The Old Man and the Sea

This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, September 05, 2006 was originally posted on September 06, 2006.

DAY 12:  When you’re in a tourist hub like Hania, you can either bitch about its commercialization non-stop, or shut up and go with the flow.  That’s what I did that day, the shutting up I mean, after leisurely spending my last morning in the Neli studio, packing up, and enjoying the view from the terrace one last time.  Down from my street, the town was just waking up as well:  old men sat in alleys and discussed the news, while out on the tourist strip, the usual waiters and hosts of restaurants called out to potential customers.

“Hello!  Oh, I see you are wondering about a good restaurant!  Please, come have a seat…”

Some would try to presume the language you spoke and vie for your business accordingly — one guy pinned me for Spanish.  It was competitive out there, especially with guidebooks leading foreigners to the same restaurants.  Molly and E.J. had gone to one Lonely Planet recommended two days prior and said that the surrounding restaurants were sadly empty all because everyone has the same book.

Anyway, I embraced the touristic scene and wandered from the church in the Plaza Athinagora to the Ottoman domes of the Kloutsouk Hasan Mosque.  Browsing the souvenir shops, I thought it was funny how Greek tourism capitalizes on the fact that they are stray cats everywhere — by putting them on calendars.  While I didn’t buy into those, I did buy into a big beach towel with the Greek flag on it since I hadn’t brought one with me.

AFTER PEOPLE-WATCHING at Cafe Remezzo over a mousakas and frappe (a popular coffee drink amongst everyone), I “went with the flow” and hopped aboard the M/S Irini, a “real vessel” for a four-hour boat cruise and snorkel tour around some of the small island offshore in the Sea of Crete.  What would have started as a relaxing boat ride actually started with a fight between our captain and the captain of another boat after a near collision right in the harbor.  Meanwhile, on the main deck, I noticed the old man of the crew hitting the sauce with some shot of hard liquor.

Like during the Samaria Gorge trip, I was the only party-of-one on board; the rest were mostly old Danish couples.  One of them actually mistook me for a Greek crew member — with the captain’s short dark hair and Mediterranean-baked skin, I could see how he might have made the mistake.

The M/S Irini took us out to sea and around the small island of Thodorou, site of a big cave-like rock formation on its western tip.  We anchored offshore for a snorkel break because there was the remnants of a German WWII plane beneath us, leftover from the Battle of Crete in 1941.

“Is that supposed to be the plane?” I questioned the captain after a look.  No cabin, no wings; it could have been any anti-climactic piece of scrap metal.

“[It’s only part of the plane,]” he answered.  “[It exploded in the air and fell in many pieces.  The rest is buried under sand.]”  Afterwards, he went back to arguing on his cell phone, probably to that other captain.

WE CONTINUED ON and anchored off the island of Lazaretta (picture above), with more rocks by the shore to provide for more fish to see, but like the previous site, it wasn’t very snorkel-worthy.  All in all, it was a pretty mediocre boat trip — until the old man started serving complimentary fruit and, more importantly, shots of raki, this sort of Greek grape vodka similar to Peru’s pisco.  The old man — Yureg was his name I believe — poured me a shot.  “Yia mas!” he said.

“What do I say?”

“Skol,” he said lifting his own shot glass.  “Yia mas.”

“Yia mas,” I said, toasting him and shooting it down.

“In Greek philosophy, if you have two or three raki, all the day, happy!” he said in his thick Greek accent.

“Two or three, huh?”  He poured me another.

“Yia mas!”

“Yia mas!”

He went and poured me another before going over to serve the other passengers.  One old Danish woman refused.  “No likey.”

So as not to go to waste, Yureg took the shot glass for himself.  “Yia mas.”  He shot it down, smacked his lips and pumped his arms as if he claimed a small victory.  “The best!”

The captain took us back to shore while I struck a conversation with the Old Man of the Sea.  (Coincidentally, an old Danish man with white hair and beard, sporting a beret, looked a lot like Ernest Hemingway.)  “Can I take your picture?” I asked Yureg.  There was lots of character in his face — and tobacco stains on his teeth.

“Sure, why not?” he replied.  “Where do you come from?”


“I am from Duluth, Minnesota.”


