1999 - Italy and Greece

Italy and Greece '99: The Agonies of Easter

A Series of Arguments Amidst the Beauty

March 30 - Tuesday - Austin - Waiting until the last minute for everything. At the Hole in the Wall the night before, drinking, doing drugs. Hungover and asleep for most of the day. On the road around 9:30 pm to Houston, after a "good luck" shot at the Hole before leaving. Arrive around 12:30. Up until 3:30 am, drinking and talking with her Dad. Hedging on jet-lag to get us through.

March 31 - Wednesday - Houston/ London - Wake up dreaming of cocaine.

Jennifer's father gives us a lift to the airport. Sitting next to a Young Christian who, thank his God, remained deep in prayer most of the trip. Chapters in his good book on Affliction and Chastisement. Not long to wait in London. Bad Burger King and some water. On to Milan. Incredible views of the Alps.

April 1 - Thursday - London/ Milan, Italy - Arrive in Milan around 12:00 pm. Blue skies and cars that looked like toys. People that look you in the eye. A Language like a song. Wasted at the Stazione Centrale. Stay in the Navigli District. Stumble off Metro, into room, asleep from 4:00 to 9:00. Awake and hungry. Down the street to the Tratoria Osvaldo. Full of Italians, laughing and loud. Red checkered tablecloths and big carafes of red wine. Spaghetti Vongole and Pizza Quattro Stagiono. Walking later around the canals, checking out the bars. April Fools.

April 2 - Friday - Milan - Dreams of the deep past, movie stars, Amerika, drugs. Blue light behind the window blinds. Birdsong and the clamor of the Trams.

Walk up to the Duomo.

Open confessionals, the Old Women clustered and waiting. Businessmen rushing through, pausing to quickly genuflect or cross themselves. A thankfully empty Galleria.

Jokes about Remus.

Facing La Scala with Da Vinci. Early morning car horns. Flowers for sale. Lazy beggars.

Arguing at the Post Office. Walk up to Sforza Castle. Stop in for another cappuccino. Back to La Scala. Question: how many blow-jobs have been delivered at La Scala?

Cheap wedding rings on busy street. "Real Silver". Metro to L Brera at closing time. Jennifer waits out the details: a little boy blowing up a fish liver with exposed balls, slimy fish in still life, the ugly faces of the baby Jesus. Caravaggio gone by too quickly.

Search for a mythical restaurant in the evening, walking ourselves into exhaustion. Find a fair one called Aldo D'Oro. Gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and a touch filet with green pepper. Back to the room before the Metro closes, *. Jennifer establishes a rule:

When you find a good restaurant in a strange town, don't try too hard to find another. Return to the one you've already been to and try something different.

Jennifer in Milan

April 3 Saturday - Milan/ Venice - Decisions to move on out of the big cities and teeming crowds. We head to Venice. Massive cathedral train station full of Easter travelers. The crowd runs like rats to board the train. We run andend up in the last car. Eat bread, cheese, strawberries and chocolate while watching the Northern Italian landscape roll by.

Venice is insane with people. Never go to Venice during Easter. Calling forever to find a place. Finally end up at Hotel Al Gobbo, not far from the station, with a view down in to a plaza, private bath.

Vaporetto to Piazza San Marco. Even with crowds, the city is still beautiful. Walking around, our hatred and disgust of all humanity rises. Stop at Caffe Arlecchino. Right there on the Grand Canal with a view of the Rialto bridge. Drink a couple of big bottle of San Souci beer. All is well in the world.

Intoxicated, go to Aldo Madonna to eat and get the royal tourist shaft deal. Should've just stayed on the Canal and gotten drunk. Try to roam around San Marco, searching for a gook place to drink it down. Harry's is a surreal elitist nightmare of Dogwomen and pompous men with asses for faces. I buy Jennifer a rose. Drink outdoors down around the Piazza. Argue. Death in Venice. Wanting to jump over the edge of the Vaporetto and drown in the Canal because I am so mad to be mad in such a beautiful place.

Jennifer in Venice

April 4 -Easter Sunday - Venice - Wake up and make our restorations. Bells are ringing all over the city. The motions of the included non-breakfast downstairs. Get a Vaporetto to the other side and walk around the empty Venetian neighborhoods. Morning sunlight slanting through the narrow passages, calm rios and inlets. In a wide campo/ piazza: old men sitting on benches, waving hands and talking loudly, dogs guarding their territory. Sitting at a cafe drinking cappuccinos, writing, watching the tourists move through the place like ghosts. Around to the Canale della Guidecca, watch a man and boy repairing a boat.

