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Sick on Santorini - Day 2


I woke up with the alarm buzzing, but decided I felt sickish enough that I should really get another hour or two of sleep, especially since my planned activity of a sunset stroll to Ia (two hours away on foot) was not until the late afternoon anyway.

Tossing and turning and drifting in and out of consciousness, I finally got up around 11:30 a.m., figuring I'd get the paper and some lunch, visit Fira's small archaeology museum, then retire to my room until walking time to get some more work done.

My legs were pretty shaky as I climbed the whitewashed stairs up to the main street. I think I'm a bit less healthy than I thought. Breathing's a bit shallow, too. But I felt better by the time I got up and onto the flatter "street" (all streets here are really narrow alleyways, made all the narrower by the unbroken phalanxes of hanging or propped display cases of books, souvenirs, jewelry [lots of that], cheaply made clothing, and the assorted other tourism jetsam of Santorini shops).

I toured the museum, copied down the hours and prices of the cable car down to the port, and headed for some grub. Good lunch at a true taverna — small, plain, and cheap, with its share of tourists (it was on a main road in town) but also a bunch of locals sitting at the back, drinking their wine and flipping their worry beads while conversing in an Aegean dialect of Greek. I have not seen locals in any other restaurant I've passed. The menu was on a chalkboard and only in Greek (and I mean only in Greek letters too; most places, if they don't post multilingual menus, at least include next to the Greek a phonetic "translation" into our alphabet). I liked it.

But back out in the sunlight, I realized I was not feeling all that much healthier than this morning. Almost to the bus stop, I found a pharmakeio and decided I really needed something to relieve my symptoms (sore throat and an increasingly runny nose) so I could get on with the business of exploring the island.

The three ladies and one man inside applauded my attempts to explain my symptoms in Greek: "I feel sick. Sore throat and...nose" pause to make pathetic sniffle, as I did not know the word for congested, "and all of me...blah" made my body schlump and face droop.

I did not, however, have to pantomime vomiting this time! (Which, for those who don't keep up, I once had to do back in 1993 on behalf of Frances, who had decided to spend pretty much our entire stay in Athens paying homage to the Deus Porcelinex in the squalid shared bathroom of our dingy Athenian hotel, where our room was across the hall from a hooker who played Carmina Burana at high volume over and over as she turned her tricks. Needless to say, this is not a hotel I recommend in any guidebook.)

But back to Santorini and the pharmakeio. "Speak in English, it's okay," they assured me, so I explained it all again and one of them started to put together a little package of drugs while another asked if I was Greek. No, I replied. "Well, you speak Greek with good accent. You look little Greek also. Family Greek?" Okay, this is the third time someone's asked that, so I guess there must be something to it.

Many Greeks, after all, do not look like the Mediterranean stereotype of small, wrinkled, and olive/brown-skinned, mainly because part of the population is basically Eastern European (pasty skin and dark hair; the Macedonian influence) and haven't had quite the same historic influence of Asiatic Middle Easterners like in Turkey, or Moorish North Africans as in Italy and Iberia.

I know I've got some Bylorussian in me (my mother's mother's father), but somehow I don't think that that 1/8 of southeastern European, even when added to that White Russian great-grandfather's wife's Polish, can possibly tip the scales away from all those British genes and make me look even remotely Greek. Whatever.

They also threw in a tube of Cortizone cream for the small rash (looks a bit like poison ivy, but I've worn only long pants and only been in cities!) that's been faintly itching on the instep side of my knee for ten days now but only just started growing a little so I figured I should put something on it to help it go away. They only issued me the salve after I assured them that it could not possibly in any way be a Herpes (one of Herpes more insidious, and probably highly aggravating, qualities is that Cortizone and other topical anti-itch creams actually help it grow).

I had to invoke the "same girlfriend for almost six years" argument to convince them, and I think the man still didn't believe me (or rather, didn't think that having a steady girlfriend necessarily precluded the possibility of picking up Herpes when she wasn't around), but since a knee would be truly an odd place for Herpes sores to show up, he relented.

I thanked them—for the compliments on my pathetic linguistic prowess and for the medicines—and headed back to my hotel room to lie down for a while.

By 6pm, I knew I wasn't feeling well enough to make the hike to Ia. Darn. I was looking forward to the exercise and the panoramas.

Ah, well. At least I've still got two days left to fit in those two great ruined sites, and stop by a famous winery nearish to Akrotiri (Santorini's volcanic soil is renowned to make some of the finest wines in Greece — though when the competition includes retsina, this might not be saying much!), where I hear the admission and tour gets you a tasting of six wines plus snacks (great: free lunch!).

So I set to work on answering a slew of editorial queries for the Tuscany book, called Frances after sunset (skipped the yogurt and apples this time and just popped out once or twice to make sure it was, indeed, setting), and later climbed the stairs to town again, feeling considerably more tired and dizzy than earlier, to find some dinner.

I wandered the streets for about an hour, trying to find something light but filling that wasn't arni (lamb; which is good but I'm getting tired of). It was also midnight by now (I always get caught up when answering queries as when writing, and tend to loose track of time), and few enough restaurants were still serving food, only booze.

I ended up at a tiny pizza parlor (because pizza sounded just perfect and I was feeling stomach-picky tonight) in the part of town where cars are allowed, after which I stumbled back to my hotel again, took my medicines in a haze, and fell into bed, certain I'd feel better tomorrow.

On to "Sick on Santorini: Day 3" »


Intrepid Travel

This article was last updated in July 1999. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2010 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.