Sunday, August 30, 2015

HEADSHOT

We had earned celebratory drinks. Big time. The plan was to celebrate by bopping around the bars in Fira. Collecting drinks. By collecting I mean drinking them.

Bar #1: 6:35pm

We made our way down by the water to watch the sunset at our first stop, Tropical Bar. They had a small balcony and bonus points were scored for a fantastic music selection. We scored two seats with front row views. Ok, so by scored I mean we stalked the tables until someone left and then pounced on the table. 
best happy hour I've ever been to? I think so.





We meandered around the side streets looking for some off the beaten path spots. 

Bar #2: 8:37pm
That’s how we ended up at our second stop, Two Brothers. It was fairly empty, and we saddled right up to the bar. I was soon to learn it was not empty enough.


We ordered two beers from the Greek bartender that wasn’t preoccupied with blowing smoke onto the bar top and swirling it into spirals in the air.  The atmosphere in two bros was conducive to drinking. They played good music, and between all the funny signs all over the bar and the eye candy bartender, there was plenty to absorb. But back to the signs. They were intriguing in a “what the hell does that mean” kind of way.

Photo cred: Greek bartender
KJ and I had the bright idea to order some shots. Of the fireball genre. It was just after the slight burn had finished warming my stomach that I realized our mistake. We should’ve waited! My eyes caught the inappropriate signs scattered around the bar. One in particular advertised a “headshot” for 3 Euro, as opposed to the 6 we had just paid for each shot. Being the economist I am, I was curious.

Before I could control my mouth, I inquired, “What is a headshot?”

Greek bartender did a horrid job of hiding his smirk when answering: 

“You should do one, and you will see.”

“I’m going to need more information than that.”

“You put helmet on, you do shot, we tap you with stick.”

Tap?

"I’ll need to think about it."

And so I did, for about 5 minutes. I could see Greek bartender and the rest of the staff laughing in anticipation. This had to be good. I couldn't back out now.

I looked to KJ for confirmation. 

“Just tell him to go easy,” was her advice.


“I’d like one headshot please" I said, as if I was ordering a chocolate ice cream. 

And that’s how I ended up wearing a large helmet in a bar on an island in Greece, running around in circles and getting WALLOPED on the head with a giant stick that one might find in the woods; in front of a bar of patrons. 

My head rattled. I forgot to tell him to go easy. There's a chance I had a slight concussion. The bar cheered.

Greek bartender looked supremely satisfied with himself after the deed was done. I kept the helmet on a little while so as to hold my parts inside until I recovered. After returning my headpiece I prepared to settle up for the headshot. 

"I give to you for free because I like you from first sight," Greek bartender said. 

Can't argue with that logic.

And now, for your viewing pleasure...

YES. There's a video.




Bar #3: 9:42pm

We needed food. Or this was going to turn uglier than it already had at Two bros. We settled on a corner spot that we had walked by a million times already in our two days in Fira called McDaniel's Snack Bar and the sign above donned it, "Eatery & Drinkery."  



It was open air, and I loved the name. That was all I needed to know. Quick, cheap, and perfect. I was a gyro virgin and ready for the Eatery to be my first. 

I can't be sure if the drinks told me it was the best thing I'd ever eaten, or if it actually was. Either way it was delicious.


Night Scene from Fira

Bar #4: 10:17pm

We found our way to a bar called "The Saloon" which I thought could only promise entertaining things. Sadly, the only exciting thing that happened here was the random cat that scaled the tall wooden post next to us like a pro. 

I'll admit it, I should've taken a bar off and drank water. But I didn't. So, there's that. Not pleased with the The Saloon, we made an executive decision to bring the Greek bar crawl full circle and head back to stop #1, Tropical Bar.

Bar #5: 11:09pm

We re-entered Tropical Bar to find it packed to the brim. A far cry from what it had been mere hours earlier. The music was still just as good, if not better, and people were bustin' a move. Especially the two girls bringing the sprinkler back.

