Greece is Blue

This is not fiction, but a true(ly boring) story.  Nothing in this is made up, but it is based on my memories of the time, so I don’t promise complete accuracy.


A long time ago, in a time far away, I was a young sailor on a ship in the Mediterranean. At the time of this story, I was on my first Med Tour. During this ‘tour’ we made a few stops in a few different places around the Med, mostly European ports. One of the ports was in Greece. Specifically, an island called Rhodes, and a city named Corfu.

Something to know about me, I am not the most sun acclimated of people. At the time, I had red hair and freckles and a mostly white skin. My uncle was fond of telling me things like “if you could get them freckles to hold hands, you might have a tan”. Or sometimes, “did you get your tan looking through the screen door?” My favorite was probably a variation of “Did you swallow a $1000 dollar bill and break out in pennies?” Suffice to say, I don’t tan, I burn. So if you are looking for an appreciation of the white sandy beaches and fun days in the sun.. You don’t know much about me or Greece.

A little background, in case you are interested (or needing a sleep aid). I was in the US Navy, stationed on board the USS George Washington. The GW was (and still is as I write this) a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. The ship is over 1000 feet long and almost 250 feet wide. Walking on the flight deck, you might get confused and think you have wandered onto the interstate/highway. She carries around 80 to 100 aircraft on board, depending on mission. Carriers are a great visual of force projection, but most places aren’t prepared for them to pull pier side. That means we always anchored out, and took liberty boats into port. This was one of those ports, so liberty boats were a part of the visit.

On the first day there, I had liberty, meaning I didn’t need to stay on board and stand watch. I was able to head out and do some site seeing. I went with some friends and we took a ride on the liberty boat over to the port.

Eating was always something we were both excited and nervous about. Eating food in foreign countries is a bit of an adventure for southern rednecks who aren’t cultured world wise travelers. We ‘played it safe’ and stopped at little café type place and order what we thought were personal pizzas. They ended up being really small, and not particularly good. We probably should have ordered something more adventurous.

No worries, we had all day to figure this out. There was a nice little community market, kind of like what you see on exotic travel scenes. There were some obviously temporary shops and some permanent structures. They had all kinds of stuff, from leather jackets, to ‘what-not’ shops.

After a longish afternoon of shopping, we were looking for dinner, and with the lunch failure in mind, we decided to do something even safer. We went to a fast food restaurant. The place we went was a hamburger place, called ‘Hambo’. Couldn’t get much safer or more basic than that. Except, we figured out later, the reason the ‘hamburgers’ tasted funny was because they were lamb. Which would probably have been ok if we had known that. But since we didn’t, we were hesitant to eat the funny tasting burgers. Oh well, time to head over to the bar.

The ship had contracted with a local bus company to run a shuttle from the shopping district over to the beach/bar area. The buses were running constantly taking sailors back and forth so it was just a few minutes to get over to the beach/bar area. This area was pretty interesting, and an obvious tourist area. It had a beach along one side of the road, and bars along the other side. It was only a little over a mile long, but you can fit a lot of bars in that much road front.

A few interesting facts about the little town, Corfu, that we were in. The Europeans go to Corfu for vacation like people in the southeastern US go to the Gulf, or the north eastern area goes to the Jersey shore. There were a decent number of vacationing people there. When Europeans go on vacation, they often go for an extended (by American standards) vacation. They may go for the whole summer and get a job of sorts while they are vacationing.

Not really relevant to this story, but something I found somewhat informative, the ‘beach’ was much different than what I am accustomed to seeing. It wasn’t sandy like I expect a beach to be, but significantly more rocky/gravel-ly. It wasn’t really comfortable to walk on. Good thing I am not a sunshine and sand person. Although we did have a few people who spent the day on the beach, and the evening in the bars, and then went back to the beach.

The bars.. I mentioned that the Europeans would take extended vacations, and sometimes get a job? One of the jobs that the young ladies would get is the ‘free drink lure’. The way it works, a pretty young lady would stand on the street outside the bar. Sometimes she would have a stack of little tickets and offer one up to passers-by to get them to come into the bar. In some cases, the young lady would ask for you to buy her a drink, and in others, simply walk you in, and pass you off to the bar tender. Our joke was, you were ‘the man’ if you could walk from one end of the bars to the other, and do nothing more than get the free drinks.

On this particular day, I was attempting something less ambitious than making it the entire length of the bars. There were 5 or 6 of us, and we were just looking for a good place to sit, drink and perhaps (for some of the guys) meet a young lady. Some of us were in committed relationships of one sort or another. I had a girlfriend, so didn’t see myself as available. Jerry was married, and definitely not available. Tom was available, and one of the nicer guys in the group.

At one of the bars, somewhat early in the evening, we came across three vacationers from Germany. They were all of a similar age to us (early twenties) and enjoying the attention they were getting from all the Navy guys. Two of the ladies were very outgoing and immediately hit it off with a couple of the guys in the group. We proceeded to spend the rest of the evening moving through the bars together.

As I said, I had a girlfriend back home, so wasn’t looking to make any connections, so I would shift my spot in the group, such that one of the guys was between me and the girls. I was actually pulling for Tom to make a friend. Jerry and I were talking and the other guys were talking to the girls. Until we had squeeze around a parked car. Then I ended up next to one of the girls. I spoke politely to her (she was pretty and smart, so that wasn’t a chore) and then shifted again. It ended up that I was on the end at one of the bars, and she was next to me. We ended up getting into a fairly long conversation about all sorts of things, including the fact that she had a boyfriend back home. After that, we ended up chatting the rest of the evening. She wasn’t interested in making any connections, and I didn’t feel like I was cheating on my girlfriend.

She was the one that explained the vacation strategy. Spend a few months with a part time job for expenses, and hang out in Greece. It was something a lot of college kids did during the summer. For the girls that were reasonably good looking, they could get a pretty good gig standing outside the bars and inviting guys in for the free drink.

Sadly, this is where the story ends. Or at least the part including the young lady. It would have been nice to get to know her better. She seemed intelligent and kind, and not terribly inclined to get drunk.

As it got late, the girls had to head home, and we had to go catch the shuttle bus back to the pier. In a moment of supreme intelligence, we decided to hang out in the bar that was next to the shuttle pickup while we waited. I don’t often drink, but it was that kind of a night, so I had a drink. This is after a day of very little food, and probably 3 or 4 beers. For the last call at the shuttle stop bar, I had 2 triple shot drinks, consisting of Kahlua, Bailey’s and vodka. They tasted really good.

You will be happy to know, I made it back to the ship safely, and even made it to morning muster. I was even feeling very generous at morning muster. I offered to do all the maintenance for the day, if I could just go back to my rack for a few more hours. The LPO was not happy with me, but he did let everyone who didn’t have duty take the rest of the day off. And let me do all the maintenance, but after lunch.

, ,

4 responses to “Greece is Blue”

  1. carebearcutie711 Avatar

    She carries around 80 to 100 aircraft on board, depending on mission? do you mean She carries around 80 to 100 aircraft on board, depending on THE mission?

  2. carebearcutie711 Avatar

    The buses were running constantly taking sailors back and forth so it was just a few minutes to get over to the beach/bar area. you may need to add a coma:

    The buses were running constantly taking sailors back and forth, so it was just a few minutes to get over to the beach/bar area.

  3. carebearcutie711 Avatar

    depending on mission? I feel that saying depending on the mission is easier to understand.

    1. Michael Avatar

      I said it the way I did, because that is the way I would say it in person.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *