27.06.2011 - 27.08.2011 37 °C
Firstly, let me say I deeply miss my Greek friends of Ikaria: Georgia, Greg, Ally, and the others I truly wish you could be on this grand adventure with me discovering your country! I love you all so much and miss you more than you could imagine! And I cannot wait for all the planned trips I have to see you guys when I get back!
Secondly, I am writing this on a ferry to Rhodes…my first ferry ride of the trip and no one informed me that a) I need to get a couch with a plug (but needless to say I did some seat changing to get my plug on a shared couch). b) That the smoke from the engines can be smelled inside the ferries *cough* cough*.
Santorini is known as the island of Greece for honeymooners. The famous photograph of the three churches on the cliff of the caldera and the ancient mid-evil castle is a very touristy spot and yes, you best believe I went there. And yes I got my very own iconic photograph and many others (be proud boss). I arrived on Friday evening, after a very tearful plane ride from Ikaria and leaving my lovely roommate and all of my wonderful friends I have made there, but no worries that was only the first few chapters of this grand novel of Greece! My hotel was the Best Western Paradise Hotel and if you ever have the chance to go to Santorini I highly recommend staying here. It was splendid! The receptionist and manger were beyond helpful in helping with buses, tours, and a late cab ride I was not expecting to get. The hotel was very clean and away from the crowded area of Santorini so at night it was easy to fall asleep and stay asleep. The bed was very comfortable and the room had a/c (for free) and if you have ever travelled to Greece, you know that having a/c is the best thing since sliced bread! The hotel itself was exquisite the architecture of the buildings and pool area was beautiful and gave you a feel for the Greek culture and I truly felt I was in paradise!
My first night, I went to a local tavern for dinner. The tavern was family owned and ruined as most restaurants in Greece are. However, I was surprised that the person that took my order was an 11 year old boy who spoke perfect English. I swear I feel so ashamed whenever I travel and I see children be able to speak at least 2 languages before they are fifteen and I could barely speak one! He was so professional and I could hear him yell in Greek for orders, at his neighbors for being too loud, and yet remaining so calm with his clients. They had some of the best wine I had in a long time, but remember this is Santorini—so the wine is suppose to be delicious!
On Saturday, I awoke early to a lovely free breakfast from the hotel! I had eggs, toast with orange marmalade, juice, ham and cheese on toast, cookies and tea, juice, cereal, a fruit salad, and more juice! I haven’t eaten that much breakfast since my dad made breakfast for me in high school! Needless to say I wasn’t that hungry the rest of the day! But today I would go on a splendid tour of the caldera by boat!
Once I was on the boat, I sat with a group of Aussies! This was a great ice-breaker considering I travelled in Australia last summer! I ended up spending the day with three mates: Matt, Bauchef (spelling?), and Ella. Our first stop was the volcano and yes it is active! We hiked up to the tip-top to see the active crater and see the formation of the two islands: Palia Kameni and Nea Kameni which were made from the lava and volcanic ash over the years. Side Note: you should really read on the history of Santorini and how it was formed it is quite interesting! The hike was a decent hike and of course I didn’t think to wear my tennis shoes; so I don’t think my rainbows will be lasting much longer and making it back to the States with me. The active volcano has 2 deep craters that actually have STEAM coming out of it! I tried to take pictures of it but it didn’t work (I know boss, fail.). But we did get to touch a few spots that were incredibly hot; apparently it is hot enough to boil an egg in about 15 minutes! On the way down, we decided to take a different trail. Well we should have known there is a reason we didn’t take this trail originally. Apparently this trail is incredibly hot with gravel and lava rocks and the gravel is slippery and deep, if that makes, what I mean is when you step on the gravel you sink a little bit. And oh, let’s not forget Abby is wearing flip-flops! I was in pain by time we got back to the boat!
Luckily, our next stop was the hot springs were I got to heal my feet and any other aching parts on my body by rubbing the mud all over me and then chilling out in the water. The mud was disgusting! I would have enjoyed this if I was 10 but this was really yucky mud! Bachef even declared it was poop at one point! YUCK! But we enjoyed our swim and then headed to Thersia for lunch.
Our English tour guide informed us Captain John’s was the best place to eat on the 250 people inhabited island with only 3 restaurants. This restaurant was buffett style. What you did is look at the menu, get in line, and then go through and order. However, when I order my fish solvoki and tomato I wasn’t expecting it to be 15 Euros! Yes my lunch of just a stick of fish and a tomato was 15 Euros! AND IT WASN’T EVEN GOOD! The Aussies and I decided that the tour guide was being paid by Captain John to lure in customers. I should have known it was not a good place when I saw the staff was wearing matching uniforms—no wait staff in Greece wears matching uniforms unless it is a very high end restaurant and I am talking like the Melting Pot high end! Not a restaurant that is called “Captain John’s”!