We squeezed our way up to the bar. I took it upon myself to order some beers from the bartender. I obtained the beers but not without a quick chat with the bartender. One that involved him cupping my face and asking if I was Greek or Italian. D, none of the above? 

"I'm part Italian, yes." 

This satisfied him like he just solved world hunger. 

I turned to KJ wide eyed. 

"I think the bartender just cupped my face in his hands...but here's our beers."

KJ had not witnessed the cupping incident on account that she was deep in conversation with her new friends. The Polish babies. 

They were Polish. And very, very young. This was their first trip away from home and they were adorable. I wanted to put the Polish babies in my pocket.

They regaled us with tales of Poland. It was all very exciting, but we were spent. And drunk. And my head hurt and I wasn't sure why. 

It was time to go back to Camp. There were Greek adventures to be had tomorrow.



Not sure if I recommend it... but you too, can have a night like this:

**Deets for a bar crawl like the one that occurred above...

Tropical Bar: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g482942-d2349088-Reviews-Tropical_bar-Fira_Santorini_Cyclades_South_Aegean.html

Two Brothers: https://www.facebook.com/2BrothersBarSantorini

McDaniel's Snack Bar/The Eatery-Drinkery: https://www.facebook.com/pages/McDaniels-Snack-Bar/274815769368548

The Saloon: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Saloon-Rock-Bar-Santorini/275316315987907 (watch out for gymnast cat!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stavros: a love connection

The next morning at camp proved to be exactly what you would expect. We ambled out of our room, in search of the camp cafeteria, which also happened to be the pool area, wifi zone, bar, and Oreo's favorite napping spot. Perpetually napping. 



We opted for the cheap breakfast at the Camp cafeteria because the sign told us so. Also, it meant we didn't have to climb the 3 hills of hell until we were ready to hop the bus later on. The Cafeteria was busy, and we were jetlagged. Which meant little patience.

We approached Helga (the cafeteria lady, obviously) who bore a striking resemblance to the Trenchbull from Matilda, and placed our order. 

"Two American breakfasts, please." (Whatever that means)
"You go. I call you." -Helga

This was our dismissal. 

I, however was not convinced. How would she remember what we ordered when there were thousands others waiting for their American breakfasts? I wasn't a rocket scientist myself, but Helga was definitely not keeping tabs on the order of orders here.

"You go! I CALL you." Helga pushed. 

"But you don't know my name!" I persisted under my breath.

KJ and I plopped down reluctantly to await being called. We took advantage of the tiny paper ticket that promised us a coffee from the bar. YES, COFFEE.

We showed our tickets and the 12 year old bartender with a beard sloshed some questionable looking caffeine our way. 

"Can we have two more sugar packets?" I inquired. Though the coffee looked like it needed about 8.

"I have only ONE." he retorted and flung the packet on the bar. Touchy, touchy.

KJ and I waited endlessly for our American breakfasts. If we approached Helga one more time I was sure she wouldn't feed us at all. Finally, standing awkwardly and staring proved to work. 

"What is this crap?" I asked KJ. The American breakfast was probably exactly what Helga thought of us. 

It was time to venture up the 3 hills of hell to catch the rave bus to Oia, where, we would hike 7 miles back to Fira. Because that's what normal people do the first day of their trip, jetlagged, and in 95 degree heat.

Lucky for us, we arrived just as a bus was departing to Oia. Unlucky for us, it was filled to the brim, so KJ and I had to stand the entire windy, cliff ridden journey.

We fell out of the bus as if it had birthed us, thankful for a breath of fresh, humid air. We were already dripping with sweat and hadn’t even started our hike.

But boy, was Oia beautiful.














The trek began with wandering through the streets of Oia and taking in the views. The contrast of white washed houses against the sea was breathtaking. I was awestruck and couldn’t stop taking pictures, obviously.


KJ on the trail




Knowing that we were only a very short way into the hike, and I was already drenched in sweat was slightly alarming. It was midday, possibly the worst time to be doing this hike, but damnit, we were going to do it.

We kept on keeping on and encountered several things.

