Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Thursday, August 12, 1999 3:59 PM
Subject: Pink Palace - TOoGOod a tale to Tell!!! And Italy / Aug 7-12

OK...Pink Palace Part II!!! TOGA PARTY!!!
We had just received our Togas and checked into the Pink

Palace...Ahhhhh...Camp Palace...the place is like a cross between a frat party and summer camp for big kids on a budget...

OK...Toga Party sounds great...but you get handed a small ripped sheet and figure out how to tie it up so you look like one of the original Greeks...and not a Geek...not easy...but alas...I am on this trip to test my skills at coping with foreign cultures...and I took to the task with applomb...it took me a while...but finally I had it tied exposing half my mighty chest was exposed in Greek fashion (no laughing from the peanut gallery) :) We also found some trees to vandalize and made some sort of leaf wreath for our heads...and we were set TO-GO! (no...the puns havenàt stopped since I am here in Europe...infact yaàll are the only ones I can inflict them on...afraid of causing an international incident here...so deal with it...).

The Pink Palace Palladium serves a dual purpose...dinner is served on the upper floor ...then...conveniently on the way out is the Palladium Club...lots of techno and dance stuff...In coming days, many of the patrons of the Palladium would simply refer to it as "The Scene of the Crime" and shake their heads is hungover disbelief...

Dinner started well...we got inline with about 150 other Toga clad people...with varying degrees of success in tying and wearing their newfound attire...many had decided to adhere strictly to Greek tradition and go commando with the Toga...this was to be just the beginning...

Dinner was good...then we went to the Palladium Club...Danced for a while...then the show began...first, out of some sort of misplaced guilt or due to some lapse in conscience the Pink Palace tried to get cultural...go figure...we all gathered around the dance floor 300-500 people...and watched traditional Greek Dancing...very interesting and once that Greek cultural norm was adhered to...the Pink Palace Cultural events began...one of the  staff started dancing with someone in the middle of the circle...then spun a bottle...and that person danced with whoever the bottle pointed to...quite the PG version of spin the bottle...it was interesting to hear the different songs...including...yes...The Gambler by Kenny Rogers...it was a moving moment...yes, I am serious...it was a stunning moment...guess you had to be there...but it was truly appropriate...as was the Rage against the Machinesong they played next...anyway, they eventually cleared the dance floor and made way for Dr. George...

Now, Dr. George is the 3rd generation owner of the Pink Palace...the staff come out and place a table with a chair on it...the chair has about 8 empty beer bottles and a candle in the seat...the table also has 2 flaming plates of alcohol...the lights are dimmed...Dr. George comes out and picks up the table, chair, bottles, plates, and candles with his teeth...yes, he picked up the table by itàs corner with his mouth...stood up and walked around the circle...the staff then sprays the floor with fuel and lights a ring of fire around the man!!! Pretty cool stuff...needless to say, the Toga clad throngs of backpackers were going nuts...Dr. George leaves...and one of the staff members sits in the middle of the circle and dances while sitting to Pink Floydàs the Wall...I know it sounds silly...but with a very cool light show and smoke...it seemed very appropriate...go figure...then it was time
for the plates...

No, not more food...The Pink Palace is known for a tradition of breaking plates over the heads of itàs residents...I had read about it...but was very excited to have a plate broken over my head in reality...Dr. George went around the entire room and broke a clay plate over every personàs head...and shots of ouzo were admistered to all who partook (sp?) of this procedure...Now, I am here to tell you that these are not egg-shell plates...the clay is somewhat thick...and it does hurt...(although not much for Texans)...but it is quite the experience and no one died from it...infact...as part of the demonstration Dr. George chose my Canuck friend Tricia to have 10 plates broken in a stack on her head...she was given 4 ouzo shots to prepare for it...and that seemed to help, as she was feeling no pain that evening...especially after she also joined in the female beer chugging contest...North America (5 Canucks and 1 American) versus South Pacific (5 Aussies and 1 Kiwi)...sorry to say our girls gave it a good shot...but fate was against them and they lost...and had to buy Kamakazi shots for themselves and for the winners...no pain was being felt in short order by many folks in the room...

I must say that the eveningàs events were awesome...and I started talking to a lovely lass (Anna) from Manchester, England who had just started working at the Pink Palace a few days earlier in the breakfast kitchen...we danced the night away and we all went for a night swim...it was idyllic...the Greek sky yielded millions of stars due to the lack of competing light...the Adriatic Sea was fabulous...ahhhhhh...no complaints...didnàt get to sleep until 5:30am...

The schedule in the Palace (I was there for 4 days...it never changed) was to wake at 10:45am...run to get the free breakfast before they stopped serving at 11am...either nap until 2ish then swim/sunbathe OR swim/sunbathe until 2ish then nap...difficult decisions...then enjoy lunch and drinks with friends from 4pm-7pmish...then swim again...and shower and dress for dinner and dancing at the Palladium...hit the beach in the middle of the night...sleep until exactly 10:45am...get up for breakfast...you get the picture...

You will notice that there are lots of times with ish at the end of them...time kinda slides into a new dimension at the Palace...the only exception to this rule is that breakfast is ALWAYS stopped exactly 11am...this is because all of the staff has partied all night...gotten to work at 7am...started serving...and is darned well ready to stop at 11am...This was all learned from Anna...who was generally out with me until atleast 5-6am before she had to crash...it was a great several days in Greece...not much more you can say except that a summer romance in Greece is wonderful...I reccomend it to everyone...except my married friends...then I donàt. There is much more to say about the Pink Palace...and the stories from there are legendary...I will do none of them justice...letàs just say that I now own a Pink Palace T'shirt that lists the top ten lies told while there...I have lived probably half of them or more...enough said...the stories are TOoGOod to Tell!

