Saturday June 30, 1990
Well, today is the day of the "Concert of the Decade" in London at the Knebworth House. Pink Floyd, Tears for Fears, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Ray Cooper, Robert Plant (with guest Jimmy Page), Status Quo and Phil Collins with Genesis were all set to appear. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no way I could make it. However, I just happen to be on deck of a cruise ship heading toward Athens, Greece (a fine consolation). I'll see the concert on MTV when I get home.
We spent another day and night in Capri - the most fantastic island I've seen yet. Danny and I went to the Grottos Azure (the Blue Grotto) - one of the wonders of the Mediterranean world. The Grotto was a cave with a tiny opening at the waterline where the sun shines through the water/entrance and bounces off the white sand inside the cave. The reflected light illuminates the cave to a majestic royal blue. The water was so clean, that you could see to the bottom of the entire cave.
At the Grotto, we met 4 of the coolest, funniest comedians from New York. These guys went to Albany and we decided to travel to Greece together. Let me tell you that since Danny and I met these guys, we haven't stopped laughing for a minute! It's like traveling with 4 Billy Crystals - they're a riot.
Ok, the boat to Athens is killin' me. From Capri to the Greek Islands takes 2 full days (48 hours of non-stop travel). What a pain! I didn't anticipate this part of the trip. We had to take a mini-bus down to the port, then a hydrofoil bak to Naples, then a cap to the train station, then a 2 trains to the port in Brindisi (the tip of Italy), then we had to take a cruise (with no seats, I slept on the deck in 45 degree freezing weather with no blankets), then after the cruise ship, we had to take a train to Athens and then a plane to Mykinos Island and then another boat to Santorini Island. Ok, let me recap for you:
Mini-bus, boat, taxi, train, train, boat, train, plane, boat.
It hasn't been all that bad because of our new friends Steve, Jay, Keith and Mike from Albany, but all that travel gives you alot of time to just think. The sunshine in Capri gave me a nice suntan base, but once in the Greek Islands I should be looking fiercely dark. I'm excited to explore the islands and the black sand and ancient ruins, and lots of celebrating.
One of the brief highlights on our overnight Ferry to the Islands was a full RED moon rising over the horizon.
Sunday July 2, 1990
Jim Beam Cola tv commerical- so many commercials in Europe are all alcohol ads! Imagine walking into a 7-11 in America and picking up a six-pack of Jim Beam and Coke as if it were a half-gallon of milk! All the ads in Europe are hilarious. Goofy ads, but I guess they work. I could simply sit in front of the TV and watch these crazy commercials for an hour - pure entertainment. If your wondering why I've been writing about television ads, it's because we've been watching the World Cup every night - everything in Europe revolves around the games.
Anyway, after the hellish 20 hour boat ride, we arrived in Athens and were swarmed by Athenian Hotel shysters. Each person tried to get us to stay at "their " hotel and the competition was hilariously fierce. This drove the price down. Me and the boys stayed in a place for $4! When we finally laid down to sleep in the sweltering heat, without any working air conditioning, it must have been 110 degrees. We laughed if all off - as we all shared the room! The next morning we woke to see the Acropolis, but by the time we got to see it (or rather, by the time we found it), it closed! So me and Steve snuck over the gate to try to climb to the Parhenon. However, not more than 20 feet into the journey, we were attacked by a pack of vicious German sheppards that probably haven't eaten for days! Next thing I knew, I was flying through the air - I had never jumped so high and fast in my entire life. We barely escaped with our lives and decided maybe we should come back when the open. It was an incredible sight fro the bottom, though. Just think the Acropolis was the Manhattan of 200 BC. I was cool to imagine the ruins covered with fabulous marble and active with Greek philosophers - Socrates, Plato and so many others.
Monday July 3, 1990
That afternoon, we took another hilarious boat ride (10 hours this time). The reason I keep using the word hilarious is because these guys with Danny and I are really killin' me with their wacky comedic ways. I've never had so much fun with friends I barely know - but at the same time I felt like I've known them my whole life. Anyone who can keep me in stitches all day and all night is definitely ok in my book! We arrived in Santorini in the heat of the mid-morning and were shystered by a Greek selling shlock. He said he had a great hotel by the beach - and took us to the middle of the dessert. We refused to pay him and pointed to the beach 5 miles away! He dropped us in the middle of nowhere and we had to wonder the deserted part of the island in 110 degree heat with our packs. Oy - this was not the Greek Island Paradise I had been dreaming of!
We wondered aimlessly through the heat with our packs until, get this, an 11 year kid pulls up in a mini-van! I don't think I've seen anything so funny. He goes, "I've got room 4 you, by beach, no problem." He shystered us too - and we had to get his father to drive us to Kamari Beach on the other side of the island. FINALLY, we were where we wanted to be. We got an amazing place on the waterfront for $8.
