Off the Cretan Track chapter 33

Off the Cretan Track chapter 33

A Chapter by Repgreece

Lunchtime is the best time



By the time Nick and Sal had showered, changed and spoken to the hotel owner about keeping the room on until later that afternoon, it was nearly twelve thirty. Well, they hadn't got to sleep until the early hours of the morning after all, but nevertheless, Nick was impatient not to waste any more precious time that they had together in Matala.

Sal had taken what seemed like an eternity, to an impatient Nick, before she came out of the bathroom. Mind you, when he saw her, he was stunned for a moment. She was wearing the brightest, peacock blue beach dress, in a material that clung so nicely to her curves and showed off her tan wonderfully, not to mention how it brought out the colour in her sparkling eyes. Little did he know that she had brought the dress, in case she had met her mind shattering man, to go over her most glamorous bikini: a tiny, strappy, silver number. Only a few glimpses of the bikini could be seen though, underneath her dress, and she had matched it with a pair of flat silver sandals.

As soon as they had pushed their way through the heavy glass doors of the hotel entrance, they were hit with the brilliance and heat of the afternoon sun. It seemed as though everyone had risen well before them and were mulling in and out of the small, gift shops, settling down for a spot of lunch, or strolling along the sea front. Obviously this place was a little more lively in the day than in the evenings, and, although the streets were by no means crowded with tourists, the increase in numbers of visitors in the day was clearly due to the popularity of the town as a family resort.

"So, let's go for some lunch, then hit the beach, eh Sal," Nick said, slinging an arm over her shoulder as they strolled down the coastal road.

He'd already said that. She turned to take a look at him. He certainly was full of energy in the morning. He had raced into the bathroom, sung 'Oh What a Beautiful morning' in the shower, and then literally dragged her out of the room. Now he was bounding next to her like an excitable puppy. She chuckled; he was quite cute actually.

"What you laughing at Sal?" Nick asked, peering down at her.

"Nothing," she giggled, "So, where are we going to eat then?"

"Anywhere is good for me," he replied before stopping and turning excitedly to her. "Oooh I know, how do you fancy going back to the restaurant we went to last night? They were quite friendly in there, and it did have great views."

She searched his face for just a moment. What was he so excited about?

"Anything for you Nick," she finally replied over her shoulder as she strolled on.

His eyes widened. "Anything?" he pondered, before catching up with her again, at which point he seemed to be bounding just that little bit more. Sal smiled to herself.

After climbing back up the steps and entering the restaurant, they were welcomed by the man with the bushy grey beard that had served them drinks the previous night. As they walked through the door, he was just coming out of the kitchen with a tray full of clean glasses. As soon as he saw them, his face broke out into a huge smile.

"Ahhh, Oi filoi mou!" he exclaimed, placing the tray on the bar and moving towards them with outstretched arms. He kissed them warmly on both cheeks, surprising them with his extravagant welcome.

"Hi," Sal chuckled, looking to Nick for confirmation on how to take this guy. Nick just smiled at her and didn’t seem to think anything was out of the ordinary.

"Ella, ella," the man said, gesturing them towards one of the blue and white chequered tables by the open window. "Best table, ne?" he smiled.

"Yes. Thanks," Nick replied, taking a seat opposite Sal.

The man plucked up a couple of menus from the middle of the table and offered them one each. Before he left them, he patted Nick on the back and gestured to Sal, saying,

"Ine orea. You lucky boy."

Nick looked across at Sal, who glanced downwards awkwardly, pretending to be engrossed in the menu.

He laughed. "Yes, she is orea," he replied, finding it easier to use the Greek word, rather than verbalise it in English.

After the man had left them, a smile grew on Nick's face, whilst his gaze flitted between Sal and his menu. Sal's eyes had wandered up and down the appetisers page of her menu for about the fourth time as she tried to think of all the different things that 'orea' could mean.

"So, what do you fancy for lunch then?" Nick asked.

"Oh, errm... a sandwich or something I guess," she replied, flicking through the menu for the right page.

"Just a sandwich? Got to make it more interesting than that Sal."

What was wrong with her? It wasn't like Sal to be so boring.

"Oh yeah, of course, it's just that, it's quite early for me to be eating; I'm not that hungry really," she admitted.

"Early? Sal it's lunchtime; we completely missed breakfast," he pointed out.

"True, but I don't usually eat till later; a sandwich will be fine for me," she insisted.

"Oh, sure," Nick shrugged, leaving Sal feeling like she'd somehow let him down.

