love & gelato

 

mykonos, greece

We arrived in Chora in the early evening. The town was buzzing with excitement and seemed to take on a personality of its own. Our driver kindly parked the car, carried our luggage and guided us through the winding, labyrinth streets to the gelato shop where we had booked the apartment. To our surprise, the apartment was literally right above the gelato shop & cafe. The driver instructed us to sit down, make ourselves at home and have a gelato on the house. The Airbnb & gelato shop owner would be around in a few minutes to welcome us.

Pretty much immediately when the owner sat down, I felt something hit me. Maybe it was cupid’s arrow or the handy work of the Greek Gods, I guess I will never know. The owner greeted us, pulled out a map and start circling beaches, restaurants and places of interest around town, but honestly I barely remember a word he said, I just kept staring at him. He made all of our dinner reservations and told us that he would take us out for drinks that night to show us around.

As he walked away, my friend started cracking up and then whispered, “you liiiiiiiiike him. You won’t stop smiling.” My other friend quickly corrected her, “no, she is just happy she is in Mykonos surrounded by beautiful people and things and is ready to party.” I thought about it for a minute, and decided my second friend was right. Right??

A half hour later as we were ready to go to dinner, one of my friends somehow managed to lock herself inside the tiny bathroom of the Airbnb and couldn’t get out. She remained perfectly content sitting on the toilet – “I’ll be fiiiiiine, you guys have fun!” After three fails, one man decided to go old fashioned and just straight up remove the door off the hinges, which  remained off for the rest of our time in Mykonos.

In no time, the three of us were eating Greek salad, endless seafood dishes and chugging shots of mastika with a restaurant owner we un-officially called ‘Zeus’. Fast forwarding to the good parts, we were out until about 4 or 5 am, and the Airbnb owner “showing us around town” was really a bar crawl of almost every bar in town. There are a LOT of bars. We added each other on Facebook and all shared some souvlaki to soak up the drinks before parting ways and heading back to our little gelato studio apartment.

On our last night, I was the only one who wanted to go out for drinks. The owner seemed indifferent to be my tour guide once again and presented himself as a gentleman , taking Greek hospitality to heart. I could not tell if he was even remotely interested in me or just showing off his manners until we had a few more drinks. We discussed our lives, our pasts and our dreams while walking along the white washed streets.

After a long walk, we ended up in a small, local sailor bar with about four people inside, three of which looked very surprised to see a tourist. After another round, I asked what any respectable lady traveler would ask – to dedicate a traditional Greek dance for me. That’s when it started feeling like a movie…

The bartender poured me a beer on the house with a glass of water and said “good luck” with a smile. The owner accepted my challenge and began a dramatic traditional dance that took up the whole floor of the bar. I was equal parts impressed and embarrassed. The people in the bar all stopped what they were doing to clap and cheer him on. I remember thinking, if only American men would 1. know how to actually dance and 2. not be embarrassed to do a traditional dance in the company of a new lady traveler. In a second, I was pulled out of my thoughts and into the center of the floor where he danced around me. I stood for a few minutes until I couldn’t stop laughing and politely asked him to stop. After a few more song requests for old school Greek music, we stumbled out of the bar, and wandered over to Little Venice to watch the sunrise before saying good night, or technically, good morning.

Later that day…

I left with my friends on a ferry to Santorini, exhausted, hungover and confused as to the seemingly intense connection I had with the owner. The feeling was apparently mutual as he sent me messages asking me to come back to Mykonos instead of spending so many days in Santorini. I politely declined.

He countered and asked if I could return to the island in September when the season is slower and spend time to get to know him. I thought, yeaaa okaaaaay, we will see if you remember my name in September.

But he did remember, and talked, every day about everything and anything. I even got a gelato flavor named after me (winning!). In case you haven’t guessed by now, I went back in September.

ps. fast forward 3 years, and we’re engaged!

love, k.

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