Delay – Part II

22Jul07

Originally written on July 22, 2007

Last Monday morning started the second leg of my travelling. It was time to go to the Mediterranean and enjoy some sun and sea before heading home. The flight to Athens passed by quickly since a Brazilian model was sitting in my aisle, and we chatted most of the time.

I had a lay-off of 6 hours at the Athenian airport, I dared to do something that I was advised not to. I decided to go and see Acropolis during those 6 hours. If my calculations were right, I had 1h 40 min to spend in the city taking into account passing through the customs, leaving my luggage at the airport, and getting there and back. If anything went wrong, I would have missed my flight and be stranded in the foreign city. It was a gamble, but I was up for it because I knew that my sense of directions was good. (Don’t laugh, F.P., NYC subways system is something else.) Yet I don’t think I would recommend this to anyone, nor would I have done it, had I not been by myself.

The Acropolis, Athens

The Acropolis was a dream come true. I finally saw Parthenon and Caryatids which I studied in the fifth grade as a little boy. lol… Unfortunately in comparison to the Roman ruins, it takes a lot of imagination to understand the splendour and power that Athens projected in the 5th century BC as very few complete structures have survived. One thing that the travel guide book didn’t indicate is how slippery marble is at Acropolis, and how windy it over there. I guess I should have known better since it is the highest hill in the surrounding.

Smoke from Forest Fires Rising over Athens

From above, the city of Athens looks like pieces of broken glass due to the sun reflection. Moreover, a fleet of helicopters and planes were flying in the city outskirts trying to cease forest fires. I even managed to visit the Ancient Agora where Socrates had spent time.

Ancient Agora, Athens

Everything was going well until I headed back to the airport just to find out that there was a 20 minute delay with the train. Luckily I arrived on time, but then my flight was about 40 minutes delayed. Do you see a pattern here? Something’s wrong with this trip. Hopefully, this won’t happen in the next couple of days otherwise I might stay longer in Europe then expected.

The Greek islands turned to be great relaxing and fun places, each beautiful in its own way. I am staying at a guest house that’s situated on a hill slope overlooking the town of Mykonos. The room is clean, and the owner couldn’t be more polite and friendlier. This brings be to the topic of customer service in Greece. It completely goes to the extremes. They are either very helpful and friendly, or they are unprofessional and rude to the point that one forgets those good people one meets on a journey.

There are three islands that I have visited, so I’ll say just a bit about each of them before I bore you to death. 😉

Delos

By Greek mythology, Delos was the birth place of Apollo and Artemis. Thus, it was considered a sacred place for centuries. For a half day I went to the island, which is now a historical site and treated as a museum. It was nice to walk around the ruins although I yet again had difficulties imagining the power this city displayed. When one sees only a piece of a stand where a statue was, it’s difficult to grasp that there was a 9 m statue of Apollo standing over there, and it could have been seen from the neighbouring islands due to the luster of its bronze hair. The wind was so strong over there that at one point my map of the island flew off, so I ran after it like a madman into the bushes and thorn plants that grow on the arid land.
It wasn’t fun at all although it might have looked entertaining to someone watching me. :S

Delos, Greece

Santorini

Santorini is thought to be the remain of the lost ancient world of Atlantis due to the catastrophic volcanic eruptions and earthquakes which reshaped the island. Plato noted the story, but historians are debating about the current date when did Atlantis disappear. Nevertheless, all towns are situated on the edge of the caldera. Thus, as one approaches the island, it looks like the towns are snowcaps on the mountains.

Oia, Santorini

Oia stands up above all places, and it is widely known to have one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Hordes of tourists flee to the village filling up all the streets along the edge of caldera. This was one of the reasons why I had to be there as well, so I stayed in Oia for a night – just to see the sunset.

The sight was impressive despite so many people lining up to watch it. When the sun was about to disappear, complete silence filled out the surrounding and only occasional buzzing sound of photo cameras could have been heard. It seemed as everyone stopped breathing and nothing moved. The sun looking like a fire red ball slowly disappeared, and the silence was suddenly interrupted by people’s clapping and cheering. It was amazing to see how we still appreciate the wonders of nature, and how simple things like a sunset can take a breath away.
The only other time I’ve seen something similar was in Rio where locals would sit at Arpoador, the meeting point of Copacabana and Ipanema beach, and watch the sun set. The only difference is that in Rio, people’s cheering might be more genuine as Oia has turned the sunset into one of its attractions.

Oia at night, Santorini

The following day, I woke up early to snap a couple of pictures. The village was abounded and quiet. All shops were closed, the tourist could not be seen anywhere, and just clapping of my flip-flops could be heard. That was the time when I realized the beauty of this place. It was picture perfect and the colours white and blue predominated. It almost seemed as there are only three types of blue in Greece: the sea blue, the sky blue and the window frame blue. I considered the island of Capri and Amalfi coast to be the most beautiful spot in the Mediterranean until I came to Oia. A.P., I completely understand your obsession with the blue and white colours after visiting the islands. Oia is the epitomy of how one portraits the islands, and to say that the village is stunning would be an understatement.

Oia, Santorini

As the bus loads of tourists were coming back to Oia, I left for the port to take the ferry back to Mykonos.

