In The Beginning – The Invitation
It all began in the summer of 2016 while we were visiting Cambridge, England. As is our custom, we attempt to seek out the finest pubs-bars-saloons in the area we’re visiting and then make ourselves at home. In Cambridge we found The Corner House pub and its owner Jo (See the Cambridge post for even more details). It was a natural fit: she owns a fine establishment serving adult beverages and loves to cook. We love to drink adult beverages and we love to eat. In the course of our three days of hanging out at The Corner House, we had the privilege of meeting Jo’s Mom, Val. Val, we were told, is retired and lives on the Greek island of Lesbos. We also learned that her son, Jo’s brother, was planning to marry and that the wedding would occur in June of 2017 on Lesbos. It was late in the afternoon after much food, prosecco, wine, and ale when Val and Jo blurted out: “Hey, why don’t you guys come? It’ll be great fun!” Hmm…we don’t know anything about Lesbos, except that it’s in Greece. Is it easy to get to? Is it pretty? What’s its claim to fame? These were just a few of the thoughts running through our head
(other thoughts included: Is there anymore wine? Ah, maybe I’ll switch to ale) when we responded with: “Um, maybe. Um, probably. OK, we’ll be there.” They smiled and nodded, probably thinking; shit, these Yanks are all talk. They won’t show.
Part 1: Can Brits Party?
So, sort of committed, we thought that we had better do some research. The first critical point of research
was to analyze and determine whether or not these Brits knew how to party. After our 3 days at the Corner House pub, the answer was a resounding yes. That was easy.
Part 2: The Aristotle Connection
That important item out of the way we began our research on Lesbos in earnest. We found out that Aristotle spent a few years there establishing a new school of philosophy, one that would repudiate most of Plato’s ideas. If mankind would have only followed Aristotle, while ignoring most of Plato’s babble, we might be in a better place. But, alas, mankind is still pulled between Plato and Aristotle. I could go on, but for complete enlightenment try reading:
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It is well worth your time. In his spare time, Aristotle also established the scientific method, the science of biology, as well as a few other sciences, as we know them today. All this cool stuff happened on Lesbos. And to top it all off, our research found that Lesbos has beautiful beaches, quaint villages, excellent Ouzo, Metaxa, vino sfuso, and some very friendly people. Actually, back in Aristotle’s time Lesbos was considered the producer of the finest wines in the known world, exporting their godly nectar throughout the world. Alas, the grape varietal they produced has been lost over the centuries, however, the method they used to make it was recorded. No wonder Aristotle settled here.
The Full Commitment
With our exhaustive research complete and the data analyzed the decision was made: The Yanks are coming!
The British Invasion
We decide to arrive a few days early in order to properly scope out the area and to reconnect with
Jo and Val after a year apart. The re-connection is accomplished by means of a barbecue at Val’s place, which sits up high on a hill overlooking the village of Skoutaros and the Mytilini Strait. Stunning! We learn during our re-connection briefing that Jo is the event coordinator for all things arriving, departing, pre-wedding, wedding, post-wedding, and basically everything that is to happen on Lesbos over the next 10 days. As daunting as this sounds – and it was- we knew that if anyone could pull it off, it was Super Jo.
And we are about to find out, because it begins to happen. The invasion of over 60 sun starved Brits all descend upon the tiny village of Anaxos, the site of the wedding, in the span of 2 days. For Jo, it must have felt like trying to herd cats sometimes. The Plaza Palace Hotel pool filled immediately. The beer, wine, ouzo, and other adult beverages flowed continuously. The beaches were awash with white scantily clad bodies, daring the sun to turn them red. Event after event. Party after party. All going off like clockwork. Just a deliciously happy, fun loving group, gearing up to celebrate their dear friend’s event of a lifetime: Roy’s and Claire’s wedding. But before the special day, two more parties – traditional – are to be
attended. The Hen Do and Stag Do events. Carrie and I would go our separate ways for an evening, something that rarely occurs, and we would compare notes on how these Brits do this thing. If the past was any indication, we were in for a whale of a time.
The Hen Do (North American Translation: The Bachelorette Party)
While the guys were off doing cruel and unusual things to Roy and other unfortunate wedding guests, the gals went on a leisurely expedition in search of cocktails, food, and a few scavenger hunt items. We kicked it off at the Plaza Palace making sure the bride-to-be, Claire, was content.
Properly primed, we set out on the expedition. The flock of 30+ women migrated at least two or three hundred meters to the next watering hole. I did say it was a “leisurely” expedition, didn’t I? Another round, all around.
A minibus waited for us to finish our fluids then whisked us away to Petra, the next village over, for a beautiful ocean view and yet more happy juice for those still in need. People chatted as they sipped and the volume and giggles increased as one would expect.
