Santorini…When you Think of Greece.

7 Feb

When I say Greece what do you think of?   Is it the musical??  Olivia Newton-John in a poodle skirt??  Or is Greece something that front line cooks have smeered on their smocks??  Or, when you think of Greece, do you think of a seaside escape with blue dome rooftops and white buildings … something like this:

 

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From the sky, these blue dome rooftops look like the “you are here” dot on a GPS…the birds are probably always lost.

 

It turns out that these beautiful white washed buildings are mostly concentrated on one island in Greece: Santorini. So, to add variety to our trip, Ben and I decided to go island hopping.  We headed out from the Mani peninsula (goodbye!  We’ll miss you!) and made our way to Athens and onto a plane to this picture-perfect Greek island. We had to take a bus on the tarmac from the terminal to the airplane. The bus driver, who had clearly made this trip countless times, was confident enough in his driving that he was whipping all of us passengers around the tarmac. I, being the thrillseeker that I am, decided not to grab hold of any of the handholds and just use Ben as a barrier to keep me from falling. Ben struggled to keep us standing upright while we were both being thrown around. I was laughing so hard that I started crying. You know those people who are having way too much fun? Yeah, that was us. But I have no shame when I’m laughing until I cry!

The flight to Santornini took about 30 minutes, which wasn’t even long enough for an episode of Black Mirror #BitterSweet  but was long enough to consume all of the baked goods we had stopped and bought on the way to the airport #JustSweet

 

 

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The island welcoming us to Santorini!

 

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See, now… is that one of the blue rooftops or the “you are here” dot? Told you it was hard to tell.

 

We decided to stay in an Airbnb that was outside of the city, so on our first night we walked the 30 minutes uphill into town. We checked out some evening views and fraternized with some friendly, adorable stray dogs who needed some pettin’. Ürün from Turkey taught me that you can always tell what kind of people live in a place based on how their stray animals behave. I believe this is true, and based on the strays here, the people in Santorini are very kind (that’s also an observation based on the interactions we had with the locals here).

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White buildings; blue sea…just like the Greek flag!

 

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Clouds gathering to watch the sunset…but they’re blocking our view.

 

It is cloudier in the winter than it is in the summer, but just like everywhere else in this country, we were pretty much the only tourists around so the perfect sunsets were definitely something I was willing to trade in order to have the island literally to ourselves.

Because this was not peak tourist season–or tourist season at all–everything was pretty much closed. It almost felt like we had stumbled into a post-apocalyptic film where there are only like 10 people left in the world, but hey, there weren’t any zombies, so I’d say we were doing just fine. There were enough stores/ restaurants open that we were able to eat and find the things we needed, but there weren’t any people around. I half expected to see tumbleweeds rolling down the road.  

There was also a lot of construction going on during our time here. They were definitely spending this downtime on maintenance and growth. Ben and I spent lots of time imagining about what this place must look like when the cruise ships come to town.

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Want some local wine? TOO BAD. Want some pumice accessories? TOO BAD. Want to stay at Hotel Mylos? TOO BAD.

 

That night, we happened upon our new favorite restaurant (one of the only restaurants, but it still would’ve been a favorite even if there were more) on the walk back to our apartment. It was a taverna where they had food in a display case, and when it’s gone, they’re closed. Hopefully the food wasn’t left over from last tourist season since this place was a ghost town and they probably didn’t really need to make a lot of food. BUT even if it was, it was darn good. We ordered some incredible bean soup, dolmas, and of course a Greek salad. We also stopped at a bakery because when you’re in Greece that’s what you do. You eat. I happily gained weight in this country; their food is incredible.

The next day, we spent waaay too much time debating whether we should rent a scooter or walk the coastal route from the town of Fira to Oia. We decided to walk. If you thought the 30-minute walk from our Airbnb into town was a bit far, get a load of this: Our walk to Oia took 6 hours. We did stop along the way to take in the views and congratulate ourselves on making the best decision ever. It was beautiful, and we started early enough so that we could see everything without getting stuck in the dark. We also didn’t run into any people on the hike, which made this popualr island feel new and relativly undiscovered.

 

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So long! Firawell!

 

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My question is…how do they keep these buildings so white?

 

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Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door.

 

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Extraordinary views just for us!

 

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Beautiful seaside views…still no sign of people.

 

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A body of water overlooking another body of water…

 

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There’s a church on the other side of that cliff! They built their place of worship on a SOLID foundation…get it?

 

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What you expect to see when you visit Oia.

 

Oia also had lots of construction going on; we heard the sound of saws everywhere, and we stepped over countless piles of donkey poop because they use the donkeys to move construction materials. But even still, we didn’t see many actual donkey’s.  Oia was a mix of lively and left behind. There were some stunning places, but then right next to a gorgeous building would be a shell of a building that had been trashed. I appreciated the juxtaposition. And again, the lack of people.

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TWO PEOPLE: SPOTTED!!! Can you find them?? I could and I couldn’t stop starring.  If you know me, you know what a creep I was being.

 

Rick Steves was right yet again #swoon because this island made us the Sunset Chasers pt. 2. We planned our days around the sunset. We made it to Oia in time to have a snack (souvlaki and ice cream) and take the bus back to Fira where we drank hot drinks and slowly watched the sun dip below the horizon.  When it was officially dark, we headed to our favorite (and only) restaurant. Of course, after a 6-hour hike, we were starving, so for dinner we had moussaka — traditional pasta with meatballs — and another Greek salad.

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The face you make when you’re about to save money on a taxi!

 

The next day, we had to wake up crazy early. We were walking experts by the end of this excursion, so we decided to save 15 euros on a taxi and walk to the airport instead. We left while it was still dark and walked for about 45 minutes through back roads and with no view, but we were proud of ourselves for saving money AND for getting in so many good workouts.  We made those baked goods count.

Unfortunatly, early wake up times come with their own set of problems.  And I must’ve been more exhausted than I felt because, silly me, I left my laptop at airport security. Just like the other strays on the island, the security guard at the airport treated my stray laptop with care and actually came to find me to let me know I had left it (SUCH a relief!!!).

After the short flight back to Athens, we got the chance to ride the bus on the tarmac again… I don’t know if it was the same driver or if this is just the way they all make their jobs exciting, but the driver was whipping us around again. And just like the first time, it was a fun ride! What better way to end an excursion with hysterical laughter?

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Saying goodbye to Santorini!

In love with Greece,
‘mi

 

 

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