This post has been guest-written by the Beast
One of the best things about staying in luxury hotels is having a phone next to the toilet. For the seasoned business traveller this is a necessity; international wheeling and dealing, currency markets and the stability of the pound in the face of Brexit cannot and will not wait for the constitutional of an international businessperson.
For me, it is a little more parochial. I like to be photographed pretending to be on the phone while sitting on the toilet. I mean, really, who am I going to call?
I had meant to take a photo of me sitting on the toilet our first night in Athens and I was disappointed that between seeing the ruins of the country that invented democracy and walking around that incredible city it slipped my mind. No trip is perfect.
But I remembered at the Hotel GDM Megaron in Heraklion on Crete.
And I made a note that from then until the end of trip I would memorialize our journey the way the ancients did, the way people had been doing since the days of Homer and Hesiod, the way Pericles and Alexander did, the way Pausanias did, right up to the days of Aristotle Onassis: by taking a picture of myself on the toilet, pretending to talk on the phone.
Things seemed promising from the time we arrived on the island. Thanos, a shuttle driver for the luxury resort we would be staying in and something of a modern-day Heracles, was waiting for us at the port with a sign. We drove up the switchback road to the top of the precipice and got our first stunning look at the caldera.
Santorini, rumoured to have been the site of Atlantis, is what remains of a once massive volcano that exploded back in ancient times, long before toilets and telephones and luxury hotels. The explosion was so powerful that it collapsed the volcano and left a thick, highly-exposed stratigraphy of rusty reds, charcoal blacks and scorched-earth browns. It makes a pretty dramatic backdrop for the white-washed cave-style dwellings that cling to the top of the island overlooking the cerulean blue waters of the Aegean.
Thanos let us off at the beginning of of the town of Oia. Two other Heracles (the internet says this is the correct plural, but I prefer Heraclai) were waiting to carry our bags down to Mystique, the luxury resort that would be home for our two days in Santorini.
Mystique is, to use the vernacular, what I’m talking about. The place is amazing. Everywhere you look there are infinity pools, beautiful Greek men in all white carrying towels around, terraces full of reclining sun chairs, and view after stunning view the caldera.
This place was literally designed for Instagram. Not literally, because the Internet hadn’t even been invented when this place was built. But toilets were. And so were landlines. Our tour, led by Eleni, of the facilities ended with our room and it was perfect. We had a secluded patio with an incredible ocean view, a two-second walk to the restaurant and the pool. Our room had the perfect Santorini cave vibe and the washroom was aglow with the trembling waters of a hot tub. Santorini was going to be okay.
We hit every pool in the resort and headed back to our patio for some secluded sunbathing and a couple glasses of Assyrtiko, the local white we drank like water. I doubt it would be much comfort to the citizens of Atlantis who saw their fabled civilization explode thousands of years ago, but the volcanic crust of the island makes it prime for growing interesting white wine, which makes it prime for me. [Foodie: This is also when I made you do photo shoots of me LOL because all I had were selfies!]
After working on our tans and a couple more trips to the infinity pool, we headed for a walk through town towards our sunset dinner in Amoudi Bay.
The town of Oia is a charming mash-up of shops and tavernas, catering to every want and desire (assuming every want and desire only covers very expensive jewelry and very cheap Greek souvenir t-shirts). A train of donkeys passed us as we headed down the 250 steps to the small harbour for a dinner that had been booked to coincide with Santorini’s famous sunset.
While the sunset itself was a disappointment–Muskoka’s are far more untamed and impressive–the human theatre it creates was one of the most memorable experiences of our travel. As we sipped gin martinis just feet from the water, a mob gathered 1,850 feet above to snap flash photos of the sinking sun, as boats crammed with tourists zigged and zagged through the harbour as the sun plunged toward the horizon.
We couldn’t have cared less, as we were in the midst of one of the best dinners we have ever had at Amoudi Fish Taverna. Our server had told us that they had a lobster and fresh fish special, which sounded divine. We started with a local speciality, fava, a bean purree that (confusingly) is made from split peas. This 4-euro dish was the best thing we had on Santorini, and maybe in all of Greece. The creamy beans are mashed into a paste that rivals the most sumptuous butter, topped with capers and fresh red onion. The salty explosion of the capers mixed with the crisp bite of the red onion and the local olive oil make for some of the most singular bites I’ve ever had.
