You can follow the series of videos to get a better view of some of the places where our journey took us, but my favorite day by far would be the day we actually DROVE to Monemvasia.
We spent the night in Tony’s family’s hometown of Niata and woke up to ripe figs, soap made out of lard, and chickens (the size of turkeys) clucking. The first thing we did was something I’d like to do every morning if I can – we drove up into the mountains and started the day off with a feast of wild boar. During the meal the owner of the restaurant collected empty beer bottles (???) and 6 or so cucumbers from a dude in a van and then gave us some of the cucumbers topped with olive oil (liquid of the gods?). That’s just the way it is.
After that we had a delectable treat called galaktoburiko (butchering the spelling, I’m sure) and filter coffee next to some trees that were older than the United States of America. The cafe was kind of sequestered in a grove these trees and full of all kinds of people who were entirely worth watching – though most of the time I think we were the ones being watched. Greeks are stellar watchers.
On our way down from the mountain we picked up a few liters of water from a natural spring (like you do) and trekked out to a hole in the middle of no where that had incredibly chilled air coming out of it. Down the hole is a cave, a cave which would make the perfect foundation for your very own Grecian home with absolutely natural air conditioning. Genius.
We then drove out to Monemvasia (which translates to something like “Single Entrance”). Rounding the bend, as you can see in the video, you’re privy to the encroaching shadow of an island nothing like you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s as if someone decided that while cliffs were very nice to have on the sides of large floating pieces of the earth they were also quite nice to place just right off the shore as well – the coolest sore thumb I’ve ever seen in an aquatic prospect.
We settled into our hotel rooms which were much less than you think they should be and built into the mold of an old monastery on the island. If you can imagine it, the showers were directly across from the sink and pretty much directly into the sink, and the toilet was about two inches away from all that. I don’t mind. Little idiosyncrasies in places are a lot like those in people: as long as you’re not dealing with them for a long time – they’re incredibly entertaining.
We went out and scuba-dived – kind of. I have an innate fear of doing anything in the ocean that could possibly get me eaten by a shark if they were say, 15 ft. away. As you might imagine, this is not an ideal state of being whilst in pristine waters where there are no sharks and instead, miles of awfully convincing clear blue waters. It took me some adjusting but after a while we were parked out on rocks in the middle of the water trying to teach me how not to breathe through my nose when panicked at the site of
60 sea urchins a sea urchin under my feet.
Still, I adjusted, with Arrus’s life-raftness and Tony’s tolerance of my incessant heel grabbing – “If I follow him, and he’s not afraid of sharks, then I don’t have to be either” – brought to you by my skewed logic – the source of which also kept this song in my head for the rest of the entirety of the trip.
We spent the rest of the afternoon playing backgammon on the beach. That’s right. My first backgammon game ever in my life. It felt like a great achievement. I learned that Greeks make pretty good mojitos and practically invented the waffle (yeah, those Belgians don’t even know what they’re talking about).
Closer to the evening, we hiked up the top of the cliff face and did stuff to ruins that you probably shouldn’t do. Then again, if you were the first person in the world to ever find them – you’d have to pick them up, climb them, and throw them around a little bit to understand what was really going on.
The sun set. A little bit of effort before a great dinner always makes for a commanding meal and that night, though I was surrounded by cats that would give the Roma a run for their euros, we ate well. I believe we ate something like 6 animals in one meal. Also, I ate a fish eyeball.
I love the kind of sleep you have on vacation – you’re exhausted from essentially playing all day (much like you probably were when you were a kid) and you have no worries about waking up too late or not early enough. It’s a beautiful thing.
Speaking of which, it’s not impossible to find that kind of sleep at home… if you plan on it anyway.