To the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Crowds. Blank faces gawking at the masterpieces. Jennifer isn't amused. Later to the steps of Santa Maria della Salute, trying to figure it out. This is not what we imagined. Around and around the streets clogged with people. Lunch at the Ristorante Omnibus by the Rialto. Fair pizza. The back over to drink more Sans Souci, trying to recapture something of the brief magic of yesterday.

End up picking up bread, cheese and wine and eating out on the Canale de Cannareggio, near the ghetto. A quiet place on our own terms. A walk through the ghetto, towards San Marco, drinking from a wine bottle, getting drunker, stumbling back to the room. Considering trying to earn some money by performing Jimmy Stewart impressions. Jennifer is bare foot and beautiful. In the piazza below our room a man with a puppet that plays the piano plays. We argue briefly over bad pizza.

April 5 - Monday - Venice/ Assisi - Train to Assisi at 9:00 am. Beautiful Landscape all the way through Bologna. A notable absence or crowds. Room with a view. Annalisa Martini. An old family place. Medieval rooftops and a green patched valley in the distance. Walk around the piazza. Dinner at Tratoria Otello. Insalata caprese, Pasta Otello, Funchi, Brucheta, Vino Rosa. Back to room to sleep around 9:00 pm in huge cloud-like bed. Lightning across the valley.

April 6 - Tuesday - Assisi - Wake late around 9:00 am. Beautiful blue day. Caps in the piazza. Down to basilica but it's closed and crowded. A recent earthquake. What are they looking at? Excellent lunch at Ristorante Metastasio overlooking the valley. Insalta caprese, Pizza salsicca and pepperoni, Canneloni, draft Peroni. Incredible view.

In the late afternoon, we walk up to the Rocca Maggiore. Sunset. Hike around castle and sit on a pillar drinking wine. Ancient olive trees and a cemetery. Drums in the distance, down in the piazza.

April 7 - Wednesday - Assisi/ Bari - Try Bascilica gain. Closed because of earthquke. Down the steps and shadowed passages, through the old city gates to the bus stop. Walk around the sad little city below. Lunch at a self service. Consider Florence but it's full for Easter. Catch the train to Bari, with thankfully few people. 8 hours. Read and watch the ocean. Arrive in Bari around 10 pm. Remnants of an anti-NATO demonstration. Hotel Fiorini. Dracula owner. Sailor Pub to drink before curfew. Giant litres mugs of Stella Artois and soccer games on T.V.. Kids running around and cheesy disco music by DJ. Late night pizza, harmelss flirting and arguments.

April 8 - Thursday - Bari/ Igoumenitsa, Greece - Wake late, *, walk down the steps and through the old city gates to the bus station. Then around the Old Town. Intramuros. Defying all the guide books which warned against even stepping a single foot within. It's where the city lives. At one point the labyrinths held out pirates, now it's tourists. Buy food at market. After a short search, with full packs, find a place set down in the vaulted basement of a building, packed with regulars, fast service with no menu. Vino, cuccina, antipasto (salsicci, cheese, olives), Peroni, pasta and tomato, minestra with beans.

Walk up to the train station to change money. Stop for capuccino. Depressed. Depresso. Back to ferry. Purchase a cabin. Wait to board at a nearby cafe. Dubbed American movie on TV. Oddly empty city. But bad insoles for Jennifer's shoes. Board around 6:00 pm. Sit in ship's bar drinking Amstels. A sudden bettering of the world. Feel like going to Albania (about 30 miles from where we land) to look around, help and write something famous.

April 9 - Friday - Igoumenitsa/ Athens - After a sweet night of good sleep on the Adriatic, wake to see the coast of Greece. Wondering about the war just north. Dock around 8:00. Dirt streets and the signs of the Thrid World. Change money from an old man in a grocery. Pencil on paper calculations. No signs of any war. Upto the teeming bus station. Buy tickets and pee into the standard hole in the ground. The bus is packed and we get stuck/ swindled(?) by trading with two American idiots on the sunny side. No A/C. But a spectacular winding coastal road outside. Cell phones go off consistently to be answered by a people that look like they just left their hut and herd of sheep in the hills. Jennifer comments: "It's amazing: every one of these people has a cell phone but still shits in a hole in the ground." Jennifer needs to pee again and threatens to hang her ass out the window if we don't stop soon. The bus stops in Nafpaktos to catch a ferry to Patras. Full of school kids. The Everyday Myth. No Byron in sight.