"What are you going to have anyway?" she asked with more enthusiasm.

“We can just have sandwiches; that's fine," he said, closing the menu

Okay, Nick was acting oddly. He did that sometimes, and there was usually a reason why. The problem with Nick was, how to weedle the reason out of him.

"What's wrong with sandwiches; you like sandwiches," she said, pointing at him suddenly as she had a vision of him guarding the sandwiches she'd made, before she could take them away from him. "You ate all mine up yesterday," she reminded him.

He thought about if for just a moment. "Yeah, but you didn't make just sandwiches, did you? There were other goodies too."

Sal felt a little bemused. "So, it's not that you have anything against sandwiches exactly, just when they don't come with other things," she summed up.

Nick had never really thought that much about sandwiches before, but he had to admit, she had a point. "Well...yes."

She grinned; she had a solution. Glancing around the restaurant, she caught the attention of a waiter who approached their table.

"You want to order?" he said.

"Yes, but I was just wondering something. We would like sandwiches, but can we choose what we would like in them?" she asked.

"Yes, of course, if we have it, we will make the special sandwiches for you," he smiled.

"Great," she replied, looking across at Nick who was wondering what she was up to. "Okay, I'll go first," she said, turning her attention to the sandwich section of the menu for inspiration. "I'd like, erm...cheese, chicken and...oh, coleslaw, and also...bacon and…avocado," she finished, throwing Nick a challenging look.

“Avocado Sal? That’s the kind of thing rich people put in their sandwiches.”

Sal frowned slightly, before replying, “Well, avocados are cheap here, so everyone can enjoy them. Now, what are you having in your sandwich?” she said, glancing towards the waiter who had his pen poised for Nick’s order.

"Okay, I'll have...sausage..." She hadn't thought of that. "...and cheese, and...egg and tomato," he said, looking to Sal for a reaction.

“Nothing else?” she asked.

“Oh of course, I forgot…” he wracked his brains to think of another ingredient. “Lettuce.” He finally said.

Sal laughed. “Lettuce?” she said, incredulously. “I win,” she mouthed to him.

"Okay, you're not as boring as I'd originally thought," he admitted.

Boring indeed!

"Wait," she said, turning to the starters section of the menu again. "I haven't finished yet. We will also you like mushrooms," she whispered to Nick.

He nodded.

"Can we have mushrooms a la crème, and...erm, saganaki, I love cheese," she whispered to him again. "and some chips...oh and have you got any crisps?" she asked.

"Crisps?" the waiter said, seeming not to know what they were.

"Yes, err, potato chips," she clarified.

He still looked none the wiser.

"Patatakia," Nick supplied.

"Ah, patatakia, yes," the man replied.

"Crisp sandwiches," she whispered to Nick.

Nick's face lit up. "You are devilish," he whispered back.

She giggled.

"We can order desert after, chocolate cake or something equally...develish'," she said, quoting his own words.

"And what would you like to drink?" the waiter asked them.

Sal flipped to the drinks section. "Coke?" she suggested, before spotting something much better. "Oh my God, I haven't had one of those for years!"

"What?" Nick asked, trying to look over her menu.

"You have to have one of these with me," she said to Nick. "We will have two ice cream sodas," she finished proudly, closing the menu.

"No problem," the waiter said, writing down the drinks order and walking away chuckling to himself.

"I thought you said you weren't hungry," Nick laughed.

"Well...I can be persuaded," she winked.

Hmm, he wondered what else she could be persuaded of.

"I'm glad," he smiled, "I was worried for a moment that you'd lost your touch."

"What touch?" she asked, bemused.

"You know, the 'Sal' thing," he replied.

"What are you talking about Nick?" she chuckled.

"You know, you know, the Sal crazy, inventive, exciting stuff 'touch."

She laughed out loud then.

"So you don't think I'm too crazy and inventive then?" she asked.

"Hmm..." he thought about it, "well, you're on the edge," he said, with an uncertain hand gesture, "but, I like living dangerously," he grinned.

She giggled. "I think you'll be okay with a few sandwiches and an ice cream soda Nick."

"Yeah, I think you're right," he smiled, searching her eyes for a few moments, while she wondered if he was going to say more, or if not, why he was looking at her like that for what seemed like a split second too long. Strangely, she suddenly felt the beginnings of nervousness threaten, until he moved his gaze at last to the view and broke eye contact with her.

"Hey look," he exclaimed, "there's Phil and Sandra," he said, waving to the couple who were strolling down the coastal path below them.

