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Posts Tagged ‘European travels’

It was a black night, the Hudson swayed with heavy blackness, shaken over with spilled dribbles of light. She leaned on the rail, and looking down though: This is the sea; it is deeper than one imagines, and fuller of memories. At that moment the sea seemed to heave like the serpent of chaos that has lived for ever.

‘These partings are no good, you know. They’re no good. I don’t like them.’

-D.H. Lawrence

It's too bad Santorini isn't beautiful, because that would almost make leaving difficult. Good thing its not... (photo courtesy of Pete David)

It’s been a long time, so there is much to cover. I left the bookshop on November 16 and started a journey to Prague. Upon landing in the Athens airport, I chose to take advantage of the 45 free minutes of wireless internet to write a post about leaving Santorini, in other words, to neatly wrap up my four month experience only two hours after leaving. This was, of course, incredibly unrealistic but I did muster this line, “It seems you can live a whole live in only four months.” I was struck by the difference a day could make. One day I was living a life on a beautiful island, surrounded by friends, cats, good dinners, and books, and the next day I just woke up and left. It seemed abrupt and I already felt removed from it.

This song has been stuck in my head for days, and it content-wise fits nicely here. Enjoy the classic.

Dinah Washington- What a Difference a Day Makes (download/wiki)

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/01WhatADifferenceADayMakes.mp3?attredirects=0&d=1

If you thought this was me at the highest point on Santorini overlooking it all, you were wrong because this is me in front of a tiny model of Santorini complete with a tiny ocean. It was adorable.

But, with hindsight on my side, I am going to disagree with my past self. Saying that I lived a life in four months just isn’t simply true because, a) its a bit dramatic even for me, and b) it carries with it a sense of detachment from the rest of my life, as if that was an isolated event that is now over. And, let’s really think about this, past self, because thats just simply not true. The experiences I had there were very real. The lessons I learned are things I will carry with me into whatever it is I do next and even past then. The friendships are as real as any I’ve known. Not to mention, I didn’t even “just wake up and leave,” I stayed up unnecessarily late (per the usual) and then got up with Vlad and Pete to see what we thought was going to be the sunrise, only to realize it was WAY too early for the sunrise, so we went and hung out on a cliff in the dark, with the dark sea below us. I remember some laughing, some farting, and some “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” being hummed. Mostly, somewhere in that dark moment, we were happy to just be there. That was enough.

Vlad may have beaten me many other times, but, make no mistake, I won this one with a little help from an opening I learned from Craig.

What books did I buy to take with me, you might ask. Well, I bought "Empire" by Niall Ferguson, "The Woman Who Rode Away" by D.H. Lawrence (see above quote), and "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides- the last of which I was recommended by Pete David, went on to tear through in only a few days, and strongly recommend.

So, there I was, in the Athens airport trying to make sense of what was happening- long after my 45 free minutes of internet were up and I had managed a few simple sentences of a blog entry. Memories filled my mind of the way the light filters into the shop, the sounds of donkeys above the ceiling of my room, walking the main walkway of Oia with John as he headed home and stopping along the way so we’d have more time to talk, and all the beautiful faces I’d met a long the way. The thing about writing a blog like this is that somewhere in all of these events and thoughts, I am supposed to arrive at some sort of conclusion or some concise lesson or lovely thought that I can write down and make document forevermore. And thats just not going to be the case here. I’m going to be processing this one for a long time to come, and I think I am going to choose to keep a lot of those things to myself. At least for now. Sorry, blog, there are some things I just won’t be able to include here.

What post from Santorini would be complete with this face? Why is she looking so down? Don't fool yourself into thinking its because I'm leaving, it's probably because she knew she was about to get fixed. So, for all you Sylvie fans out there that were hoping to have a baby Sylvie of your own and to all you hip male cats who were hoping to "get wit this," sorry, you're out of luck.

With the minor physiological crisis passed/averted/working itself out, I arrived in Prague, unaware of what it would be like to return to the place where I studied in spring of 2006. Prague, with its incredible buildings and history and the mighty Vltava, is famously a city for walking, and thats exactly what I did upon arrival, just as we used to do back in 2006. The thing about visiting Prague is that I had kind of told myself that I wouldn’t do visit it for quite a while, because I knew it wouldn’t be the same and the vision of Prague I had in my mind was near perfect and largely contingent upon the people I shared it with back in 2006. So, being there, almost only four years later, seemed strange, and it felt as strange as I could have imagined. The only way to really describe my first night there was that it felt like I was looking at a photo album. I felt nostalgic, but in the way you feel when are you very far removed from something. However, the memories of my time in Prague, a time that I still call one of the most important of my life, came flooding back. I could feel the way the winter felt and the breaking of spring. I remembered the friendships I made, many of which I’ve been fortunate enough to keep up with over the years. This night of wandering around the city in the rain served to remind me why I had loved Prague and my time there.

