Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Tuesday, August 10, 1999 12:36 PM
Subject: The lost days of my Life...the Pink Palace

Hello friends...sorry I haven't e-mailed sooner...but I seem to have lost the last several days of my life to the black hole known as the Pink Palace...but alas, I digress...let me start at the beginning...

After dad and I arrived from Los Angeles, I was able to spend some much needed time with my Grandmarky, Grandpoppie, Grandmommie, Aunt Roann, Cousin Gil, Mom, Dad, Brother, and all sorts of assorted friends...good to see my roots and to spend the time...I did miss some other good friends who I wasn't able to see...especially my friend Aaron who played phone tag with me for days trying to find a good time...sorry...I'll see ya'll when I
return...
OK...so much for housekeeping...here are the events so far on the trip.I left my fair state of Texas on Thursday, August 5, 1999...had tickets on Delta to Zurich...original plan was to catch up with an unmarried Swiss friend of mine in Lucerne, Switzerland...but that didn't happen and I missed the Swiss Miss (pun intended)...sorry Sylvia...

Upon the realization that I would not have a Swiss tourguide...I decided it would be a GREAT idea to go to Greece in August...and I had always heard of a mythical backpacker youth hostel on the island of Corfu...the Pink Palace...now, one should note that I am becoming one of the geriatric backpackers on the circuit...most of the backpacking community is 19-22...as 28 I am a real fossil...but I remained undeterred...and plotted a course for the Pink Palace...land of sun, sex, sand, and souvlaki...which all sounded like a great place to begin my journey...

However, back at the ranch, so to speak...I was stuck with a *(^&*(%^ ticket to Zurich...about a 40hour train/ferry ride to Corfu...as I connected in Atlanta, I inquired about my Zurich flight and found out it was on time...and completely full...so I did some dancing and talked with a few folks...and offered to alleviate some of their difficulties by not flying to Zurich...but by flying to Rome...which had extra seats...hee hee...they bought it...and next thing I knew I was in a first class (Business Elite for you airline geeks...Delta doesn't have a first class officially...) seat bound for Rome...Malcolm, I thought of you as I dove into my Omaha Steak that was served medium well as the onboard dinner...it was all great.Arriving in Rome I was somewhat disappointed that they did not stamp my passport...security was somewhat lax and I was waived straight through customs without much adieu...go figure...when I want a passport stamp I can't find one...

On the flight to Rome, I had some time to read my "Worldwide Party Guide" by Scott Starvos (sp?) which listed the Pink Palace as a must see...and went further to say that the best time to be there if for the revelry of the Saturday night Toga Party...Since I had left on a Thursday night, as most of you know, I arrived Friday morning into Rome...I now had a mission: Get to the Toga Party!!!!

So I hopped the first train from the airport to the Central Termini in Rome...from there I was bound for the port city of Brindisi (gateway to ferries serving Greece...ie Corfu)...at the train station I got used my Eurail pass for the first time and got my reservation for the train to Brindisi...I also went to one of the travel agents in the station who sold ferry tickets and asked about times and availability...I was given the times...but was told that ALL of the ferries were sold out...sniff...sniff...wearing sheets did not look to be in my future...sniff...sniff...but what the heck...I was gonna go to Brindisi and hire a fishing boat or something anyway! I met several other backpackers doing the same...I was fitting right in...

In Brindisi it was chaos...getting off the train in a rush to try to find ferry tickets...but like most places in the world, Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" was working in a free market economy...we were assaulted with ways to buy ferry tickets...

I then started meeting folks...in the grocery store, I met a backpacker from Turkey who was on the same boat...so we headed out together...and met two girls from Canada on the shuttle boat to the ferry,...and onboard the ferry we met another 4 girls (2 Canadians, 1 Australian, and 1 New Zealander) and a guy from New Port Beach, CA ...we were quite the multicultural group...and while it was sometimes difficult to decipher the English spoken by the guy from Turkey, I was fully trained in speaking like a Canuck with the Canadians from my Canadian Airlines days...so I was able to throw out some "How you doin', AY!" lines at them and I was assimilated into the group quickly...God bless our friends from North of the Border...

The ferry was delayed by 3 hours...and many of the folks were tired and disheartened...I on the otherhand...was new to the scene and was lit like a firecracker I was so excited to be there! Several of us stayed up most of the night...and Dan (New Port Beach) started schmoozing with the Captain of the Ferry (originally by offering to sell him one of the girls we were with...communication is good...no matter how it starts...)...anyway, we did not infact sell him one of the girls...but he did give us a free cabin to sleep in on the boat, rather than us sleeping on the deck like all the other backpackers...luck struck again...and although we were only sleeping in the cabin for about 3 hours...it was great sleep...Way to pull it off Dan!

We arrived at 7am and went straight to the bus for the Pink Palace...we were whisked away on a 30 minute ride and arrived at the biggest conglomeration of pink buildings I have ever seen in my life...and a hideous pink it is...but proud of it they are...anyway, we were herded into a reception area...given free shots of ouzo (note, mine was shared with my compatriots, as I still am a tee-totaler...go figure) and told where our rooms were. Dan and I had decided to share a room...so we traipsed off to find it...it was a  little bare on amenities...but we are backpackers...so we don't expect turn-down service and mints on the pillows...although it is might nice (see Australia e-mails)...and for 6000 drachmas per night (rate of exchange is 300 drachmas to the dollar...ie $20/night) we were happy to have beds, shelter, and the promised breakfasts and dinners that were included...and we were told about that night's Toga Party (Mission Accomplished)...We picked up our togas and we were set!

Details about the toga party to follow in another e-mail...my time is about to run out...next installment later...
Doug