You Might Just Meet Someone Chapter Two

On the flight to Athens, I was stuck in the middle seat between a husband and wife, one who wanted to sit by the window and the other who wanted the aisle. They spent the entire flight talking across me as though I was some sort of aeronautical soft furnishing. When I politely asked if they wanted to sit together, they scoffed. “Oh no, Love, we’re perfectly fine sitting apart.” I wasn’t perfectly fine. I was developing a tension headache, but they didn’t seem to care about that.

I figured if I was going to survive jet-lag, fatigue and my growing frustration with my seat-mates without having some sort of mid-air meltdown, I was going to need more tea. Tea calms me, tea revitalises me, tea is a miracle drink – tea drinkers will understand what I mean. Thank goodness it was a British Airways flight, because I knew they’d have the good stuff – proper English tea. I rang my call button three times during a four-hour flight and every time was to ask for more tea. This of course meant I had to pee twice, but I considered those few moments of silence a reprieve from Douglas and Sharon’s non-stop duologue.

By the time we landed at Athens airport, I knew every detail about their ungrateful adult children, their annoying neighbours – on both sides – and their suspicion of the newly re-elected government. Sure, I like to have a good whinge about things from time to time, like long-haul flying for instance, but these two took it to another level. I felt like writing to the IOC and suggesting that they add complaining to the Olympics. Maybe the Poms could finally win a haul of gold medals.

I made a point of losing them as soon as we got inside the terminal. I leapfrogged around other English tourists, striding purposefully towards immigration where I discovered two things: a massive queue and a slew of ridiculously handsome Greek men in uniforms. Apparently, the Greek government had hired a flock of Adonises – or is the plural, Adoni? – to man the immigration booths. This discovery made the first one much less annoying, and I waited patiently in line while appreciating some of Greece’s natural wonders. When it was my turn I handed my passport over and endured the handsome man’s scrutiny as he weighed up the Sarah in my photograph – slicked-back hair, no makeup and glasses – with the goddess in front of him.
As I met his gaze, I was glad I had kept the cabbie waiting a few minutes so I could tame my wayward curls into the semblance of a style and put on some blush and mascara. It’s not like I thought the immigration guy and I were going to run away together, but at least I didn’t look like a complete hag. My heart jumped a little at the sound of the Greek entry stamp being added to my passport. Then it jumped again when the Adonis smiled and welcomed me to his country. Moments in and I was already in love with Greece.

 

After being so warmly welcomed into the country, I found baggage claim, hauled my backpack off the baggage carousel, silently grateful that it had made the trip along with me, and headed through the doors into the transit lounge. The first thing that struck me was how hot it was. The second was the amount of smoke in the air; it looked like the transit lounge was on fire. Maybe I’d been a little hasty in declaring my love for Greece.

I mean the Greeks invented the wheel for crying out loud – and democracy! How had they not discovered air-conditioning or passed laws to ban smoking inside? I stifled a cough and peered through the haze. Spying an empty chair in a far corner, I made a beeline to stake my claim, which would have been easier had I not been lugging my luggage. I was too late. A different middle-aged British couple sat their duty free bags down on my seat, and then stood next to it complaining about how hot it was. Olympic-level whinging strikes again! Oh you dastardly Poms.

Changing directions, I headed to the nearest empty piece of floor. I plonked down my bag, and plonked myself down next to it, already starting to hate it a little. Why had I packed so much? Did I really need three bikinis?

I was also carrying a small leather backpack, which was stylish enough to be my handbag, and practical enough to be my day-pack. It had been a splurge right before I left for my trip, along with my duty-free Prada sunglasses. I regarded it lovingly, not caring if my backpack got jealous. Deep red-brown leather, brass clasps. It really was a thing of beauty. And, importantly, a handbag didn’t cheat on you with a slut from yoga class.

Four hours later – why did I think that a Greek island-hopper would depart on time? – I was seated in a very small plane next to a very large man who seemed to be turning into Kermit the Frog before my eyes.

“Sorry, ma’am” he said. Texan, I thought, identifying his origin from the two words – I’m talented like that. “I don’t usually fly on such small planes. I’m afraid I may need to get up to use the restroom.” Even in the throes of the worst air sickness I had ever witnessed, he was using his manners. Texans are so polite.

“Of course!” I unbuckled my seatbelt and stood in the tiny aisle. “How about I sit near the window, just in case you need to get up again?”