They didn't appear to have noticed Nick, so Sal joined in, waving and shouting out to them, until they finally looked up and spotted Nick and Sal.

"Where are you going?" Nick shouted.

"To the beach," Phil shouted back. He turned to say something quickly to Sandra however, before shouting up to them again. "We'll come up there for a quick drink with you though," he added, before they did an about turn, crossed the road and disappeared out of sight underneath them.

"I hope they don't think I was rude last know all the laughing and that," Sal fretted.

"I told you, they aren't like that," Nick said dismissively. "Stop worrying."

"Okay, okay. Do you think you'll keep in touch with them now that you've met up with them again?" she asked.

"I don't see why not. I'll get their phone number. Maybe we could go to visit them in Rethymnon. Who knows, the quest might take us there."

"Or maybe we could just go visit them anyway," she grinned, giving Nick one of her looks as if to say she was thinking more than she was letting on.

"Well yeah, we could do that too."

Sal held back the laughter that she felt bubbling up inside her.

"Hi you two," came a voice from behind Sal.

They turned to greet Phil and Sandra.

“Hi,” Nick and Sal both said, jumping up out of their seats to find chairs for them and make space at their table.

The waiter noticed the commotion and approached to take another order.

“You’ll never guess what me and Nick are having to drink; takes me right back to when I was little,” Sal said

“Go on, what did you order?” Sandra smiled.

“Ice cream sodas,” Sal replied, excitedly.

“Oh yes, I know what you mean. They remind me of birthday parties. Right then,” Sandra said, turning to the waiter, “We will have two ice cream sodas too.”

Phil pulled a face. “Don’t I get a choice?”

“No,” Sandra replied. “You can be nostalgic with me.”

The waiter hovered, unsure if Phil wanted to change his order.

“No, that’s fine. We will have the two ice cream sodas,” Sandra insisted to the waiter. He wrote them down on his pad and walked away, seeming to find something funny again.

"I'm not six years old," Phil moaned at Sandra, "I was thinking of having a beer."

"You can stick to the ice cream soda and stop complaining," Sandra reprimanded him. "You had enough beer last night."

Phil huffed, and turned to Nick for support. Nick just shrugged, knowing better than to come between a guy and girl, especially when the girl wasn't happy about something.

It wasn't long before the waiter brought out Nick and Sal's drinks order, telling Phil and Sandra that he would be back shortly with theirs. Sal and Sandra peered with interest into the glasses with vanilla ice cream in the bottom, and wondered where the rest of the drink was...that is until the waiter placed a tiny jug next to each glass filled with sparkling lemonade.

"Cute," Sandra smiled.

Phil tutted.

Sal picked up her jug of lemonade and waited for Nick to do the same, holding it over her glass, ready to pour. She looked across at Nick.

"After three."

Nick couldn't help but chuckle.

"Go on then," he said.

"One, two, three," she said. They both poured in the lemonade and everyone watched the glasses fill with a creamy foam.

"Ooooh," Sal and Sandra said together, laughing.

"Can I have a beer now?" Phil asked.

Sandra glared at him.

"Guess not," Phil said to himself.


"So, did you two enjoy yourselves last night?" Sandra asked, making Nick start to choke on his ice cream soda.

"We went straight to sleep," he said guiltily, on instinct.

Sal's eyes widened and she spoke under her breath to Nick. "No, you idiot; she meant at the party."

"Ohhh," he said, with relief. "Yes, we had fun."

Sal felt slightly more mortified at Nick's slip up, and could have quite easily climbed into the foam of her ice cream soda.

"Oh, I forgot," Sandra said suddenly, "We were supposed to be meeting Mike at the beach. I had better send him a message to let him know where we are."

"That reminds me too," Nick said to Phil, just as the waiter placed the glass of ice cream and jug in front of him and Sandra. Phil frowned at his. "Can I take a contact number for you two?" Nick asked.

"Sure," Phil replied, giving Nick his number, which Nick saved in his phone, whilst Phil also watched dubiously as Sandra poured first hers, and then his, lemonade into the glasses.

"Ohhhh," both girls said again. And again, they fell about laughing.

Phil and Nick exchanged looks.


Presently, Sandra's mobile phone beeped, and she became busy, receiving and sending a couple of messages.

"So, when are you going back to Agios?" Phil asked, taking a dubious sip out of the ice cream soda through a straw. He grimaced, but it was more for show, as he continued sipping it regardless.

Nick sighed. "We will have to go back later today, as Sal will be working at the airport on Friday night."

