European Vacation – Part 2

One of my life verses is Joshua 21:45 – “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”
God keeps all his promises. Bethe, however, does not.
I was looking back at old blogs and saw that I had promised you a proper recap of my European trip, and then I never got past the first leg. So here’s part two… my Greek adventure. At least, part of it.
First stop… Corfu, Greece.
Corfu was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It was a rather small Greek island, not much to the city, but had gorgeous mountains with stunning views. Sara and I decided to do the Jeep 4×4 tour offered by our cruise, because we’re independent, adventurous women. Only one small snag… neither of us knew how to drive a standard, and the jeeps were all standards. So we’re independent, adventurous women who have been spoiled by our automatic transmissions. And our daddies.
So we finagled our way into a jeep with a nice couple from New Jersey. In true New Jersey fashion, these folks spoke with thick accents and drove like maniacs. Mrs. New Jersey nagged her husband about his driving the whole time, and Mr. New Jersey would shoot daggers right back. Ahhh, such a peaceful way to see the sights.
Did I mention Mr. New Jersey hadn’t driven a stick in TEN YEARS? That would turn into a key bit of information. Because he DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THE HECK HE WAS DOING.
So here we go, down a narrow road up the side of a mountain. Sputter, jump, die. I’m already a bit of an antsy passenger since I’ve been in ten wrecks (no lie) and all my friends know I’m a front seat flincher. So you can imagine how my blood pressure started to creep up just a little as we made our way through the steep roads and small villages.
We got to one cute little village, with a road so narrow that only one car would fit at a time (a 2-way street, but you’d better know how to take turns). And that’s when the fun started. 
First came the smoke. We noticed that our engine was billowing smoke, the kind that smells strangely like burning rubber. Or fire. And then came the noises. Grind, sputter, jump, die. Over and over our car would die, and Mr. New Jersey would have to turn it off and start it again. Finally, our little Jeep That Could became the Jeep That Could Not. She just gave up. I don’t blame her, I would have done the same thing. The next time Mr. New Jersey started the car and threw her in gear, she just rolled backwards, straight toward the jeep behind us. So we tried again. Same thing. Mrs. New Jersey started screaming at her husband. He started sreaming back. The four of us were covered in smoke, hacking at the poisonous gases surrounding our car. Sara started to look scared, and I knew my non-confrontational friend was about to have enough. The fourth or fifth time we rolled backward, coming dangerously close to causing a 10-jeep pile-up, Sara looked at me with wild eyes and said, “I can’t take it anymore. I’m getting out!”
And then she started climbing out of the back of the jeep.
Out of nowhere a Greek villager with no shirt and a very large beer belly came to her rescue and hoisted her out of our rolling jeep. There was no Greek villager waiting for me (story of my life) so I abandoned ship on my own. We scurried off to the shelter of one of the buildings and tried to get out of the way.
They had to push our poor jeep to safety. We blocked all transportation coming to or from that little village for a good long while. While the men were clearing the road, we did what any responsible American girls would do if they were in our situation in a strange city, all alone.
We took pictures for our Facebook page.

 
(This last pic is of me doing the famous “Sic ’em Bears” Baylor shout-out in front of a green and gold house).


We left our little Jeep That Could Not in that sad, Greek village and hitched a ride with some very friendly French Canadians in a jeep behind us. They were kind, but they were French Canadian, which meant they hated to speak English. They would tell these wild stories in a language we did not know, laugh hysterically, then look at us. I’m sure it was just a strange coincidence and they weren’t really telling wild stories about the two stupid American girls who couldn’t drive a standard and ended up killing their car.
No, I’m sure it had nothing to do with us.
The rest of our drive was beautiful and uneventful. We never rolled down a cliff, hugged no more shirtless Greek men (although… oh nevermind). We stopped at a cute little restaurant nestled into the side of a cliff, overlooking the sea, and enjoyed some tasty Greek food. I don’t have a very adventurous palette when it comes to foreign food, but I must say that Greek food is absolutely heavenly (as is Spanish food, but I’ll save that for my Barcelona recap). 
Here’s some more pics of beautiful Argostoli, Greece.