The year? 2006. The place? Prague. The problem? One beer for three guys. Two of us don't seem that upset about that.

The year?  2006.  The place?  Petrin Hill.  The problem?

The year? 2006. The place? Petrin Hill with Prague Castle in the back. The problem? I am made nervous by beer when not having to compete with two other guys for it. It seems too easy.

It was here that I realized the importance of revisiting an important place from my past, as I leave one from the present. Being there, and realizing how much of that experience I carry with me still, especially the relationships, worked to assure me that my time in Santorini was anything but an isolated life in and of itself. Remembering my time in Prague and its profound mark on the path I ended up taking, from new friends, to the Romero Troupe, to joining Teach for America, etc. It was as if it was all saying it all works out and when it does, its for the best.

Here is a song I got once from Bonnie. I’ve been enjoying it lately and considering how much blues we used to listen to in Prague, its also fitting.

R.L. Burnside- Skinny Woman (download/wiki)

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/03SkinnyWoman.mp3?attredirects=0&d=1

The next day, however, served to illustrate the things I love about Prague at its core. Of course, I made a point of visiting all of my favorites places from before, but I was also very much engaged with Prague as it stands now. It was an important balance to strike. I visited Maly Buddha and had coconut milk, I had dinner at Pivovarksy Dum and had cerny pivo, wandered around Petrin Hill and overlooked the city, I visited the Kolej (where we all lived), had a beer at A Proc Ne, had a spinach pizza outside of Tesco (which is no longer Tesco, it is some partner of Tesco), sat next to the Vlatava, rod the tram, and the metro. This all fell on the national holiday of the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, and I was fortunately to see the days festivities. It was somewhere in the midst of walking from one side of the city to the other on this day that the feeling of it all changed from me being nostalgic to sitting down with an old friend and catching up. There was a reciprocity to it all- a sharing. “Oh wow, Prague, your hair looks great long and your economy is as strong as ever! Things seem to be going well for you. You deserve that. Oh, me? Ha. Yeah, my beard is long. Do you want another beer?” Because, lets face it, if Prague was a person it would be really exceptionally good at having a beer with a friend, reminiscing, and reconnecting.

Let’s quickly play game called Greece or Prague. Ready?

That one. Greece or Prague? Are you stuck? Hint: It DOES NOT rhyme with the word fog.

Now this one. Hint: This one DOES rhyme with fog.

My visit to Prague was short-lived, however, as I made my way south to Novy Myln- better known as the farm I will be staying at for the next few weeks. Let me paint a quick picture for you of my greeting to rural Czech life. The bus dropped me at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, with all of my bags from Greece. I had been told that the farm was the only house on the left, but not only was there not a house on the left, there wasn’t a house anyway, not that I could be sure of this, though, because I couldn’t see anything in the pitch black. So, I wandered for a bit thinking a few trees here and there might be a house, preparing what Czech I could remember to try and find the farm, and muttering swear words to myself. Thats when I just started walking. I knew I’d find it, but what I didn’t realize is that I would have to walk through the wooded part of the road to do so. As I walked deeper into the forest, never straying from the same road and avoiding the cars as they passed, all the while, barely being able to see and relying on my trusty iPod for light to read the signs, I eventually saw a house on what seemed to be the left. I said aloud, “Please be a house on the left.” Since it was and even though it had no visible lights on I ventured up to the main door, leaving my bags on the street in the case that I had to run or something. Not only was it the right house, as not one but three English speakers greeted me, but it was a wonderful, huge home with a kitchen warmed by a fire and cards on the table ready for a game of poker.

By day? Beautiful! Enchanting! By night? The perfect setting for a horror movie.

And that’s the way its been ever since- nothing short of storybook-esque. The weather is supposed to be really cold in the Czech Republic right now, and while its chilly, the days have been beautiful with blue skies- a bit of the fall I didn’t really get in Greece. We wake up in the morning, eat porridge, and the get to work around the farm. There is a lot of wood cutting to be done, as all our warmth comes from wood burning stoves. We scour the forest for mushrooms and take turns cooking. There are many projects around the farm, including painting window panes and refurbishing furniture, and always time for a tea break and kicking the soccer ball around.

Despite the fairytale nature of the farm, the real excitement started last Friday when we ventured into Tabor, the nearest big town. We played indoor soccer with a bunch of Czech guys and I…ready yourself, blog…scored a goal. This was probably the most Czech I’ve ever been, and followed it up by going to a pub and enjoying Czech beer, or, as it is better known, the best beer in the whole world. Whether its in Tabor at a pub with a pivo or walking the forest looking for mushrooms or reading my book next to a fire, this is proving to be a wonderful experience and a welcome addition to my European adventures.