...And Jen will be coming back at the weekend...The thought had hovered in his head like an annoying fly, refusing to leave.

"And what work are you doing this year?" Phil asked.

"Well, it looks like I've got a job working with Sal at the airport," Nick replied more cheerfully.

"Err," Sal coughed to get their attention. "Not 'with' me Nick, that implies you are my equal. I'll be his boss," she explained to Phil.

Phil found that hilarious. "Good luck with that then mate," he said to Nick.

At this point, Sandra appeared to have been listening to the conversation, and butted in, saying, "What's that supposed to mean? It's a good job Sal's the boss; we need more women to sort you men out."

Sal nodded in agreement and smiled smugly at Nick.

"Mike is coming here to meet us," Sandra informed them, popping her mobile phone back into her bag.

Phil and Nick turned to each other, apparently having the same thought when they both turned to the waiter and called him over again.

"Another ice cream soda," they said together.

"If I've got to drink it, Mike's got to suffer too," Phil smiled devilishly.

"Another?" the waiter said with surprise. "Now we must go buy more ice cream!"

Everyone laughed as he walked away, shaking his head.


"Hey guys," came a voice from out of nowhere.

For a split second, Sal thought it was Mike, but the voice wasn't as clear cut as Mike's, having a slight drawl to it. Then she turned and realised who it was. Bob, still carrying his ukulele, was standing over them with Karen by his side.

"Wassup?" Bob asked.

"How'd you find us?" Sandra questioned.

"We were on our way to the beach and noticed you sitting up here," Karen explained.

"Mind if we sit?" Bob said, drawing up some chairs before they could reply. "Wow, what you got there? Looks totally rock n roll," Bob said, hanging his ukulele on the back of his chair.

"Waiter," Phil called out again.

The waiter turned and approached wearily. "More ice cream sodas?" he asked.

"Yep," Phil grinned, "Two more please."

The waiter sighed. "Two more," he nodded, strolling back towards the kitchen again.


"Hey," Bob turned his attention to Sal and Nick, "you two get it on last night?"

Oh my God, did he actually just ask that?

"No!" Sal exclaimed.

"No?" Bob asked, surprised.

Oh, Sal just remembered that Bob thought Nick and Sal were engaged. Still, what a question to ask!

"Err, well, I was tired," Sal explained.

"Tired?" Bob slapped Nick on the back, "Sorry mate."

Sal looked at the foam in the four ice cream sodas on the table and imagined disappearing into any one of them. Then three more ice cream sodas appeared, and she wondered where on earth they were going to put the food!

"Don't look now," Karen said suddenly, rescuing Sal from total embarrassment. "Duck!" she urged, grabbing Bob and Sandra's hands.

The others watched, bewildered.

"Kate," Karen warned, pointing desperately over the railing, whilst trying to slide down as much as she could in her chair.

Oh hell!

The other's followed her lead, hiding behind the menus.

"I guess we are a bit mean," Sal whispered.

"Do you want her to come up here? Because she never finished telling us last night about the day her parents moved to Kent," Karen said.

"On second thoughts," Sal reconsidered, "there's no room on the table anyway. Or there won't be when Mike arrives, that's for sure." She risked a peek over the railing to see Kate disappear down the path. "Phew!"

"Here comes Mike now," Sandra observed.

This sure was a small town; everyone was out today.


Dressed again in smart trousers and a striped shirt, with a camera slung on one shoulder, looking like a typical tourist, Mike strolled over to their crowded table.

"Any room for me?" he asked.

"We can squeeze you in," Sandra said, pulling up another chair, whilst everyone shuffled theirs around to make space.

"How is everyone today?" Mike asked, taking a seat. "I don't know about you, but I didn't sleep a wink last night," he said, stifling a yawn.

On seeing Mike yawn, Nick suddenly felt tired also, and yawned instinctively himself. "I know what you mean," Nick replied. "We never got to sleep till past 4.00 am."

Oh great! Sal kicked Nick under the table. He frowned at her.

"I thought you were too tired," Bob piped up with.

Sal blushed bright red. "Err, err, I was...i just..."

"It was just very hot last night," Nick interrupted, helping her out.

Oh Lord, Sal peered into her glass at the lack of foam. She needed more ice cream soda!

"Here, this is for you," Sandra said, handing Mike the ice cream soda they had ordered for him.

"What do we have here?" Mike said, holding up the glass to take a look at its contents.

"Ice cream soda," Sandra replied.

"Oh, that's a new one on me," Mike said, taking a sip. "Not bad though."