-   A helicopter taking off mere feet from us.
-   Immense thirst
-   Me having to pee
- Sahara Desert like conditions
- Steep hills that rivaled the 3 hills of hell
-   Me tripping over loose rocks about every 20 minutes or so.
-   Two women hiking in sundresses and Kentucky Derby hats. (what?!)
-   DONKEYS.

The donkey encounter produced what has to be my favorite photograph from the hike:


This is where I met Stavros. Our eyes locked. Time stood still.

The love of my life? If it’s meant to be a donkey, then yes.

He was perched off to the side, and looked how I felt. Hot and tired.
Stavros

“Hey buddy, how’s it going?” I offered him by way of conversation.

He showed me his teeth.

Good talk.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate that besides the fact that the advertisement for “donkey rides” looked as if it was written using an oversized sharpie… upon closer inspection, there are actually bike helmets inside for said donkey rides. Those should help while plunging down a rocky cliff. At least safety was a priority.

I explained to Stavros that despite my desperate desire to ride a donkey, I wouldn't put him through carrying my ass in this heat. If that's not true love, then I don't know what is. 

I didn’t want to leave Stavros and our solid connection, but alas we had more hiking to do. About 4 more miles worth. I waved a sad goodbye.

High above, at the top of one of the 982374987234 hills was a church. It provided the only shade in a vast area of scorching sun, and we needed some relief. Upon approaching the church I had two thoughts.
The first, “wow she’s a real beaut!”
The second, “why does it smell like bologna?”

The culprit sat in the sliver of shade provided by the side of the church. My nose had not lead me astray. There was in fact a couple eating bologna sandwiches, because what else would you pack for a hike in Greece?





We enjoyed the shade for a few and gathered strength to keep on the trail. But now I had a craving for bologna.

Our water was boiling hot and completely unsatisfying to drink at this point. We needed to find some cold drinks, and soon. But first a fork in the trail.

Signs weren’t very well marked, and the lady we asked where the trail continues gave us these directions:

“Second mouth. Red.”

Got it.

We started down a skinny, steep path that guaranteed at least one of us falling into the sea as it skirted dangerously around the cliff. This couldn’t be it, could it? KJ looked as uncertain as I felt.

“Let’s go back up and see if there’s another “mouth” further up.”

We passed a small group of hikers heading down the skinny trail, and told them we weren’t sure if it was the right way. They decided to take their chances and we wished them luck. As we kept looking for another trail, we searched for sweaty people wearing backpacks coming from the opposite direction. It was a good clue that they were hiking as well. Jackpot. Two hikers going the opposite way on the trail pointed us in the correct direction and informed us of a café with water on the other side of the next (big) hill. Awesome, because I needed water, and I was close to peeing my pants.

They were right! After a few more wrong turns we found the café and heaven in some ice cold bottled water. I asked the fully bearded café lady about a bathroom and she pointed around the outside of the building.

There were no less than five signs instructing bathroom goers to NOT put toilet paper in the toilet. Did I follow directions? Oops. I blame the heat.

“We gotta get.” I told KJ in a hurry as if I committed some sort of heinous crime. It was only a small amount of TP, but I didn’t want to experience the wrath of the bearded lady.

We scurried along, refreshed from our water break and ready to take on the rest of the hike. Passing through Imerovigli proved difficult on account we had to restrain ourselves from jumping in people’s private pools. They looked super inviting, and We. Were. So. Hot. Just then we ran into the hikers that took the wrong trail. They were alive! We rejoiced and congratulated them.

It was a race against heat stroke. We arrived in Fira not a moment too soon and wearily high fived each other. Camp beckoned us in the form of a cold shower.

We had done it. Drinks of the tall alcoholic kind were in order...


Just me in a tree.. nothin to see here.




Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Santorini Summer Camp


The exhaustion helped keep my excitement somewhat at bay, but even so I was pumped to finally be in Santorini! KJ and I collected our sidekicks from baggage claim, and she once again scoffed at my excessive luggage. We stepped outside to find the local city bus, since we were on a budget, after all. The heat enveloped us like an unwanted warm woolly sweater in the middle of summer. I couldn’t wait to take a cold shower.