He nodded and then rushed up the aisle to the only bathroom on board. Poor man. At least it was a short flight. As I strapped myself into the window seat, I heard a chorus of ‘Oooohs’ from the other passengers. I looked out my window as the plane banked and there it was, Santorini, a crescent of rusty land in a sea of deep blue. It was stunning. I added my own involuntary ‘Oh’ to the voices of the others, as I felt a broad, relaxed smile spread across my lips.

“Sorry ‘bout that, ma’am,” I heard over my shoulder as the Texan sat down.

“Look,” I said, leaning back so he could see past me.

“That’s mighty pretty.”

I nodded in reply.

In just over a day I’d gone from the frenzy of three international airports to an idyllic island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. As we arced across Santorini on our approach to the airport, I could barely wrap my brain around how beautiful it was. The rugged red land contrasted with the brilliant blue of the sky and the stark white and creamy pastels of the buildings. It was so perfect, it took my breath away. By the time we landed I was practically hyperventilating.

Santorini’s airport terminal was kind of kitschy; it looked a Vegas hotel circa the 1970s. Not that I’d hung out in Vegas in the 70s – I was barely even alive then – but I’d seen enough movies to get that 70s vibe from the terminal. Inside it was cool and clean – that’s cool as in temperature, rather than hipness, although it had a little of that too. I noticed that everyone moved at a more leisurely pace than they did in the constant chaos of Sydney, as though someone had slowed a video playback just ever-so-slightly. I liked it.

My bag seemed to have gained even more weight in transit. I hefted it from the baggage carousel and said goodbye to the nice Texan. Emerging into sunshine, I waited in line for a taxi. And I didn’t mind – the waiting, that is. The island was already calming me. While I waited, I breathed in deep breaths of Santorini’s clean, briny air. It was the exact opposite of Athens’ air – or London’s for that matter.

Before I knew it, it was my turn. The taxi pulled up, the taxi driver got out and took my bag, stashing it in the boot, and I climbed into the backseat, giving him the name of the hotel I was staying at. These were all normal activities. And then we took off.

My state of Zen disappeared in an instant. Apparently, the taxi driver hadn’t gotten the memo about chilled-out island life.

The ride from the airport to the hotel was nothing less than a harrowing experience as we tore down narrow, winding dirt roads doing Mach II. The rugged landscape suddenly lost its appeal. In a crappy car going too fast, it felt more like I was in a car rally than on vacation. Only an hour before I’d been sitting in a teeny, tiny plane crossing the sea, and I’d felt much safer then, than I did in the back of that cab.

We pulled up at the hotel and I thanked Zeus that I’d arrived in one piece. I begrudgingly paid the cabbie and climbed out of the car. He retrieved my bag from the boot and before I knew it, he was gone, speeding off to the next fare, a cloud of dust in his wake.

I stood for a moment, regarding my location and catching my breath. I was in the heart of Fira, and with the amount of whitewash I could see, there was no mistaking that I was in Greece. I did a little self-congratulatory dance to celebrate being there. Greece!

Around me people ambled along the road, stopping to have leisurely and lively conversations with their neighbours. Across the road there were congregations at a handful of tavernas, each indistinguishable from the next to my uneducated eye. People sat at tables playing chess and cards, and smoking. Some drank coffee, some sipped clear liquid from tiny glasses. Ouzo, most likely. Laughter and chatter filled the air around me.

It occurred to me that it was the middle of the afternoon on a Thursday. Didn’t these people have jobs? Maybe the whole town was on vacation. Like I was. I was on vacation. The realisation hit me again, a wave of wonderfulness. The giddy dance took over again without me having to conjure it.

I picked up my bag from the dusty curb and walked up the path of my hotel. Inside, the small lobby was cool and the scent of bougainvillea wafted in from an open window. A lovely woman, who spoke little English and had a warm smile, greeted me at the front desk. After a simple check in – I showed her my passport and she gave me a room key – she led me to my small, neat room. It was basic, but I didn’t need anything more. I was only staying for one night.

It did smell slightly like a toilet, but I’d been to Greece enough times in my touring days to expect that. The Greeks don’t flush toilet paper; it goes into the little bin next to the toilet. Just like air-conditioning and not smoking inside, some modern practices had escaped the modern Greeks. It meant that many hotel rooms smelled just like mine. It was a minor blip. I’d survive.

I wouldn’t, however, survive much longer if I didn’t eat; I was dangerously close to starvation. Well, not actual starvation, but my appetite was definitely robust. Two packets of airplane biscuits and a gallon of tea did not a balanced diet make. And especially not when there was Greek food all around me just waiting to be eaten.

