I saw this Twitter pic of Graham McTavish enjoying a Fix Beer somewhere in the Greek Islands that led me into a pleasant day dream of he and Richard Armitage climbing the caldera on Santorini or something of the like. I like the idea of Richard Armitage have a great time traveling with a friend. I have very fond memories of tromping all over Greece with my bestie. It’s probably a good thing that I never shared a lot of the details with my mother – she doesn’t want to know some of it, and it’s really best she doesn’t know about the “near misses” – I was a kind of intrepid traveler in my 20’s.
For example – I really don’t think she needs to know about the time we drove from the port of Chania on Crete, in our rented Fiat Panda “Topless”
We had just gotten off an overnight ferry from Athens (which we had boarded directly after getting off our delayed overnight flight from Chicago – I do not recommend this exact itinerary) and were in search of the beach at Falsarna which our map said was not too far away. Since I was the only one in the group of three of us who could drive a standard transmission AND remembered to bring a driver’s license to Greece, I was the designated driver for the trip. So, working on zero hours of sleep in a 36 hour period, I took off…struggling to control the powerful car…not really, I struggled to get the tiny overloaded car up to cruising speed! It wasn’t long before we encountered our first problem…
We could see the beach (this is not a photo of Falsarna, rather Sfakia, but you get the idea) from where we were, but we couldn’t find the road to get from Point A to Point B. I continued driving along the road when a voice the back seat (travel is a funny thing…it can make or break relationships…this one broke on this trip) said excitedly, “There’s a road.” Sure enough…there was something that initially resembled a road going down the mountain in the direction of the beach. I turned onto it and drove about 100 feet before I stopped and said, “I don’t think this is a road…” It was unpaved and only about half a meter wider than the Panda…and that’s not saying much. On my left was a sharp drop off to the valley below, on my right the side of the mountain…not a lot of wiggle room. The back seat said, “It’s fine…just keep going!” By now, I just wanted to get to that beach, strip down to my bathing suit and wash 36 hours of travel grime off in the blue Mediterranean waters, so I adopted a new driving mantra: “Just keep going.”
Turns out I was right…it wasn’t a road. It was an access path through a mountainside olive grove. I cleverly deduced this when we met the olive farmer coming up on his TRACTOR! He didn’t blink an eye to see a carload of tourists. He just pulled over…to the inside of course… and waved me to the outside so we could pass. I had a terrifying view watching stones and dust skitter away down the cliff as the tires of the Panda barely clung to the side of the mountain path.
That was 1994, and it is not the last time my Bestie and I have turned touring ancient monuments and museums and going to the beach into a danger sport. We’ve slowed down a bit lately though. I find that having children has impacted my desire to “Just keep going.” I’ve also found that successfully climbing up and down hundreds of steps in a mountain top monastery does not rule out Bestie tripping on the circular stairs in the hotel and going en pointe in Teva’s before tumbling down, dislocating a thumb and breaking a rib in the process. (It’s a good thing there were cold beers in the mini bar – ice is hard to come by in many parts of Greece.)
Bestie is a trooper though…the next day she hoofed it all the way up to the stadium in the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi broken rib and all. (I’m pretty sure she did this just to prove to aforementioned bellyaching students that they were slackers!)
Our most recent trip thankfully produced no serious injuries…(although, trying to teach her to drive a stick shift may have taken several years off my life!) but on a recent visit to her house, I realized that there was another level to the danger…the collection of travel based knick knacks she’s amassed:
I shudder to think what might happen if we take that trip to the SPAM Museum this fall!