Pictured? The house in which I am currently staying. Not pictured? The piles of wood we cut. Also, not pictured? Greece.

By the way, a late Happy Thanksgiving to all. As the only American on the farm, the holiday was more toned down that I am used to, but I still managed to make apple-walnut stuffing, mashed potatoes with beans, and steamed spinach with some help from Richard and Katie, the Australian couple here. This is also not to mention the pumpkin pie I made from scratch- yes, I mean from a pumpkin. I do hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I’ve been enjoying the band the Dirty Projectors lately, thanks to Jack. So, if you like the track, you can thank me. If you don’t like it, feel free to contact me for his contacts and you can tell him personally.

The Dirty Projectors- No Intention (download/MySpace)

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/07NoIntention.mp3?attredirects=0&d=1

There is much to think about these days. I am planning my moves for when I return to the States and trying to process all that has been this last year, including the last four Greek months. Between all the new people and new experiences this last year brought me, I find myself moved by how much I’ve learned from these things. I am reminded of a woman who came into the bookshop, bought a book and asked to shake my hand. She said it is always an honor to meet someone who is living their dream, mistaking me for the person who started the bookshop. Being at the bookshop and living the realization of a group of people’s vision, being at the farm and being the part of a couple realizing their dream, knowing John as he works on a Greek island to finish his poetry collection, and meeting all the people who are made their journey possible, I realize what this woman was talking about. It is so easy to do the easy thing, the thing that makes sense, or to ride the waves we’re given, but the honor and inspiration I take from the people I meet who are living their dream is something I can only hope spills into my life. Until then, I think I will just shake their hands and then chop some more wood so neither of us get cold.

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The blues run the game- Nick Drake

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/BluesRunTheGame.mp3?attredirects=0

Let’s take it back for a bit. Shortly after my last entry, I found myself stuck somewhere in the middle. I was still taken aback by the views of Santorini, but I was getting lost in a routine and not taking time to enjoy them. I was stuck somewhere in between feeling protective of the bookshop and spending WAY TOO MUCH time there. I wasn’t being trusting of other people and was being too hard on myself, and consequently didn’t leave the bookshop for days on end- about five to be exact. I was stuck in the middle of feeling lonely and wanting people around on one side and on the other I was growing increasingly tired of the repetition and routine of meeting new people who would just be leaving in a few days. I was well aware of how idyllic and perfect my life was, but I feel purposeless in many ways. Clearly, I had gotten myself stuck. And, more than anything, I was more homesick than I had been since I left for Greece in July.

Bookshop life featuring a handmade cat toy.  Don't ask why I am holding this with no cats in sight.  It was a quiet night at the shop.

Bookshop life featuring a handmade cat toy. Don't ask why I am holding this with no cats in sight. It was a quiet night at the shop.

For as much as I work to be in the present and enjoying moments as they last, I cherish the places I have already been, the places I am from, and the people I love and have loved long before this given moment. I always try to remind myself how much those places and people have shaped who I am. I miss them constantly and the nostalgic part of me often wishes I was still there and with them. Here are some pictures of people and things I miss:

I often miss dressing in yellow and Sophie's unapproving glare.  Though, mostly I miss Sophie.

I often miss dressing in yellow and Sophie's unapproving glare. Though, mostly I miss Sophie.

The original style family dinner at Nirvana.

The original style family dinner at Nirvana. I miss family dinners almost as much as these people.

Equally, for as much as I cherish my memories and take time to live in the present, I am still a forward thinker, and not knowing what I am doing after Greece often stresses me out.
None of these things are extraordinary. It is natural when you have been in a place for long enough that you eventually deal with day-to-day problems, you get homesick, and your mind starts to wander to future adventures. But, it is clear that something had to chance.

That’s where London comes in.

The world's largest hamster wheel.

The world's largest hamster wheel.

All for the best- Thom Yorke

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/01AllForTheBest.mp3?attredirects=0

I arrived in London last Tuesday on a direct flight from Santorini. Immediately upon arrival, I was taken by the city, charged by its energy, lost in its endless, winding streets, absorbed into its big grey sky, and kept on my toes by the cars moving on the other side of the street than I am accustomed. I wanted nothing more than to be swept up in the bustling crowds as they completed practical tasks, ran real-life errands, and didn’t take four hundred pictures of the building I live in, two hundred more of my cats, and then NOT come in.

The last time I was in London it was 2005 and this was the crew I was with- Danielle and Corey.

The last time I was in London it was 2005 and this was the crew I was with- Danielle and Corey.

The crew this time: me and Jack.