I stashed some valuables in my room safe and packed my leather bag for dinner followed by an evening of exploring. Leaving the hotel, I eyed the tavernas I’d seen across the road on arrival. The crowds in two of them were thinning out, as though the jobless folks suddenly had somewhere to be. At the third one, chess sets and ashtrays were being replaced with platters of food, and it looked like it was filling up with local diners. I consider that good sign whenever I travel, because locals tend not to go out for crappy food.

I crossed the road and took a seat in the taverna at a table for two near the kitchen. The smells coming out of there were unbelievable. My stomach grumbled with appreciation. A waiter appeared and stood patiently while I tortured him with my terrible Greek. I started with ‘kalimera’ – good morning – before correcting myself. “No, sorry, kalispera.” He just smiled and spoke to me in English.

“Good evening. I am Dimitri.”

“Hello Dimitri. I need horiatiki,” I said, not even looking at the menu. I knew it would be on there, because it’s what we non-Greeks call a Greek salad. “And lamb, do you have lamb?” He gave me a funny look. Of course they had lamb. “And giant beans.” I love giant beans. It’s a dish, by the way. I mean, the beans are big, but it’s essentially a stew made with beans. It’s the second-best thing in the world after horiatiki.

Dimitri gave me a smile and a nod, and then he offered me some retsina to go with my dinner. Greek wine. I declined. I am what you might call a wine lover, and as a wine lover I can’t really abide retsina. “I’ll have a Mythos, parakalo.” Greek beer – much more drinkable.

The salad came to the table within minutes and it was truly a thing of beauty. It looked like it belonged on the cover of a foodie magazine and it smelled incredible. I piled up my fork to get the perfect first bite. As soon as it hit my mouth I groaned with pleasure, half-expecting to hear, ‘I’ll have what she’s having,’ from the next table.

I need to explain something important.

The Greeks grow the best tomatoes in the world. And I know that I exaggerate sometimes, but I mean IN THE WORLD. Add to the best tomatoes in the world, some freshly-made feta, super virginal olive oil, fresh fragrant oregano, Kalamata olives grown in luscious Greek sunshine, and all the other bits of goodness that go into a horiatiki, and you have the one thing I could eat every day for the rest of eternity.

The lamb and beans arrived next and the lamb was so tender I could probably have cut just by staring at it. The giant beans were particularly huge and the sauce was rich and tangy. I glanced around me as I finished off all three plates. The taverna was now full – a few travellers like me, but mostly locals, who obviously knew where the good stuff was.

The food had impressed me and then the bill arrived. I thought it was wrong, but Dimitri assured me that 14 Euros was correct – for three plates of food and a beer. I wished I was staying on Santorini longer; I’d have happily eaten at that taverna every night for weeks.

When I’d planned the trip, everything I read about Santorini mentioned the sunset to end all sunsets at Oia, which is a tiny town perched on the northern point of Santorini’s crescent. With only 24 hours on the island, I’d added the Oia sunset to my list, and when I mentioned it to Dimitri after I paid my bill, he kindly he wrote down directions – in Greek and English. Smart.

Armed with my mud map and a full belly, I set off from the taverna to find the local bus station and the bus to Oia. It wasn’t difficult – Dimitri’s instructions were perfect – but to call it a bus station would have been generous. It was a dusty square filled with dusty buses.

I bought a ticket from a man who sat inside a grubby booth by holding up one finger and saying ‘Oia.’ He had a cigarette dangling precariously from his mouth, which he managed to inhale from without using his hands. Talented. I picked my bus out of the line-up – using Dimitri’s directions again – and climbed aboard.

As I waited for the bus to leave, I watched the stream of people passing through the square. I noticed a tall guy in a baseball cap, hefting a large duffle bag and trying to get directions from the passing locals. No one was stopping and he seemed frustrated. American. I could pick an American out at a hundred paces. He was a pretty cute American too.

He was tall – over six foot, I guessed – dressed in long shorts and a T-shirt. The T-shirt was just fitted enough to see that he had a lean, muscular body. Dark brown curls peeked out from the cap, and although he was wearing sunglasses and I couldn’t see his eyes, he had a general ‘good-looking’ thing going on. I would have stepped off the bus to help him had I not already bought a bus ticket to the sunset to end all sunsets. Not that I knew my way around any better than he seemed to, but he looked like he could use a friendly face.