"Yeah, it's kind of out there," Bob added.

"I think the waiter is a little tired of us ordering them now though," Sandra chuckled.

"I see what you mean; we seem to have enough to open a parlour," Mike commented. "And what else do we have here?" he asked, watching the waiter approaching them with a huge tray full of food.

"Oh, I almost forgot about the food. We have inventive sandwiches and some snacks," Sal replied.

"Ah okay, we should go now," Sandra said suddenly, moving some of the ice cream sodas to make room on the table for the food, "and let you two enjoy your lunch."

"No, don't worry. There's so much here: stay and share some with us," Nick offered.

"Goodness, we don't want to take your food off you," Sandra said.

"Really," Nick insisted, "we would like you to stay, and then we can go to the beach together."

Sandra watched as Bob helped himself to some of the crisps in a bowl and doubted that she could make the others go now anyway; Bob tended to be a bit of a freeloader. Phil and her would stay to make sure Bob didn't take too much advantage.


The whole table marvelled at the unusual sandwiches, and Sal and Nick offered people a quarter here and there a tasters. As it happened, it was lucky that they had ordered the extra food.

"I love lunchtime, don't you?" Nick commented, savouring a bite of his sandwich, which he had just filled with crisps too. "I used to play outside a lot when I was a kid," he said wistfully, recalling those days, "sometimes in the summer with my cousins, when they came to my town for the day. We'd play out all day long, with my uncle too, and my aunt would go shopping or visiting friends. But she would always come back at lunchtime with a whole bag full of goodies. We would sit in the grass and eat the whole bloody lot!"

"Where did you play out?" Sandra asked.

"There were big fields just at the back of my house. We played there," he replied.

Sal was surprised that Sandra didn't seem to know much about Nick's childhood, considering that they had been friends for years. She wondered what the aunt and uncle had to say about Nick's father, and why Nick hadn't mentioned them visiting his home. Then a disturbing thought hit her: why had he been so hungry at lunchtime? Did he used to get fed at home?

"Where do you two live here?" Mike asked, pulling Sal from her thoughts.

"In Agios Nikolaos," Nick replied. "Have you been there?"

"No, but I've heard of it. It's in the east isn't it?"

"Yes. It's a small town, centred around a lake. It's the capital of the east of the island," Nick explained. "Are you on holiday?" he inquired.

"An extended holiday," Mike said. "I've been travelling around most of the West but haven't seen a lot of the east. This quest of yours appeals to me though. It's nice to travel," Mike explained, "but it does get a bit boring at times. If you need any help, I'd be glad to lend a hand."

"Well, if you are interested in visiting Agios Nikolaos then I'm certain we could find you accommodation,"  Sal said. "Our boss owns a tour company, so I'm sure we could get you some kind of discount."

Mike's face lit up. "That would be great. Let me take your number."

Nick wasn't sure last night about Mike, but Phil and Sandra seemed to have befriended him, and it appeared as though he was just looking for company, so Nick accepted that maybe he could be of help in the quest. After all, three heads were better than two!

When they had all finally finished the lunchtime feast, Nick was even more concerned about the time passing, so he ordered the bill and split it with Sandra, Phil and Mike...and also Bob and Karen contributed when Sandra insisted on it.

"We had better go," Nick said to everyone. "I'd really like to pop into an internet cafe to do a bit more research before we visit the caves, and it would be nice to have a swim too," he said to Sal.

"Yes, I can't wait to hit the beach," she replied.

"Mind if I come with you to the internet cafe?" Mike asked. "I'd be interested in seeing what you find out about this 'quest'."

"Sure," Nick replied.

"Hey, why don't you come with us to the beach?" Sandra said to Sal, linking arms with her, "and leave the men to do the research. Us girls need time to top up our tans. You can meet us there," she said to Nick.

"You want to go?" Nick asked Sal.

"Okay. I'll meet you there," she said.

"No problem. There's a little wooded area just by the caves. Let's meet there in hour," Nick suggested.

Sal's face went white.

"Are you okay?" Nick asked.

"No, we can't meet there," she said in panic. Oh Lord, her dream was coming true!

"Why not?" Nick asked in confusion.

"Err, because..because I'm afraid...of...of...trees," she said finally, after all other excuses escaped her..

Nick looked at her as if she'd finally lost her mind. "Well okay, meet by the kiosk then."

"Kiosk, yes," she said, breathing a sigh of relief. "I love kiosks."


© 2012 Repgreece

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Added on July 11, 2012
Last Updated on July 11, 2012

Off The Cretan Track