Uri and Baby Doll

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August 30th 2016
Published: June 12th 2017
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First stop this morning is the Rarity Gallery, which is a modern art gallery in the middle of Mykonos Town. Trip Advisor rates this as Mykonos' number one attraction. This seems a bit strange. I would have thought that most people would probably come here to go to the beaches or to Delos rather than some obscure art gallery. I wonder how Trip Advisor does its ratings. We nevertheless decide that it's probably worth a quick peek given that it's free and not too far from the hotel. It's very small and only has about thirty exhibits, all by contemporary artists, housed in three rooms on one level. As we go into the first room we both notice a very serious looking security guard sitting in a corner of the second room. We don't particularly want to get arrested, so we're careful not to disturb any of the exhibits. It's only when we go into the second room that we realise that he's one of the exhibits - a very lifelike statue.

Parts of two paintings of buildings in Venice are raised off the page to provide a weird three dimensional effect. As you move across the room it looks like the buildings are moving with you, and if don't keep focussing on them, you lose perspective, and the whole thing starts to do your head in. Another piece is made entirely of drinking straws. Another is a hologram of Barbie, and as you move across the room she changes from wearing a full set of clothes to only wearing her underwear. There goes my perception of Barbie as the embodiment of all things wholesome.

Next stop is the Mykonos Archaeological Museum. Most of the exhibits here are relics excavated from the pit at Delos where graves and other artefacts were buried when the Ancient Greek rulers decided that the island needed to be purified. The museum uses mirrors to give the impression that it's much larger than it really is. This also does my head in. My head's getting done in a lot this morning.

Over lunch I read a magazine article about Petros the Pelican, the island's mascot. Pelicans aren't usually found on Mykonos, but Petros came here after he was rescued from injury by a local fisherman back in 1958. He quickly became a minor celebrity and was treated just like any other human resident. He took off one day and flew over to the neighbouring island of Tinos, where the locals knew all about his notoriety. They caught him, and claimed him as their own, as they argued that he'd migrated there voluntarily. This led to the one and only court case in Greek history over the custody of a bird. When the court found in Mykonos' favour, a massive party was held here to welcome him back.

This afternoon we've booked a sunset cruise which leaves from Ornos a few kilometres south of Mykonos Town. Ornos Beach is party central complete with loud music and fully occupied wall to wall sunlounges. We'd heard that everything here is very expensive, so we test the waters by ordering two cans of soft drink from a beachfront bar. I get the bill and faint. I suspect that the sunlovers here must collectively own most of Europe.

We meet the lady from the cruise company and the dozen or so of our fellow shipmates. As we wait on the dock, an expensive looking convertible screeches to a stop, and a stunning blonde gets out. She's about twenty five and looks like a slimmer version of Scarlett Johannson. The car's driven by a large portly man who looks like he's about fifty, who we assume is her father. He goes off to park the car and then joins his daughter on the dock. He starts talking very loudly on his phone. It seems that he's trying to get the person on the other end to bring him some cash so that he can pay for the cruise. He talks in English with a thick Russian sounding accent, and it seems that he's not at all pleased with the person he's talking to. He tells them that the next time he's in Budapest he'll remember that they didn't send him the cash he needed. If I was the person on the other end of the line I think I might be just a tad worried right now. He manages to convince the lady from the cruise company to let them board, and assures her that he'll pay her tomorrow. The tender comes to the dock and we're ferried out to a large catamaran.

We settle in. The couple from the expensive looking convertible disappear below deck and reappear a few minutes later. She's now wearing a red bikini, and he's decked out in a pair of ill-fitting white shorts, sunglasses and a ship's captains hat. He's carrying two glasses of champagne and two cigarettes, and gives one of each to his daughter. He then starts talking to her very loudly in Russian and this drowns out all other on-board conversation. He calls her "Baby Doll", and she calls him "baby", and we're now beginning to suspect that she might not be his daughter after all. He announces loudly to everyone that his name is Uri, and whilst he's originally from Russia he now lives in Israel. The captain starts the safety briefing. We're told that smoking isn't allowed on board; Uri and Baby Doll are already mid-cigarette, so Uri interrupts. He assures the captain that if he lets them smoke they'll be very careful to make sure that all their ash goes overboard. The captain tells him again that smoking isn't allowed. Our captain is clearly a very brave man. He continues the briefing with a spiel on how to operate the boat's toilet. Uri interrupts again. He says that he has his own very big boat in Israel, so he knows all about operating boat toilets. He tells everyone that he wants to get a bigger boat, as his current craft "goes too much boom boom boom", and asks the captain whether he could rent the catamaran for a week to try it out. He then advises the captain that he's bought his own music with him and that this must be played over the speaker system as we cruise along.