The bus lurched forward – I hadn’t even noticed the driver get on – and my last glimpse of the tall, cute American was him throwing his duffle on the ground and sitting on it dejectedly. Poor guy. I promised myself that if he was still there when I got back, I’d go talk to him.

The sunset was beautiful by the way. I don’t know that I’d call it the best in the world – I mean, I’m from Australia and we do sunsets spectacularly well there – but I enjoyed it, especially the atmosphere. Within the town of Oia, smooth, curved, whitewashed walls of some houses contrasted with rugged stone walls of others. Walkways and steps separated the homes, and yards were marked with either rock walls or white picket fences. In the warm milky light, whitewash took on the colour of cream. It was a quaint and quintessentially Greek town.

I found a little spot where I could sit on one of the steps and gazed westward, taking it all in. The cooling evening air was deliciously fragrant, floral notes mixed with sea air. I took a slow, deep breath. Around me were hundreds of people, and the atmosphere was abuzz with chatter while we waited for the sun to set. Then in a single unspoken moment the crowd quietened; it was time. The spectacle changed second by second, gold slipping into amber, then crimson, then inky purples and blues.

I could almost feel my heartbeat slowing down.

When the sun disappeared completely and the last rays of light retreated, the crowd applauded as though we were at the symphony and the concerto had just ended. I clapped along with those around me. When in Santorini…

Neil would have loved that, I thought.

What?! Where the hell did that come from? Who cared what Neil would or wouldn’t love? I didn’t. And I certainly didn’t need my mind ambushing me with such disturbing, random thoughts! All of the serenity I had felt as I watched the sun seep below the horizon vanished instantly. Bloody Neil. I got up, dusted myself off and followed the others up the steps and onto the road back to Santorini.

Thankfully, a bus was waiting at the same place we’d been dropped off, and I climbed aboard along with about eighty other people. No seat for me this time – it was standing room only – but the tightly-packed group was in good spirits. As we jostled along the bumpy road back into Fira, I held on tightly to a hand rail and tried to shake residual thoughts of Neil from my brain. To distract myself, I trained my ears to the conversations around me, listening to the various languages and accents.

I was glad when the bus depot appeared in the glow from the headlights. Exhaustion had set in – both physical and emotional – and I desperately wanted sleep. I stepped off the bus, oriented myself and set off for my hotel. And yes, I forgot all about the cute American.

Back in my room, I locked the door behind me, slipped off my already travel-worn clothes and put on my pyjamas. Still concentrating on not thinking about Neil, I focussed instead on the next day, the day I’d start the sailing trip, and damn it if those wretched nerves didn’t come flooding back.

What if I don’t like anyone on the trip? What if they don’t like me? What if this whole thing is a complete disaster?

“Shut up, Sarah,” I said aloud. I was annoyed with myself. I’d had a good dinner, seen a nice sunset, and suddenly random thoughts of doom and gloom were sending me into a spiral. I had to change tack.

“You need to get organised, Sarah,” I said out loud, and I was right. I love getting organised; it is to me what meditation is to other people. I knew that if I put things in order, I’d exorcise the demon nerves. It’s my tried and tested method of crisis management, particularly if the crisis is made-up.

Except that when I emptied my bag out onto my bed, I made a sickening discovery. My wallet was gone. I frantically ran my hand around the inside of the bag, but it was definitely empty. I sifted through all the things on the bed – hat, diary, pen, camera, lip balm. No wallet.

It was gone. Suddenly, the crisis was real and not drummed up from my imagination.

But how had I lost my wallet?

I reviewed the past couple of hours out loud. “I had it at the taverna, because I paid for dinner. Maybe I left it there? No, because I also paid for the bus ticket and that was after dinner. Do I remember putting my wallet back in my bag? Yes. Did I have it when I took my camera out of my bag in Oia? I think I remember seeing it then.”

That meant that I’d lost it on the bus ride back. But I hadn’t taken it out of my bag. I hadn’t even opened my bag. Oh my god! Someone stole my wallet from my bag. While it was on my back! I started crying as the panic kicked in. “Fuck!”

Realising I was wringing my hands, I stopped and shook them out. “Okay, think Sarah. What was in the wallet? What do you need to do?” I willed myself to breathe, slowly, consciously, in, out. I stood in the middle of my room and closed my eyes. The safe! Of course, I had put valuables in the safe before I went out. I rushed to open it.

