It is the summer of 1993. I am in Athens on my honeymoon with my lovely bride.
Who is crying in a travel agency.
She is crying because she has been trying to get us two flights home so we can cut our honeymoon short. But she has just found out that changing the flights costs a lot of money. Which we don’t have.
So we are stuck in Greece.
Tip No. 14 About Honeymoons: It is bad when they feel like hostage situations.
So I call an audible. I tell her we’re going to Santorini. It’s got beaches, beer and gyros.
She agrees. Well, she doesn’t say no. Mostly because she can’t hear me over all that crying.
So I take advantage of the situation by buying us two boat tickets to Santorini. And they’re cheap.
So cheap the boat doesn’t show.
Travel Tip No. 22: Boat trips are harder without the boat.
So we are sitting at the port of Piraeus and we are waiting for a boat. Hours pass. It is hot.
Staci sees a Greek man in a sailor outfit. He is smoking a cigarette. Staci approaches him, and in her best uptight Americanese, says this:
“Excuse me, but we were supposed to be on the 10 a.m. boat to Santorini, and it’s 1:05 now and we’re wondering what time the boat will be here because we would like to get to Santorini as soon possible.”
The man turns his back, takes one last drag on his stubby cigarette and tosses it in the sea. Then he turns back to face her.
“No boat,” he says.
It is poetic, really.
‘Cause what else do you need to know?
There’s no boat. You can “blah blah blah” all afternoon, but the situation is this:
There’s no boat.
I come to realize that it’s really the answer for almost any question you have in your unhappy life.
I’d say it’s almost existentialist, if I knew what existentialist meant.
So we sat and waited. And over the succeeding hours many Greek people showed up at the dock, which told us that at least some boat would be showing up and it would be going somewhere. Which was better than here.
But we had a problem.
Despite our being the first people at the dock, there were now some people trying to stand between us and the edge of the water. And here is where I will give you a travel tip straight from the good people of Mediterranean Europe about Americans and their love of orderly lines :
We mock your orderly lines.
In fact, if you have extra time, look up “line” in a Greek dictionary. I did. Here is a loose translation:
Place where big group of people shove each other.
And that, my friends, was all that my crying American bride needed. Because now she was a proverbial camel. And someone was about to put one straw too many on her proverbial back.
And that someone was a Greek man in an undershirt.
Who made the mistake of cutting right in front of her.
Causing her to do what any reasonable American tourist would do in that situation.
She kicked him in the back.
Oh, it’s on, my Greek friend. It’s on.