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Arrival in Santorini – 5/17/07
Poppy, the manager of Manos Villas, was a very friendly, Greek woman who was about our age. She had two teenaged daughters and a son who might have just become a teenager. When we arrived at the villa, she said that she gave us a larger room but would charge us the price on which we had earlier agreed. If someone else arrived who needed the larger room, then Poppy and her husband would help us move to our regular room.
After learning about the room, how to use the buses and about a few places to eat, we were escorted to our “suite.” The suite had two bedrooms, one with two twin beds and one with a double bed. Entering the suite from the outside found us in the bedroom with two beds. On the left was a door leading to the bathroom and on the adjacent wall to the bathroom was a door to the room with the double bed. In the room with the double bed was a small refrigerator a table, an armoire, a few chairs and doors to our balcony. The bathroom had a very small shower. The only directions regarding the room were not to take any towels out of the room and to use the room key to use the electricity. There was a slot by the outside door into which we had to deposit the keychain. None of the outlets worked unless the key was deposited in the slot, however, the refrigerator worked all of the time.
We unpacked our suitcases and decided to make our first trip to the town, which is the capital called Fira. We walked for about 20 minutes along some very narrow roads. In some cases, there were exceptionally sharp corners with blind spots that provided little time for drivers to notice us walking along the white line of the narrow road. Mandy and I would walk side by side along the few sidewalks that we could find. As a sidewalk disappeared and we faced only a narrow road with no room for pedestrians, we would walk one behind the other. When I followed Mandy, I noticed that she often meander further into the road than I liked and I found myself consistently asking her to walk closer to the edge. At other times, we would walk side by side when there was a little room for pedestrians and I noticed that Mandy would often be further into the road than was comfortable for me. After a time, we established a rule that she was not permitted to walk on the traffic side of the road when we were side by side. She would have to walk closer to the side of the road so that she would not wander to close to traffic. As we approached the town, we came across a nice, little restaurant and decided to eat our one, main meal for the day. While we were eating, we noticed a place across the street that advertised fresh donuts with honey. After we finished a very nice, Greek meal, we were too satiated to consider dessert.
Instead of dessert, we decided to proceed into town and explore the culture there. Mostly, we found a tourist mecca with a variety of small shops selling a vast array of souvenirs to visitors of Santorini. As we walked along the many cobblestone or cement streets, we had chances to glimpse wonderful views of the caldera and the amazing construction that was typical of Santorini. After a time of window-shopping and admiration of the astonishing views, we began our trip back to Manos Villas. It just so happened that we retraced our steps and approached the little donut shop. After an hour of window-shopping, we were ready for dessert so we stopped in for a bite. We each ordered a donut with honey, but learned that that was a bit ambitious. Each serving included seven round donuts about twice the size of our normal donut holes. Over the donuts was poured about one cup of honey and the entire confection was covered with powdered sugar. When we were finished, there were five donut holes left over but we each ate one more than we really desired. Therefore, one order to share would have been perfect. At five Euros per serving, we decided that we should take the leftovers back with us. I had one donut the next morning but Mandy only had a small bite. They were not nearly as good the second day as they were when fresh and warm. We kept them in the refrigerator for two more days before I asked Mandy to dispose of them. I could not summon the nerve to do it myself.
We finished our walk back to the Villas Manos and avoided being victims of the rather radical driving behavior we noticed. You might have noticed that I just reversed the order of the words Villas and Manos. There were three signs on the hotel. Two read, “Manos Villas” and one read “Villas Manos.” We were unsure about which was appropriate or if the intention was to allow flexibility.
Mandy decided that she would take a short nap since we had been up for over 24 hours. I knelt next to the bed and looked over some of the reading material that would direct our activities over the next few days. I read a few words and then realized that I had dozed for a few seconds. I decided that I would set an alarm to sound in two hours, the time Mandy indicated that she wanted to sleep just in case my fatigue overcame my desire to stay awake until it was time to sleep for the night. I continued reading and before I knew it, an hour had elapsed but I only read three sentences. Had I not been kneeling with my toes curled under, I would have slept until the alarm went off. Instead, my tingling toes that had gone asleep caused me to awaken from my slumber. Mandy was out cold and I noticed that the rotating Earth was nearing sunset in its normal course of diurnal motion. I collected my camera and walked outside to locate a favorable view of the sunset. The hill behind the hotel that led to the edge of the caldera was too high to see a good sunset. I decided to try to walk to the edge of the caldera where I could see the Sun appear to dip beneath the surface of the ocean.
I tried a couple of side streets and discovered one that bypassed a rather hazardous set of corners that was actually a shorter distance than when we had walked the dangerous road on our earlier trek. Eventually, I found a road that led right to the edge of the caldera and provided me with a wonderful view of the sunset.