I took out a credit card, a wad of cash and – thank god – my passport. That meant I’d lost my other credit card, about 20 Euros and my driver’s license. “Shit.” I was going to need my driver’s license to rent scooters on the islands. Well, maybe they would let me rent one with just my passport. It was Greece after all, and they weren’t exactly sticklers for that sort of thing. At least the thief hadn’t gotten my passport.

I tried to remember who was around me on the bus, but I hadn’t registered any faces. We’d all been packed in there so tightly and I’d watched out the front window of the bus most of the trip. I sighed and sat on the bed. I needed to call my bank in Australia and cancel the credit card. I was grateful that although my room smelled like a toilet, it had a phone.

After two aborted attempts to get the international operator to put through a collect call to my bank, I finally spoke to a person who could cancel the card and send me a replacement – to London, where I wouldn’t be until most of my travelling was over. At least that was something, I supposed. I did have my back-up credit card, the one with the ridiculously exorbitant fees for taking out cash and spending in foreign currencies, but at least I wasn’t completely stranded.

I hung up the phone and laid back on my bed. Exhaustion had devolved into full-blown fatigue. I flicked off the lamp and watched as the light seeping in from the street outside danced across the ceiling. My body was exhausted, but my mind was on high alert. I wanted sleep, but instead I lay there for a long time wondering what else could go wrong. Sarah’s travel curse had struck again.

 

I woke suddenly, not knowing where I was, and smacked the crap out of my travel alarm to shut it up. God, I hated that thing. I looked around the room and recognition seeped into my fuzzy brain. I was in Santorini. A smile alighted on my face.

Then I remembered I had been robbed the night before and the smile vanished.

It had been a restless night. Falling asleep had taken forever. And then there was the nightmare. I was lying in my bed in Sydney in the middle of the night and backpackers were robbing my flat while I pretended to be asleep. No prizes for guessing why I dreamed that.

Dread washed over me as I recalled the details of the dream, and then again as I remembered the moment I’d emptied my bag onto my bed the night before. “Oh Sarah!” I admonished myself out loud. “Put your big-girl knickers on and get over it. Everything is going to be fine from now on!”

Surprisingly, giving myself a good talking to was actually effective. Ignoring the fact that I was now talking to myself on a regular basis, I threw back the covers, showered in my smelly bathroom, and got dressed in a flowery blue and white skirt and a white top with spaghetti straps. I had a big day ahead of me and some bad luck to turn around, and I wanted to look good. Plus, the better I looked, the better I felt. What is it that they say? Fake it ‘til you make it?

I tried to make some sense of the mass of curls on my head, but they refused to behave. Sometimes my curls want their own way, and sometimes I just have to let them have it. I opted for what I hoped was a sexy-messy ponytail and called it good. Then I looked in the mirror and told myself again that everything was going to be fine. I’d spend the morning sightseeing, have something to eat, and then meet up with the people from the sailing trip in the afternoon.

An hour later, I’d had a basic breakfast on the go, a sweet bun of some sort, and was deep in the heart of Fira’s labyrinth of walkways, exploring. Okay truth be told, I was shopping. Not that I’m one of those women who lives to shop or anything, but there was something cathartic about buying myself a new wallet. I also found a beautiful beaded bracelet for Cat. But wanting to see a bit more of Fira than the insides of shops, I stowed my purchases in my beloved bag and escaped the rabbit warren of stores.

There’s a walkway that runs along the ridge of Fira like a spine, and I followed it south. A whitewashed campanile and cupola soon stood out high above the tops of other buildings, and in moments I was standing in front of an enormous church. Its imposing façade comprised a dozen archways either side of a long covered walkway.

From touring days, I knew not to go into a church in Greece with bare arms, as it’s considered disrespectful. I didn’t have anything with me to cover mine, so I had to settle for admiring it from the outside. It didn’t take that long. It was big, it was impressive and it was white. It was also a church and being in Greece, I was bound to see another hundred of them before I left the country.

Even more spectacular than the architecture was the view behind me of the caldera. I walked over and cautiously perched on the low, wide stone wall – also whitewashed. I peered out over the town, marvelling at how it clung fearlessly to the cliff face. It was an exquisite sight.

The town below was dotted with several bright blue pools, each surrounded by beach umbrellas. I could see white-clad waiters making the rounds to sun-loungers, delivering cocktails. Rich people, I thought. That’s where the rich people stay.

At the bottom of the cliff, I could make out the old port. From there, a stream of donkeys ferried people back up to the top of the zigzag staircase. For a moment I considered a donkey ride, but then I looked down at my outfit and decided against it.

