Good spirits

The best feature about The Tataki Hotel: its prime location in central Fira. The worst feature about The Tataki Hotel: its prime location in central Fira.

At 1:00 I was lying awake in bed, listening to all the ruckus at the bars and "YMCA" by The Village People from a nearby discoteque. At 2:00 I tried my hardest to tune out "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls and assumed the clubs would be closing soon (like in the U.S.A.) At 3:00 I was irritated and perplexed to still hear "Hit The Road Jack" by Ray Charles booming. At 3:30 I contemplated popping a Dramamine to counteract the 24 hour club and its blaring bass.

Needless to say the next morning was rough.  My body wanted to rest but my mind wouldn't keep quiet.  It kept reminding me of a rebellious phrase: I'll sleep when I'm old.

Initially, Mom & I planned on visiting quite a few sites on Santorini's southern half: Kamari (a quiet, black sand beach) & White Beach (aptly named for its white sand). We stopped for petrol a.k.a. gas and other times to admire the caldera from a different perspective. Looking northeast, Fira's stark white buildings stood out against Thira's natural colors. Akrotiri, Red, White & Black Beach are not situated along the main highway so my mom & I ran out of time to explore the island in its entirety.
We locked our trusty quad in the sand lot that is the parking area. Officially we weren't at Red Beach but what immediately grabbed my attention was the panoramic view of the endless Sea Of Crete. In order to swim, we first had to traverse the steep red crags which lent their name to the cove.
To date, Red Beach is the most unique beach I have ever seen. It is only accessible by foot or small boat. We found four feet of shade by sitting under the red cliff's overhang. The shore is not sand at all -- it was volcanic ash and pebbles. Every step I took left a gray powder that covered my foot. I swam out at least 40 feet and could still see (what I still believe was) the sea floor. It was difficult to get out of the water because my feet kept sinking into the small stones; like I was walking in quicksand. My mom actually had to sit down and scoot her way up to the shore.
Meanwhile, Mom was preoccupied with studying the rain clouds that were creeping closer. I have skydived in the rain and it is quite painful. It's similar to being repeatedly stung. Though we did not intend on driving as fast as terminal velocity, Mom & I did not particularly want to get caught in the rain either. So we repacked my bookbag, passed through Santorini's wine region, and sped north to avoid the ominous clouds that surrounded Mt. Profitis Ilias.
We had used 23 out of the rented 24 hours and planned on milking that ATV for all the euros we paid. So Mom & I paused for lunch in Firostefani, a village neighboring Fira. We followed the arrows that kept leading us downward.  We descended for two stories to a peaceful restaurant perched on the cliffs.  As we awaited our meals we both sat in gratitude and stared at the iconic view for the last time.
Afterwards we returned the vessel which sadly meant our time in Santorini was waning. Mom & I roamed the narrow streets in search of souvenirs although many of the boutiques sold the same items. I strolled into Pandora -- a store that was a hodgepodge of chinsey magnets, handmade soaps and local spirits. When caught in the alcohol section of the store, I told the clerk I was just browsing for a gift. Without hesitation she introduced me to μαστίχα a.k.a. Mastika (pronouned "moss-tee-kuh"). It strongly tasted like licorice or Sambuca. Not my style -- I drink the sweet stuff. I eyeballed the small bottle of Absinthe. I remember my roommate sophomore year of college used to secretly order it from Europe since the hallucinogenic was illegal in The States. Next, the woman rambled off some Greek and poured me a potent shot of _____________. It was colored like whiskey, smelled like whiskey, tasted like whiskey, and burned like whiskey. By now I was getting a midday buzz but this lady was inexorable! She poured me more than a shot of what she simply entitled "sweet wine". The bottle did not mention the type(s) of grape used but it reminded me of Port.
The sun began to sink lower in the sky. I was glad that two days earlier Mom convinced me to come to Santorini.  The hotel manager personally drove us to the only departing terminal where gates one through six were squished into an area smaller than the Athens Hilton's lobby.  Although we arrived at the terminal two hours early, Mom & I could have missed our return flight since our plane boarded through gate 6 when the boarding passes stated gate 5.  The situation was made more confusing because we boarded through a gate labeled "Bologna" [Italy].  Mom & I disregarded the debacle, thinking it was a one-time occurrence.  Who knew how wrong we were!

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