Wednesday, July 23, 2003

23 July 2003 – 8:28 AM GMT-5

It's the plane ride home, so I figured I should wrap up this journal—I'm only a little behind, but the cramped conditions are causing me great difficulty in writing. I shall try my best.

So we wake up in Mati and head out to see Thea Aliki after eating breakfast. We drive south with minimal directions to the place, with then palpable tension of whether we'll make our mid-afternoon flight, most of that tension coming from the parental unit, of course. We eventually find the road in a remote part of Attika, avoid the random road construction, and drive up to a marble-covered gated nursing home, complete with fountain and national crest over the door.

Thea Aliki was waiting for us up on the porch/balcony out front and greeted us as we walked up, showering us with kisses. We went inside and found more marble (!), which Dad observed was most likely very slippery when wet—not ideal for a nursing home. There was also big surprise #1—she had gotten cake (very yummy combination of whipped cream, chocolate mousse, vanilla cake, and some fruit, perfect for the multitudinous demands place on food by our family) and soda for all of us! I downed mine fairly quickly, while Mom carried the burden of the conversation, as she was the only one of us who could speak English and Greek (by the end of the trip, Mom would overload the translation sector of her brain and be completely tired of even the simplest translations—thankfully, this point hadn't come yet). We all chatted, she expressed her joy that we came out to see her; we told her it was our pleasure; she recounted some stories; we talked about where we'd been; we gave her a gift from Yiayia and Papou accompanied by a Mickey Mouse birthday party invitation (it was the only card in the supermarket we visited). Then came surprise #2: she gave us a gift as well! It was a beautiful reproduction of an ancient dish in the Benaki Museum, and she had to send someone into Athens in order to get it for us. We continued to talk for a little while but eventually we had to make it to the airport, so we took a bunch of pictures and kissed our goodbyes.

We made it to the airport, dropped off the Scénic, and walked to the terminal. We hopped on the Olympia Airways and flew an uneventful flight in a prop plane to Santorini's airport. After a bit of discussion it was decided that we would rent a car. After a bit of talking to the Europcar lady and picked up our amazing…paler green manual Renault Scénic! It was a manual, to Dad's dismay, but he would manage driving them for the rest of the trip. We drove into Fira, the major city in which we stayed, and drove up this tiny, tiny road with many parked cars, pedestrians, and little room to manoeuvre. Dad was very displeased by this, and turned around while Mom and Theresa went to look for our still-hidden hotel. They found it, about 50 or 60 steps down the cliff face, which is where all seaside development exists in Fira. We lugged the suitcases down there (which much-appreciated help from an employee) and plopped in the room for a bit.

We left for dinner and did our patented "look-at-several-perfectly-good-restaurants-until-enough-of-us-get-fed-up-and-stop-at-the-closest-place" technique with delicious results—we stopped at a place up the stairs from our hotel with a nautical name. I had duck in pomegranate sauce—tasty, indeed. We walked a bit around town, stopped at an Internet Café (which I had to check my chocolate milk with the bartender and where we saw a soundless Homsar VHS tape), and went back to the hotel to rest up for tomorrow.