The first time I ever had a shot swimming with spirit, at age fifteen, I was sick. The second time I had a shot swimming with spirit, at age sixteen, I was sick. In fact, almost every time I had a shot. I was sick. However, each year I carried on drinking, the more shots seemed appealing. Despite the sick.
I was lucky enough to visit Greece this year, for ten beautiful days. I had never been before, but had read about the history and enchantment of Spinalonga in Victoria Hislop’s famous book; ‘The Island’. The story itself, fascinated me and captured my attention from the first page. Everything about Greece was wonderful. The stunning Greek Islands. The history, and authentic architecture. The welcoming and warm people. The local delicious food, and glorious piles of Greek feta. The Metaxa brandy. Ah, the Metaxa brandy. The warmth was sensational. The colour, a deep awe-inspiring amber. At the time, it truly did taste like liquid gold. It gave me a warm glow, from the inside out. Until, I went too far.
By day six of the holiday, I was truly in my comfort zone. You could say “living my best life”, or so it seemed. I took full advantage of the all-inclusive selection of drinks. The marvellous array of bottles, beckoned me from the moment I stepped into the bar. I would alternate my drinks each day and night between rum, whiskey, wine, brandy and the local lager ‘Mythos.’ You know, because I had choice. They were free. Each night I would choose a stronger spirit, hoping for a quicker fix. In order to truly “relax” on my holiday. I deserved it. I had worked for it. I wanted my quota, as I had paid for it.
The afternoon I went well and truly over my quota, and then some, was the afternoon I drank three-quarters of a bottle of Mataxa. It was a grey, overcast afternoon. The sun was hiding. Therefore, sunbathing was out of the question, as was the pool, so who did I turn to for entertainment and an internal glow? Alcohol. Greek Mataxa, which actually ranks among the top fifty global spirits in the world. Subconsciously I knew this, and it spurred me onto drink more, and more. I have never had an off switch, when it comes to drinking. I idealise drinking, everything about it. I solely believed that true enjoyment was found in a beautiful bottle. The action of the thick liquor swirling around my glass, was therepeutic and theatrical. I think back now, to that moment and I must have looked ridiculous and slightly unhinged. My hair was a mass of suncream, and day old hairspray. My face burnt, and the remnants of mascara trailed under my eyes and down my rosy cheeks. The reality was so far away from the glorified image I held in my mind. Yet I kept going, until blackout.
The morning after the Metaxa binge, we had planned to go on an amazing day trip to the Greek City of Heraklion. We booked it on the morning of day one, when all the possibilities of the holiday lay ahead. It approximately cost the equivalent of about eight bottles of very good vino for that trip, and I was well aware that it was going to be completely experiential and visually beautiful. The coach was picking us up at 07:30am. I was sick, before we set off. Twice. I stepped onto the coach, and saw a blur of faces, in sepia tone. I was still drunk. Thanks to the old fateful sunglasses, which hid my sins and sadness, I could sit down without drawing attention to myself. The smell though, didn’t go unnoticed. The journey took approximately eighty minutes to Heraklion, from where our hotel was situated. I passed out the moment I sat down on the coach. I missed the Greek tour guide, telling descriptive, exciting mythical stories about Ancient Greece. I missed the view of the Cretan coast. I missed the famous white mountains covered in snow, despite the heat. I missed the bustling of small rural villages, with their residents sat reading, playing games and drinking their morning coffee. I missed the olive trees, blowing in the warm breeze. I missed everything. I woke up with the worst hangover and shattered temper once the coached arrived at the beautiful city. I did not want to walk about the streets. I was hungover. I wanted to sit, and find some sugar and carbs, to cure me before I could start enjoying the day.
I am planning to go back to Greece next year. To explore the untouched places, that I didn’t get chance to visit this year. I fell in love with the place, the people and the culture. It was magical.
I cannot wait to see how much more magical it will be, without alcohol. I cannot wait to return, sober.