“Where are you from?” I heard from behind me.

Somehow I knew that the voice was directed at me. I turned and saw that its source was an extremely handsome man in his late forties, sitting on a bench about fifteen feet away. He was wearing a linen suit and smoking a slim cigar, his whole look a throwback to a more elegant era. He regarded me while he drew from the cigar, and for some reason I felt compelled to answer him. Maybe it was because of his eyes, which crinkled around the corners. I liked crinkling eyes.

“Australia.”

“Of Greek ancestry?” I couldn’t place his accent, and I could always place the accent, but I guessed that it was somewhere in Europe.

I felt a twinge in my stomach – the good kind – as he watched me.

“No.” It wasn’t the first time I had been asked that. Greek, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Lebanese. I always considered questions about my heritage to be compliments. People didn’t ask you if you had a specific heritage if they meant to insult you. Imagine someone saying, “Are you Greek, because they’re all so ugly, just like you?”

He smiled, and the crinkles intensified along with my twinge. I regarded him back, somehow flooded with self-confidence. “You’re very beautiful,” said the extremely handsome man.

I tossed my sexy-messy ponytail and allowed a smile to play across my lips. “Thank you,” I replied, not flinching under his deliberate stare. This was some advanced flirting. I was quite proud of myself.

“Have lunch with me.” It was a statement, not a question. Smooth.

“Maybe,” I said, as though I was actually considering it.

“I know a very nice place around the corner. Excellent seafood. Ellis, it’s called. We’ll eat, have some wine. And you’ll tell me where those beautiful looks come from.”

My brain had a quick-fire discussion with itself. Stay? Go? Skip lunch altogether and spend the afternoon making love with this beautiful stranger? I was flattered – of course I was – I’m a human woman with a pulse and he was gorgeous. Reason won out, however. It would be time to meet my tour group soon.

Or maybe I was hiding behind reason, my confidence merely bravado.

I started to walk away, but called over my shoulder, “Perhaps.” I wanted to leave it open in case I got around the corner and changed my mind. He was super sexy.

“Two o’clock. See you there.”

And then I did something incredibly cool. I faced him, and walking slowly backwards blew him a kiss. Then I turned and walked away. How awesome was that? I’d never done anything like that – well, not for a long time, not since touring days, but that was a whole different Sarah. It was fun to tap into the sassy girl who once got up to no good. I hoped that he’d watched me go. There was a little pep in my step as I continued my meandering exploration of the town.

When two o’clock came, I was not having a leisurely seafood lunch with a silver fox who wore a linen – and I wasn’t off somewhere making love with him either. Instead, I was back at Fira’s not-so-charming bus depot. This time, however, I had my backpack as well as my little bag, and no instructions written in Greek. All I knew was that I needed to get to Vlychada Marina within the next couple of hours to meet my sailing group.

After a false start – I got on the wrong bus and only realised when I heard all the tourists around me talking about Red Beach – I sat on what I hoped was the right bus awaiting a departure that was going to be sometime in the next 45 minutes. Apparently in Fira bus timetables are merely a suggestion, a loose approximation of a schedule. ‘Greek time,’ it was called.

While I waited, I thought back over my day. It had already made up for the previous night’s theft. After my encounter with the silver fox, I walked down the wide zigzag stairs to the old port. It was a tricky exercise, because of the donkeys. When they are not taking people to the top of the island, they are lined up along the stairs, with their asses out. I don’t trust any equine creatures I don’t know, especially when I have to navigate around their behinds. I can report that made it to the bottom without getting kicked in the ass by an ass with its ass out.

The old port was bustling with activity and I spent about half an hour watching people arriving on little wave-jumpers from the cruise ships. There seemed to be a specific clientele aboard those ships, and from what I saw I didn’t think cruising would be my kind of thing. I’d need to age a few decades and make a shitload more money for a start.

I’d planned on a quick lunch before I headed to meet the people on my trip, so just before one o’clock I took the funicular to the top of the island, and set off for my little taverna. I’d left my big bag at the hotel and could pick it up after lunch on my way to the bus – a perfect plan. It was also perfect, because I got to eat that delicious food again.

My attention was drawn back to the bus when a skinny middle-aged man wearing a tweed cap jumped on board, sat in the driver’s seat and started the engine. Just as the bus was pulling away, I heard a cry of “Wait!” and guess who literally jumped onto the bus as the doors were starting to close? Not the silver fox – I doubt he would be the type of fellow to run for a bus – but the tall, cute American in the baseball cap.

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