Arrive into Athens around dusk. Catch a cab to Omonias square. Metro to Biktopia, walk to Hostel Aphrodite. Full of Americans and Australians. Go to the downstairs bar for our "free drink". Turns out to be bad Ouzo. We decline and drink Amstels instead. Shots of Beam to celebrate Greece. Jennifer quizes the bartender on working on the Islands. I get mad. We leave, arguing still, and stumble into a long and solemn candle light procession. Priests and small children, families and something on a bier, we walk slowly along with it, no way to get around, everyone is singing. Inside a bar, we see the event on TV. No idea what's going on. Stop in an old bar, the few regulars there watching "The Ten Commandments" with the volume turned down and Greek music playing. A couple of Amstels. Cool off. Down the street to eat a couple of excellent gyros and more beer. Back to Aphrodite, I check email. Jennifer goes downstairs for a drink. We end up both drinkng too much. Late night pizza and salad in the popular bar. Argue like lunatics. Jennifer passes out on the floor until I wake her and pull her into bed. A rooster crows at first light.

April 10 - Saturday - Athens - Wake up late, *, hungover. Shower and have breakfast down in the bar. Make our way slowly to the Acropolis, stopping for caps to refortify. Through the flea market and Plaka. One the way up, stop at a promising looking place with mediochre food. Jennifer fed most of hers to the cats. A boy with a straw flute tried to hustle us. Up top, the Acropolis is just now closing (2:00 pm). We can't figure it out. Head across town to the National Gallery. Also closed. Finally, we figure it out: the Greek Orthodox Easter is a week later. We are in Athens for Greek Easter - the biggest holiday of the year. Frustrated, we head back to the Hostel to see about getting a feryy to the Island tomorrow, Easter Sunday. No dice. Nothing is moving, not even the buses. So that's why we heard everyone leaving early this morning. 

I check email. Jennifer is mad. Goes down to the bar to drink and then out into the neighborhoods. When she returns, we go for a walk and decide to go to a movie. Metro to Omonia square. First sight off the train: a young girl, green and passed out in a guys arms, head lolling as he tries to move her. Walking on, a rig is passed openly. Up the stairs, junkies all over, piled in the corners, on top of each other, most passed out, some shooting up, perhaps some dead. A few gaze at is with dull incomprehension, focused deep inward. On the street level, more of the same with a bit more animation, dealers, whores, pimps. Definitely a bad scene. We walk like we know exactly where we are going, been here a million times. But we don't and end up making a complete circle around the square. On the second pass, a few of the masses take notice. We decide to just cut our losses and head on back to the Hostel. We descend through the circles of hell, feeling the addiction and death around us. The fear was that one of them, in desparate need, might sieze upon us as having something of value. But they were all too fucked up. And we returned to the Hostel without incident. Down through the park with the statue and the grafitti: the anarchist A.

Lots of people in the neighborhoods heading to Midnight masses. Find a good place that serves "toasts", have a few with Amstels. The war is on TV, alternating with a Greek Orthodox Mass, all the time. I offend the owner by leaving too big a tip. Head back to the gyro place. Souvlaki. Notice the stream of customers buying the homemade wine, retsina, bringing in their empty water jugs. We try some. Buy some more. Try some more. "Happy Juice". Back in the room, talking, laughing, drinking more wine. Outside the window, at midnight, fireworks.

April 11 - Easter Sunday - Athens - Sleep late. Most places closed. Stop at a bakery for bread. Floaters for caps. Walk around empty Plaka. Around to the Temple of Zeus, over to the Stadium. Up through the park, stopping under orange trees to watch and old woman feed all the cats. Eat a lunch of bread and cheese and chocolate in a small plaza by a chruch. American girls suntanning ont he steps. Walk around more. Up to Syntagma. Up towards the Acropolis, eat at a place with a view of all Athens. Wait for the sunset on the rocks below. Back to Hostel. Draw and write in the downstairs Tiki Bar. Later walk some more around the old neighborhoods, searching for something rare and real, end up with a few expensive beers at local bar.

