Monday September 26th:
It was time to say goodbye to northern Greece and get on a plane to the Island of Lesbos. I guess it was the first time that the 40-odd crazy souls that made up this traveling circus met in daylight and fairly sober.
Enrico from Italy, who shot the whole thing on his camera, heard us talk in our funny little language and asked if we were from Greece. Milos said we were from Serbia and cracked a joke that Danny is from Bulgaria. Well Danny is part Mexican American, part Navajo so not your typical Bulgarian look, but he ran with it. So Enrico wondered loudly – “you are Bulgarian?” Danny confirmed, “Yeah, I’m from Bulgaria,” in his best generic faux-Eastern European accent.
Well, Enrico kind of took it at face value and asked if he had a lighter, to which Danny answered, “No, I’m Bulgarian.” Enrico tried again, “Okay, but do you have a light?” “One euro!” Danny replied. We all burst out laughing. At that point one of the girls who traveled with us approached us and also asked where we were from. Turns out her name’s Rosie and she’s actually from Bulgaria. Serbian and Bulgarian are mutually understandable south Slavic languages, so we proceeded to speak in our respective mother tongues. We told Rosie that Danny’s also from Bulgaria and she started talking to him, at which point we all cracked up again. Another running gag was born, another friendship cemented.
When we boarded the plane I found myself sitting next to an Argentinian guy named Pirulo. We started chatting and it turns out he booked a gig in Buenos Aires for my Amsterdam buddies, the Anomalys! Small world, or rather, small scene. Great people. As we shot the shit about everything and anything, we landed on Mytilini Airport in Lesbos before we knew it.
There was nothing scheduled for the evening, so we decided to check into our apartment, go for a dinner and give our brains and livers a well-deserved break. Well, things turned out a little different than planned.
After checking into our B n’ B, which was a proper, beautiful two-story house, we met up with Danny and went to stuff ourselves on local seafood and what not. We called it a night at a decent hour, said goodbye to Danny and strolled back towards our pad through the atmospheric Mytilini streets. But as you would have it, on our way home we met the rest of the bunch having dinner and drinks at the local tavern.
What’s more, the rest of the crew from Istanbul just arrived with a ferry from Ayvalik, including the guys from the Raws! Goksu, the singer of the Raws and another We’re Loud veteran, hugged the hell out of us and introduced us to the rest of the Turkish traveling party. We made fast friends with everybody and pulled up a few more tables. Well, shit hit the fan and I had to buzz Danny, aka Poseidon, to come back to town where many an ouzo flowed deep into the night.
Tuesday September 27th:
On the schedule it said “surprises on the island.” Little did we know that this would turn into one of the coolest days of our lives.
We met at 11am and took a bus to the south of the island towards the town of Plomari. First stop, an ouzo museum and distillery with a free tasting. We got a lecture about the history and the tradition of ouzo making and the difference between real natural stuff and the industrial crap. To save money the big companies speed up the process by adding sugar, which kills the taste and gives you a bad hangover. While not a big fan of anise drinks, I could tell the difference and their stuff was really top notch. But all the ouzo slurping and history lessons aside, all we really wanted was to hit the beach ASAP. Our tour guide Dimitris told us not to worry, as we would head to two different swimming spots.
Back on the bus we went further south. Upon arriving at the beautiful little town of Plomari we saw the real surprise, another stunning galleon waiting for us in the harbour. Sporting moronically huge smiles we piled into the boat. Pete connected his portable record player to a bunch of badass speakers and the party was on!
Pete and Oihanne took turns spinning the best rock n’ roll tunes imaginable while we cracked open the beer cans. After about a half hour cruise we arrived in paradise. Picture this, a stunning little lagoon, only accessible by boat with a little orthodox shrine and steep rocky cliffs surrounding it on all sides.
Pete led the way by jumping off the boat into the pristine Mediterranean sea with me, Danny and almost everybody else following suit. We took turns diving off the top deck while MC5, Bob Seger, Flamin Groovies and the like were providing the best soundtrack to this exercise in rock n’ roll hedonism.
It was then that another telling tagline was born. Danny, all 260 pounds of him, took a massive dive and as he splashed into the water a few of the girls had to wiggle themselves away from the ensuing tidal wave. Silan dropped another one-liner, “This is just like Poseidon and the mermaids.”
As there was a dinner booked for us back in Plomari we had to leave this oasis and head back to the harbour, but not before more crazy water acrobatics just off the coast of the town. A little ride in the bus brought us to the restaurant that Pete and Dimitris sorted out for us. Another stunning location. Right next to the beach with a scenic view of a little rock islet rising dramatically out of the sea.
As the sun set we gorged ourselves on fresh sardines, prawns, stuffed zucchini flowers and assorted goodness, washed away with excellent local wine and ouzo. It was damn good to be alive.
Back on the bus we all slipped into a late evening siesta. Once back in Mytilini though it was time for another party. We all made our way to a cool little bar where Pete again connected his little portable record player to the PA and we danced the night away till the break of dawn.
In that regard, Mytilini is a bit of a mini Athens. With its population of 40,000 it’s relatively big for an island town, but has the feel and the buzz of a big city while retaining its cozy charm. Also opposed to most of the other island party spots that are full of shitty techno clubs, it has a healthy alternative youth subculture.