We found the bus stop and eagerly awaited for our chariot to arrive. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long and were rewarded with two open seats just right for mine and KJ’s asses.  While celebrating this small victory, we secondhand smoked a pack of cigarettes on account the driver was a committed chain smoker and enjoying his favorite pastime whilst driving. The bus situation was an interesting one. It was jam packed for one, and techno club music was pumping.  People stood in the aisles and by stood I mean leaned into every nook and cranny. It was elbow city up in there. The bus driver’s minion collected money for the tickets, squeezing his way through the too crowded aisles. It was stifling hot. The minion took our money while simultaneously leaning over me to get by. I cringed as a large drop of his sweat started to fall mere millimeters from my face. I leaned inward to KJ’s seat, narrowly missing the imminent splashdown.

Just then, because the bus wasn’t crowded enough, two women with a gaggle of children, including a tiny infant boarded the bus. A clubby bus was no place for a baby, I thought!

After our eventful bus ride and the long journey we had endured, we were more than ready to be at our lodging. Only thing was, because of budget reasons, we were to be staying at a place called “Santorini Camping and Rooms.” I had reserved us in the “rooms” part, but still, I didn’t have high hopes for this one. After a quick consultation with a local at the bus stop, we were en route to Camp. We walked, trudging really, weighed down by our packs. Me with Bertha’s little sister rolling along as well. Three hills later I looked at KJ, sweat dripping down my face. Without any words, we knew what we were both thinking. If we had to come down 3 hills to get to camp…we’d have to come up three hills to get to town.  What goes down, must come…up?


We approached Santorini Camping (and rooms) wearily. We were greeted by the resident Camp dog, who I deemed as Oreo, naturally. Classic name for a black and white dog, that despite it’s cheesiness, I’ve always wanted to use.  He took no notice of us, seeing as he was hard at work tearing apart some sort of meat on a bone that resembled a chicken wing. “Whatchya got there buddy?” I asked him. He ignored me.
 
camp vehicle: seems legit.
Check in was much like you’d expect for summer camp. The Camp Counselor informed us we must pay in cash. Music blared at the pool next to the office. Teenie boppers milled around their tents. Oreo tore at his meat.  

Oreo: post feast
Counselor led us to our humble abode for the next 4 nights and I’d be lying if I wasn’t slightly terrified to see what was on the other side of that door. KJ’s face mirrored my thoughts.

There was just enough room for our bags in the room. That was about it. Counselor left us to it.  First things first, we needed to hit the showers. I thanked God we had our own, and didn’t need to experience the communal Camp showers.  The only wifi was in the pool/bar area so I opted for second shower and ventured out there as crusty as ever with sweat. It was peak time for club Camp, techno music blaring at a ridiculous decibel.

We got ready and decided to head out for our first and well-deserved Greek meal. Despite having our own room, we figured it best to lock some important things in the safe. But, silly us; it refused to open. The Camp office would be hearing about this.

“The safes don’t work. None of them. DON’T use them” …is what every traveler wants to hear. Counselor shared the news as nonchalantly as if he was telling us he prefers grape jelly over strawberry. We were none too impressed.

Hunger won this battle and we started the trek into the town of Fira up our favorite 3 hills. 

After the first hill we were sweaty again. 
After the second hill I cursed all hills in existence. 
After the third hill, we may as well not have showered.  

A large bottle of wine was in order. We found a cozy spot at an outdoor table at Pelican Cafe & Wine Restaurant. The last 36 hours started to melt away. Then, I had the best Greek salad of my life.  And, although I’d probably regret it tomorrow, that brick of Feta didn’t stand a chance.



The wine made our return to Camp a little less harrowing, and as we got back to our room the exhaustion from the past couple days of travel hit me real good. We may have been staying at Santorini Summer Camp…but the bed greeted me like an old friend.



*I recommend grabbing food and enjoying the outdoor seating in Fira at Pelican Cafe: http://www.pelican.gr/cafe-winerestaurant/

*I DO NOT recommend staying at the Santorini Camping and Rooms. That is all.



 
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