See us now on our way back to Athens, discussing how exhausting our bus adventure had been. Lunch was in Kalambaka, downtown, at the restaurant of an 80 year old wizard, who greeted us in her kitchen, as is traditional in tavernas. Six huge pots bubbled on the cook surface [Gas? Electric? Fire?—I forgot to look]. She asked what each of us wanted. Yianni had told us her lamb stew was to die for and we accepted death-by-delicious. As she was filling my plate I exulted over the eggplant in the stew; she gave me a double portion! Her grandson [?] helping in the kitchen, remarked on the large portion too. I ate every morsel and some bread. Wow!
After lunch, we staggered around the charming town, avoiding touristy places and going to the hardware store. As we went in, a man stepped through the door to spray oil on his .22 rifle. We wondered what kind of varmints he might be getting ready for. This is why we love going to hardware stores around the world; you always see something mind-bending. Like mink traps in Ireland.
Back on the bus, we crossed the plain of ancient Thebes, now called Thiva, famous in myth as the home of Oedipus Rex, whom we last saw at the theater in Athens. Yianni asked me if he had told me anything that I didn’t already know. I told him I didn’t know Thiva was Thebes. He was sad, but we had both told him that we had studied a lot for the trip. And that we had a splendid time.
Then he launched into a ridiculous story about a deceased lady, beloved in 2 towns, who was pulled between the two, to become the long, neck-ed lady, represented by the hills in front of us. I explained that in English “neck-ed” means “without clothes”. “So I managed to teach him something: “Neck’d” I think most everyone else on the bus was asleep by that time, except one couple who laughed at “neck-ed” like we did.
We had traveled 850 miles in 4 days. Not so very much to an American, but remarkable in how much we saw and how many centuries represented.
And back to the Royal Olympic hotel and a fancy dinner on the roof. The cool thing was that, though we ordered a light meal from the appetizer menu, the waiter treated us like we were lavish patrons; he even brought us a complimentary plate of tiny desserts! So our last night in Athens, we looked over the brightly lit temples and monuments, drank coffee and thought, “We never need to come to Greece again, [but I would go if invited.]” Anyone?...
From the sublime to the ridiculous, the next morning we rose early, had a miserable breakfast, as the kitchen was not yet open, but had laid out stale crackers; we then rode the bus to the airport. The flight was ½ hour late; we sat on the tarmac another ½ hour, reading the airline’s motto: “Aegean Airlines: we pride ourselves on punctuality.” That means, “We’re pretty spiffy for Greeks. So don’t complain.”
For some reason, we weren’t seated together, but were pleased that we both had a window seat! And a wonderful view of the rather large island of Santorini, as we swooped over, then back again. Santorini [a corruption of Santa Irenè] is a large crescent-shaped island, with smaller islands nearly completing a circle, the center of which is a volcanic caldera.
We were taken to our hotel, on the tip-top of a hill, with a steep and twisting lane leading to it. When the Gate1 rep told us about the tours of the island, we grabbed one. Our plans of walking were ridiculous when we saw the size and the steepness of the island. So for $43 each, we lined up a 10 hour tour of Santorini for the following day..