April 12 - Monday - Athens/ Naxos - Up at 10:00 am. Surprisingly good breakfast downstairs. 15 minutes too much of TV. To the Acropolis on a mission. Once again, the crowds like swarms of ants over the ruins. Down to the familiar Plaka and flea markets. Shop around. Have espressos with whipped cream and a shot of Baileys at an out of the way place, Initero. The manager gives us a free shot. Decide to buy a bottle of Baileys. More junk shops and junk. Back to the Hostel. Pick up bags. Head down to Piraeus.

Decide to go to Naxos. Call for room. Get ferry tickets. Wait at Filoxenia Cafe, drinking Nescafe Frappes. Get some bad Goody's burgers and toasts to eat. Board ferry and find a good table, drink the homemade retsina, and laugh at our private jokes. Write and work on our travel journals. The fight over who gets the best artifacts. Get into Naxos late, around 1:15 am.

The surreal doorway to the infinite, the Temple of Apollo, was the first thing we saw, illuminated intensely in the black night. Room at the Okeanis Hotel. Big bed, private bath. Cheap and clean. A window that opens to all of the Mediterranian. 



April 13 - Tuesday - Naxos Town - Waking to the sound of the surf, a thousand shades of blue, rock jetties, Paros Island in the distance, gulls, fishing boats, mopeds and cars racing down the pier. A dream of meeting God.

Cold strong wind. A cross on the roof below us. If you stick your head out the window, the Temple of Apollo to the right. The sense of having finally gotten where we wanted to be on our travels. After capuccinos at a seaside cafe, we walk around the town. Few people. Many place preparing for the summer onslaught. White buidings, blue shutters. Down near the beach, a ruin of a house full of the wind. Find a good place, Katerina's, with "unlimited filter coffee". Eat breakfast. Two eggs, bacon, toast. Read the papers. CNN on the TV as always. The "Serbian Crisis". Euphemisms and reports of murder and rape. Scooters relentlessly zippering through the streets.

Decide to split up for a while. I walked over the jetty and up to the Temple of Apollo to draw. Then down the abandonded beaches, stopping to draw a boat, picking a few wildflowers. Back to the room around 7:00. Watching the sunset out the open window. Under the covers, stars emerging. Rushes of the tide. Tasting the ocean. She is leaning out the window with eyes closed. Far away, the lights from another town across the waters shimmer upon the verge.

Dinner at Poseidon Tavern. Very good. A cold white wine made on the owner's father-in-law's local farm, good bread, greek salad, mushroom and onion soup, chicken and potatoes. Jennifer talked to the owner, Irene, about working on the Islands. Later, Irene brought us out a couple of shots of Raki as was the custom.

Went up to a local bar, Veggara, and drank too much. Irene (from Wheelchair) showed up and we drank more. Back at the Hotel, we were locked out. Tried to break in for a while, got into an argument. I waited for a key. Jennifer went back up to the bar. The guy eventually returned from "having a quick drink" with a key. Found Jennifer wasted at the bar and walked, pulled and dragged her back to the room.

April 14 - Wednesday - Naxos - Wake up, repentant, still in love. Walk over to Katerina's for breakfast. Back to room, *, shower. I head up into the labyrinths of the Old Town and draw a church with stairs that we had passed yesterday. Stray cats everywhere. White walls, rounded corners. Tons of light. Under a pine tree, eating chocolate, trying to capture the simple line and shadow.

Back to the room around 6:00 pm. Return to the Poseidon. Big party inside. A waitress as slow as molasses. Fried cheese, "Poseidon Special" salad, pastitsio, small carafe of white wine. Everything now is only mediocre, at best. Wine full of the memory of a hangover, salad with half a jar of mayonaisse dumped on it, pastitsio is macaronni with dogfood. This experience gives rise to Jennifer's next rule:

Never return to a restaurant where you've had an exceptional meal - unless to order the exact same thing.
Along the seaside with the remains of the sunset. Jennifer throws up her dinner. Dowm below our room is a seaside Italian place. We order pizza, tortellini and wine. Eating and drinking under the stars, watching the sky deepen through every shade of blue. I'm feeling a little under the weather through and we go upstairs and instantly fall to sleep.

April 15 - Thursday - Naxos/ Santorini - Up at 10:30 am. Katerina's for breakfast and the papers. Omelettes with bacon, tomato and cheese, toast, yogurt with pears, coffee. Nescafe frappe at a seaside cafe. Writing. Catch the ferry to Santorini at 2:00.

On the ferry. Upper deck. Jennifer reading Ross MacDonald's The Chill. Island shapes in the distance. Deep blue ocean, pale blue sky. A stop in Ios. Then the black crater of Santorini. Up on the highest deck in the sun and wind.