The Fun Train arrived decorated for the occasion. All aboard! The bride-to-be was grinning from ear to ear. ABBA was on the sound system and the whole train sang. Apparently Brits have a thing about the movie Mama Mia. Who knew? We waved at locals and tourists as we rolled by. While we were having a great time on the train, I wondered how much of Roy’s dignity was left and if Pat had fallen victim to one of the Stag Do pranks.
The train chugged through Petra. The gals laughed and sang, and ABBA became permanently etched in my brain. The little train thought it could, and it did, lift us to the next village and deposit us withing a short walk of the next cocktail with a view.
Let me share some ABBA with you. It won’t hurt too much, but it won’t go away either.
A stunning rooftop bar played host to the next round of imbibements and Hen Do antics. When I say “antics”, I don’t mean stripped-naked-and-taped-to-a-pole type antics. I mean having enough inhibition mitigator on board to make a human pyramid for scavenger hunt points seem like a good idea.
A little tipsy now and in need of food, we wobbled our way down to the restaurant for dinner. A few more games were played. The funny face cards came out. The decibel level reached a crescendo. When the food started to arrive, a relative hush washed over the scene, but even then, ABBA emanated from somewhere.
Fed, watered, and happy, the little train that could took us all the way back to Anaxos where the guys were concluding their alone time with the groom. Poor Roy. He was naked and saran-wrapped to a telephone pole with a long blonde wig on his head.
The Stag Do (North American Translation: Bachelor Party)
It all started innocently enough. We were to herd up at the Plaza Palace and begin drinking, then we would saunter over to Steve’s Bar (A Greek/US ex-pat that repatriated) to continue drinking. By the way, Steve has an incredible collection of classic rock. We arrived at the bar to the gut wrenching voice of Steve Marriott, from Humble Pie, bellowing out I Don’t Need No Doctor. I wasn’t so sure about the not needing a doctor part, as the alcohol was flowing free and easy. Man, these Brits can party! From Steve’s we moved on to ‘The Main Event’, which was at a
restaurant located just up the road from Steve’s. To the restaurant’s credit, they were well prepared for the invasion; food in mass quantities flowed as freely as the booze. Interspersed with the intake of solids and liquids, were a series of games and skits mostly intended to humiliate the groom and, usually, one or more of his friends. All taken with much laughter, bantering, and of course, more drinking. Man, these Brits can party!
So you think; that’s a full and fun night. Off to bed with you now, right? Nope! One more stop
. The merry band of pranksters now staggers back to Steve’s Bar for a final round or so, and to hook up with the ‘Hens’, who have been out having their own debaucherous (I made that word up), I assume, party. Unfortunately for the groom , we arrived before the Hen’s return, so there was plenty of time to strip him naked and saran wrap him to a utility pole. When the Hen’s finally arrived, they being compassionate and all, removed poor Roy from his bonds, but not before
taking a thousand photos. So, many in fact, that the light from all the camera flashes could be seen by the International Space Station. Then, as quickly as it all began, it ended. People sauntering, staggering, singing, and laughing their way back to their rooms.
So, that my friends, is the end of an incredibly fun and entertaining evening. All the above was accomplished with love, laughter, and a special bond that comes with years of true friendship. Some takeaways: Life long friendships are special, newcomers are welcomed, me, with open arms, and man, can these Brits party. It was an honor to be included.
The Wedding (North American Translation: The Wedding)
The big day finally arrived. In Jo’s infinite wisdom she planned a “day off” between the Hen Do/ Stag Do night and the wedding itself. Everyone was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The bride’s maids and the groom’s dudes all looked classy in their dresses and starched whited shirts.
We met at a bar at one end of Anaxos beach for a whistle-wetter then followed in a procession behind guitarists and a violinist to the other end of the beach. I am absolutely certain the little village of Anaxos has never seen anything of the sort before.
The chairs were set on the beach in front of a small canopy to shade the bride, groom, and minister. The sea was calm and the sun had begun its slide toward its daily watery end. The groom and best men arrived by speedboat. The bride and bride’s maids arrived by the closest thing Anaxos had to a limo, though a donkey had been discussed to keep with the Mamma Mia theme. Drat. There goes ABBA in my head again.
The ceremony was short but sweet. There were lots of tears then lots of cheers. The reception went into the wee hours. The climax of the week-long festivities had come and gone.
We aren’t sure if Jo or Val thought there’d be a snowball’s chance in Hades of us showing up at the wedding when they invited us a year ago. We are happy they did invite us and very happy that we could make it. It was an amazing week of celebration and a wonderful way to make new friends. Some of them have even invited us to their homes. I hope they really mean it, because we might just show up!
Hike Drink Live Laugh
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