Left the Pink Palace on the morning of Wednesday, August 11, 1999...all good things must come to an end...Anna and I said good bye and I got her e-mail and I was placed in her black book...

The ferry left Corfu at 9am and arrived in brindisi around 1530...thatàs 3:30pm for all of you non airline/military types...I connected to a train to Napoli (Naples) which is near Pompeii...while on the train I saw some unsavory characters...donàt know exactly what...but my Spider Sense was screaming at me..."Danger Will Robinson, Danger!!!"...I make light of it now...but it was not funny at the time...I had a suspicion that they were robbing the adjacent train car by force of numbers...I know it sounds silly...but this stuff happens in Italy...anyway...I stuffed my passport...credit cards...etc down my socks for safety and locked my bag to the chair...now this may sound a little extreme...but guys, i love people and am willing to give people the benefit of the doubt...but not my money...anyway...we arrived at a connection point to Naples...and I was never so happy to get off a train in my life...I met 3 Austrailian girls at the station and we got on the train to Naploli together...with the sketchy guys from the original train...great...

We sit there talking...while I keep a casual eye on the guys I am worried about...he is looking at things and throwing them out the window or placing them in his pockets...I think he had stolen a bag...or several bags...and was going through them and disposing of the evidence by the side of the train track...now you may think I am paranoid...but I think yaàll know me better...the girls spider senses also said the same thing...they were going to Sorrento because they had heard it was safer than Napoli...at this point I was very inclined to agree...we caught the LAST train to Sorrento...this was good that we caught it...but BAD because we arrived in Sorrento at 2330 with no reservations...and it is August so everything if full...so we do the only rational thing...we went to one of the Pensiones/hotels as if we had a reservation and raised a rucus...the poor guy had 3 sad/tired looking Aussie girls looking at him and a pretty tired Texan to boot...so he did the only logical thing...he pled that he could not understand English and that they didnàt have any rooms...we were at an impasse...but we convinced him that we would not leave his spacious lobby until we had a room...he commenced calling around town for us for a room...this procedure took a full 45 minutes until he procured one double room for us in an adjoing town...we appreciated his extraordinary assistance...and took a taxi to the new hotel...this place said we couldnàt sleep on the floor...and that they actually had only a single bed in the room...we tried to bribe the poor guy...cajole...and were preparing to have the girls start sobbing...not all acting either...but he called another hotel down the street and arranged a room for us...180,000 lira (exchange rate $1 equals 180 lira) later we were in our room at 0130...we had truly felt what it was like to be turned away at many doors (probably 45 hotels had said no space was available)...and we were basically feeling somewhat like Mary and Joseph...just looking for a darned room...and finding it difficult to find a manger...

This morning we arose around 10am ish...showered...made a reservation for tonightàs lodging in Sorrento (fool us once, shame on you...fool us twice, shame on us) and moved our stuff into our new digs...a hostel with 8 dorm beds per room...but it is cheaper! Lunch consisted of food scavenged from the local grocery store...compilation of grapes, yogurt, water (note...I accidentally bought it with gas...this will teach me...it tastes like Iàm licking the inside of a radiator...but being Scottish, I drank it all...I had paid for it...wouldnàt want to waste money)...wandered around Sorrento for a while...and then decided to go to Pompeii...the girls are going tomorrow so I went alone...it was incredible.

Pompeii...for those who donàt know...is a city in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius which is a volcano...in the early morning of August 24, 79A.D. the volcano erupted...but it did so with little to no warning...it sent deadly toxic gasses and hot ash up in the air which quickly overwhelmed the entire city...then after people died...they were covered and buried in volcanic ash...about 30 feed of ash...this was not a tiny eruption...anyway...many, many years later when archeologists discovered the city they discovered that the bodies had decomposed but had left hollow areas in the ash (which had hardened by now)...the archeologists could then pour plaster into the holes...and get an exact replica of the body of a victim of Vesuvius in Pompeii...it is very wierd to see...

Pompeii is a huge complex...it took about 4-5 hours for me to walk completely around and through it...and I donàt walk slow...the ancient city of Pompeii was a tourist destination (not too far from the coast) and was a large city (for the time...40,000) with a well organized layout...these people were living in a modern city for the time...then it all came to an end...

It took me a while to notice...or to have it affect me...but the entire city utilizes one main material for building...VOLCANIC ROCK...
This really struck me, because the same thing that had literally provided building blocks for their society had struck it down...The Volcano had given life...and it had taken it back...and quickly...

It really makes me think...

Tonight, I have had dinner with 9 Aussie girls...the 3 I was with had met up with some others on a Contikii type tour...and must go now to party with them at a local pub...

Already made a reservation for tomorrow in Rome...trying to be a good boyscout...only 2 blocks from The Vatican...Iàll let you know how it goes...

Tentative schedule for upcoming days...Rome tomorrow, August 13th...Leave Rome on August 14thish...go to Siena...Il Paolo horse race in Siena on Aug 16th...supposed to be incredible...then hiking Cinque Terra (5 cities in the northern coastal part of Italy) ...then the Tomatina (tomato fight in Bunol, Spain) is held on Aug 25...then off to Portugal for about a week-10 days...then Ireland to visit my friend Emer...

Bye for now from Sorrento...

Arriva Dirchi (SP?)!

Doug