Though I still can’t pronounce it, I believe Oia (EE-ya?) may be the most beautiful city in the world.
Also, I love my sister,
And, I have an extremely well-developed sense of Catholic guilt.
Combined, these three things led me to race a bunch of donkeys up a mountain on a hot afternoon, and to trot right back down it in triumph.
The story begins in gorgeous Oia (Oy-a?), the pearl of Santorini. While I snuck photos of the most stunning landscape I had ever seen, my sister Kathy and my mom enjoyed a little shopping. Eventually, Kathy found the exact painting she’d been looking for and we made our way from Oia (Oh-ee-ya?) to Fira for lunch and a little sightseeing.
While my mom and I finished lunch, Kathy went to stand in line for the tickets we’d need to ride a tram back down the mountain. Later, my mom and I joined her and we all went down to the port where we caught a tender to take us back to our ship.
“Did you grab my painting?” Kathy asked as we boarded the tender.
We all looked around and it dawned on all three of us that we’d left the painting sitting on the table at the elegant restaurant all the way back up in Fira.
Though Kathy assured me multiple times that I didn’t have to do it, I volunteered to retrieve the painting.
“I’m going to be worried,” my mom called as I leapt off the tender. “Don’t miss that last tender!”
I jogged up a steep mountain path, eyes glued to the ground to avoid steaming piles of donkey poo, confident that I’d be able to locate our restaurant and retrieve Kathy’s painting.
When I arrived back in Fira, red-cheeked and sweaty, every restaurant looked the same.
“Can we help you?” two elegant men asked me as I caught my breath in their restaurant.
“My sister,” I gasped. “Left her painting….gasp gasp…on a table…gasp gasp…but I’m not sure….gasp gasp…it was here.”
One pointed a crisp linen-clad arm to a terrace below.
“We have tables down there too,” he said in an undefinable but infinitely cool accent.
I peeked over the ledge, surreptitiously swiping a paper napkin to dab my gushing brow.
“I don’t think that was it,” I said, and I limped away.
Then, I remembered I had the receipt from our lunch in my purse.
“Excuse me,” I said as I headed back toward the elegant men, ignoring the fact that they definitely were laughing at me. “Can you tell me where this is?” And I showed them my receipt.
“That one?” one man said. “That’s all the way up the mountain!”
“I thought I was all the way up the mountain!”
They pointed their crisp-linened arms up.
Eventually, I found the right restaurant, secured, to my amazement, the errant painting, and horrified another elegant man with my over-the-top-gratitude.
“I’d hug you right now but I’m disgustingly sweaty,” I said and I enthusiastically shook his manicured hand.
I held the painting aloft as I made my way down the mountain in triumph.
Mission accomplished. Score one for the sweaty American tourist and her sister’s cool souvenir.