Athens (Metro from the airport to the hostel): We get into the train and just as the door closes, AA shouts out, ' Oh shit, my bag!' The train picks up speed as the three of us helplessly watch his bag lying on the platform bench. We get down at the next stop, change sides and within four minutes are standing in front of the same bench. Nothing there. We look around, climb up and down the stairs, report it to the security who tells us very honestly and with a smile and that even if they find the bad the laptop would be gone. AA is super pissed about losing his laptop, all his data (pictures) and the I-20 which will give him entry back to the US. Luckily his passport is in his jacket pocket. We tell him that the I-20 would be replaced (another friend is coming to Istanbul later and he can get it) and console him about his loss of data. An hour later, we are making fun of him as we go out into the city - 'AA, did you take your bag. Oops, we forgot about your generous donation to the Greek economy!' Friends can be cruel.
Santorini (9:30 AM Breakfast): Sotiris, our host, is phenomenal. He's funny, always ready to help and has an air of genuineness about whatever he does. The night before, he brought us local white wine upon our arrival to the hotel. Over the 3 days we learn more about him - that he used to study Criminology in London, he's originally from Albania, has been trying to get a Greek passport and has a friend in Florida who is setting up a restaurant and is asking him to come. He shows us the hill which is up for sale for a million euros and suggests places to go. Luisa, the very pretty receptionist also points out places on the map that we should visit. All of us are very attentive as she writes down the names of the restaurants and shows us the places by pointing them out from the balcony. 'And this is Oia.', she says as she points out the farthest tip of the island. 'It has very beautiful sunsets. Remember, it's pronounced as Ia, like Ia Ia O'.
Coming back to the breakfast, when we asked Sotiris what time would breakfast be available he told us he would prepare it anytime we were ready. So 9:30 it was, and we requested him to put it outside.
Athens Sports Bar (St. Patrick's Day Karaoke Night): AA, JM and I sing Stand By Me. The crowd loves it and we don't make a fool of ourselves. Buoyed by this, JM and I decide on singing Last Kiss. Both of us are a little high and really enjoy ourselves. The karaoke guy likes it too and gives us free shots of Ouzo. Nobody has yet taken up his challenge of singing a Led Zep song. A decent performance wins drinks on the house. So JM and I put in our names for Stairway to Heaven (probably the easiest Led Zep to sing!). Afterwards we have some expensive Irish Whiskey which I don't remember. The crowd soon leaves for James Joyce Irish pub. We follow them there. The scotch is too strong and none of us wants to spoil the entire next day by waking up late. So we leave the drink unfinished and head out. A two euro chicken gyro in the corner tastes heavenly as we walk the streets of Plaka back to our hostel.
Athens (Somewhere near Monastiraki Square): Somebody singing 'Hallelujah'. It's a beautiful voice and the strumming is different from the version I've heard. Of course, I stop. In a secluded by-lane, this guy with a cap is singing. No mic or amplifier and yet his voice is booming. All of us stop and listen to him for a couple of minutes. He finishes and smiles at us. We drop a few euros in his guitar bag and ask him where he's from. Scotland, he says. He's here to record but hasn't been able to figure out the details with the studio. He's still optimistic, he says and hopes things will work out soon. We tell him that he's got a phenomenal voice. He thanks us and credits the acoustics of the street and the hour of the night. It's pretty late. I wish him the best and we wander off. 'What an amazing life.' I say. 'I would say, its more sad than amazing.' says my friend. I tend to agree and we walk the next minute or so in silence.
To be continued......