The crew in 2009: me and Jack. I made a point of having the same haircut and a similar hoodie for the sake of these pictures only.

Here is me with Big Ben in 2005

Here is me with Big Ben in 2005

Big Ben in 2009.  Turns out London has some staying power.

Big Ben in 2009. Turns out London has some staying power.

This is London, one of the most significant cultural and historical cities in the world. Let me give you concrete examples of this. In my first full day here, I went to the British Film Institute, which has a room called the Mediatheque that allows you to watch free films for hours that range from 1920’s documentary footage of London to post-war tea advertisements to recent independent British movies to BBC comedy specials aired a little over a month ago. Then I hopped a bus, got lost and did some letter writing at a cafe and then a pub. The night was capped by a visit to a pub with various Teach First teachers and alum. My interactions with teachers all over the place continues to inspire me.

In other news, how good is tea? The longer I am in Europe this time, the more I am enjoying tea.

Folks, I have only told you about one day in London so far and I have been here for SIX. Wow. That almost sounded like a threat.

On Thursday, I walked myself to the Tate Modern Art Museum, which, if you were wondering, was FREE, like most museums in London. Because of this, I was able to wander freely without feeling like I “need to get my money’s worth.” I could simply get lost in the ideas around me, and thats what I did.

Speaking of ideas, if you happened to be wondering what Justin “Chilly” Lamb thinks about English food, you can hear it in great and clever detail here.  Enjoy.

From there I walked to Borough Market where I had a mission to accomplish. I was going camping for the next two days with Jack, a few other teachers, and a handful of his students. My mission was to assemble a lunch at this market for the adults on the trip. Of course, before I took on such a task, I had to eat, and eat I did. A freshly-made veggie burger with fresh salsa followed by cheesecake with fresh fruit on top was just the ticket. Then I assembled what could be argued as the greatest picnic lunch in the history of teacher-chaperoned camping trips. It starred notables such as apple-tamarind chutney, fresh ciabatta bread, fresh apples, pears, and grapes, some of the best cheese in the universe from Neal’s Yard Dairy which is unarguably one of the the most renowned cheese shops in the world and has a sister shop in New Orleans, English biscuits, and sweet chili crisps. Please contact me if you would like me to plan a picnic for you because it is advisable that you do. Following this trip, I met Helen Boobis and Jack Ream for a little Atlantis Books reunion, complete with plenty of pints

The English Pub.  A home away from home for the last eight hundred years and counting.

The English Pub. A home away from home for the last eight hundred years and counting.

Then came the camping trip. I genuinely feel like I should devote another whole blog post to this camping trip because that is the only way to do it justice. When you work with students everyday, you sometimes lose sight of their growth from day to day. I had the opportunity to witness profound student growth in a matter of two days. Briefly, the boys in the group are who I spent the most time with, and they started the weekend not necessarily getting along and having little to no idea on how to navigate the glorious English countryside, which was their assignment. They were supposed to use their compasses and maps and find their way from one site to another. High point of the first day: happening upon a group of the girls in high spirits, feeling successful and knowing exactly where they were going. Low point of day one: The boys becoming lost for what proved to be quite a few hours.

Girls: Found.

Girls: Found.

Boys: Not found.

Boys: Not found.

By the end of the weekend, the boys were getting a long, working together, and striving to achieve a common goal. There confidence was higher and their independence was noticeably higher. Hmmm….Let’s just agree that I am not going to be able to do this experience justice in this post and call it good. Rest assured, I had a wonderful time and the English country side is everything I hoped for and then some. I have been told on numerous occasions that seeing London does not mean you have seen England. You have seen London. Having seen both, I can confidently say that I am a fan of both London and England.

UPDATE: Boys now found!

UPDATE: Boys now found!

Sunday was spent the way Sundays should be spent. I slept in, listened to music, and had dinner with a family. In this case, it was not my family or my best friends, but it was Dan’s, one of Jack’s roommates, parents who had come in from the Oxford area. We paid a quick visit to the Imperial War Museum and took a pretty long walk to meet some more of Jack’s friends at a pub where we stayed for a few hours and enjoyed the uncharacteristically good weather.

It is important to note that I was really, really looking forward to the grey weather of England. I wanted to be walking in the rain, be cold, and seek shelter in pubs and cafes from the cold. Strangely, most of my time has been marked by incredibly PERFECT weather, in that it is 65 to 70 degrees everyday and the sun shines bright all day. Now, I am not one to complain and I am not going to start now because for as much as I would have liked to be feeling like it was fall, this weather was too perfect to not enjoy.

Look at that sky.  What is this?  Santorini?  Actually, it was the church where Darwin's wife was buried, for the record.

