince the men, I do not know. The whole thing reminded me of the Kevin Kline movie where Kline was a gay high school teacher. Someone outed him. The principal had a public meeting to dismiss Kline from the faculty. Town people as well as students attended. All of a sudden, the audience one at a time or in small groups stood up and said…..I’m gay.

The nights are cold. Both evenings, I needed to wear a sweatshirt. Warm by day. No humidity.

Nikos and I had a conversation on the way in from the airport. Business has picked up. Much better than last year. The influx consists of Americans, Indonesians, Australians, and Japanese. A ton of Australians. From what I could gather, Australia’s economy has been good the past three years.

I have spoken with several Greeks since I arrived in Greece itself. About the economy. In my two days in Athens, I was disappointed there was not a demonstration I could attend. There were two last year.

Things are no better. In fact worse. The attitude is…..What can we do? We are Greeks and have survived before. We will survive again. We must keep working at things.

The people hate politicians. All government people are crooks. They also hate Germans. No question. Very few Germans visiting this year. Probably because they anticipate a cool reception.

The euro/German thing brings out old memories. Of the German occupation in World WAr II. I heard it more often this year as opposed to last. I was told by all that the euro was a disaster and Greece should not have entered into it.

I hear war. It is not around the corner. However, I was talking to a people who think they are being put upon. Unemployment as a practical matter is over 50 per cent. College grads cannot get jobs. Fathers cannot feed their families. All real. The Greeks are being pushed. I assume Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal are also. I said after last year’s visit that if another World War began, it would not be in the Middle East. It would be in Europe because of euro caused problems. I said it a year ago. Greeks are saying it today.

Santorini is much like Key West. A tourist town. They must make it in season. It gets cold here quickly. The season is 3-4 months.

Which brings me to yesterday, Sunday.

Slept well. As indicated before, did not wake till 11. Blog never got done. I spent quite a while on next week’s KONK Life column. The article deals with the makings of a radical. A Boston marathon bomber type. I tied it in with the story of a 14 year old boy who wore an NRA t-shirt to school, was told he could not wear it, and ended getting arrested. The case was resolved last week. The charges were dismissed. My concern is what the impact might be on this eighth grader in later years.

I made time for a manicure. My nails were starting to look like Fu Man Chu’s. Hair and Soul the place. Catherine the owner and manicurist. Originally from Australia, she married and has lived on Santorini for 10 years. She greeted me with a warm back again hello. We had a great conversation.

I then went down to the cave pool and spent a half hour looking out over the water under the shade of an umbrella. The volcano was directly in front of me. My nemis.

As I was sitting there a cruise ship came in. A big one. They stream across the bay to Fira which is another Santorini town. There is no dock or channel for the passengers. The cruise ships shuttle passengers to shore in small boats.

If Santorini can do it and get the big cruise ships to visit, why can’t Key West?

It could be the quality of the product Key West sells. There are no t-shirt shops on Santorini. No one hustles you to come into their store. The boat people are different from what Key West gets. They are a higher class economically. Key West gets a polyester crowd. Perhaps if Key West changed a bit what it has to offer, we could get these type passengers. The stipend per passenger paid to Key West would increase appropriately, also.

Last night was Taverna Katina! My favorite Santorini restaurant!

It sits at the bottom of one of the high cliffs. Immediately/directly on the water. The sun was setting as I arrived.

It always amazed me how a bartender remembers a customer who has not visited his bar in several years. He remembers the drink. I ate at Taverna Katina 3-4 times last year. The food that good! The waiter remembered me. You drink gin, he said. You can’t get enough, he added. The owner’s daughter even remembered me. Not by name, but knew I had been there before. Good for a hug and kiss welcome.

The sun on the cliffs is difficult to describe. The rust and black reflecting. Wow!

My reserved table was on the water on a concrete abutment. Another inch or two and me and the table would have been wet.

The meal to die for. Let me bore you.

I started with three appetizers. All small. Greens and oil. Oh! Fish eggs and oil. Wow! Eggplant fried in oil. Oh and wow!

Fish is sold by the pound. Only fish is sold. The menu has the euro amount per kilo. You select from the menu the type. I wanted sea bass. I was then taken into the kitchen to select my fish. I picked one out. It was weighed. I was told its exact cost.

The sea bass was served flayed. It was grilled only to a point. Then somehow cooked in light oil. Oil again. Delicious! I have never eaten fish so good. Not even in Key West. Coffee and baklava completed the meal. The coffee and dessert on the house.

Nikos drove me to Taverna Katina and returned to pick me up. Ten miles each way. The man again a gentleman. He would not let me take a taxi. After dinner, I was waiting outside the restaurant in a corner for the car to come down. The cliff behind me, the water 30 feet away. Two women were waiting for a cab. One British, the other Indian. We were chatting. I was cold. I started to put my sweat shirt on. As I lifted my arms, my pants fell down. Just like they did in Mykonos last year. It must be a Greek thing.

The ladies did not know what to say or do. I tried to lighten the moment. It always happens, I said. I’m really an exhibitionist at heart, I added. As soon as I said it, I thought how stupid. Turned out it was not. They both laughed. One exclaimed disappointment in that she could not see anything. The other asked why I did not wear a belt. I do, I told her. My problem is I have no ass to hold them up. Fortunately, at that point Nikos showed up. I got into the car hearing laughter and keep your pants up!

I did not go to bed. I was awake. Returned to Mezza. Enjoyed a Grand Marnier while watching Santorini visitors saunter by.

I continue to have computer data port problems. Verizon sucks! Two years in a row and they still do not have it right. Anyhow, the problem makes it impossible for me to do my blog radio show from outside the United States. I am off the air till after August 10. My television/internet show is running recordings of former broadcasts. You may wish to tune in friday mornings at 10. The blog and KONK Life column continue.

This is the longest blog I have ever written. If you are still with me, I hope you have found it interesting. I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

Enjoy your day!

2 comments on “SANTORINI

  1. Really, really enjoyed the travelogue today Lou. Undoubtedly one of your very best. I felt like I was there with you on Santorini. If only we could see the pictures. I keep saying you should consolidate these tales into a book. With the right agent and marketing you would sell well I believe. Your style is entertaining and informative.

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