Wednesday, August 1, 2007

From Firostefani to Oia

We awoke, determined to make the best of things, only to find that the shower didn't work: no water. I dress and track down the owner. He fiddles with the thing and gets a small stream of water to come out. "Oh, it was a little broken. Now it's fixed." Leaves. We can't get more than a little stream to come out and, even more distressing, it's not even warm. I can deal with a lot of things, but a day without a hot shower isn't one of them. Back out to find the owner, who first goes to check the boiler, which is working. He runs the water for several minutes, telling us that you need to run the water for several minutes. We tell him we have. "Sometimes when a lot of people are taking showers, you know..." Right. The water apparently warms up a little and he says triumphantly, "There, see? Hot now." Leaves. The water isn't close to hot, more like room temperature. While we're puzzling over this, the trickle fades to a few drips. Back out to find the owner, who's getting almost as annoyed as we are. He tests the water and finds both the water pressure and the temperature satisfactory, doesn't understand why we don't, no one else has ever complained. Leaves. Breakfast arrives and it is, predictably, the worst food we've had in Greece. Coffee is a pot of warm water and a few packets of Nescafe.

We decide we must escape. Will we be able to find another room for just two nights? Will he try to make us pay for all the nights we've reserved? The price for this hellhole is 135 Euros/night - not cheap! It seems that the price of hotels in Fira/Firostefani is generally high, especially if you have a view of the caldera. The view is great, but not without a hot shower to back it up. I call a hotel in Oia that I see advertised on our Santorini map: The Museum Spa Wellness Hotel. Against all odds they have a room available for the next two nights, which I promptly reserve. We pack.

We set off to face the owner together, agreeing that I'll take the lead and K will play bad cop if necessary. We find him and I say bluntly but nicely, "We want to check out. We're leaving." He looks bewildered, confused. "What? Why?" "We're not happy here," I say. K says, "The shower isn't good." Not very bad cop-like, but true. He seems hurt, doesn't understand, no one else has ever complained. But then he takes us to the office and gives us a refund...and offers to call us a cab...and takes our luggage up the million steps to the street...and waits with us until the cab comes (extremely awkward), loads our luggage, and gives us hearty handshakes as if we're old friends leaving after a great visit. All the way to Oia we talk about how awful we feel for leaving and how thrilled we are that we left. Vacationing can be emotionally complex.

In spite of having a few too many words in its name, The Museum Spa Wellness Hotel turn out to be a lovely place. Not, perhaps, as lovely as the pictures on the website suggest, but nice enough that we almost tear up when we see the bright, airy room and the lovely pool area. Into the pool, then the shower (hot! excellent water pressure!), then to schedule a massage and facial for the next day, then off to find an iced cappuccino. The vacation is back on track.

That night we have drinks at the rooftop bar of the Pelekanos Restaurant, like half of the other tourists in Oia, so as to watch the sun set. For some reason, that evening has a particularly festive feel. People are introducing themselves to each other, offering to take pictures of other couples, and Mr. Nikos, Bar Man (as it says on his lapel pin), is the master of ceremonies. If he likes you, he'll mix you a shot glass of his mysterious fuschia-colored cocktail. As the sun nears the horizon, it feels like we're watching the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve. We applaud when the last sliver of red disappears.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

you effin crack me up!