Look at that sky. What is this? Santorini? Actually, it was the church where Darwin's wife was buried, for the record.

Tomorrow I return to Santorini as a refreshed person and one very much looking forward to seeing my sister.

There’s something to be said for breaking your routine and doing something out of the ordinary. I’ve had that now and been reminded of the value of enjoying the moment I am in, but I am still finding myself worrying about the future and making the right choice and missing the people I love. This is normal, of course, and okay at that.

I wanted to make a correction. I said that reading John Steinbeck was like having your first crush and this is incorrect. That feeling is far too fleeting and something you look back at with good humor, but in no way wanting more of it. Reading John Steinbeck, for me, was like eating a home cooked meal for the first time in a very long time. You can’t help but wonder what else you have been eating for all this time and you finish feeling full and resolved to never eat anything other than homecooked meals for the rest of your days.

The reason I bring this up is because at the end of “Travels with Charley,” Steinbeck talks about the way that journeys pick us and how they also pick when they end all themselves. There are times when you journey is over well before your trip is over and other times when you journey continues well beyond the end of your trip and back into real-life routines and day-to-day life. As for me, I am well aware that this journey is in control of me and where I am going, and I’ve yet been able to determine if and when my journey is or will be over. I wish it was this easy, but unlike Mr. Steinbeck, I have still have to buy a place ticket home in order to finish the trip itself. But, like Mr. Steinbeck, I know that no matter how much I see there is always more to learn and until this journey is definitely over, I need to continue to take it all in stride.

In the Night- Basia Bulat

http://sites.google.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/07IntheNight.mp3?attredirects=0

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Today I did my laundry by hand for the first time in my life.  And while I can’t guarantee the cleanliness of these articles of clothing, I can say that I really enjoyed this as a task.  It was both productive and gratifying, which, ideally, all household chores would be.  This is, of course, not the case, but that must be saved for another post.

Proof that I did my laundry...by hand...by myself...and by myself I mean with minimally help from Sheena...but very minimal...so mostly by myself.

Proof that I did my laundry...by hand...by myself...and by myself I mean with minimally help from Sheena...but very minimal...so mostly by myself.

I have always had a deep appreciation of things that just make me and/or other people just stop and force us to be present in the moment we are in.  The two examples I regularly use when talking about such events are church and the ferry.  Generally speaking, church is a time when large groups of people stop the rest of their busy lives and just be in one place doing one thing.  Now, the actual enjoyment people derive from church-going is subjective, and I don’t not claim myself as a religious person in the traditional sense by any measure, but I have come to appreciate the power of church in making us slow our lives down for even just an hour.

The ferry I specifically think of is the one that goes from the end of Canal St. to Algiers Point in New Orleans.  Its no more than ten minutes if I remember correctly, but there is something about being put on a boat with nowhere to go for ten minutes at time and being surrounded by a city in every direction and the Mississippi.  At least it always helped me slow down.

This is NOT the way I remember the ferry to Algiers.  But thanks to Jerry Bruckheimer, no one will ever believe me that is a pleasant experience.  Seriously, the odds of it blowing up are minimal.  I promise.

This is NOT the way I remember the ferry to Algiers. But thanks to Jerry Bruckheimer, no one will ever believe me that is a pleasant experience. Seriously, the odds of it blowing up are minimal. I promise.

This is what doing my laundry, by hand nonetheless, did for me today.  I slowed down.  I felt a little more than I usually let myself feel.  I needed it.  Thank you to the social norms which required me to wash my clothes today.

That being said, I must admit I feel a bit guilty saying I needed time like this.  I am currently in the midst of what many have told me is quite close to their dream job/vacation and I just returned from five days in Crete.  A vacation from a vacation?  It sounds indulgent but its what happened and it felt great.

Crete is an incredibly geographically diverse place.  In the midst of our five days, we saw large cities, small cities, small farms, vineyards, touristy beaches, remote beaches, mountains, gorges, and a vast array of plant life.  Oia is a wonderful place but it is easy to get caught up in the bustle of a place that relies almost solely on tourism to survive.  The population swells so dramatically during tourist season that it is a completely different place.  My taxi driver from when I first arrived said it can grow by up to 10 times, but if you want to see this man’s legitimacy in terms of competence and trustworthiness, you should read the entry from when I first arrived.

While Crete is also very touristy, it provided a change of scenery and a change of pace.  Not to mention, it was probably the last time Mike, Sheena, and I would be able to travel together (Mike and Sheena reference four) away from the bookstore because most of the crowd from the bookstore has now left.

Day 1 was spent traveling from Santorini to Iraklion by ferry and then to Hania (Xania to you Greek speakers, which I am sure I have a loyal following of), where we spent the first night.  Here we walked the streets and found (read: Mike found) an awesome restaurant  where we made friends with the wait staff who brought us an extra bottle of Raki on the house.