I retuned to the hotel where Mandy reported that she had just woken up and asked where I had been. I recounted my excursion to her, and then we discussed our activities for the next day. I opened my computer and began describing some of our recent events. While I was keyboarding, I remembered that the first set of batteries in my camera had discharged from use and I had replaced them. So, I retrieved the charger from the luggage so that I could charge the depleted batteries while I continued to work on the computer. Mandy had purchased a special unit at Radio Shack that would allow us to use our American electronics in Europe. We had a similar converter when we went to Hungary two years earlier but it would not fit into the receptacles. The converter we purchased was a rectangular block with two prongs that would plug into the wall. In Hungary, the receptacles were not flush with the wall as they are in the US. Instead, there is a round, indented hole that measured about 1.5 inches in diameter and was about 1 inch deep. This outlet required a round block of the appropriate size in order to fit into the round indentation in the wall. Our rectangular block was too large to insert into the indentation in the wall and the prongs were to short to reach the matching holes. Unfortunately, Santorini used the same kind of outlet as Hungary. It was the proverbial attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Mandy purchased a special, international hair dryer to bring with her to Europe. It came with a round adapter that fit the round indentation in the wall and would accommodate a US plug. My only concern was whether or not the adapter changed the voltage so that my 115-volt electronics would work in the 220-volt receptacle. I experimented with the hair dryer but nothing there indicated whether or not I would have any trouble with the voltage. I next decided to try the computer. I figured that the worst-case scenario would be that I would short out the power supply. That would mean that I would not be able to download pictures or write any stories but if I couldn’t charge the computer, that would be the case anyway. First, I plugged the adapter into the wall. Then I plugged computer’s power supply into the adapter and waited to observe any difficulties that arose. All appeared to be in order so I decided that it was time to try the computer. I had a slight thought that the power supply might not engage until it was connected to the computer. I further had the idea that any electrical surge might not be contained within the power supply but might continue into the computer itself. After a brief pause I plugged it in. The indicator light glowed as normal and the computer reported that it was charging. I was delighted.
Before plugging the power supply into the computer, I also had one other thought. I remembered that I was using superior technology, known as a Macintosh computer. I remember reading that the power supply for all Apple laptop computers was built to accept either 115 or 220 power. So, while there was some trepidation, I had confidence that all would be OK. Next, I decided to try out the battery charger. However, I still had some concern that my success with the computer might not necessary follow with the battery charger. First, I plugged in the charger with no batteries. There was no apparent problem but I wondered what would happen when I inserted the batteries to charge. I removed the charger from the adapter and inserted the batteries to charge. Then I plugged the charger with the batteries back into the adapter. Finally, I plugged the entire system into the wall. The answer to whether or not this would work was immediate. There was a loud popping sound, all of the lights went out and there was a distinct smell of fried electronics. Mandy made some kind of comment about the wisdom of plugging in the charger.
I determined that the smell originated from only the charger and not the batteries or the wall socket. My first thought was to locate a fuse or breaker box. I used my computer as a flashlight, since I had not packed one for the trip. I was able to discover the breaker box next to the outside door. To my astonishment and delight, two of the three breakers were clearly tripped so I reset them. With much disappointment, however, resetting the breakers did not remedy the situation.
I decided to look outside to determine whether or not the lack of electricity was confined to our suite or included the rest of our building. When I stepped onto the balcony, I was somewhat relieved that the other rooms in our building still had electricity. I must confess that I was just slightly disappointed. With my breakers reset, there was probably a problem in a main power supply area. I thought that maybe a larger fuse or breaker box for the entire building had tripped; in which case, someone else might try to have the power reset saving me from any further embarrassment. It appeared that embarrassment was likely to be in my future.
Now, it was just after 10:00 p.m. The office closed at 9:30 and I did not have the courage to try to arouse someone. I sat down and continued working on my saga for the first day of our vacation since my computer still had battery life. Before long, Mandy had gone to sleep again. When I noticed that she had turned in, I put the computer away and joined her at 10:32 p.m. local Santorini time.
When I awoke the next morning, it became clear that I had been in acute need of sleep since it was 11:30 a.m. Mandy was still sound asleep so I decided to set off to the office to inquire about my electricity problem. I explained that I did not have any electricity and the gentleman explained that I needed to put the key into the slot. He must have thought that I was a complete idiot and that I did not have the courage to ask about how to use the electricity earlier. I responded by stating that the key was in the slot and that we did have electricity for a while. I informed him that I had plugged something into an outlet and then we lost electricity. With new understanding on his face he proceeded out of the office and beckoned for me to follow. On the way he said that he would fix the problem and that I should not plug into the wall whatever caused the problem. That seemed rather obvious to me, but I just nodded with a gesture of compliance.
When we arrived in the room, he studied the breaker panel with a confused look on his face. All of the breakers were set to the correct position. I mentioned that I had already reset those. With this new information he said he would go elsewhere and have it fixed in five minutes. He reminded me, once again, not to plug in the same item any more, and I nodded in compliance, once again. Within five minutes the electricity was on. I ran out the door, saw our rescuer walking across the patio area and waved with a nod and a smile of thanks. He waved back and shouted for everyone else to hear that I should not plug in that same item again.
Mandy was still sleeping so I decided to explore the villa grounds and surrounding area. After awhile I returned to my computer. At 2:14 p.m., Mandy awoke and asked me if it was time to get up. I said that it probably was just about time and when she learned that it was after 2:00, she agreed.
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