It’s Greek to Me
This is your roving reporter writing from a bench in the Athens airport, 11 a.m. Greek time.
Luckily, I signed onto the hotel WiFi last night to find a message from editor Steve Elkins: “Will you be back in time to send me a column by deadline?”
Um, no. But where there’s a WiFi there’s a way.
So here I sit, typing with my thumbs on my smart phone.
Our Greek Islands Olivia Cruise, starting in Istanbul, was so joyously fascinating, mere adjectives are not enough. Great job, Olivia!
Did you know that part of Istanbul is in Asia and part in Europe? News to me. Imagine commuting between continents for work.
In Istanbul we loved the Spice Market and mosques—the city is very progressive and while we saw more than a few women covered in Burkas or in black robes with just their faces showing, we learned they were mostly tourists from Saudi Arabia, etc. Burkas are outlawed in Istanbul.
We were only there a day after nearly 24 hours of travel, so we drank ridiculously strong Turkish coffee so we could stay awake and buy spices.
Since this was an all-lesbian cruise, first stop was the Isle of Lesbos, only it’s called Lesvos because apparently Lesvosians cannot pronounce the letter B. Who knew?
Upon hearing our itinerary, a straight friend asked if we lesbians were expected to make a pilgrimage to the island once in our lifetime, and I said I didn’t think so. Good thing, as the island had not so much to recommend it. At least where we toured.
In fact, our Olivia gang seemed to be the only discernible lesbian Lesvosians around.
Among the hundreds of trinkets and souvenirs for sale, almost nothing spoke of dear Sappho, although I managed to snag a coffee cup with her supposed likeness on it.
Our guide noted Sappho for her poetry, school for women, and messages that women could learn, write, and be leaders, too. Did you hear that Donald Trump, et al?
We drank 48 Proof Ouzo, which tasted like liquid Good and Plenty. We also saw many Syrian refugees sleeping in tents all over the island. At least the Lesvosians are a welcoming lot.
Oops, we’re boarding, yay! Be right back.
So now it is three hours later, I think we are flying over France. Eight hours to go before we land in Toronto.
On the cruise each island we visited was more magnificent than the last. In Ephesus (back in Turkey again) we toured 2500 year old ruins—lots of old rocks and busted pottery, painstakingly reassembled like a five million piece jigsaw puzzle. Astounding! I could envision the chariots racing and Antony and Cleo strolling around.
Next came Crete with its beautiful harbor, exquisite jewelry, terrific souvlaki, and…here’s the best part: fish spas! We dangled our feet in fish tanks so our toes and heels could be nibbled into softness. When I first dipped my toes into the tank it tickled so much I screamed, then almost passed out from laughing. This is a huge business in Crete. I’m thinking of opening a fish spa on Rehoboth Avenue.
Next up, Santorini. When you see pictures of the Greek Isles, it’s Santorini you see—cities atop a volcanic mountain, all white structures with blue domes. Stunning.
Once on shore, we had two choices to get up to the town: a clean, safe cable car, or by riding a dirty, smelly donkey up the steep, narrow, frightening path. Now you know I’ll do almost anything for a good story, but while the scary topography and danger did not worry me, it was the aroma that sent me running for the cable car. Sorry.
Once in the city, we walked upwards for over an hour, on stone paths and steps, through the picturesque town of Fira, continuing until our knees completely gave out. I believe that Santorini tourism is funded solely by orthopedic surgeons.
In self defense, we rented a tiny dune buggy and crammed our big butts into it, continuing the climb, with Bonnie driving like a madwoman, dodging tour buses and scooters on skinny, cliffside roads. Fabulous, death-defying day!
Oh good god, we just touched down in Toronto, fourteen hours since we left the hotel in Athens. Now we have four hours until lift off to Newark. My ankles are swollen like beach balls, I need emergency chiropractic, and we go through customs.
Okay, back on the plane again. That was an ordeal. After customs, where I forgot to mention the Iranian Saffron in my suitcase, we had to go through security for the second time today. Standing barefoot, watching my possessions go into the dark maw of the x-ray machine I silently cursed that stupid underpants bomber who started all this.
So we’re heading to New Jersey now and I continue thumbing this column.
The last island we visited was Mykonos—of gorgeous beaches, stunning views and hot nightlife. We loved it. For anyone who knows the play Shirley Valentine, I got to sit just where the movie was filmed! Unfortunately we had to leave the island before the clubs opened. But our day at the beach was marvelous.
Then it was off the ship in Athens to visit the Acropolis—the enormous hill that’s the highest point in the city, and the Parthenon—the amazingly reconstructed columned edifice perched atop the rock.
Up close and personal it was awesome. From our dinner table on the rooftop of the hotel, it was an unbelievably beautiful sight.
Fasten your seatbelts and put your tray tables in an upright position. Welcome to New Jersey.
We’re at the hotel, collapsing before the drive home tomorrow. We’ve been traveling without sleep for just about 24 hours. It’s been a great week, surrounded by feta cheese, antiquities, and 600 lesvians. I loved it.
G’nite sweet readers.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach, For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries, and Time Fries—Aging Gracelessly in Rehoboth Beach.