Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The harbor in Mykonos

Getting onto the first flight is always the toughest when you’ve got an impending 27 hours of flying. Just get to the San Antonio airport and on that first flight to DFW and you’ll be okay, I tell myself. While I wasn’t looking forward to the long flight to Greece, I knew it would be an adventure and a good one at that. I had a good traveling partner. Weather was promising. American Airlines ticketing agents promised me they’d take good care of my luggage. My track record for lost luggage isn’t good, so I kept my fingers crossed. Toes too.

Overall, I was ready for Mykonos. Greece is the word.

Did someone say Grease?

Got to New York’s JFK airport with no problems. I was pretty interested in the next flight (to London’s Heathrow), as we upgraded and were now in AA’s flagship suites. These tickets normally run about $10k round trip and after flying internationally in them, I can understand why. Absolutely amazing seat and some of the best in-flight service I’ve ever encountered.

The seat is totally electronic, with a lay-flat design. Full-size pillows, Bose II headsets, On-Demand movies and an innovative tri-position seat round things out. The forward cabin is pretty intimate at only 20 suites and the design of the suite itself gives you a feeling of privacy and seclusion. I decided to snag a DVD of Miss Congeniality II and pop it into the built-in DVD player in the seat and snicker my way to sleep. I totally forgot that a friend of mine was in the film, Frank Marino, and got a kick out of seeing him ham it up on-screen with Sandra Bullock. I got about two hours of sleep during the flight and woke up in time to chow on some Rice Krispies before landing.

Holy shit... Heathrow has turned into a mall. I’ve never been a duty-free type of guy, so I head directly into the British Airways first lounge, as I was now going to be flying on BA for the rest of the trip, and relax a little before heading out to Athens. I never had time before to experience the Molton & Brown spa located in the BA lounge, but decided to use their showers and to change into some new duds. I hate the feeling you get when traveling overseas on a long flight and always try to find a way to clean up on the other end of the pond. Their shower rooms were nice and I ended up shampooing twice because their provided Molton & Brown shampoo/bodywash smelled so damned good. I thought about swiping it, but decided against it. LOL. There’s a fine line between being a klepto and just plain tacky...

In addition, the oxygen mask can be used to hog-tie me in a variety of erotic positions...

The next flight with BA is about 4 hours. Packed plane. No food or drinks due to a union dispute with catering services. Yep, an amazingly pleasurable plane ride, but luckily for me I was passed-out in a window seat. Wild goats or the threat of a colonoscopy (or wild goats giving a threatening colonoscopy) couldn’t have woken me up. We got into Athens with no problems and the airport was looking mighty fine from the recent infusion of money from the summer Olympics. From here we were in the homestretch, with only one more flight to go (to Mykonos) and a airline switch to Olympic out to the island.

Three hours later the delayed Olympic flight took off and we landed in Mykonos around 6pm, or 1800 if you’re going on a Greek time frame. I had stayed at the hotel we were booked at before, so things felt familiar as soon as I stepped off the plane. We caught a cab, checked into the place, dropped our stuff and got some dinner by the waterfront. I was craving some Greek salad. The way they heap a whole slab of feta on top is the best. It’s also pretty healthy. Spending a week eating salad and lean meats is a much nicer alternative that Vegas buffets, so I was pretty jazzed about eating healthy whether I liked it or not.

This was where we shacked up

I passed out soon after dinner. I never had much trouble adjusting to other time zones before, but this trip really messed with my clock. Most nights I only got about 4-5 hours of sleep and found myself waking up several times during the night. Strangely, I wasn’t tired during the day, but had no trouble actually falling asleep at night. I should have brought the Ambien. Argh.

The past trip to Mykonos was spent daily at Super Paradise (aka, the gay beach) soaking up the sun and cooling off in the Aegean Sea, but the first couple of days we decided to stick close to the hotel, enjoying the freshwater pool and general peace & quiet. It turned out to be a great choice. The hotel was on a bluff overlooking the blue-shuttered town, while the bay provided a reclusive, yet relaxing, backdrop.

Super Paradise was on the agenda for the next day. Getting out to the small patch of gay beach takes about an hour each way, with no less than a bus and small boat to get there. It’s a great way to see most of Mykonos and a great beginning (and end) to a day at the beach.

So, all of Super Paradise is clothing optional. WHOOHOO! While I didn’t bare-ass things, as I want to keep my wedding tackle UV-free, I did see my fair share of saggy-assed Italian women and guys who should have a bit more shame. The age range was mostly 30's on up and very few were sporting just skin. Designer bathing gear seemed to be all the rage. I’ve never seen so many Burberry speedos in my life. There must have been some kind of sale in town that day...

