Finally I am back in India with my dearest daughter who says she is a Princess! By that logic, I can call myself a queen. And if Atul wants he can be a king!!
Our last ten days after leaving Perugia were simply fantastic and I mean fantastic. After the last mail sent to you all from the Perugia desk on September 30th, I with my other friends spent part of the morning packing and doing last minute shopping (that I cannot resist, now can I even if I was on a student scholarship ?). Post lunch began the series of farewell visits. We stayed put in our room and people dropped in to say bye and many bacis (that's kisses) were exchanged. All the men want to carry on that tradition of greeting even in India! From about 5pm till 5am there were five musketeers who stayed put in my room, chatting, laughing, cracking silly jokes and playing antakshari (singing Hindi songs) if you please. After Umbria Jazz Perugia had not seen/heard an evening like this. So many passersby stoppedby at our window to enquire what was happening and went away feeling very happy for us when we said "stiamo facendo una festa" i.e., we are having a party. Luckily, no one came to complain so we rightfully assumed that we were all in tune and continued singing full blast. 5am came the taxi to take us to Rome (don't we students travel in style?). One look at our luggage, he decided to go back to get another car but thanks to our only chivalrous male friend named Darryl, we and the luggage were fitted in and off we went. 8am saw us at the airport in Roma and three of us boarded our plane to Greece.
Athens was fun tho' as a city I did not care for it much. By the time we landed, figured our way around, it was 5.30pm when we hit the hotel. Booked ourselves for a night tour of Athens which was good to establish surroundings, have a taste of ouzou, a dinner at a Greek taverna in the hip area of Plaka under the floodlit Acropolis and dance to some Greek music. Home at 1am and the next thing we knew it was 2.30 pm when we woke up. Half the day gone and breakfast missed for which we had already paid in the room rent!!! The remaining half was spent in sightseeing, visiting the Archaelogical museum, climbing up the Acropolis only to discover that winter timings had set in, hence entry to the Parthenon was closed, visiting Constitution square, seeing changing of the guards and eating at a street food joint in a student area called Monesteraki. Before sleeping we set the alarm for 7am for the following morning determined to reach the dining hall at 8am.
We were very happy to have made it by 8.20am to the breakfast tables (which closed at 9am) only to see an empty hall and empty tables. Upon enquiring ,a surly worker merely pointed to the clock which showed 9.20am and then it dawned on us three monkeys that we had forgotten to change our watches to Greek time. Again, no breakfast. Fast becoming a habit!! Went back to the Acropolis, matha teka at the Parthenon (absolutely amazing - not the way we matha tekaoed but the Parthenon!!) and then back to Plaka, Syntagma, general wandering. In the late afternoon we took a bus which drove us along the coast to the Temple of Poseidon.
Day 3 we had booked ourselves on an island cruise. The cruise was fun, the water was enchanting but the islands were disappointing. Too commercialised, too many shops. One of them, Hydra, was traffic-free hence was a little better and was what one has heard of Greek islands - all the houses in blue and white - but nothing to write home about. My friend Savita, perhaps getting a little too bored and restless, decided to have herself almost run over by a motorcyclist on the island. Hence our next port of call was to buy cold water, ice, crepe bandage and a walking stick for her as we had a flight to catch back, a night to spend in Rome, another flight to Istanbul and almost five days to spend there!!! Well, that gave Megha, companion number 3, and I another job - of porters!!! But thanks to Savita, her walking stick and our insistence to use a wheelchair at airports, we could bypass all the queues at checkins, immigrations, customs, boarding etc. It saved us a lot of time! :) October 5 saw us back at a very sweet bed and breakfast in Rome (highly recommended by us) very near the airport with airport pickup and drop and October 6 saw us saying goodbye and arriverderci to Italy - for this year at least - and boarding our flight to Istanbul.
What happened in Istanbul is a long story and a very interesting one at that so you all will have to wait for Part 2 of this edition of travel mail from the desk of Jayanti.