Seated on the second bench in the classroom, with spectacles on my eyes and hair braided in a plait, I vividly remember the 11-year-old me engrossed while reading a story revolving around the city of Crete during our class on English Literature. There is something about writers… they weave magic with their creative articulation of everyday occurrences and somehow manage to create an ever lasting impact, even on the mind of a 5th standard school going girl.
Greece and its ancient history somehow always held a special place in my heart. Growing up, while in university, those surreal images of splendid sunsets in a town painted blue and white chose to show up almost regularly on my social media pages. I had made up my mind since then – my first special holiday has to be in Greece.
So as a very natural instinct, for our honeymoon, we I decided, Greece it is. Nothing was going to stop me from seeing the beauty which I had always only imagined of and nothing better than sharing it with the one whom I had just vowed to spend my entire life with.
With a limited number of days at our disposal (we took most of our leaves for the big fat Indian wedding), we chalked out our itinerary around scenic Santorini, lively Mykonos and historically rich Athens.
Before you guys delve deep into this post, I need to put down a disclaimer (lawyer things, you know). This post is not about Santorini or Athens or how awe-inducingly beautiful Greece is. This post is about how foolish we can be, and how two clicks on your computer can save you from public embarrassment or maybe, even more correctly, a faux pas.
Around two months before our wedding, we were looking for hotels to stay at during our Agean adventure. Santorini was our first stop and I was very particular in trying to choose the most scenic hotel, akin to all the photos floating across on the web. Afterall, the only thing we would want is to relax, soak in nature’s beauty and get off all the stress and fatigue that the exhaustive wedding brought. While booking online and selecting room types, our options ranged between garden facing rooms, beach view rooms as well as caldera view rooms.
With limited general knowledge, we based our choice of room type on the typical Indian theory – the most expensive choice is generally the best. Hence, it took us seconds to book the Caldera view honeymoon suite. Afterall, its your honeymoon and you don’t want anything less than the best. Not that we were disappointed with what we chose, but hold on till I tell you what we expected out of it.
So, here begins the story of two ignorant and tired souls heading to Greece for what is supposed to be one of the most happy, relaxing and romantic holidays for a newly wedded couple.
It is May 2016 and we are in the island of Santorini at 6:30 am, worn out after 3 flights and long layovers including a night spent at Athens airport. We’re standing with luggage in the middle of a deserted road trying hard to find a taxi to take us to our hotel.
After a painfully exhausting journey and an emotionally delibating life changing occasion, all you want is a gorgeous room and a minimum of twenty-four hours of undisturbed sleep (No exaggeration there, I swear I needed 24 hours of the nervous system being inactive, eyes closed, muscles relaxed and brain in la la land…. okay, you get the point).
That said, you certainly don’t want a conversation close to an argument, realization of stupidity overcome by sheer embarrassment. And as you may have guessed, that’s what we were in for…all because of a simple 7 letter word – CALDERA.
Fast forward a little more, we’re standing at the reception of our hotel, the lady in charge sporting a big smile on her charming face, about to show us our Caldera view room. With all the excitement that my drained body could gather, to reciprocate human gestures and to be polite, I slipped in a smile between constant contagious yawns and headed to see the view our room beheld.
And we saw this.
Gorgeous, isn’t it? But hey, we didn’t expect this. We thought we would see this. 👇
Because isn’t Santorini all about these blue coloured domes with a cross at the top? Isn’t that what you call a Caldera? Were all those photos on the internet lying to us all this while?? Has the hotel charged us more money and given us a lesser-priced room? Oh wait, have we been cheated on?
Now imagine the sight – two torpid, drowsy and ignorant Indian travelers who can barely think straight and are under the impression that they have been cheated.
So as you would have guessed, here goes the conversation:
“Umm, I think we booked a Caldera view room”
“Yes, this is it.. see the view, isn’t it beautiful.”
“Yes, but where is the Caldera?’
“That’s the caldera…right there…” said the lady pointing at the ocean.
“Where? I don’t seem to find one” I continued to try harder assuming that maybe that blue roofed structure is there at some distance and my sleepy eyes just cannot seem to put it together. “Are you sure this is the caldera view room?”
“Ma’am you can see the entire caldera so clearly. It’s the best room that we have. People have loved the caldera views from this suite.”
“I know it is beautiful, but seriously, I cannot spot the Caldera yet!”
By now, I am sure she thought I was either blind or simply playing some kind of silly prank.
Pushkaraj obviously didn’t care less what view the room had. Just like any other guy, he was happy that we were here and just wanted to jump in bed. With my quizzical looks, however, I had managed to convince him that there was definitely something wrong. And of course, two sleep deprived souls can neither make any convincing argument nor any sensible deductions.
So we asked her to call her manager since we knew there was something wrong for sure. She looked confused and amazed (surely at our stupidity). Just before she left, hesitantly and boldly she asked, “I’m sorry but can you really not see the caldera? The big crater right there and the rocks around it… see there you can see the city as well.”
“Yes, we can see that, but there is definitely no caldera.. you know those white structures with blue domes” (Yeah, we thought we could teach her some geography).
“Oh, those churches, you’ll find a lot of them in town.. once you rest and are ready to go out, let me know and I can tell you where to find them… But those are churches, and this is the caldera.”
Thankfully, sense suddenly prevailed and I decided to keep mum for a few seconds. Pushkaraj used his instincts and asked her for the wifi password and googled the word Caldera. He didn’t utter a word. He simply passed his Iphone to me.
“A caldera is a volcanic feature formed by the collapse of a volcano into itself, making it a large, special form of volcanic crater. A caldera collapse is usually triggered by the emptying of the magma chamber beneath the volcano, as the result of a large volcanic eruption.” – Science Daily
After losing the colour on my face, I also opened the Wikipedia page for Caldera just to be sure of what I was reading. It was one of those moments when I wanted the earth to kind of crack open and for me to sink in without anyone noticing my disappearance. As obvious as our ignorance was, the lady got the hint and asked us again, “So is this okay or would you like to speak to the manager?”
“Hmm no..there is no need for that..the room is lovely. Thank you so much for all your help. We’ll see you in the evening!” I said sheepishly, braving a slight smile.
Of course it doesn’t matter what people think of you or how they judge you. But well, how about when you judge yourself? Is there any such thing as you being a disappointment to yourself? Well, that’s exactly what it was. I managed to go to sleep convincing myself that this could have been avoided if we were not that stressed and tired. Honestly, maybe not.
Lessons learnt –
- Never shy away from finding the correct meaning or explanation of something if you’re not too sure of what it means.
- Google is one of man’s greatest inventions. It will always come to your rescue. Maybe I should use it more often than I think I need to.
- Ignorance is not bliss.
- Do not rely on pre-conceived notions and assumptions where the fact-finding exercise is doable.
- Keep traveling. If nothing else, you’ll at least be grateful for having an evolved and expansive vocabulary.
Okay, I think I went a little too hard on myself.
Having said that, we loved those caldera views from our room all the while that we were lodged in Santorini. We also visited many of those charming blue domed ‘churches’ and still remember the beautiful sunsets we saw while in Santorini.
Come, have a look at the picturesque island that seems entirely white washed and ethereal.
Have you ever faced such an embarrassing situation? How did you cope with it? Care to make me feel slightly better? Share your story in the comments below!
Up Next: Coming up soon is our story of visiting a lesser known island filled with very helpful and friendly locals. This place is a diver’s paradise and we were in there to tick something really exciting off our bucket list. Any guesses, guys?