Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Don't You Listen?

Fresh from the Volcano and headed off to the hot springs, we retired to the lounge. Partly because it was shaded, and partly because my feet were in too much pain to walk further than the lounge. We rode (sailed? boated?) for about 20 minutes, then were told we were at the Hot Springs of Palea Kameni and that we’d have 30 minutes total to enjoy them before we had to get back to the port.

These tours should be longer.

We were informed before departing that we would not be landing at the hot springs, but that we’d have to get off the boat and swim. What they meant by this, evidently, was “you will jump off of the side of the boat into 10-meter-deep freezing water, then hopefully you’ll make it to the section of the sea that’s somewhat warmer”. I’ve never really been one to start jumping off of my mode of transport, but, frankly, everyone else was doing it.

We formed a line to get to the side of the boat that we’d be jumping off of and waited as most of the people on the boat leapt into the bay and started swimming. There were a few hiccups; an older man in a white speedo that seemed to be having a lot of trouble getting his family’s attention refusing to jump until he was acknowledged and a few people who decided that they’d jump off the top deck of the boat and were admonished by the tour guide in a way that was not so much stern as resigned and amusing.

First “Please do not jump off the top.”

Then: “Do not jump off the top, please. Why don’t you listen?”

Once we were in, it occurred to me that this was the first time I’d been swimming somewhere that I couldn’t reach the bottom of in years, and that I was kind of bluffing when I told the tour guide that I was a strong swimmer. Evidently, I’m good enough to get from the jumpoff point to the springs and back.

The springs themselves weren’t so much hot as “not as ridiculously cold as the water we jumped into at first” and there was a sort of red mud that covered everything and apparently stuck in my beard. There was a small building, but no one was in it and I’m not sure what purpose it served. There were also cliffs rising up above the hot springs and, as we looked more closely, lots of goats, which was somewhat unexpected. They made noises and seemed not as pleased that we were there as we were. Almost as soon as we made it to the springs, we were told to come back to get on the boat and return to Fira.

Again, these tours need to be longer.

Once back aboard, we dried out on the top deck (as we’d forgotten towels) and made our way back to the old port. We were presented with the option to walk up the cliff we’d ridden down in the cable car or to take donkeys up the path or to take the cable car back up for another 4€. We chose the cable car. Eddie and Tim walked up, which I admire, but I’d done enough climbing things for the afternoon. Once at the top, we gathered the rest of the group and set off to find the bus station, which is harder than it was the previous night. Of course, the previous night we were just sort of driven to the station and we were now wandering the streets of a strange town trying to find what they called the city center. We eventually made our way to the bus, took it back to Kamari and went to the beach, exhausted. I tried to swim (and was pretty successful at that part), but was unable to get out of the water. The thing about a pebble beach is that pebbles aren’t nearly as soft as sand, and if you’ve climbed a volcano that afternoon in little more than straps of plastic, it’s excruciatingly painful. Eventually, though, I did make it out of the water (which is how I’m able to be writing this right now) and headed upstairs to get ready for the rehearsal dinner, which was back in Fira at a place called Naoussa.

Naoussa was great, and it was recommended to me to try their moussaka, which I did. It was significantly better than the stuff I’d had in Athens, with a sort of creamy potato topping. We also found (at last, as Marina had been talking about it since we left Chicago) teramasalata and salty fried cheese, which was salty and fried and therefore amazing. We shared some more of the local dry wines, took pictures of the donkeys going down the street and of the shop across the way that had a mannequin who apparently couldn’t keep her top up, then walked back through Fira in search of a taxi and gelato. We were also introduced to Carlos, Myles cousin and Best Man, a doctoral student in physics at Columbia. I talked a bit about the various things I’ve worked on in the past, then got derailed into a discussion about Green Lantern, Justice League and Locke and Key.

Which is how conversations normally go.

One taxi ride back to the hotel and a brief ridiculous fruity drink session later, and we’re going to pass out. Actually, while at the bar, the server asked us where we were from. We said “Chicago.” and he replied “Ah. Bulls.” Which is the same exchange we had upon checking in at Hotel Apollo in Athens, except that the inflection was different. Santorini Server said it as a way to acknowledge that he knew of Chicago. The Hotel Apollo guy said it sort of disappointedly, which I agreed with.

Tomorrow is the wedding.

No comments: