While its been a while since I’ve blogged about anything, I want to assure you that our blogging absence is not because Hilary or I have been in some tragic accident but rather because we have been having too much fun!
For the past five nights Hilary and I have been staying on Santorini, the most picturesque island you could imagine. If you haven’t heard of Sanotrini you have probably seen it in some movie. It’s famous for its white-washed houses and bright blue roofs. I have to say that Santorini has lived up to its reputation as being the prettiest of the Greek Isles.
Our five days have gone way to fast and we will be sad to see the island go tomorrow morning as we move on to Athens.
Our time here as been spent catching-up with one another bragging about all our travel adventures, beaching and exploring this surprisingly large island.
I first arrived on the island days ago, one day ahead of schedule due to my own incompetence at reading ferry timetables. One perk of arriving a day a head of schedule was being able to surprise Hilary at our hotel. Boy was she surprised! We spent the rest of the day catching up, exploring Perissa (the beach-side town we are staying in) and having what is sure to be the first of MANY delicious meals to come.
The next day, we woke up early and joined a full day excursion tour of the entire island. Our first stop was off to visit the monastery which sits perched atop the tallest mountain on the Island. From the stop you have a great view of the rest of the island and it was a good way to get ourselves oriented to our home for the next five days.
Our next destination was to the port of Santorini where we boarded a ship which would be our transport for the rest of the day. We sailed out from the harbour and straight for the active volcano which the island surrounds! Our ship docked at the volcano and we got the chance to climb up to the top. Both Hilary and I got a bit excited because our guide explained as we climbed we would get the chance to see different colours of lava. We both imagined that we would get to see great torrents of magma oozing down the side of the mountain, but in reality we got to see different coloured rocks, which apparent pass for “lava” here on Santorini. Perhaps our guide forgot to mentioned it was cooled lava…
From the volcano we headed for some hot springs which are directly beside the volcano. These naturally occurring hot springs, are a product of the still active geothermal processes that are shaping the island. While nice and warm, the springs STUNK of rotting eggs because of the sulpher that is being released. The sulpher also has the nasty side effect of dying all of the white bathing suits a rust colour. Apparently it comes out in the wash, but since I wash most of my clothes in the shower, it might be a while before my bathing suit is looking its best again.
From the hots springs we sailed for Thirissia, another island right beside Santorini. This tiny island has a small village that is perched 300m up a giant cliff. There are two options for climbing the cliff. Option 1: walk the series of switch backs that connect the harbour with the village. Option 2: ride a donkey/mule up the same switchbacks. Being a proud Albertan that’s spent most of his childhood in the Rockies, I bullied Hilary telling her that the climb wouldn’t be that bad. Twenty minutes later and a LOT sweatier, we made it to the top of the cliff and looked down on our ship we left behind. At the top, we enjoyed a severely overpriced Fanta and then marched our way down the hill we had just climbed.
Our final stop of the day was Oia, probably the most picturesque of the towns on Santorini. Our mission for our stop in Oia was to watch the famous sunset. After eating a delicious dinner which included baked feta that will forever be remembered by both Hilary and I, we found our way to a tremendously romantic parking lot, where we watched the sun slowly make its way in to the Aegean. All in all, we had a great day with our excursion.
The next day to compensate for all our activity from the day before, we decided to slum it on the near by beach. What was crazy about the beach we chose was the colour of the sand! Perissa is located on the black beach of Santorini. The dark coloured sand means that the sand can get painfully hot throughout the day but it also means that the water is a bit warmer for swimming.
After our day at the beach, Hilary and I decided to rent ATV’s so we could explore the island at our own leisure. ATVing was a lot of fun and it gave us the freedom to explore parts of the island we hadn’t seen yet. Our first stop was to check out the red beach, which I’m sure you guessed it had red sand! The beach was lots of fun and both Hilary and I snorkeled around and checked out the cool fish that live in the waters around the beach. After the beach, we headed out to the southern tip of the island to investigate the lighthouse that sits there. While the lighthouse itself wasn’t all that interesting, the views along the way were amazing and we were able to take some really nice pictures.
After the lighthouse, we stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant which had some amazing views of the cliffs below. After our delicious meal, we decided to head to Fira the capital of Santorini. Unfortunately just as we were pulling into Fira our ATV began to die. Every few metres the engine would cut out and we needed to restart the engine. Finally we pulled off to the side of the road, and started looking for a WiFi connection so Hilary could call the rental place. After a fruitless search for Internet, we ended up going to the nearest ATV rental place to see if they could either help us, or call the place we had rented our ATV from.
Thankfully the man from the ATV rental place was extremely helpful. After disappearing for a few minutes, which we learned later was to buy credit for his phone, the man called our rental place and explained what happened. For the next 45 minutes Hilary and I sat in silence as he blared Greek house music while we waited for someone to help us with our ATV’s. Once someone from our rental place showed up, we thought we were out of the woods, but apparently the problem was more severe than originally thought and the guy told us he would have to drive back to Perissa to get us a new ATV. Hilary and I decided to take the time we had to explore Fira, which turned out to be a fairly cute town. An hour later, we had our new ATV and we roared home to make ourselves dinner. Upon returning the ATV to the rental agency, I learned that apparently it was a grain of sand in the carburetor that had done our vehicle in. All terrain my ass!
Last night we had the pleasure of spending a fun evening with some of the other guests here at the hotel. We met two Swedes, two Norwegians, two Americans and 5 Aussies, and spent the evening, swapping travel tales and drinking.
Today was a bit of a quite day for both Hilary and I. We went to the beach in the morning, but because it was so windy it made it hard to spend too much time on the beach. I spent some time relaxing and reading my book and Hilary head back to Oia to do some shopping.
Well, that its for our time in Santorini! Tomorrow we head for Athens and the day after that we are off to Rome! We will be sure to update the blog as we move from city to city, but both Hilary and I are excited to hit the road again!