“No, but I worked there.  In cargo.”  He went on about how he worked in the shipping business all over the States 30-35 years ago in Minnesota, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.  “Americans.  They are the best people!” he exclaimed, with a small triumphant hand gesture.  He told me how he was once down on his luck with no money for a taxi and some friendly Americans just gave him a lift.  “Americans.  The best people!”  He went off to attend to ship duties, but really I think he went off to drink some more raki.

ONE LANDING, two efkharistos, and three hours on a bus later, I was back in Iraklion in eastern Crete, my overnight layover before I hopped on a boat for my next destination the following morning.  I crashed in the backpacker dorm for the night, but not without some raki in me from a trendy cafe across the street.  Yureg may have said that three shots of raki would make the day happy, but three shots of raki later make the night happy too.

Raki.  The best!

Next entry: The Santorini Thing

Previous entry: The Beaten Path

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “The Old Man and the Sea”

  • GREETINGS FROM SANTORINI… I’m astounded, not yet by the sheer unique
    beauty of this place, but that I’m actually all caught up on the blog—
    actually ahead of schedule.

    Enjoy these latest two entries as The Wanderings of Trinideus (aka The
    Trinidad Show, Greek Edition) continues…

    As to the Qs:

    CIVIL013: Yes… and you are…? What office do you work in?

    ROSE: Fries everywhere, yes… Thanks for the kudos; I strive to
    re-create the travel experience for the readers, other than drone on
    about nothing like in most travel blogs. Glad its appreciated.

    SBRs (Silent Blog Readers)... I’d love to hear from you! Remember, I’ve
    not actually met many of these regular commenters—in fact, I’m pretty
    sure none of my actual friends at home even read this anymore…

    Posted by Erik TGT

  • hey erik, it’s nikkij… get it… civil… chooo chooo? smile

    Posted by civil013  on  09/06  at  05:09 PM

  • One more comment… many that would have been funny if i did leave a
    note hmmm... next time wink no news on switzerland yet. we’ll find out at
    the end of the month…

    BTW, is there any american out there reading the blog that lives/works
    in switzerland???

    Posted by civil013  on  09/06  at  05:11 PM

  • Does “Yia mas!” work in the States? or just in Greece?

    “Yia mas!”

    “Yia mas!”

    “Yia mas!”

    Trek on!

    Posted by oogy  on  09/06  at  05:20 PM

  • Does every greek speak english?

    Posted by Dan 3  on  09/06  at  05:21 PM

  • bring sum of dat raki back…

    Posted by T  on  09/06  at  07:32 PM

  • CIVIL013: OH!!! Choo choo!

    DAN3: Most of them do; I’m finding they ARE very appreciative of the
    little Greek phrases I give them; it’s unexpected, and they smile.

    Posted by Erik TGT

  • I love the pictures of the alleys. And the men sitting outside - real
    life pics. It is such a clean place! Hmmm…...and the food looks good too!

    Posted by Janice  on  09/07  at  01:23 AM


    I’ve just gone scuba diving all day and boy are my fins tired… Sorry,
    no posts today; but I’ll have a batch ready for the WHMMR.

    Don’t let that stop you from commenting!

    Posted by Erik TGT

  • Uh, can I comment on the fact that you’re a poophead for not posting?

    Posted by Rachel  on  09/07  at  07:13 PM

  • So what are we supposed to do all weekend - twiddle our thumbs? BB7 live
    feeds suck with all the mushy, mushy stuff betweeen Erika & Boogie. I
    miss Will!!!!!

    Posted by Janice  on  09/08  at  01:08 AM

    escape this place, despite its draws for me to stay. Hope to have 1 or 2
    entries within the next 24 hours…


    Posted by Erik TGT

  • how was the diving, erik? A friend tried to bring vodka back from Russia
    and had to chuck it in Munich before his leg to Chicago - b/c it wasn’t
    in his checked luggage… damn restrictions!

    Posted by tallgirl

  • That’s funny what you say about the restaurant guys who try to get you
    to come in:

    “yes please! Yes please! best food right here!”

    and I’m glad you got to see a little dance circle. I love it when that
    happens. Usually when you are in the bar with all greeks, late at night.

    Posted by sara  on  09/10  at  08:50 PM

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This blog post is one of twenty-five travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Tomatoes, Grease & Beer" (originally hosted by, which chronicled a trip to Spain's wild Tomatina festival, Greece's awe-inspiring islands, and Munich's world-renowned Oktoberfest in August/September 2006.

Next entry:
The Santorini Thing

Previous entry:
The Beaten Path


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

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