Was Crete ready for the team now known as Team Game-Time Sensation (Team GTS)?  Probably not.  But it survived, though not unscathed.

Was Crete ready for the team now known as Team Game-Time Sensation (Team GTS)? Probably not. But it survived, though not unscathed.

The next morning symbolized the start of the best day of our trip.  We caught the first bus from Hania to the Samaria Gorge, which is a remarkable hike of about 16 km (you do the conversion if you are that curious) down a huge gorge and is one of the islands largest tourist attractions.  We missed a huge crowd because we caught the early bus.

The Samaria Gorge.  As Americans, we felt it our duty to try to open a Starbucks here, but the Greeks, integrious people that they are, politely declined.

The Samaria Gorge. As Americans, we felt it our duty to try to open a Starbucks here, but the Greeks, integrious people that they are, politely declined.

Even the water was beautiful.

Even the water was beautiful.

Proof that Mike and Sheena hiked the gorge.  Proof that I did the hike does not currently exist.  You just have to take my word on this one.

Proof that Mike and Sheena hiked the gorge. Proof that I did the hike does not currently exist. You just have to take my word on this one.

Anywho, the hike was perfect and we got to the bottom where we ate some food, jumped in the sea and caught a ferry westward to Paleohora.  Upon arriving at Paleohora we found ourselves a vegetarian restaurant in the middle of town (yes, a vegetarian restaurant) and ate to our heart’s content.  At this point, we were tired but feeling like the day had already been a win, so we decided to be a bit indulgent.  And what is more indulgent that going to find the one cinema in town that just happens to play English-speaking films.  Our expectations were low, as we didn’t know what to expect in terms of venue, language, pricing, etc.

I ordered mango stir fry.  I know...I still don't believe it was real.

I ordered mango stir fry. I know...I still don't believe it was real.

Well, after some wandering, we found it.  Oh, did we ever find it.  It was an open air cinema with stray kittens running all about.  The silence in the movies were filled with the sounds of cicada-like bugs and the wind in the trees around the theater.  Looking up you could see thousands of stars all around.  The movie, to add to the exceptionalness of the evening was Slumdog Millionaire with Greek subtitles.  Life is good, huh?  So good in fact that we found a beach cot on the beach and just slept there, with the sounds of the waves in front of us and the lights of the city behind us.

Most likely, this is an illegal picture of Slumdog Millionaire, and it hardly depicts how beautiful the theater actually was, but at least you've know seen it.

Most likely, this is an illegal picture of Slumdog Millionaire, and it hardly depicts how beautiful the theater actually was, but at least you've know seen it.

The morning after.  Do you see how appealing it was to stay another night?

The morning after. Do you see how appealing it was to stay another night?

Even though the next day started with Mike running around going, “Get up, get up!,” it was a perfect way to wake up.  He was doing this because the current suddenly rose to the place we were sleeping but everything was saved, so no worries.  The previous day and night had been so good that we chose to stick around for the whole next day and night.  Can’t get enough of a good thing, right?

This was a wrong assumption.  While the day was nice and relaxing, when we set up and settled into sleep in the same spot from the night before, we were greeted with a life lesson that sometimes it is good to just let good things be.  The night was just one gigantic wind storm that quickly turned into a sand storm.  Poor Mike only had a sheet, which temperature-wise was fine but the wind was much too violent.  At some stressful point in the night, I took more beach cots and built a wall of resistance against the wind, which helped with sleeping but the sand still found its way everywhere.  When I flossed last night there was still sand in my mouth.

We rose early (surprising, right) and started the track back to Iraklion (fifth largest city in Greece, mind you) where we would catch the ferry the next morning.  I will not spend much time telling you about Iraklion.  I never feel comfortable about criticizing a place, considering people live there and most likely many of them proudly call it home, and especially a place where I spent a total of about 18 hours tops.  My experience was, as I’m sure you have guessed, not the best of our journey.  However, we did find our way to a bowling alley and to the entrance of a little fair.

Greek bowling is serious.  These are our game faces.  And, for the record, I won.  Twice.

Greek bowling is serious. These are our game faces. And, for the record, I won. Twice.

If you can't get into the fair, why not just just dance at the entrance?

If you can't get into the fair, why not just just dance at the entrance?

All in all, an amazing trip.  And lessons learned.  No matter where I am or what I have been doing, its always nice to have something slow you down for a moment- if even just for that moment.  Take time, as they say.

