oh my I do feel awfully guilty. I've been utterly negligent in my blogging duties. And really, I have a million excuses that I could putter around with, but as I always say...Excuses are like butts. We all have them and they all stink.
So instead I'll just get right to it.
"What? Home?!?" You gasp.
"Yes." I reply.
"But you were having such a whopping good time!" You retort.
And indeed we were. We spent our last night in Turkey in a truly timeless place, as my good friend Adam Baron might say. It was a fish market--but not like any I've been to. The sellers stand in a rectangular bar with the gleaming wares of oceanic delights laid out before them (pardon me, I'm feeling poetic). There were scallops and salmon; squids and lobsters; and pretty much any kind of fish you could think of all staring up at you in that dejected, fish kind of way. It was all quite photogenic so I got to filming right away. The fish sellers were more than willing subjects, and soon they were showing off the finest catches of the day--from thrusting a googly-eyed lobster into the lens to making an enormous sea bass talk by squeezing its' poor little fishy cheeks. As I laughed he implored, "Which is it you like? Me or the fish?" Judging by the fact that his fraternization with the fish had given him the same distinctive odor, I was less than wooed.
The way the whole system worked was that you selected a fish and then brought it to one of the restaurants that circled the little market. There were at least a dozen of these places, so choosing one mainly consisted of finding an open seat. Luckily, by the time I finished yucking it up with the fishermen dad had not only chosen a restaurant but had also selected the fish we were going to eat. I was relieved at that, seeing as I prefer the identity of the meat I consume to remain anonymous.
And so as a band of musicians wound their way through the maze of tables and the fish hawkers shouted out to passersby, dad and I raised our glasses to this beautiful country and the deep understanding brought on by common experience.
And then we jetted off to Greece the next day for a bit of island hopping.
As far as Rhodes goes, dad was in big-old-fortress-wall heaven. He actually spent an entire day ambling about the well preserved walls that encircle the old town. I've figured out that no matter how bad things may be, if I can point to a hillside with a fortress, suddenly every storm cloud in my father's brain is cleared away. They're like daddy Prozac.
Which made the next few days even better for the two of us because fortresses turn out to be a dime a dozen in Greece. We worked out an extremely shady rental deal with the only man in town that would agree to give us a scooter without a license. Everyone scoffed at the stupid non-license-holding Americans, but not him. No, my good man just pushed us out into the street, slapped a couple scraped up helmets on our heads and shouted a "good luck" as he counted out the bills we'd handed him. As we puttered out on our 50cc bike I looked about for the lawn mower I kept hearing, only to realize it was our own motor. Ah, feel the power.
I learned to love that little thing, and over the next few days I would drop dad at various beaches and then take off on back roads to learn the art of scootering. Only one minor accident later, I'm on my way to getting me a Hog. Leather chaps anyone?
We were planning on spending our days motoring about the island, which is kind of what we ended up doing, except for the fact that we spent a good deal of that time holed up in Lindos. Why, you may ask? Because it's a little slice of heaven. That's why. A perfect cove lies below a smattering of sparkling white villas beneath an incredible castle. Winding streets lead to pebbled courtyards draped with bougainvillea and grape vines. Plus, the people are really cool and the night life is bangin. When dad and I got there we were hooked.
We had read in the guide book that though there were no official hotels in town, the locals let out rooms and villas. We wandered into a money changing place to see if they could direct us, and lo and behold the woman working there did have a place...make that a villa...make that the nicest place in town that usually went for 100 euros a night...and she offered to give it to us for 5o euros because the new occupants weren't getting in until the next day. We begrudgingly agreed to take it.
It was one of the most gorgeous places I've ever stayed, from raised Ottoman beds carved by hand to immaculate floors set with circuitous black and white pebbled designs. After an evening of Thai food and wandering the streets filled with bar-hopping revelers we clambered back to our gorgeous abode for a very contented rest.
A couple more days on Rhodes led to a ferry to Kos. I have to admit, despite the fact we were surrounded by beautiful places and people, yours truly was getting a bit grumpy. No longer a bohemian hiker bumming around on nickles a day, the regular-tourist circuit was beginning to chafe. Dad and I had no idea what Greece held, except for a fuzzy knowledge that there were islands and that they were pretty cool. Other than that, we were fairly well ignorant. So Kos became a place of buckling down and figuring out travel strategies. We happened upon a Lonely Planet and began lifting the murky curtain of what each individual island held and how to get there. Reinvigorated, we jumped on yet another scooter and made our way around Kos.