We set sail. The captain says we'll be sailing around the south side of Delos, and will then stop for a swim and dinner in a cove off Reinia. Fortunately it seems to be relatively calm today. I think Issy's been been dreading this cruise and she's been dosing up heavily on seasick tablets.

Uri and Baby Doll aren't holding back on the wine and champagne. I happen to be standing behind Uri as he finishes a glass; he hands it to me and tells me to put it in the cabin. He calls me "my friend"; he seems to call everyone "my friend"'. I suspect he's convinced himself that everyone on board other than himself and Baby Doll are part of the crew. We pull into a cove and I prepare to go for a dip. I put on my rashie and rub sunscreen all over me including in what's left of my hair. One of the Americans watches me. He says that Australians must take preparing to go for a swim very seriously. He says I look like I'm preparing for a trip to the moon. Baby Doll jumps in. Uri wants to go snorkelling too, but I'm not sure this is something he's done before. He stands on the deck with his mask down over his face. Baby Doll yells up at him to take it off before he jumps or he'll hurt his face, but this warning goes unheeded. As he jumps in, she gets out, but he keeps yelling at her from the water.

The captain sets up the tables for dinner. I tell Issy that we should sit with Uri and Baby Doll; I think it might be quite entertaining. Uri tells a pair of young American honeymooners that they can buy marijuana in California from a company called "Weed On-line". They don't seem particularly interested. He then tells Issy, who struggles to sleep on planes, that he can get her a pill that "would put a horse to sleep". The food appears. Uri tells the captain that he's from Israel, so he can't eat the food if it has any pork in it. I must be missing something here - pork's not OK, but horse pills and marijuana.......

Baby Doll tells us that she and Uri have been together for seven years and married for two, and they have two young children. I hadn't picked them as family types. Of course I hadn't taken much notice of her body in its red bikini, but from what little I had observed it didn't look too much to me like she'd given birth, let alone twice. She says that they've come to Mykonos for the last seven years in a row. She was pregnant the last two times so wasn't able to drink or smoke or party, so she's now making up for lost time. She says that they'd already drunk quite a lot before they got on the boat. Their two boys are eighteen months and seven months old, and are back home near Tel Aviv with a nanny and a maid. She tells us that she was born in the Ukraine and that the part of the country that she came from has now been invaded by Russia. This doesn't seem to have done a lot to upset matrimonial harmony. They're obviously not short of money. I think everyone on board would love to know where they got it from, but no one's game to ask.

We chat to one half of an American gay couple. He's very expressive, and says "oh my god" a lot. He says he's feeling very sea sick so he jumps in the water to try to make himself feel better. Issy gives him one of her many packets of seasick pills, at least we hope they're seasick pills - we got them in Spain and the labelling's all in Spanish. It's his partner's birthday, and he's brought a cake on board for everyone to share. We all join in singing Happy Birthday.

We sail back towards Ornos as the sun is setting. The scene is idyllic, and Issy's looking very relaxed. She says that she's loving this cruise, and she now wants a yacht. This is quite a turnaround from not wanting to come on the cruise because she thought she'd get seasick. I tell her that if she wants a yacht she'll need to find herself a Uri. Uri bids us farewell with a loud and slightly slurred "goodbye my friend, goodbye Australia".

Back in Mykonos the buskers are out in force. We've seen one of them more than once. He's got a dog that looks like a Labrador, and it's always dressed in a peaked cap and sunglasses, even after dark. Issy says she feels embarrassed for the dog.

I blog. I decide that I'll replace my Israeli friend's real name with the alias "Uri". I'm sure he's got much better things to do than to Google his name and discover it in an obscure travel blog, but I think I'll sleep much better if I don't use his real name. I include a picture that Issy took of me pretending to steer the boat. I then notice that Baby Doll in the background, and quickly hit the delete button. I think that I might be safe for now.


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