Taxi up the hairpins to Thira. As I am paying the Taxi, Jennifer sets us up with a guy for a great room with a view, refrigerator, bath, donkey out the window. We walk down to the town center. Find a typical restaurant on the cliff, overlooking the crater and wait for the sun to set. Greek salad, Amstels. Conversations with a couple of Canadian women about Crete. Cold night air.

Back in the room. Greek TV with its amusing comercials. Powerlifting competitions, Italian neo-realist film with Greek subtitles. Reading, finishing The Three Muskateers. Late, we walk down to a souvlaki place by the Toast Club for some bottled water. Back in the room, Jennifer watches a horrible American export movie, Strike Point. Bits and pieces drift into my dreams. Drugs and guns. The oxymorons of meaningless violence.

April 16 - Friday - Santorini - Wake up late and lazy. Hee haw donkey sounds next door. *. Mama's for breakfast. A big group of Americans. Mama is the whole show. Good food. On the way to the center, Jennifer suggests we rent a scooter. Immediately burn down to Kamari Beach. Back to the room to change into beach clothes. Spin down to Perissa Beach. Empty black sand and gravel beaches. Being able to motor across the Island is amazing. Twisting high roads and the freedom to move off the beaten trail. Stop and eat pizza at a beachside place. Amstels in ice cold mugs. Some kids rolling around. We lay out there for a while. Cold wind and surf. Jennifer drove for a while. Stopped and hiked up to an old ruin that wasn't much. Caves carved into lavastone. High roads with dizzy views. Back in Thira, walked around the overpriced shops. Coffee and ice-cream. Showered off the road grime in the room, rode on up to find groceries. Returned the scooter.

Dinner at Triala, "Authentic Mexican Food". Start with all right nachos and taco salad. Requests for more hot sauce were met with disbelief. Chicken enchiladas turned out to be chicken in a pancake. Disappointing. Walk over to the Blue Note for a few beers. Then to Tithora to watch the Americans jerk and dance around. Into Enigma for a shot and back to the Blue Note for a last couple of beers. We got the standard complementary shots of "Kazis". A winding pathway back to the room, stars bright overhead. Friday night in Greece.

April 17 - Saturday - Santorini - Jennifer up early, goes down to center for coffee and a paper. Checks about ferries to Crete. Doesn't leave until Sunday at 1:00. Spend the day walking around the town. Have lunch at Mama's. Weird tasting hamburgers - actually lamburgers. We split up for a while. I draw an abandonded dwelling near the room. Running overbudget. Call Jennifer's Dad and he agrees to deposit some cash in her account. We celebrate at a pretentious place, Franco's. Expensive drinks on recliners, the sunset timed with Ravel's "Bolero". Watching the others so enraptured, Jennifer speculates that they are going to have to go clean up their spontaneuos ejaculations in the bathroom later.

Later we move up to a much better "Jazz Bar". I sit out and watch the stars, a crescent moon, drinking Amstels, while Jennifer hangs out with some women at the bar. The bartender recommends a place to eat, Naoussa. We head on over, have an excellent dinner of Pasta Carbonara, Caesar's Salad, bread and wine.

April 18 - Sunday - Santorini/ Hania, Crete - Up, pack-up, and head down to the center. Buy ferry tickets. Coffee and the papers. Catch the bus down to the port for the ferry. Talking about what we want to do on Crete, we get into and argument. Decide to split up for a few days. Passports, tickets, money. Going through all the ludicrous motions. Iraklion is a pit of a city. Walk Jennifer to the bus station to Hania. I'm planning to stay in Iraklion for a few days, check out Knossos. Cooling down, I go to Hania with her. Maybe see Knossos on the return.

A beautiful bus ride to Hania. Got in about 10 pm. Room at the Hotel Meltemi. Walk down from the station to the harbour, surprised at how beautiful the place was. A calm Venetian style harbour marked by an old lighthouse and surrounded by a plethora of bars and restaurants. Quite a few people out, drinking, strolling, eating. Passing by various establishments, waiters attempt to lure us in with promises of good food, drinks and cheap rooms. The Hotel was in an old building at the far left end of the harbour. Our room had a massive stone fireplace/ stove, huge dark beams high above, slight view of the lighthouse.

