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2008-06-02 - 3:46 p.m.

We had a good trip. Amazing to think you pay some money and you're ten hours on a plane, after which you make your way through a 5,000-year-old civilization. Then you come back and go back to your job or see your friends, the difference being that now your forearms are darkened by Mediterranean sun. Some images that stick with me:

- Sunbathing chairs crowded in close on the beaches in Mykonos, a thatched-palm umbrella for every two chairs, so close in that there was no room for throwing out a towel and splaying yourself out
- Bared middle-aged (German?) breasts on most of the beaches
- A tamed pelican doing tricks for diners at a restaurant in the main town on Mykonos. Realization: Pelicans are very, very large birds.
- The view of Santorini from the boat. They drop you off on the inside of the crescent, at the foot of the sheer cliffs. You look up and there's a little white town way, way up, hanging on the edge of the cliff.
- The pretty, blond Australian girl who served us drinks in a lounge/jazz bar withing walking distance of our room on Santorini.
- The guy in Athens who tried to get us into his store (that looked like all the others) selling linen shirts and Greek flags and sandals, who said, "Throw on the brakes," and motioned for us to come inside.
- We saw the amphitheater where Sophocles premiered his plays. There are weeds and things growing in between the giant stones where people sat. There were some American girls there at the same time, college-aged. One of them asked the other, while sitting on the fifth or sixth row of seats, "So where did they sit?" A minute later, girl two asked girl one, "Do they still do theater outside?"
- Lots of Americans in these places, many of them being loud, and British getting drunk, and Germans getting sunburned, and a few Irish at the James Joyce pub we walked by in Athens, and young Greeks all over who speak better English than I do.
- A whole silver snapper at a restaurant called God's Garden on Santorini, with the best lemons I've ever had
- 60-degree mornings, and then the sun making the tops of buildings golden-yellow, and then warmth, and then more golden-yellow, and then heat, and then coffee.
- Flying over the Italian and Swiss Alps. Other places have mountains, but those are Mountains.
- Dark-skinned dudes, usually in groups of three, on corners, eyeing up my girlfriend: down, then up, and then back down.
- Smoking being allowed just about everywhere: I saw some guys smoking inside the Athens airport, at a little coffee shop kiosk in the open space between two gates. Smoking in little offices. Smoking in hotel lobbies. Busdrivers smoking. And, you know, why not?

But back now and the air's thicker, the sun not as directly overhead and fierce, not as penetrating. The sun I'm used to hits, sure, but it spreads, envelops. The sun there hits and hits and hits. But in the shade, it's nice. It's a break. Here, even in the shade, it still finds you.

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