Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

I’m in it for the t-shirt October 14, 2008

I woke up at 4am to a strange sound, only to find that I’d fallen asleep with the TV on. This time it wasn’t the wind. Or the crying dog. Instead, what had been the Jack Black movie “Shallow Hal” was now hard core porn. Like so hard core it was sort of fascinating from an anthropological perspective. There wasn’t much talking, and what there was wasn’t in English, but I will say the Greeks don’t waste a lot of time on plot and character development and watch your back should you ever come across a woman in a a nurse’s outfit wearing a back strap-on. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

It’s another sunny day here in Santorini, and I went for a long run this morning. The winds are less ferocious, and I wasn’t lacerated by a half ton of sand, which was a happy change from Sunday. Also, you should know that as of yesterday I am in training.

Against all logic and reason, I have signed up for a half-marathon in Istanbul on the 26th. My only goal is to finish before they close down the course. I’m in it for the t-shirt. How did this madness come about, you wonder?

Well, let me tell you: A few days ago, on the train from Bucharest to Sofia – the train I probably would have missed in a more efficient country where things move a little faster and tend to be on time – I met a lovely woman from Slovenia. She’s one of those people that you hit it off with immediately and then still like ten and a half hours and 246 miles (which means the Bulgarian train traveled less than 25MPH. Sad!) later.

Thus, it was a happy coincidence to discover that we were staying in the same hostel, especially since we got in late at 11pm. The next day we ended up going for a run together, and somewhere along the way she told me about the half-marathon she was doing in Istanbul on the 26th. My original plan had been to get there on the 27th, but I couldn’t shake the idea of the run. And the novelty. And having someone to do it with. And the fact that if I just tweaked my schedule a little bit, I could join her. I looked it up on the internet, and the last day to register was today. I know a sign when I see one.

To be frank, I have no business running that kind of distance. I usually run five or six miles, maybe seven if I get lost. However, at this point in my trip, the time I have remaining is about novelty and natural wonders and doing the things I really want to do, even if that just means spending two hours seeking out a thermal pool or going for a run on an empty beach.

For me, that has been one of the best parts about visiting Santorini this time of year. It’s the off-season and the beginning of ‘winter’ (albeit 25C/78F and sunny). The grocery stores are wiped out (and what’s there looks like it came out of a compost bin), windows are being boarded up, and all but a handful of restaurants are closed. If you came looking for nightlife or a swinging party scene, you’re SOL. However, if you’ve ever wanted to stroll down two miles of black sand beach under the full moon and not even see another living soul, this is perfect timing.

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2 Responses to “I’m in it for the t-shirt”

  1. Good work on signing up for the marathon. I love/hate the feeling of having signed up for something and knowing that you’d be gutted with yourself if you pulled out. The harder something is, the better it is to be signed up for it with no way out! Like quitting your job and getting writing…

    My dayjob is selling Greek (and other Med) foods in the UK ( http://discoverunearthed.wordpress.com ) – trying to create a bit of that “strolling down two miles of black sand…” feeling for people when they get back from work. Food can transport your mind so far, but I’m definitely jealous of the real thing – need to get back to Greece soon!

    (enjoying your blog)

  2. wideawakeinwonderland Says:

    Thank you for the comment! I ran today, and I’m less confident about the Istanbul run than ever! Oh well. Hopefully there’s a good crowd scene to keep me pumped up. Or just a crush of other people to keep me moving forward to avoid death? Whatever it takes!
    Considering your day job, I’m hoping you can clear up a Greek food mystery for me: Where is the hummus!? In Greek restaurants in the US, there is always hummus. I’ve been in Greece a week…no hummus. Not even a spoonful. Just curious…


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