Walked around the harbour, through the narrow streets of the Old City, ivy covered balconies, open air restaurants inside of cathedral-like ruins, a weaver at his loom, cats and dogs, garlic and roasting meat. Looking for a good place to drink. Jennifer chose a place that advertised no view and bad service, Klik's - a Scandanavian Disco Bar. We ordered a couple of good Budweisers from the Sweedish bartender, Lora. Jennifer asked about work and was told she could work there if she wanted. She arranged for an interview the next day at 7:00 pm. The bartender gave us a few free shots. Heading back to the room, stopped for a couple of slices of pizza, a gyro and some spanikopita. Took it all back to the room. Eating and drinking. A scarab on the curtain. *.

April 19 - Monday - Hania - Intense dream of a deeper reality beyond the dream, symbolized by a giant Go-like game. I wore an elaborate dog mask and jumped from square to square, playing against a woman in a skull-death mask. I knew her strategy because I had had a spy watch her read the paintings in the facets of a diamond. She wanted my eyes/ vision.

Awake to a racket out in the hallway. Jennifer hadn't slept well. Downstairs to the open air cafe for "English" breakfast: 2 eggs, toast, ham, OJ and coffee. Settled up and walked just around the corner to a place Jennifer had read about in one of the guide books, Anastasia Studio. Immediately fell in love with the place. Two levels with a winding staircase, kitchen, private bath and two balconies overlooking a beautiful street. After settling in, we wanted to stock the kitchen. Walked around to various places buying vegetables, wine, bread, pasta, cheeses, eggs, crackers, chips, olive oil and spices. Returned to the studio and relaxed in the privacy, reading, writing. 

Later, walked around the harbour, waiting on the sunset. Stopped into the restaurant Monastriki for oil and tomato dip, bread and a salad. Glass of local white wine. Went to watch the sunset over by the fishing boats. Kliks was closed so we went on back to the room. Stopped in at a magazine shop/ bookstore and bought a couple of books on Greek poetry: Seferis and Sherrard. While Jennifer went to the interview, I wrote and read, copied a drawing of the lighthouse. She returned around 10:00 pm. Got the job. Had to pretend to be English if anyone asked. Practised her English accent. We stayed in, drinking wine and reading. Later I went for another bottle.

April 20 - Tuesday - Hania - Jennifer made breakfast. I went for fresh bread from a nearby bakery. And a paper. Relaxed with the doors to the balcony open to the beauty of the day. Went out to walk around. Went by a museum but it was closed. Looked for places where Jennifer might live if she stayed. Browsed the interesting food market. Cheese and peanuts.

Jennifer went to work around 8:20 pm. I went downstairs to a little restaurant, drank beer and listened to two guys sing traditional songs. Melancholy and alone. Wandered around the Old Town, killing time, drinking in every bar I passed, a little crazy with idea of loss. Around 3:00 am, sitting on a bench beside the harbour, sobering up, waiting for her to get off work. Go by Kliks and it's closed. No Jennifer. Walk around the empty streets. Finally, turning the corner to head back to the studio, I see her standing below the balconies, swaying in the street, with a four or five dogs looking at her like she's insane. She's out of her mind drunk. I take her up stairs and put her to bed. From what I can get out of her, she decided that she didn't want the job, no tips and obnoxious customers, and told them that I had asked her to marry me. So the two other bartenders took her out drinking where she made a spectacle of herself. She somehow stumbled home. The she threw up for a long time in the bathroom.

April 21 - Wednesday - Hania - Another angry morning, but beautiful day. Wake very late. Nescafe. Walk around. Anti-NATO graffitti. Hop on a bus to Souda. A sandwich and a coke in a strange little place. Buying postcards, an old man complaing to us about the shootings in Columbine - which we haven't heard about. "Americans are insane, crazy, too much violence." But it's a sad town with sad faces to me. Back to Hania. Take Jennifer to the place downstairs. Stuffed tomatoes, bread, wine, swordfish, good music. Walk around the night with nothing going on. Reconciled to her return now.

April 22 - Thursday - Hania - Walk around and buy stuff. Trinkets and gifts for family and friends. In a shop that sells only chess related things, amazing boards and carved pieces, we meet a funny old man that reminds me of Borges. I go out to the lighthouse for a while and draw while Jennifer shops for clothes. Later, we go by Kliks to say goodbye. I try to pull her out to a little pier and ask her to marry me, but she senses what I am up to and refuses. Into Kliks for a few drinks and congrats and goodbyes. Back to the place downstairs for dinner. Because of the refusal, arguments over lobster and stuffed tomatoes. Go to sleep full of sorrow. Yoked.