Lobster and local barley orzo followed and we were transported through a realm of richness that felt unbecoming. We finished with a whole grilled sea bream that was so perfectly moist and salted it could have been the Aegean that was undulating before us.
Rich was the word for the dinner, and unfortunately, it was. It might have been all that Santorini sun, it might have been the grand reserve Assyrtiko we had with dinner, but neither of us had thought to ask just what this harvest from the ocean would cost. It was about twice as much as I imagined, and I imagined it was going to cost a pretty penny. I don’t think ‘special’ has the same discount connotation in Amoudi bay.
We took a cab back up through the windy roads to town and tried to put the situation in the best light possible. This is what people who stay at luxury resorts do. This is what people who are so powerful they need to talk on the phone while they sit on the toilet do!
Whatever lingering feelings of silliness over the cost of dinner remained were washed away with a late-night soak in the hot tub and the last of a bottle of Assyrtiko. [Foodie: Remember that night, after we %#*&@!?🍆 and we sat in our luxury robes looking at the moonlight on the sea, and I asked you if you thought any other woman at Mystique had experienced what I just did? You said: “You mean did any other woman let their unemployed boyfriend order a 100-euro lobster dish and then let her pay for it? Probably not.”]
We woke up feeling like a real power couple. We went down for our complimentary (I paid) a la cart breakfast. I wish I could tell you that I spent the whole morning reading the WSJ on my Blackberry, but the truth is we were like kids let go in the adult candyland of a luxury resort.
We maxed our time in the infinity pool and then tanned on our patio, because soon enough we would be whisked away by a shuttle to the island’s opposite end for our afternoon catamaran adventure.
That’s right. A fucking boat. And a baller one at that.
The insanely attractive crew of three onboard the Margarita led us around the island, showing us the tourist spots (the red beach, the white beach, the black beach, the salt springs) and letting us swim and snorkel in the ocean as they prepared another amazing dinner (complimentary, I paid) of fresh fish, grilled vegetables, and salads, included in the price of our excursion. They kept offering to take photos of us, so we accepted. [Foodie: And I kept trying to take photos of them lol!]
The first mate was named Yannis, a Cretan (I really had to resist the urge to give him a hearty Cretan Hello – see previous post for clarification) who was one of the best looking people I have ever seen and one of the nicest. The Foodie said we looked like brothers. [Foodie: And Yannis said he knew you were brothers after you rinsed yourself of sea water with the fresh water hose and stuck it down the front of your pants and he got a good look.]
As the sun set behind us as we headed back to port an even more spectacular sight rose ahead: a harvest moon. Selene in all her plump grandeur had come to wish us a good final night on Santorini.
No surprise here, but we went back to our room, we soaked, we drank more white wine, and we slept like two little angels dressed up like Heracles’ butt cheeks in a Cherub grade school production of his Labours (his buttocks were notoriously tanned and so were we!)
[Foodie: Remember when we were driving on the shuttle bus with 12 other people down to the port to catch the cruise and you, in a high-pitched gasp, yelled and pointed out the window: “Crazy hair, crazy hair, crazy hair!” because we’d passed a shop called Crazy Hair? And on the drive back, in the same high-pitched gasp, you yelled “Brian Adams!” because “Everything I Do, I Do it for You” was playing on the radio and when everyone looked at you, you said: “He’s Canadian!”]
The next morning we had our complimentary breakfast (I paid) and made the most of the infinity pool and our patio, soaking up every hashtag-blessed moment in our luxury hotel. It was only while I was sitting on the toilet and the concierge called to confirm that our ride to the airport was arranged that I realized the toilet wasn’t equipped with a phone. Imagine my surprise! I had been walking around this paradise for the last two days thinking I was Aristotle Onassis, when the whole time I had just been an ordinary mortal who has to shit and talk business one at a time.
The wheel of fate lifts you up and the wheel of fate drops you down.