Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Valentine’s Love Story Spans the Continent & the Years: Part II

Jason & Tracy on Ios

As soon as we exited the ferry, I knew the island of Ios was going to be a lot different. Where Santorini was more built up and had a more sophisticated crowd, Ios was much smaller and it was definitely a younger, party group.

Jason had lived on Ios for almost a month, so it was as though he was coming home.  We returned to the inn that he had stayed and rented a room – which just happened to be in someone’s house – where we would stay for the rest of our visit.
Ios was less Greek than it was British (i.e.: there were a lot of Brits and consequentially a lot of pubs and a lot of drinking).

By the time we arrived on the isle, we had been drinking pretty much all week straight.  Jason was excited to show me all of his old haunts and had planned a fun night on the town.
We arrived at our first bar of the evening and I broke it to Jason that I just couldn’t drink alcohol tonight. He looked at me incredulously.  He said, “We are one of the most happening party islands here in the Aegean Sea.”  He pointed up to the drink menu – which was posted up above the bar and listed almost 100 drinks – and said you have to be able to find one drink that you can drink.  He was pissed and then I got pissed because I didn’t want to drink.

Uh, oh…trouble in Paradise.
Eventually, I succumbed to a Margarita. WTF?   Basically, on Ios, it was a cup of tequila with a splash of sour – no lime and no ice. Arghh! I cringe just thinking about it, even today; although it was better than the Bloody Mary which was spaghetti sauce with vodka in it.

It got me over the hump, but beer and wine were definitely the way to go for the rest of the trip.
Once we got over that very minor speed bump – and our very first summer lovers quarrel which was nothing like Michael and Cathy’s – Ios was a blast.  We spent all our time on the beach and in the clubs.  By now, I was as brown as a berry which doesn’t happen often for this pale Jersey girl.  My skin only knows how to burn and freckle, but we had been in the Mediterranean for so long that I was beginning to assimilate and acclimate.

While there, we met a bunch of mates from London.  I had only been to Europe once – when I was 10 years old and with my Grandmother – so this was a whole new Euro experience for moi. 
But sadly, our week in Ios came to an end.  Jason had researched and decided to end our backpacking adventure on the sleepy island of Paros.  It was a short ferry ride from Ios and then we would be only be one more ferry ride from our final destination.

By now, it was early September and the weather was definitely starting to cool off.  Our last days on the Greek Islands were spent exploring the 20 by 10 mile isle by moped.
These were lazy days and we were melancholy knowing that our month was almost up and the reality of life back home was looming large ahead of us.  But, we had one more stop ahead of us.

Tracy at the Temple of Nike
With only two days left until we got on the plane to return to the states, we found ourselves in Athens.  Jason had a familiarity with Pláka, the old historical neighborhood which surrounded the Acropolis.  This area boasts no motor vehicles down its narrow streets and is abundant with cafes, shops and museums.
Being in the most famous example of ancient Greece was mesmerizing.  We walked along the famous monument high above the city of Athens and were blown away by the Parthenon and the Temple of Nike.  Despite its decay, it was easy to try and imagine what life in Ancient Greece throughout its tumultuous existence.
Jason at the Acropolis
While there, we stumbled upon a flea market in Pláka.  Without really discussing it, Jason and I were looking for a pair of matching rings.  Not really promise rings, but just cool symbols of our love and a reminder of this amazing trip.
We had been in search of this meaningful souvenir for the duration of our trip but have had no luck.

As we explored Pláka, we found ourselves peering into the window of an old machine shop.  In the frame, there was an old dusty display of rings.  We tried to communicate with the owner and machinist pointing to the rings and what we wanted.  He merely measured our fingers and then created two thick and chunky rings made out of the world’s softest silver.  They looked so heavy but, when you held them in your hand, they were as light as a feather.
This was no jewelry store, so we considered ourselves lucky to find this artisan but were scared to ask for the price since he had already made the rings.  We could not believe our luck when the machinist, who spoke no English, gestured that the price was only around $50 U.S.

Despite being sad because it was the last day of our amazing trip, we found solace in knowing that we had found the perfect rings that would be reminders of this amazing trip for the rest of our lives. 
Little did we know that, when we got married five years later, we would have those original rings melted down into one mass and then recreated into our wedding bands as true symbols of our love.

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