April 23 - Friday - Hania/ Athens - Wake up early and go to other side of harbor to draw a boat. Interrupted continually by curious and critical fishermen. Ironic (to me). Back to room, pack. Catch the bus back to Iraklion. Once there, we argue and walk forever around the hot ugly city. No Knossos this trip. I try to find a sense of humor. Jennifer is in a foul mood. Wait for the ferry to leave. Beer in a cafe. Supplies at a grocery store. On to the ferry to Atens. Get a comfortable cabin. Eat in room. Wander around ship. Sleep on the water.

April 24 - Saturday - Patras/Brindisi - Dock in Piraeus early in the morning and commence a day full of banal horror and comic errors. Off boat. Taxi to Bus Station. No bus to either Igounomentsa or Patras. Taxi back to ferry. No ferry. Metro to trolley. Wrong trolley. End up back at port. Metro back to Victoria. Walk to train station. Tickets to Patras. Both extremely irritable, go to National Archaeological Museum. Argue and argue. Into an American looking bar (always a bad sign) and eat insanely overpriced nachos. Stumble through the museum. Back to train station. Off to Patras.

At Patras, buy tickets to Brindisi. Problems with the ATMs and money. Board ferry, deck class and we are nearly thrown out the door onto an oily cold windy deck. Not to come back in. Jennifer says no fucking way. Upgrade to airline seats. Not allowed to take our packs in the bar. Decide to fuck it all and get a cabin. The bursor is not happy about any of this. Evidently, we are on some sort of Nazi ship. Get cabin but there is no A/C. Jennifer goes to complain. Everyone is going crazy. I go out on the deck and consider jumping over a la Hart Crane. The stars hold me down. Jennifer comes and gets me.

April 25 - Sunday - Brindisi/Rome - Arrive in Brindisi early. Cold and rainy. Marathon race through the city. Stop for the first good cap since leaving Italy. ATM search. Catch the train.

Train stops in Bari and I walk across town trying in vain to cash in the other ferry ticket. The city looks like a sewer in the cold and rain. Back to the station. And the train to Rome. The most beautiful landscape so far. Should've just holed up down here for the whole trip. Rented a scooter and spun around all the villages and hills. Regrets. Closer to Rome, the train gets more crowded. We have a good compartment. Meet a German girl who lives in Rome, named Julie. She and Jennifer talk.

In Rome, massive crowds at the Termini. Say goodbye to Julie. Find the nearby Pensione Virginia. Adequate. Downstairs for a bad dinner. "Tourist Menu": Pasta with oil and garlic, meatballs, bread, wine, spaghetti carbonara. Call my parents and get them to deposit more money. Back to the room. Jennifer's asleep and I am exhausted. Long hard travels to Rome.

April 26 - Monday - Rome - Wake up to soft hammering somewhere in the buiding. It drives both of us insane. Downstairs for laundry and caps nearby. We walk around the city. Down to Trevi Fountain. A sea of tourists. Jennifer not impressed. I get irritated. See the Capuchin Crypt of Bones. She like this. Back to room to get laundry. Decide to split up for the day. I ride buses around all day, sad and pensive, walk by the forum, over to the Spanish Steps. The entire time, I'd rather be with Jennifer. Get ticketed and given the third degree by the cops for trying to ride the Metro without paying. Shake down. Nearly lose my passport. Return to room depressed. Jennifer cheers me up and takes care of me. *. Quietly in the room with the key in the keyhole.

We go down to the Coloseum and Forum. Early evening. Cross river to eat at a little place in the Travastere. Spianch ricotta ravioli, broccoli, bread and a huge carafe of red wine. Drug deals going on somewhere around us. But an excellent dinner. Walk around and end up going to see Altman's Cookie's Fortune at a nearby theatre. I start feeling bad and we catch a crazy cab, straight out of a Fellini film, back to the pensione.

April 27 - Tuesday - Rome - Again the slow hammering. Like something out of Poe. Plan to head up to Florence. Pack up and leave packs at pensione. Get money from the ATM. Bus to the Vatican. Walk through the museums, moving away from the crowds. On the headphone tour. The Sistine Chapel is packed with gawkers. Jennifer not impressed after all the other masterpieces. After, we go for a beer nearby and get into an argument about culture. Upon entering St. Peter's she is cursing and ready to "blow the pope". We make a quick tour and leave. Bus back to Termini.