Wednesday September 28th:
We first took a little stroll through the town. Built on a few rolling hills, it sports beautiful neo-classical and baroque mansions, while there are Ottoman and Byzantine remnants as well. But the showstopper is the huge Castle of Mytilini covering an area of 60-acres. On our way to the beach we stormed it Game of Thrones style for some compulsory mock heroic pictures.
As this was towards the end of the tourist season, we pretty much had the city beach to ourselves. It was warm, but there was a slight breeze to take the edge off and make for a perfect hangover seaside afternoon. But there was a gig to attend in the evening, so we went back to our mansion to change and brave another wild night.
Apart from Demon’s Claws and Magnetix also on the bill were our Turkish buddies, the Raws. The show was in a massive old building that looked like it was squatted and had no bar or toilet. While on the subject of toilets, apart from airports and hotels, it seems that toilet seats and locks on the door are taboo in Greece. Anyway, while lacking in infrastructure the place sure wasn’t lacking in atmosphere.
Packed with a few hundred kids on a Wednesday night, the place was buzzing as the dramatic intro music started over the PA while the guys from the Raws took up their positions. And then it all exploded. The twin guitar attack of Goksu and Taner backed by frantic, jittery but groovy beats from Guney. Think the Reatards meets Teengenerate fronted by the long lost Turkish brother of Juanito of Wau y Los Arrrghs.
The crowd was going wild as the beer cans were spilled among moshing punters. It felt so good to see Greek kids rocking out to a Turkish band in defiance of centuries of bad blood and nationalist bullshit. Time and time again during this trip it was amazing to feel united in love of good music and good times that transcend national, religious and other boundaries.
So with that in mind we all headed to yet another after party, this time at a place called Moussiko Café. Taking over the DJ duties were the aforementioned duo Amfibik from Istanbul. Silan and Can laid down an amazing set of 60s and 70s Turkish psychedelia, as the Serbs, the Turks, the Americans, the Italians, the French, the Greek and an odd Bulgarian and German all danced their asses off in intoxicated unison.
To everybody’s surprise, while Pete was gonna take over the DJing duties the bar staff informed us that the place was closing at 3am. What??? That was like being back in the real world. Anyway, me and Danny quickly thought of an alternative plan. How about going over to the beach and having a Game of Thrones style party called, “the walk of atonement.”
I proposed to go first. Well, silly jokes aside, we scored some more beers at a local night shop and cruised the streets for a few more hours culminating in another monumental intake of souvlaki.
Thursday September 29th:
This was our last day on the island and we once again parked our butts on the beach to make the most of it. Then it was time for some last minute food and drunk shopping as the ferry for Athens was leaving at 7pm.
Once at the ferry we made our way to the designated cabins. Sporting two bunk beds and a toilet with a shower (!), me, Draza and Danny shared a room with Spike. Spike, a veteran punk rocker, who’s currently situated in London, but seems to have lived all around the planet, joined our pre-party immediately. Danny produced a bottle of Jameson and plugged his phone into a portable speaker and we were off.
So, properly warmed up we made our way to the deck at the back of the boat where the rest of the festival crew was hanging out. Once again, bear with me and picture the scene… most of the other passengers purchased the cheap tickets, which meant that they were sleeping on the deck, a lot of them fairly large families.
We were lucky to get a group discount, so for just a few euros extra we all had separate cabins. So while those families were trying to unwind and relax we took over the deck and made it a party spot. Things got properly wild and weird when a German dude, Nick circulated, a mysterious drink that got everybody hysterical. To make matters worse for the rest of the passengers, and even more hilarious for us, they were showing Rocky IV on the screens outside.
We were cheering and clapping to the montage sequences as the poor folks were readjusting their positions to get as comfortable as possible. As most of the party goers fell by the wayside and crawled back to their cabins, once again Danny and me were the last men standing. In between one of our maniacal laughing salvos, Danny noticed that he was all out of cigarettes.
At that point a dude I can only describe as Borat’s cool cousin, all denim outfit and flat top hairdo, approached us and without saying a word gave Danny a smoke. Danny acknowledged him and gave him a half empty bottle of wine. He nodded, took the bottle and set his ass down a few tables further up, where he proceeded to down it on his own. Smooth operator.
It was nearing four in the morning, so we stumbled back towards our cabin, as we were expected to arrive in Athens between 6 and 7am. But hammered as we were, we couldn’t find the way back and ended up in the massive kitchen. Somehow after entering all the staff only doors we mysteriously found our way back to our room.
Once inside I thought it would be funny to remove the ladder from the bunk bed where my cousin Draza was sleeping, only to almost break my neck trying to climb in my own bed. When Danny got out of the toilet we realized that the air conditioning was blasting full on and it was actually colder inside the cabin then out on the deck, so we smashed the hell out of it. So finally, grooving to the roar and the vibrations of the massive ferry engines and to the ongoing hysterical laughter of our Turkish friends in the cabin next to us, I slipped into dreamland.
“Hela, good morning,” screamed the Greek guy who woke us up just a few hours afterwards. So somehow we rolled out our beds, took our stuff and sleep walked towards the deck and the exit. While standing in line with the rest of the zombies, waiting to get off the boat I noticed the Borat looking dude.
He was in the line next to me holding his little kid’s arm. The kid looked like a mini-me version of him, with a matching flat top hairdo. We once again quietly acknowledged each other and went off with rest of our lives.
Photos courtesy of Selen Usanmaz