Kos, my friends, is fabulous. If you like cycling or scootering, this is the place to do it. With wide flat roads that roll along for mile after lovely mile, it really is a pleasant escape. Plus the swimming is great. Dad and I got into a 3 dip a day habit, and I've been missing it sorely ever since we got back.
Anyhow, an incredible sunset meal at an out of the way restaurant and a morning swim in the Aegean later, dad and I headed back to the town of Kos to catch our Saturday evening ferry at 8:30pm. We planned to take the monstrous vessel to an island called Syros, spend a couple days there and then on to Mykonos. The ferry was due to drop us off at about 3:30am, and so while dad squeezed beneath some chairs to catch a couple hours of sleep, I wandered the ship to observe the other passengers and feel the sea breezes. Without a watch I was feeling a bit out of it...I had no idea of the time but thought it might be a good idea to just stay awake so we wouldn't miss our stop.
But I didn't. And we did.
Yup, the boat pulled out of Syros just as we stumbled to the door. I had apparently dozed off at just the wrong moment and dad woke up to the bells warning us that we had reached our stop. The workers shrugged their shoulders and told us we would just have to ride the ferry on to the next stop and then backtrack. Exhausted and confused dad and I looked at one another and shrugged. It took us nearly an hour to realize our next stop would be the Athens port.
As we pulled in dad and I were at a bit of a loss. Admittedly, since the seed of discontent had crawled into my brain back in Kos, it hadn't ever really gone away. We were in Athens, the place where we were planning to leave from and thoughts of home clambered loudly in my head. Home. In time for my birthday. Home. And on to the next adventure... it worked its way in and wouldn't come out, and as we walked down the platform I mentioned the prospect to dad. He was less than thrilled. There were still things to see! Places to go! We could still, with a little needling, make our way back to the islands we'd missed! "Yes" I said, "But maybe that's for another trip." And as we stood there on the dock I thought about all his mentions of mom and how much he wanted her to see these places. And I thought about how much I wanted to see those places too...but, harsh as it sounds, not then nor with him. It was not our trip to have together at this time. We had had our adventure and it was incredible. We had bonded and learned more about each other than we ever would have back at home. Our relationship has matured and will never be the same.
But it the adventure done. And I was done. And it was time to head home.
As if to seal the deal, we looked up across the sea of people and cars and there sat a bus for the airport. "Let's go" said dad. "Really?" I asked, "Are you sure?"
He nodded, "I feel like everything else in this trip has been led. Seems like this must be leading us, too." And so with that we took our bags and headed for the bus. No tickets, no idea of when any flights were leaving, but going all the same.
It was 10 am when we walked in the airport. I wandered up to the departure screen and there, lo and behold, was a flight out at 1:25 to New York/Los Angeles. So we walked to the Delta desk, bought tickets (which just so happened to be the cheapest deal of all the airlines) and trundled off to our gate. We were feeling quite smug about the "leading" we had received to get such a convenient flight deal...ah, humility, it does have a way of coming just when you're at the top, doesn't it?
Long story short, JFK was having issues with the flight traffic control. We ended up spending 13 hours in that lovely place, 6 of which were on tarmac and the rest either attempting to rearrange flights or standing like zombies in lines on hard tile floors.
When we finally touched down in LA nobody had any idea we were there, not even my mother. Whether by sheer genius or mere exhaustion, dad and I decided an appropriate denouement would be to figure out how to make our way back to northern San Diego completely through public transportation. Three days without sleeping certainly does isnpire some great ideas.
So with slightly addled brains but a newfound purpose, we stumbled to the airport shuttle bus that took us to the lovely and extremely well preserved LA Union Station. We caught the Surfliner down the coast, and with half concious grins watched the surfers paddling out as we sped through the lovely landscape. At Oceanside we found our way to a bus that stopped at the Wal Mart near Camp Pendlton, a mere four mile walk from home. The nice lady dumped us off and we proceeded to march on to mother and home, heads spinning and eyes slightly crossed. When we finally stumbled in the door at 5pm mom was quite surprised. We were quite numb. But we had done it! We had made it home! There had been only winks of sleep and hours of agony, but we were there! And with that I fell over and snored.