The Birthday Bash and a Visit from a Friend

Trip Start Nov 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 21, 2006

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

By some odd coincidence when I was on my road trip along the West Coast of Australia, two of the five people on the car celebrated birthdays in the two-week span. It was during those two celebrations that I noticed how much of a difference it made to celebrate a birthday among some close friends who could make you feel like you weren't too far from home on a special day like that. From that point on, the one thing I hoped for was to have a solid group of friends for when my birthday rolled around. As it turned out, what I got on Ios surpassed even my highest expectations.

On the night before my birthday (the year anniversary of my graduation -- scary to think it's been that long) I wasn't entirely sure what sort of pace I'd be on, if I'd take it casual for the next day's blow out or just see where the night took me. I went to the Fun Pub for a couple drinks to start -- at the very least I had to have a beer at midnight -- where a fellow New Yorker, Dave, who had just finished a tour of duty in Iraq, offered to buy me a shot after a lengthy conversation, not even realizing it was my birthday. From there, Adrian, my roommate for a week in my bungalow and now my roommate again in my new apartment, and I went to Orange Bar. Orange Bar is famous in Ios for its Malteser shots. What they do is take a bottle full of Maltesers (malted milk balls) pour in vodka, melt it down, freeze it up and then thaw it again. What you get is the first shot you've ever had where you drink it and then go to lick the shot glass for the rest. The bar also has a whole menu of other shots, like Twix shots, Snickers shots, apple pie, stuff like that. Adrian and I had gone in just for the Malteser, by the time we were done we had sampled the whole menu and earned ourselves a t-shirt (every bar in town has a deal, buy seven shots get a t-shirt). It only got worse when we made a move to Flames where I know all the staff and they were all more than happy to let the boss depart with some of his precious alcohol without putting any money back in the register. For what could've been a quiet night, it turned out to be quite excellent.

As it turned out it would be nothing compared to the next day. I was a good boy for most of the day, doing my best to just hang out by the pool and not get started too early. But by around 2 people were already jumping on the bandwagon and starting to buy me drinks. The killer, though, came around 4 when I went up to the bar to order myself a drink. Spyros, the bartender at Far Out and someone who has become a good friend, makes a famously good White Russian, so that's what I went for. I had my money out, ready to get a glass of the cocktail. Spyros, though, proceeded to pour about half a bottle each of vodka and kahlua into the blender and after mixing it up produced a liter jug, poured out the contents of the blender and produced my birthday present. It was off to the races from there, especially after Liz and Lauren, two girls from Florida who were leaving that day gave me the remainder of their tequila as a going-away present. As you might imagine, the night only lasted so long, but still one of the best birthdays I've had.

The next day my best friend Josh arrived from New York. He spent six days here and if he didn't have a job to go back home to, he certainly would've succumbed to the Ios trap as well. Our days were all more or less the same, hang out at the beach, chill out while I worked and then peruse the bar scene at night. On his last full day, we went tubing. What they do is tie two large, round pillow-like floaties to the back of a power boat and drive you out to sea, whipping you about, sending you crashing over and through the wakes, doing the best they can to send you flying off. I accomplished my main goal by outlasting Josh, who flipped over and off after about 10 minutes. I proved myself further by surviving the last five minutes even though the driver was clearly gunning for me (I could see it in the look of his eyes and his guide sitting next to him). At one point he sent me so hard off the wake I went flying a solid two or three feet in the air -- but still held on for dear life. The next morning Josh had to leave and I was back to settling into a routine in a new apartment. It's an amazing set up -- there's four people in my apartment itself (don't let apartment impress you, it's two rooms, one of which is a kitchen, and a bathroom) but there's a little veranda in the back that opens out to create one big unit that holds about 12 of my better friends on the island. All Australian, too. Life is good.
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