The Books- Take Time

http://7970917082554362344-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/bootsofspanishleathersite/Home/08TakeTime.mp3?attredirects=0&auth=ANoY7crkuRlk29asEkgFZ_3_kRJmkPzm7X23MwSuCejRKBHodg4orOt6ZHt1YvX3LBSZgBseNJpHEQIhckMNU_fGQe1bMce57qqQru1jTEHTsWhBqhi-7BKVSqhW6JPMrky6mI7aFmouQu2dM2IM54FjLdmhI5UyemLtmVXjKQah_PtLGzy_klddr3CjaivchrBnhPA4qepRyDnSb9i16icX-K_I2ZEJLJzojkrC36x1kZbJEDSv1d4%3D

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unfortunately

There is this children’s book called “Fortunately, Unfortunately.” It is about the main character Ned’s adventure as he tries to get to a surprise party thousand of miles away.  It tells the story by showing how his luck changes from good to bad over and over as he has goes from adventure to adventure.  Some volunteers once read it to my class in New Orleans.  Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the story:

“Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.  Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.

Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.  Unfortunately, the motor exploded.

Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.  Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.”

Well, I have arrived in Santorini after a situation very much reminiscent of Ned’s story.  However, it will not suffice to just tell the story this way, as the hours and location must also be included.  It is important for you to know, before reading this, that this trip should have taken twenty total hours from Denver to Santorini.

Hour: 0

Location: Denver, CO

Local Time: 5:00 am

I am dropped off at the airport by my parents where I will begin my journey.

Fortunately, I am on time and the flight will leave on time.

Unfortunately, the woman at the ticketing counter won’t check my bags straight through so I will have to get them in New York after a layover in Charlotte and recheck them and myself.

Hour: 8

Location: In the air, outside of New York, New York

Local time: 3:00 pm

Fortunately, the plane left from Charlotte on time.

Unfortunately, the pilot says we are going to have circle around the airport for up to thirty minutes to avoid the thunder storms (Remember I have to recheck my bags when I land and I only have two and a half hours to do so).

Fortunately, we have been given the okay to land.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), on the descent the pilot decides that is not a good idea and quickly pulls up.  We circle out into the ocean for a while to turn around.

Fortunately, on the next good around the pilot gets us touched down and a moment later the lightening really starts.

Hour: 9

Location: JFK airport

Local time: 4:00 pm

Fortunately, we landed and are inside safely.

Unfortuantely, because of the thunder they are unable to get our luggage inside so I am just waiting.

It is important to note at this time that my flight leaves at 5:45 from JFK and i HAVE to be checked in with AirBerlin at least one hour before the flight.  It’s gonna be close…

Local time: 4:15 pm

Fortunately, the bags finally arrived.

Unfortunately, AirBerlin is located in the next terminal over so I have to catch a tram and…well…run.

Local: 4:40 pm

Forunately, I arrive and check in.

I made it.  There is no unfortunately.

Hour: 10

Location: Gate at JFK

Local time: 5:45 pm

Fortunately, I have made it and am ready to go.

Unfortuantely, the flight has been delayed because the incoming plane had to land in Hartford due the thunder storms.

Hour: 16

Location: At the gate on AirBerlin flight 3551 to Dusseldorf

Local time: 11:15 pm

Fortuantely, we are finally on the plane.

Unfortunately, it was after an epic and mysterious layover where the plane was constantly leaving “momentarily” and it was about to arrive “momentarily” and they were about to board “momentarily.”

Fortunately, I understand airplane talk and know that “momentarily” means we don’t even know what time is let alone when this “plane” will get here.  I put quotes around plane because there were moments when I doubted its existance.

Hour: 17

Location: JFK runway and the air right above it

Local time: 12:45 am

Forunately, we finally take off.

Unfortunately, it is after sitting on the “densely trafficked” runway for one and a half hours

Hour: 24

Location: Dusseldorf Airport (the number one airport in Germany, mind you)

Local time: 1:40 pm

Fortunately, I have arrived in Europe and am happy to be here.

Unfortunately, I have missed my connecting flight to Zurich and, consequently, the connecting flight to Santorini- the only flight from Zurich to Santorini for a week.

Hour: 25

Location: Ticketing booth in Düsseldorf airport

Local time: 2:15 pm

Fortunately, the have booked another flight for me to Santorini leaving from Düsseldorf!!!

Unfortunately, it left five minutes ago.

Fortunately, they promise to get me on the next flight.

Unfortunately, the next flight to Santorini is not for two days and all the other flights to Santorini around the continent were booked.

Fortunately, they find a flight to Thessaloniki, Greece for the next morning at 5:50 am, with a connecting flight to Santorini later that day at 8 pm.  Long layover, but I agree nontheless.  Maybe I can explore the city or something.

Hour: 26

Location: Düsseldorf airport’s baggage claim

Local time: 3:30 pm

Unfortunately, they lost my bag.