Mykonos

Mykonos, Greece

One of the striking features of this island and many others in the Aegean, is the stark white colour of houses that is easily recognizable making them the only tourist attraction on the island. The most surprising thing about Mykonos was how windy it gets over there. Silly me has completely forgotten that if it hadn’t been windy, people wouldn’t have built windmills here. lol… The temperature stayed well above 35C, but because of the constant wind, one doesn’t feel the heat that much.

Windmills on Mykonos

The narrow winding streets still make me get lost after one week stay over here. I often end up going in circles. Luckily, there is always the sea on one end, so I can’t go further that that. lol…

The unofficial language on Mykonos is Italian as they have completely taken over the island, followed by Australians and Spaniards. About 75% of the visitors are up to the age of 30, so partying is the hallmark of the island.
Regardless, an island that has only 3 big clubs couldn’t really be called a hedonistic place when compared to Ibiza for instance. Nobody does it like Spaniards do. lol… This wasn’t just my observation, but many found that as well. One American said that he had found the island to be a bit quiet?!?!?!

For the first several nights I went bar hopping and ended up staying up until at least 5am. I didn’t go clubbing because I wanted to save myself for the weekend. On Friday night, I went to Cavo Paradiso an afterclub that’s situated on the rocks between two bays where Paradise and Super Paradise beaches are. The place looked fantastic with the open concept, sea view and a pool in the middle of the club where people ended up swimming and dancing wearing only underwear. I arrived over there with the last bus around 5am.
The bus kind of reminded me of disco bus that they have in Spain. Rides in those buses are always entertaining more than anything. There were several Greek girls and a couple of American guys who missed their ferry in Mykonos to Naxos. Thus, they decided to leave their luggage on the street, right next to the bus stop, and go to Cavo. Another bunch of crazy Spanish girls so called ‘tu puta madre’ (one of them was drunk, had hot flashes and kept saying all the time in the bus) wasn’t sure where they were going. They simply followed the crowd and boarded the bus. :S

Cavo Paradise in Early Morning, Mykonos

It was great to see so many people who are interested in house and trance music because that’s a bit rare in North America. Also most of them behaved well considering that alcohol was pouring all night and morning, and I didn’t see anyone using drugs publicly. After welcoming the new day, I left Cavo with the first bus as many others did. I don’t remember much of the bus ride because I passed out. Finally I was in bed by 8.30 am just to be woken up by my 6 crazy Greek neighbours who started blasting music at noon. I guess Cavo didn’t completely satisfy them.

Saturday was probably my best day in Mykonos. After sleeping only for 3 hours, I headed to the beach where I spent the rest of the time.

Mykonos, Greece

It seems that no matter where I go on this island, I make an appearance one way or another. The bartenders remember my drink after the first order. People notice when I don’t show up at a bar or a lounge on some days. One
night I was even stopped by a photographer. He wanted to take a photo of me, and my first response was ‘why’. Then he said that he worked for Italian fashion magazine and was doing a report on Mykonos. I found that flattering and allowed him to take a couple of snaps. It did boost my ego, but that same night someone thought I was a server and wanted me to make a reservation for him while I was waiting to be seated. lol… That kind of threw me off, so I don’t know what to think anymore. lol…

Superparadise Beach, Mykonos

Even on the beach on Saturday, nobody asked me anything until I was about to leave. Then one guy approached me and asked me where I was from because nobody could figure it out. I wore a Brazilian swimsuit but read the English
translation of a Spanish book. I’ve found all this incidents rather amusing. lol…

On Saturday night I went to Paradise Club, and had the time of my life. It was the best night during my stay in Mykonos. Today in the morning once I woke up, I had to look at the video clips and photos I took the night before just to make sure that all these things did happen. The club is right on the Paradise beach, and I was told that it’s the only place aside from Thailand that organizes fantastic full moon parties. Well, who thought I would have to look at the lunar calendar when going on holidays? The music and crowd were unbelievable. I danced on one of those elevated podiums for go-go dancers for the whole night until my body started to give up, and I had to go to bed. Remember, I only slept 3 hours that day after coming from Cavo. I wish I had a chance to attend Hed Kandi and Ministry of Sound parties at Paradise, but both of them happened when I was on other islands. I can’t imagine how great those ones must be. It is a bit unfortunate that all my favourite DJs including Chus & Ceballos are coming in August, but I can’t have everything. lol…

Paradise Club, Mykonos

Lastly, I should mention that the beaches on Mykonos are great, and most are with coarse sand. However, nudity is accepted more widely here then anywhere else I have been. I’m not talking only about individuals or couples, but
whole families would be nude on beach. As it is usually the case, it’s always the wrong ones who take their clothes off, and I have seen enough of saggy asses for the rest of my life. I just don’t understand how can they eat naked on the beach. I guess the cutlery isn’t sharp enough so they are safe. hahahaha…

I’m going to sign off now, and this might be the last travel blog you will receive from me. I’m off to Munich today early morning, and the following day I’m coming back home. It will be great to catch up with many of you that live in Toronto. It’s about 2am now, I should be up by 6am, but what I heck, I’ll go for a drink now. I’m still on vacation. lol…

The hightlight of this trip was definately my cousin’s wedding, followed by the sunset in Oia and many dawns that I’ve seen in Mykonos, all the same but yet expirience wise different.

Despite the long trip and pricy accomodation, the Greek islands are worth the visit because until you see them, you can’t believe it. 😉

Santorini, Greece

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