The water in Santorini is disgusting; it is a big flaw of the beautiful island. The only time I swam was when we went to the hot springs and at the hotel’s pool. Even when I went to the famous Red Beach, it was nasty! There is just so much debris, trash, and yucky mucky stuff in it—it grosses you out let’s just say that! So swimming on this island wasn’t in the plans.
Once we arrived back to the port, Ella, Bachef, and I did the last part of the excursion of where we went to Oia (pronounced e-ahh) for the sunset. It was beyond breath taking! Granted the place was swamped with tourists trying to get the famous photographs, eating at cafés, and watching the sunset as well. But my God, I have never seen anything so beautiful! Watching the sunset and having the gentle wind blow on your face is having God tell you “I love you!” After the sunset, everyone gave applause for witnessing the most extravagant thing! I didn’t want to leave and honestly, I should have left sooner.
I swear till the day I die, the bus driver said he would not leave till 9:30. The sun sets at 8:30 and we would have an hour to eat. Then depart. He said it, the tour guide said it, and my friends (who are nowhere to be found) said it. 9:30. That is when the bus departs, 9:30. So considering it is 8:45 and I just witnessed God’s beautiful good-bye for that Saturday, I will happily get myself a sweet. Excuse me, I should clarify, my daily sweet. I have decided since I am on vacation and walking at least 5 miles a day, I can savor my sweet tooth and indulge in a daily sweet. I will be in the biggest trouble with my personal trainer, Adam Freeman when I arrive back I am sure of it. Anyways, I get the sweetest orange-marmalade Cheese-cake and this quaint little café on the back streets of Oia and enjoy it with a Fanta (and Greek Fanta’s are not like American Fanta’s) for only 6 Euros. Now it is 9:00, I guess I will be like the assertive usual Abby and be early for my bus. So I walk down to the bus station.
Hmm, that looks like my bus going by, but I am not going to stop it because it is 9:02 and I have plenty of time before my bus leaves….OH CRAP THAT WAS MY BUS!!! WAIT!!!! And yes you can imagine me waving my hands in the air like a lunatic who missed their bus, with dust flying everywhere, and the bus never stopping for me. Okay Abby, breathe, don’t panic, you are just on the other side of the island with 10 Euros to your name and you don’t know a lot of Greek and you don’t know how to get back…no wait this is negative thinking Abby. You just saw a beautiful sunset, had a delicious sweet, and felt God’s love…why don’t you love me now, God?! BREATHE ABBY!!!! Just go and ask the gentleman how to get back to your hotel. “Excuse me, sir? Do you know how I can get to Arotiki (Pronounced as Are-u-titi)?” “Yes you can take a cab for 30 Euros or wait for the bus.” Breathe. “Okay, what time does the bus leave?” “Midnight” And the tears start to form a cascade. “Oh don’t cry, did your bus leave you?” And in the most classic- American girl way possible I cry, “YES!” “And you don’t have money for a cab or bus do you?” Another wail, “No!” “Please don’t cry you are too beautiful to cry, it breaks my heart, please I will let you ride the bus for free, no charge.” “What? Are you sure?” “Yes of course, anything to make you smile. Here have some water, come sit inside in the air conditioning.” This people, is why I am in love with the Greeks. They always go way out of their way to make you comfortable or happy or just to be kind to you. This kind man, named Nicholas, got me all the way back to the other side of the island-before midnight. And as I did have to end up paying for half of my ride back because of a transfer, he arranged for the hotel to pay it. And my lovely receptionist at the Best Western Paradise Hotel had his arms wide open for me when I arrived that night, like a grandfather waiting to see his grand-daughter. Telling me, “Dear don’t cry, I will take care of you, go to sleep now- I will pay for the cab.” Again, I love the Greeks.
The next day, I did an Ancient tour of Santorini and a wine tour. On this tour, I made 3 new friends: Heidi, Kenman, and Kenton. The wine tour was underground in a cave and was very informative, full of history, and nicely done! I loved all the wines I tasted, especially the third one called: Kamaritis by Koutsoyannopoulos Winery. Yes, Uncle Wayne and Aunt Sylvia this is the bottle of wine that I am shipping half a dozen bottles of back home for us to have! Get excited! Heidi has kindly offered me her home for a few days so I have decided to stay with her for 4 days in Kos near the end of my trip. Stay tuned!
Sunset in Oia!
Kenton, Kenman, and I at the wine tasting!
The crater at the Volcano!