There is no fortunately.  I will go on to sit for two more hours only for them to tell me it won’t turn up and they will send it Santorini when it is found.

Hour: 29

Location: AirBerlin check- in

Local time: 6:15 pm

Fortunately, they have put me in a ridiculously nice hotel for free.

Here is the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf.  Fancy.  Too bad I didn't bring my fancy pants.  I wrote old jeans and a hoodie.  Everyone else wore suits.  Next time I get laid over in Dusseldorf I am going to bring a suit and have a working knowledge of German.

Here is the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf. Fancy. Too bad I didn't bring my fancy pants. I wrote old jeans and a hoodie. Everyone else wore suits. Next time I get laid over in Dusseldorf I am going to bring a suit and have a working knowledge of German.

Also, fortunately, AirBerlin has this thing called “Late Night Check-in” as opposed to me having to get up even earlier.

Also, fortunately, I just happened to check since I am back at the airport and THEY FOUND MY BAG!!!!  Good news. The best news I’ve had in a while.

Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea and there are four lines to choose from.  Each line is about 75 yards long.

Fortunately, it seems I picked the fastest lane.

Unfortunately, I was wrong about that.  My line is the slowest.

Hour: 32

Location: Late Night Check-in line

Local time: 9:15 pm

Fortunately, I finally get my late night bags checked-in.

Unfortunately, people started leaving my line and I ended up being literally the LAST person to get to check my bag in.  The last person of hundreds and hundreds.

Hour: 44

Location: Thessolaniki airport

Local time: 10:00

For those of you who don't know what the Greek flag looks like, this is a version Sophie made for a cake she made.  According to my own experimentation, Sophie's version is much more delicious than the real Greek flag.

For those of you who don't know what the Greek flag looks like, this is a version Sophie made for a cake she made. According to my own experimentation, Sophie's version is much more delicious than the real Greek flag.

Fortunately, everything went well as far as leaving Düsseldorf.  I have arrived in Greece.

Unfortunately, they won’t let me check in for my next flight early.

Fortunately, getting into the town will be really easy.

Unfortunately, my carry-ons are really heavy and it is not going to be easy getting around with them

Hour: 52

Location: Thessaloniki airpot

Local time: 6:00

Fortunately, Thessaloniki was a cool place and there was a nice place called the “White Tower” which was pretty much a museum and had floor after floor of Thessaloniki history and culture.

The tower was neither white nor towering, but I can't complain.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The tower was neither white nor towering, but I can't complain. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Unfortunately, the bags were more cumbersome than I had imagined.

Forunately, I will be checking in to finally get to Santorini.

Unfortunately, there is a line comparable to the one for the late-night check-in in Düsseldorf.  Even more unfortunately is the fact that there is no “line” to this line.  It is just people pushing and fighting to get to the front.

Fortunately, I make my way to the front pretty quickly and get checked in.  I can almost taste it.

Hour: 53

Location: Gate at Thessaloniki airport

Local time: 7:30 pm

Fortunately, they are supposed to start boarding the plane any moment, or should I say “momentarily.”

Unfortunately, I can’t find my boarding pass and am nearing a freak out.

Fortunately, I get one again pretty quickly.

Then they delayed the flight and moved the gate.  No fortunately or unfortunately anymore.  This shit is out of control.

Hour: 55

Location: Santorini aiport

Local time: 10:10

Fortunately, I have arrived in Santorini.

Unfortunately, it was after a delay in Thessaloniki and us sitting on the runway for about an hour on what I can only assume is definitely not a “heavily trafficked” runway.

Hour: 56

Location: Ammoudi, Santorini, Greece

Fortunately, I got a taxi for what turned out to be a pretty good price.

Unfortunately, the driver assured me he knew where the bookstore was and dropped me off at the bottom of the a mountain.  After asking a local shop owner where the store is, I find out it is at the top of this mountain.  The only way up is to walk up these epic stairs.  They are kindly numbered.  There are about 250 of them.  Then I have to walk through Oia, or the town at the top of the hill.  You must understand that I had to do this with all my luggage.  I was a sweaty mess.  Pouring sweat.

Hour: 57

Location: Atlantis Book store

Local time: 11:30 pm

I have arrived.  Finally.

I must say it was worth it.  This place is even more beautiful than I could even have imagined.  The people at the bookstore are very nice and tonight there is going to be a 8mm Film Festival put on by some of the people from the bookstore.  I will write more about Santorini and the bookstore and the glory that is both of those things, but let me give you an idea.  I am sitting on the top of our terrace overlooking the Aegan Sea.  Mike (mention number two of Mike) is beside me reading Bob Dylan’s autobiography and Sheena was sunbathing but now went to go walk the town.  This is the life.

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