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Matty’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 16 Aug 2007

Location: Heraklion, Crete, Greece

MapIt has been a little while since I sat down on the ol' interweb and posted a few thoughts for you kids. Well, here goes nothing.

I am in Greece at the moment, sitting in a dark, smoky room filled with LAN nerds who are playing World of Warcraft. They keep it dark to enhance the mood, I suppose. The nerds seem to love it.

I think I'll start with some Corfu stories. The island is on the west coast of Greece and has lots of mountains and trees. It is much greener many of the other rocky islands in Greece. I arrived early in the morning after the ferry-ride-where-Matt-wanted-to-die, as some have called it, and hopped on a Greyhound bus with twenty other similarly pissed off people to drink our rage away at the Pink Palace.

First stop at the Palace is to go to the beach. As the chairs and umbrellas are free (score!), I and a few other Canadians I met proceed to sleep for 5 hours. The entire island is filled with Canucks and Aussies. Real Greek people don't come here.

There is plenty to do during the day, whether it's sleeping off a hangover, going ATV-ing around the island or renting some kayaks and trying not to drown in the ocean. I opt to ride the quads, and thoroughly impress everyone with my poise and mechanical expertise. I swear my hands were channeling the spirit of Ricky Carmichael on that thing, because I'm just about the best quad rider this side of the Mississippi.

Every evening is filled with the kinds of stories that make the Greek nightlife famous. One night in particular, our third night, the Palace held a toga party. THE toga party. Everyone rents pink bedsheets and limbers up for a night of ouzo and Zorbas beer. Picture this: the hostel (if you can call it that, it's more like a Contiki resort) owns a nightclub. Hundreds of us are decked out in our fanciest pinks, sitting cross-legged around the dance floor. Out walk two of the actual Greek guys who work at the place, dressed in traditional Greek outfits. They danced for ten minutes in perfect synchronization. We're talking high-kicks, spins, flips and plenty of clapping from the audience.

Cool, we're thinking. That was pretty good. But there's more. You know those times where you go into something with a certain level of expectation and are then blown away? Yeah. These two dudes bust out lighter fluid and fire, and make a flaming ring around the floor. On one end is a table with a chair on top, covered in bottles and lit on fire. The owner of the palace picks up the corner of the table with his mouth, and then dances around with this damned thing clenched in his teeth! Of course everyone cheers. I can't believe the spectacle, as fire tends to make me happier than most pyros you may know. My throat is hoarse from screaming, my hands numb from clapping.

The fire dies down after a boisterous round of applause (shit, no more fire). All is not lost, though, as the staff of Aussies and Canadians march onto the floor carrying large tin buckets and hundreds of plates. They perform some kind of artsy fartsy salute to the Gods, or to the fact that they call this a job, and run around the ring getting everyone even more psyched up. Making drunk people happy is as easy as drowning in the ocean (we'll get to that). Every audience member gets a plate smashed on their head, and shots of pink ouzo kept in the buckets. After the fact, I heard a few people say, "You know, that plate actually hurt a little bit." Yeah, duh. I didn't feel like pointing out the fact that smashing porcelain on your forehead isn't supposed to feel good.

After all this, the floor is swept and anything with a toga on parties until sun-up. I'm going to continue with this story on the next entry, as this one is getting long.