Monday morning arrived and the 8:00 am breakfast call sounded. ( Matt’s belly) It actually could have been the coffee alarm. ( Matt’s nervous system) But why quibble over technicalities.
At breakfast Lisa and I worked on what to do with ourselves before meeting Steve and Shelly. We had some time to kill by the time breakfast was over and meeting them at 1:00pm. Breakfast is always variations of the same, always delicious, and the company as well as the pleasant family that were our hosts, made them memorable. ( homemade fig marmalade for the win!)
Lisa and I had spied car lights coming down an incredibly twisty road high above Kamari beach Sunday evening while having dinner. We consulted the map and realized that that road led to ‘Ancient Thira’ archeological site and museum. The road looked ridiculously twisty and dangerous, who doesn't like old stuff, and the view of Kamari and farther out would surely be amazing….we had to do it. We worked out, finally, how to get over to the road and started our accent. It truly was an accent and it was made even more interesting when over half the climb looked to be of cobblestones from the Roman era. Yup, and after the first switchback…the guardrail stopped. Did I mention it was two way vehicle traffic shared with walkers, runners and hikers? The views were spectacular and we were also afforded great views of the Perissa side of the mountain as well. Sadly the museum was closed on Monday’s but we were psyched we got the climb in ( on our moped) and had pictures of the views. Being that this road was also the only road down... we started the descent bumping along the cobblestones most of the way. By the end my hands hurt from braking and my shoulders were tight from the stress of coming around the corners on the OUTSIDE of the guardrail-less turns. Darlene’s voice ( Lisa's mother) echoing in my head. “You keep her safe!” all the way down. Gulp, I'm working on it Darlene….promise.
The night before we had made arrangements with Shelley and Steve for a 1 pm get together. Not having cell service unless near wi-fi I didn't get Steve’s message for a push to 2 pm. We thought we were behind and started to head in the general direction of their village. This is where it gets interesting. As I may have stated before, Santorini is an island shaped like a horseshoe with a spine like ridge down the middle. One side has a cliff edge through most of the length and the other, our side, flattens out greatly. Steve and Shelley’s place was on the other side of said ridge. We knew how to get over the ridge but only knew the general direction of the village along with the name. As we approached a road guard ( for lack of a better term, a person that directs or blocks traffic in areas where busses and people may make it congested and block all traffic) we noticed a sign for Megalachori, the very village we needed to go. We took the right turn and followed it down. In short order it turned to dirt and I, Matty, got nervous we were on the wrong road and turned back. We climbed back up the the road guard and asked which way to Megalachori. With a strange look on his face he said down and to the right. We just came from there and it's dirt we said. He waved his arm at us to get us gone and repeated down and to the right. Ooooookkkkkaaaayyyyy. Down again we went. We hit the smooth dirt road and for a piece it was very manageable. Lisa was having me stop so she could take pictures of all the animals and she could talk to them, I swear I married Snow white as she connects with any animal…any. Well, maybe except for the spiders that jump and bite…but come to think of it she's connected with one of them too in the past.
The concerning part is that the smooth road shortly gave way to soft sand and became almost a gully with tracks (with the soft sand). This gully weaved its way through the an expansive vineyard with stonewalls and the occasional animal stall/pens. Houses? Signs of civilization? Other people? Cell service? Power lines? No….that would make it too easy and let us feel secure. If anyone has ridden a pedal bike in soft sand or a motorcycle you know how unstable the balance and steering is. Thank god I can mountain bike and Lisa is a quick study in balance. The next 45 minutes was revving, spinning, breaking, weaving, sliding, rooster tailing and some times just taking a breather. Complete mayhem! What's my navigator doing? Laughing hysterically and thinking being lost on a desolate vineyard road is cool and great fun. I'm thinking 1) What do we do if we get stuck or breakdown (Darlene’s voice again) 2) How do we contact anyone? 3) How the hell are they going to haul this scooter out of here? 4) Am I going to be arrested and thrown in jail for destroying this thing? All the while Lisa is cracking up. We finally came upon a house by taking a wrong turn. Two men were leaving coming at us on the ridiculously bad ‘gully-road’ by car. They stopped us and through motions and words that we both could grasp he told us to ‘stop’ and that the rest of the way this way, was for hiking if we were going to Megalachori. To get there by scooter we had to go back to the last fork, go left instead and loop a very significant loop around. Ooookkkkkaaaaayyyy. After much bouncing and mountain bike skills tested, and a call to Mother Nature, we finally made it to the main road. Lisa and I stopped at the bakery we thought Steve had indicated and ate some pastries, you know, to ‘calm the nerves’ after such a harrowing ride. Turns out, it was the wrong bakery but we finally met at the right bakery and walked Into the villa. We’ll skip Lisa trying to drive the scooter while I walked with Steve. Suffice to say the bike is temperamental and she walked with Steve and I rode in.
As we walked/drove into the villa area Lisa says “Isn't that that guys house we had to back track from?” Sure enough, we went at least 25 minutes of outback riding and this guys driveway almost abutted the road to Steve’s villa. There wasn't a path but oh the Irony.
What can I say about the day with Steve, Shelley and her family. Amazing people. So kind and welcoming to Lisa and I. Steve and I caught up and also learned about our significant others and how we all met. We pontificated about politics, gun laws, our election, Orlando, business and future plans. We had dinner with them, or more like a late lunch, and Steve broke out the board games. Steve has become an aficionado of board games in lieu of video games and even goes 1 X a month to a board game event. Yes, in my head I rolled my eyes…but since I know Steve as I do, I was at least a little intrigued by how my buddy is into board games. He explained several fast paced games and their evil little nuances that make them fast paced and frustratingly fun. As the wind picked up we settled on a game of ‘Pandemic’ for the four of us inside, as up until now we had been outside on the patio. I hadn't gotten my full allotment of nervous system fuel, aka coffee, and I'll admit to doing some very ‘long blinks’. My fear is that I would be bored to tears and knocking my head on the table from falling asleep somewhere in the middle of this game. Wow! Could not be farther from the truth! Steve is an excellent teacher and was graciously patient with us. The game is awesome as it has the four players against the game. A total cooperative game. Players must work to find cures for 4 viruses to win. According to Steve you often lose to the game and playing with us was the first time he and Shelley had won. Lisa and I are still talking about how much fun it was and can't wait to play it with the boys or whoever. Great great fun and an awesome, NOT BORING, time was had. Who needs coffee?
We took our leave as to not be those guests that never get the hint to move on. Steve and Shelley, and all their party, were leaving Greece for Ireland the next morning. Lisa and I are already trying to figure ways to vacation again more with them or to arrange a visit.
The ride home was uneventful accept for a bit of cold rain hitting us as we came over the ridge to our side of the Island. I lost my sunglasses in a burst of wind and I think Lisa is happy about it despite having to get me new ones. They were all scratched up and I was too cheap to get new ones, every time Lisa had to borrow them she was swearing under her breath about how crappy they were. Soon we were off to bed with another great Greece day in the books, new friends met and old ones reconnected.