Decide to go eat at a place near the Coloseum. Pyramid. We are too early. Beer nearby. Rainy grey day and evening. Call Florence. No rooms anywhere. Dinner at Bucalno. Excellent risotto, pizza, wine. I'm feeling ill again. Back to Virginia to see about a room for the night. We stop and buy a bottle of Chianti. To our surprise, the pensione is full. But they send us across the street to a better place, Pensione Serena. Shower and sleep.

April 28 - Wednesday - Rome - Sleep deep and late until 11:00. So perhaps, no Florence. A shame to be so close. Decide to stay here another night. Walk to Termini, couple of caps on the way, check the ATMs for cash. And discover that we have no more money. "Sorry, your card is out of credit today." We try a bunch of ATMs all to the same response. We have about 150,000 lire. Back to pensione, pay for last night (80K), get our packs. Down to 70K. For the entire day and most of the night in Rome.

To Termini and check the big pack (5K), leaving us with 65K. Buy tickets for the bus to RR Taburtina (3K) and the train to Fiumicino airport (16K), leaving us 46K. Head to Spanish Steps. Hordes of tourists. Pantheon. Piazza Navona. Wine beside Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers. Ruining many family's pretty picture of Rome. Laughing. Pizza at a place nearby (8K), leaving 38K. Buy cheese, more wine and bread (11K), leaving 27K. Back to Spanish Steps. Up to Villa Borghese. Sit on a park bench, drink and eat. Back to Trevi Fountain. Sit around and watch a women use a magnet to collect coins. Back to Termini and around to the University area. A couple of beers at a place along the street (6), leaving 21K. A long walk down to San Lorenzo. Quaint Marxist slogans on the walls. Find a great student bar set down in a cellar, beer and a game of cards (14K), leaving 7K. Back to Termini, retrieve big pack before 12:00 am. Try to sell guide books. Over to McDonald's to use the bathroom. Jennifer get's pinched on the ass by a bum. "Back off, Buddy!". Harmless.

Walk the long walk to the Spanish Steps. Sit and drink wine under the stars, under the moon, watching the people come and go. Italian boys trying to seduce American girls below us. Jennifer barefoot in the fountain. Drunk and as beautiful and as happy as ever can be. No money, no place to sleep, not much food, but a ticket out in a few hours. Very happy with Jennifer sleeping beside me as I scrawl on the remaining postcards. This night alone is worth the agonies of the entire trip.

Back to Termini, aching and not drunk enough. 3:30 am. Fellow late night revelers. To the saddest train station in the world. People everywhere in a thousand different postures of exhaustion. A black drunk hassling everyone. Spend our last lire on two cups of cappuccino, spiked with Bailey's. Finally, we catch the train to the airport.

April 29 - Thursday - Rome/ London/ Houston - First bad sign: we are made to check the big pack full of fragile objects. Go to the gate and wait. Second bad sign: the plane is late. Wait and wait. Leave at 8:00 am instead of 7:20. Crash and eat bad food. On landing in London, they announce that there will be a special bus to take passengers going to Houston to their connecting flight. Off plane, no special bus in sight. Race to the gate. Get fucked by the British who stall us cause they overbooked the flight and sold our seats. Didn't expect us to actually get there. Jennifer is insane with anger. Go to the desk and rebook a flight leaving at 12:00 pm. Get a couple of vouchers. Buy magazine and horrible Burger King burgers. Catch the flight to Pittsburg. Jennifer complains of cramps and gets some pills. The prim British Airrways stewardesses won't serve her much alcohol, so she steals about six bottles of wine from the kitchen. We watch Stepmom and Waterboy. Arrive in Pittsburg at 3:00 pm. Run around trying to get more cash vouchers. Con a Traveler's Aid woman into buying pads. Plane arrives in Houston at 6:00 pm. Meet Jennifer's dad there. Of course, the pack didn't make it. 12 hrs in the air. 5 hrs layover. 35 hrs no sleep. Welcome to America. Drink Miller Light and talk to her Dad and Stepmom while Gallager is on the TV. Fall into a sleep close to death. Happy to be home. Call my sister and wish her a happy birthday. Call FringeWare and discover that Paco has quit.

April 30 - Friday - Houston/Austin - Sleep late. Do nothing all day. Sloppy egg sandwiches. Dinner with her folks. Drive on back to Austin.