You must own at least 4 of these bags to have access to the gay beach

A spirited group of guys from Spain sitting beside me decided to drop trou and go au natural, much to my delight, as they were quite good looking. They also sported some MASSIVE cocks. While it was tough to tell this in the beginning, later in the day they were catching some sun and (lucky me) rock hard. Maybe it was the Mykonian breeze or just the erotic act of being naked in public, but they were rocking the hard wood and it looked quite nice. Go Spain, Go! :)

Hells bells! I heard that former spandex-wearing, lasso-lassie and current contact-hawking Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter will be taking the reigns of Matron Mama Morton in London’s West End version of Chicago the Musical. Who knew the ol’ gal could sing? Who cares! She’s still absolutely beautiful, has the rack to fill out the costume and I’m sure she’ll knock em’ dead in the UK. Maybe she’ll transfer to Broadway the way Brooke Shields did a few weeks ago. Until then, I’m sure the world waits with baited breath.

While reading UK’s trash-rag The Mirror on the way over to Greece, I spotted an article talking about Heather Mills McCartney (Paul’s new ball & chain) storming Jennifer Lopez’s fashion line offices to read her the riot act about her use of fur in her new line. Little did Mills know that JLo’s security would be rough and tumble in trying to eject her from the offices and her prosthetic leg was promptly knocked off in the scuffle! Well now I’ve heard everything. Kudos to Heather for keeping composure under insane circumstance and here’s hoping that Lopez will rethink her stance on such a barbaric practice.

Thankfully, Heather's leg is much more stylish...

Naomi Campbell reportedly beat the crap out of someone else... This would be her fourth incident of this nature. How the hell does this woman have time to walk the runway when she’s too busy scrapping like Mike Tyson?

As British celebs faked life-changing emotion over the return of The Ashes urn (one of cricket’s most prestigious trophies), I was surprised that nobody got Sienna Miller’s take on it. Because now she’s finally getting back in bed with Jude Law, she’s clearly the best qualified person to tell us what it feels like to have a four-inch object returned to your hands after such a long absence.

One thing I won’t miss much about Greece is the overwhelming penchant for smoking. Seemingly everyone is constantly lighting up and it’s just about impossible to get away from clouds of this second-hand stuff when you’re eating or just in-town and relaxing. I usually don’t mind smoking when in the states, but in Europe, you’ll have 6 or 7 whole tables lighting up around you, basically putting you in a cloud for an entire meal. Not cool. Since the whole ‘No Smoking’ thing hasn’t hit there yet, it’s a well-choreographed dance to avoid suffocation. Just figure out where the wind is coming from and sit ahead of the pack. Works like a charm.

The most incredulous smoking situation I saw was at a clothing store in Mykonos, selling pricey clothes, and the clerk was walking around the place smoking up a storm. WHAT? Why the hell would I then buy anything from that store when it’s all going to smell like cigarettes? Especially when jeans cost upwards of $200 and they were selling shirts for $100. While I know this isn’t the USA and that custom is totally different, I didn’t find it to be good business practice. Call me crazy, but it made me not want to spend a dime at that place.

That last paragraph is like a Seinfeld episode waiting to be written *shakes head*

Forget soccer... Smoking seems to be the national pastime in Europe. At any given time, you are totally surrounded by mass clouds of this stuff when eating, walking about or checking your email at any one of the internet cafes. Inevitably, you will go to bed at night smelling like a cross between The Marlboro Man and Jacques Cousteau. Shower anyone?

Changing gears a bit...

The prelim death toll is sounding for NWA and Delta Airlines. May they rest in peace and have the ability to pay their pensions for this and coming months. I’ve heard rumors of an American Airlines NWA buyout (with them selling off NWA’s planes and simply taking over their far East routes), but it’s all talk at this point. I’m hoping that Continental Airlines will snag Delta while they can and move up from their #5 position.

That'll cost ya...

What’s this rumor I’ve heard regarding the REAL relationship between Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards? A source of mine in LA says that Sheen was introduced to Richards by none other than more-famous-than-Miss-Mona, Hedi Fleiss. Why was the madame so interested in getting the two lovebirds together? Because Richards used to be one of Fleiss’s working girls and she thought they’d hit it off, since Fleiss knew Sheen’s hiring practices. How scandalous! I suppose it wouldn’t be the first instance of someone in Hollywood flat-backing it to the top.