Next stop… the island of Santorini, Greece… home to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Cheesiest movie ever, but you know I’m a sucker for movies about girlfriends. And fashion. And cute boys named Kostas.
Santorini is known for its white-washed churches with the blue domes. They were all over the Oia Village (pronounced “ee-a” and rhymes with “tortilla”). We spent half a day wandering around the little village, stopping every ten feet to take a picture of another beautiful view. I mean, come on people, we have a Facebook photo album to fill.
Santorini was also home to the very best ice cream cone I have ever had. Maybe because it was hot, and I was starving, and I was in a picturesque fishing village, but that little prepackaged ice cream cone from the tiny Greek convenience store was the best frozen goodness I have ever experienced.
It’s the little things in life that are important, right?
So after we took in the beauty of Oia, went over to the Fira village on the other side of the island (pronounced “feera” like “fear”). 
There we shopped for hours. We didn’t really buy anything because Fira’s number one offering is fine jewelry, and while Sara and I are fine girls, our trip was so expensive that we could afford very little finery once we got there. But we browsed and flirted with the locals and enjoyed being somewhere so romantic and glorious. 
You might say it was a woman’s paradise
(Sorry, just couldn’t resist…)


That night we found a perch on a patio overlooking the sea and enjoyed a three-hour dinner as we watched the sun set over a volcano. When the sun finally went down, the place erupted in cheers. Now, when was the last time you cheered at a sunset? That’s just the sort of thing that makes Greece so sensational.
From our spot we could watch everybody come and go who visited the island. That’s where we saw Jason, our foxy cruise director. He was our age, and did we mention foxy? Because he was rather delicious. We knew he had noticed us before… it was hard to miss us since we were one of only about 20 people under the age of 80 on our ship. We knew Jason had seen us, but up until that night he had never said a word. He was determined to play it cool.
All that changed in Santorini.
We saw Jason and all his wonderfulness standing at the look-out point next to where we ate dinner. He was way too cool for school, in a shirt that hugged his muscles and made him look even dreamier than the company-issused polo and boat shoes he wore for most of the trip. Jason saw us, checked us out, but completely ignored us.
So we decided to get his attention. 
We looked right at him, caught his eye, and then we very sweetly asked the equally gorgeous guy standing next to him if he would take our picture. And we ignored Jason.
Well what do you know, that was the same night that Jason decided to become our friend. It’s amazing how predictable boys can be sometimes.
The rest of our trip, whenever something would happen, we would say things like, “Where’s Jason when we need him to carry our luggage?” or “Where’s Jason to buy us ice cream when we need him?” or “Where’s Jason to rub my tired shoulders?”  We’re much too classy to do  much more than give Jason the time of day, but he became our little pet mascot for the rest of the trip. I only regret that I never snuck a picture with him, but I decided that was a little stalkerish.
Plus I’m just chicken.
Oh yeah, back to Santorini.
During the whole trip, my number one goal was to ride a donkey through the streets of Santorini, just like the gals do in the Sisterhood movie. There’s only three ways to get to Santorini… by cable car, by donkey, or by walking 650 steps up a steep mountain cliff. I made Sara, a close animal lover, promise me that we could ride the donkeys back down to the cruise ship at the end of the night. The idea sounded so good in my head.
Unfortunately, the donkeys had a curfew. Or an early bedtime. Because by the time we finished our dinner, watched the sunset and flirted with foxy Jason, the donkeys were no longer available. We didn’t figure that out, however, until we had already walked a few hundred steps down the mountain. By then it was too late to turn back, and we were on a time crunch so the ship wouldn’t leave us (although on second thought, I think the ship leaving me in Santorini would have been the best possible scenario). 
So we started the long walk down the mountain. Only one, teeny tiny problem. Our path was the same path the donkeys usually took. And let’s just say that these donkeys used that path as their personal porta-potty. So our 45-minute walk down the mountain was on slippery stone steps… covered in donkey doo. And lot’s of it.
It was foul, nasty, horrible, gross… all those words and more could never describe just how awful it smelled. We were in cute little sundresses (because every girl in Santorini wears a sundress, it’s part of the uniform) and itty-bitty flip flops. One small slip and my cute little rear would have been covered in donkey dung. We had several close calls, but both Sara and I survived our adventure with only a few souvenirs stuck to the bottom of our flip flops. As soon as we were back on the boat, we went right to our rooms to disinfect our shoes and scrub them down. 
That walk was the funniest, most wonderful memory of my trip. Looking back, as we held our noses and tried our darndest not to fall, we got to see Fira sparkling at night, surrounded by stars and thoughts of foxy cruise directors. It was a splendid experience indeed.
PS… here’s a view of our boat from the cliffs of Fira…
I promise, more to come on the rest of my trip… but it may be awhile. These things take time, my friend. And if you don’t hear from me for awhile, you can assume foxy Jason came riding up on his white horse with a box of chocolates and two plane tickets back to Santorini. 

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