(Excerpt from my book,Â The Artist on the Road: Impressions of Greece)
With a full day of drawing behind me and a stomach that is unwilling to cooperate any longer, I walk back to the hotel and pick up my dad for dinner. Searching for a good place to eat, we stop at a quaint little Italian restaurant displaying fresh raviolis, tortellinis, linguini, and other pasta shapes, beautifully displayed on a table to tempt passersby to come inside. The menu outside the door lists even more tasty items: lasagna, chicken parmesan, and pizza. The smell of oregano and tomato sauce fills the air. My stomach growls, but my heart sinks when I see the prices. I must remember that staying on budget made this trip possible and creating art is the reason Iâ€™m here. Disappointed, we walk a little farther and come upon an open grassy area. To our surprise, we see a stately, four-foot high Pelican standing on a large flower pot. It looks so wise with its long bill and majestic pose. Its webbed feet wrap around the edge of the planter, and it barely budges as we move in closer, taking pictures. Few people are close by, and those who are, surprisingly, donâ€™t notice this beautiful white bird. Perhaps they think itâ€™s a statue.
Getting hungrier by the minute and unable to have pelican for dinner, we continue walking and find a pizza restaurant with prices more in line with our budget. The restaurant is located in a courtyard with trellises of grapevines canopying above. The weather is still warm, and the earlier threat of rain has vanished. I order a glass of chianti and a pepperoni pizza, feeling happy as a clam.
After paying the bill, we head back towards the hotel. Just up ahead, we hear loud voices coming from a crowd of people and walk over to see what all the commotion is about. Showing off and obviously enjoying the attention, we see the pelican using its bill to smooth its ruffled feathers. It spreads its wings to create some space around it, and then its real intentions become obvious. The back door to a restaurant stands open, and it walks directly inside as if it works there, proceeding behind the counter and into the kitchen, where the good stuff is. A few seconds later, a cook with a broom shoos the large bird from behind the counter and out the door. A roar of laughter erupts from the crowd. Then with a flap of his wings, the pelican flies off to his next destination in search of food. We head back to the hotel for some shut eye.