Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Postcards from Greece: Surprise is best

I made a deal with our tour leader: "If I'm not there for an outing, don't wait longer than 10 minutes. I will never not be okay. There's no trouble I can get into that I can't get out of. I will never be late for a ferry, yacht, bus, or plane. Rest easy when I go out on my own." This gave me the room I needed to have my own adventures apart from the wonderful opportunities afforded by a group tour. Here are some snapshots of a few of my adventures. --Janet


--I visited Spiro Vasilay's [Va-si-lee [accent]-o] Atelier. He's an important Greek painter (1903 to 1985). As the only guest the caretaker/curator and I got on famously and I loved my time there in that intimate space where he lived and worked. In addition to canvases he designed stage sets, costumes, book covers, record sleeves and so on.

--I wandered around until I found the Quick Spa where I enjoyed a body recovery massage.

--Because of yesterday's lost-ness, it's now easier to get found. I followed my friend Alan's rule to start out with a small goal, and then depart on small adventures that come into my path.

--Three young men asked me to take a photo of them. A photo of Greek ruffians, they said. Smoking cigars. I left them as they sang sitting outside the ruins.

--Up the hill a drummer and guitar player from Congo played plaintive music. I bought their CD. Two women rocked out while smoking cigarettes. I had a go dancing with one.

-- Discovered the Athens flea market. I found a bead shop. You pick out beads and on the spot they make whatever piece of jewelry you want. I had three necklaces made for presents.

--Then, on to conquer the Metro system. A young Greek man, his American fiancé, and her father helped me get back to the New Acropolis Museum. She works at the American Embassy. Her father (Greek-Canadian) came to visit them. They get married in September. Then the rest of the family will arrive from all over for a Big Fat Greek Wedding.


--We took a mini-van into the town of Fira/Thira. Since I’d eaten earlier I went out of the town while the rest ate supper. I browsed the book store, and later chatted with an Italian woman who owned an elegant jewelry shop. The proprietor of the Slovakia joint wore a Harley T-shirt. We chatted about Harleys as if I knew something. He was sure my black eye came from a motorcycle wipe-out, and told the counter man to upgraded my order.

--Wineries not being my normal habitat--even though I lived in N. California for decades--I left early to walk back to the hotel. About 30 minutes easy walking on the road ducking traffic, and taking some photos. Pedestrians have zero rights here. Once I accepted that, I was okay and resolved not to do anything rash on the curves. Driving here on what are essentially one-lane roads is surprisingly deft, safe, and polite.

--Outside the hospital at the end of the evening we got punch drunk. I started singing “What a day this has been,” as others joined me and Charlotte jumped up to dance with me.

-- I peeled off our little walking group on the outskirts of Thira to see an exhibition of wall paintings at the town hall. These are replications of the friezes from Acrotiri, an older archeological dig than Pompeii where volcano lava has preserved civilization at the moment of the eruption. Another unadvertised opportunity I found by myself/for myself. The others dismissed it out of hand because they didn't know what it was and didn't want to climb the steps. It was perfect for me.

I stayed maybe 90 minutes. My method for exhibits is: 1) zip through to get the physical layout and extent; 2) go through more carefully to read the documentation; 3) go through the last time to take it in directly.

--I continued on my Caldera walk from Fira (Thira) through the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli. The center of the volcano surrounded by the watery caldera is pefect for the sunset watch. I ate local green beans at Anestic, a modest taverna, and shopped for souvenirs at a mini-market. Prices much better than at the winery, for sure.

When I got back to Thira/Fira I hopped a local bus back to Volcano View Villas, walking back from Senior Zorba's--a Greek Mexican restaurant. Back in my room at 9:30 p.m. Called Becky to assure her the last chick was home.


--I went for a sunrise walk and wade on the beach in front of our hotel, and started the search for rocks that Amelia and Maggie might like. These were little ones. The search continued throughout the day with the rocks getting bigger and bigger. We'll see how many get packed.

--Yes, dear reader, we did make it to the Falassarna Beach in Western Crete. I changed behind a building into my suit and charged into the waves for my first play time in the ocean. The snack bar at the top of the hill opened as we returned. Lemonade on salted lips tastes just right.

--The monastery museum was closed for renovation. The bus turned around in the parking lot of The Institute of theology & Ecology--the museum of Cretan Flora...Herbarium J. Zaffran. I suggested we stop here because so many of the women on the tour are garden buffs. I stayed on the first floor reading a book on olives in the arts and culture of Greece...thinking I could go upstairs to join them later. But, I got locked in. Made for a funny glass stage play until I found a way out.

--We ate a two-hour mid-day meal at Gialos Taverna served by the proprietor Sarantos Kostas in Kolibari, Chania. I took time to walk on the esplanade to take the sea air, enjoy the sea wall and architecture.

The Grope
From NYC to Athens sat next to a nice Greek couple in the center. When the lights went out the man started groping me. When I couldn't get him to stop, I went to see the stewardess to get another seat. If we'd been on a bus, I'd have done something more direct. Probably the only spare seat on the plane. Business class keeps looking better and better.

The Scar:
In Athens I hit my brow against the edge of the headboard in the middle of the night. Got the blood stopped and put ice on it from the mini-bar. There's a gash and I look like I beat up the other guy. There will be a scar. Every trip deserves one it seems. Since this trip is a short one, I hope the scar won't be too big. We'll see. The one from the 2008 Botswana trip is no longer visible.

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1 Responses »

  1. Your Greek adventure sounds wonderful in all the ways I would expect of you.

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