As previously discussed in this blog, through August 1993, I’d sung karaoke in four countries. As the calendar flipped to August 2004, I’d still sung karaoke in a total of . . . four countries. The biggest reason for this stagnation in my World Karaoke Tour was that for much of the intervening period I’d been trapped in a horrible job in which I was severely underpaid relative to my qualifications as an attorney and the work I was doing, and which therefore did not enable me to afford vacations to foreign lands (That job also sucked for additional reasons beyond the paltry compensation, but those reasons are beyond the scope of this blog). In the summer of 2004 I was still languishing in that dismal job, although I was only a few months away from finally quitting it. But I’d accumulated enough American Express Membership Rewards miles to qualify for a free round-trip flight to Europe; and by staying in cheap hotels I was able to cobble together my first overseas trip since 1996.
The itinerary for my new voyage included the Greek island of Crete; Rome; Pompeii; Venice; Amsterdam; and Brussels. The focus in the present article will be on the initial stop of Crete; the next installment of this series continues the narrative of my late-summer 2004 romp through Europe, during which the concept of my World Karaoke Tour finally began to reach critical mass.
Prologue: Terror on the high seas in 1996
I’d been to Greece once before — during the aforementioned 1996 journey that had marked my most recent foray outside the United States. On that trip, taken at the end of the summer, my law school friend Dave and I visited Athens and Delphi on the Greek mainland, as well as the Aegean islands of Ios and Santorini. Although Greece boasts a musical tradition dating back to ancient times, I didn’t find any karaoke during my 1996 visit. To be honest, I didn’t really seek it out; while I’d been singing karaoke Stateside for nearly five years at that point, karaoke had not yet become one of the defining activities of my life.
Despite the lack of any H-Bomb performances, my 1996 Greek holiday was memorable for a certain boat ride that occurred towards the end. Dave and I were on a ferry, returning from Santorini to Athens before flying back to New York. The ferry made an unscheduled stop at some random island. An announcement came over the public address system in Greek, and about two-thirds of the people on the boat immediately disembarked. Dave and I wondered why. Continue reading