I’ve gone totally off-topic now... Let’s head back to Mykonos:

The island has changed a bit since I’ve been there last (about 2 years ago). More boutique type chain shopping has come into existence, but luckily it’s well implemented into the local architecture and doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. Thankfully, there are no fast food joints in Mykonos yet and the choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner have continued to multiply. Small, family-owned businesses thrive on the little island. Children of owners work hard in their shops, knowing someday that they will take things over. While some things continue to see progress, other things give the feeling that this amazing place is still as individual as it was a hundred years ago.

Nights in Mykonos can be wild, as stories of Pierros, the most popular gay bar on the island, are legendary. We ended up sitting on their outside patio a couple of nights, watching the crowd gather and just shooting the shit. Drag queens in matching outfits amused the straight tourists passing by and got up every now and then to lip-synch to an old Donna Summers song. The crowd was very relaxed. It was almost strange to see a crowd of gay men so relaxed, as at most gay gatherings I’ve been to usually involve everyone posturing and preening the whole time, while never really enjoying themselves. It’s more of a game than a social calling. It’s the big reason why I don’t ever go out to gay clubs anymore. Too much bullshit. This scene in Mykonos on the other hand was awesome. Laid back, calm and conversational. It made me happy.

Mykonos in general is unlike any other place on earth to me. It’s unreal and plastic, but wonderfully comfortable and tacky in all the right ways. It’s un-American in the best of ways and Greek to perfection. I’m reminded of sitting at Nekos café, enjoying the daily rite of Greek salad and watching the Orthodox Greek priests walking through the town. In full black garb, they are the Old World reminder in an island town consumed by the hip and ever-cool. Scenes like this make me smile. It’s also what will keep me coming back to Mykonos.

The night before we headed back to the states, we flew to Athens. I hadn’t been in the city for a couple of years, so I never got to see the full Olympic transformation. From what I remember of the city before, it was dirty, cramped and with really polluted air. Fast-forward to today and Athens has turned into a dirty, cramped, polluted city with a really kick-ass new highway system. I wasn’t expecting a whole new city anyway. I actually quite like Athens, as it’s got a sort of grimy charm about it. Aside from housing some amazing history, the city is as vibrant as ever and has actually cleaned itself up quite a bit. The tourism industry boomed after the summer games in 2004 and it’s stayed up nearly 15%: A massive financial feather in Greece’s collective cap.

Time only allowed me to see the Parthenon, some of the Placa below and a quick around the downtown area. I’ve been once before to the Parthenon and it’s still one of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever seen in my travels. Most of the support scaffolding that was around it before is now down, so I had a chance to see it in its entirety. Beautiful. I could have stayed and just watched it for hours. The way the summer sun hits the columns is awesome. It’s also the best spot in the city to get an unobstructed view of all of Athens.

We didn’t hit the Athens brothels/bathhouses this time, as time was crunched, but we did have a good laugh at lunch over our last incident there of getting locked into one of the private rooms. We literally had to call for help from one of the sauna boys. LOL. You haven’t lived until you watch a young Greek (towel-clad) stud jump over a wall into your room and saw a doorhandle off. I wanted to make an impression on some of those hot guys, but this was a bit much ;)

Yep, now i know what Oprah feels like...

My last meal in Greece was a GUILTY GUILTY SIN. I say this with a hung head, as it was late at night and the only thing open near the hotel was... Get this.... McDonalds.

I know. You’ve just thrown up in your own mouth.

I never eat at McDonalds. Actually, the last time I ate at one of these horrible places was when I was LAST in Athens a couple of years ago. Fast food isn’t part of my workout routine and I try to stay away from it as much as I can, but sometimes we have little choice and I was damned hungry for anything that closely resembled food. This being said, I did find a happy medium and ordered a Greek McDonalds specialty.

Yep, the McGyro. Does it get any more schlockier than this? I was in kitsch heaven. Added, the thing didn’t taste too bad either. SCORE!

So here I sit, flying back through Chicago to SA, deciding on this week’s Eye Candy and now realizing why the flight attendants are smiling at me... They must like my choices. Enjoy this week’s sizzling selection of Mykonian man meat.

With that, I end this week’s 15 Minutes and thank you all for tuning in. Not only are your eyes appreciated, but this column always strives (if nothing else) to entertain your brain...

If you're looking for 'Fair & Balanced,' then tune into the Fox ;)


"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything." --- Charles Kuralt

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