We rented mopeds and had absolute the best days I've ever had in my life! We rode all over the island. It's impossible to describe the raw beauty of this island. There is little or no vegetation, but the mountains and landscape are formed by molten lava from a volcano (that is still active and just recently erupted only 30 years ago).
From the top of the mountain it looks like the Grand Canyon but within the deep blue sea. White stone homes rise up onto the crest of the island tops capping their domed churches in the most rich royal blue.
HDR photo of the Santorini Cathedral by Klaus Herrmann
We then rode to the other side of the island to the beach with watersports and we hopped on an inflated banana boat. Laughing like kids and horsing around - we were bucking the raft like a bronco, and it only took about 500 feet offshore until we wiped out. When we did, I noticed the water was the most intense royal blue color - raw beauty!
After a few hours on the beach, we rode our mopeds to the top end of the island to watch the sunset. Oia was the name of the village where many people go to see one of the miracles of nature. Watching the sun set in Oia was impossible to describe in words. Let's just say there was absolutely no where else on the planet that I'd rather be.
Incredible sunset photo of Oia Village in Santorini by Nikola Totuhov
Stunning after-dark photo of Santorini by Xandré Verkes
Thursday July 5, 1990
Well, everything I heard about Ios, Greece is absolutely true! This place is sheer madness! The 4th of July was insane. The beach was packed with kids of all nations, but most were celebrating the 4th, American style. There was one group of nuts called beer hunters. They were seven guys who finish 300 beers every Wednesday! These guys were roaming the beach in search of babes and more booze (dressed with watermelons on their heads, beer cans for sunglasses and war paint all over their body. Dozens of people were actually passed out flat on their faces all over teh beach - in the middle of the day. The Europeans drink so much more than Americans - but they get so drunk, they can't even stand. They should visit New Orleans and learn how to drink all day and all night and pace yourself the right way.
The nightime, oh the night...what can I say about the night vibe?! It was even crazier! The West Germany / England World Cup match was on tv and these nations got stupid drunk! They got wild and crazy and loud and just plain out of control. We went home around 3am, but on the way, we dropped into a dance club in the old city that played the sickest thumping house music - and we didn't leave till 5am. Did I say the Europeans drink all day and all night? They do, and people were passed out on the streets left and right - like litter. Ios is like spring break all year long.
What did I eat? Shawarmas! Shawarmas all day and all night. With french fries. Lord, what a treat - they were so insanely delicious, that I coudn't break away from eating anything else. Funny story...while the drunk Europeans staggered into the water to cool off from their face-planting in the sand, they would lose all their money out of their pockets. I happened to have my snorkel and mask while in Ios, and I would go into the water every 2 hours and collect "Shawarma money!" I would treat all the guys to lunch and dinner. Seriously, money was flowing out of their pockets and they had no idea.
I've been noticing mixed feelings towards Americans. There's some hostility where kids would sing "Go Away USA" and "Go Home Yankees, Go Home." This would usually come out after a few drinks. Some nations are intrigued with us, however. The Northern countries like Sweden and Denmark are so nice and really want to talk to you. They want to know all about our culture and our music - especially heavy metal! Europeans love hard rock (it goes with their hard drinking). Music really is the universal language - it connects, and has no boundaries.
Sunday July 8th
Well, right now, I'm putting my hands in a Greek pilot of a 7 person propeller engine plane, Olympic Airways to Rome. Why? Because there is no way I was going to take those hellish 48 hours of travel back to Italy. We are saving 2 days of travel in just 2 hours. At the airport, Danny and I said goodbye to our Albany boys, Keith, Mike, Steve and Jay. We've been traveling almost 2 weeks together and feel like we have been best friends. They were definitely an awesome addition to the journey. Will try to catch up with them down the road when I'm back in New York.
The past 4 days and nights have been so amazing. Nothing but sun, fun, snorkeling, shawarma, laughs, ladies, liquor and the dancing limelight, what a routine! I've actually become a native color. You've never seen me this tan. I never burned, but instead slowly simmered to a charcoal brown - something about the sun in this region just did not burn. I absolutely loved the Greek Islands - it was everything and more that I could have expected. I was a little sad to leave - I could have easily stayed in Ios for a month. We are headed to Venice, Italy and then it's off to Spain for the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. I'm excited for Spain. At this point in the trip, I think I'm going to blow off my trip to London and visit Berlin to see Roger Waters perform "The Wall" at the Berlin Wall. It's a once in a lifetime event and it's something I absolutely HAVE to see. I could always return to London in the future.
Labels: Athens, Greece, Santorini