29.09.2016 - 03.10.2016 25 °C
I arrived by ferry at Santorini, not really sure what to expect... and it wasn't Roberto that's for sure. He wouldn't have been out of place on a movie set - he was so handsome!! He was my local travel agent's representative, and he was great, even giving me his private cell phone number to use if I got lost (hmmmm - I wonder how he could tell that might be an issue with me!)
My hotel was again in the traditional style - and of course no elevator. The thing about Santorini is there is no flat - it's stairs all the way. I had thirty to go up to get to my room. Actually 'rooms' plural - somehow I ended up with a nice 'suite' consisting of a living room as well as a bedroom and two balconies.
The guy manning reception was very helpful and offered to lug my big bag up to my room for me and back down again when I checked out.
My hotel was in Fira, and it was just a short walk to get to where the amazing Caldera Views are. Santorini like Mykonos was a photographers dream. I really couldn't get enough of the amazing scenery. The taverna's on the cliff top were an incredible place to take the weight off and have a refreshing Greek beer (which is actually quite nice I've discovered).
Oia (pronounced 'ee' as in 'feet' then 'a' as in 'car' is world renowned for it's sunsets and traditional architecture. It's 11 kms up the road from Fira and it's possible to hike there, but it was so hot, and my camera bag so heavy I decided to bus it. From Oia you get amazing views of the Palia volcano and Thirassia Island. I saw some gorgeous blue domed churches when I was there too.
I had a go at getting a good sunset photo from Oia - but the crowds of people everywhere made it virtually impossible. I didn't have my tripod either, so decided not to get too hung up about it. There was a kind of a festival going on the evening I was there too - there's a particular 'sport' going on in Santorini - I think they call it extreme jumping or something along those lines. The festival involved a whole lot of these 'jumpers' getting together and putting on displays of their skills for us tourists. They leap up off the top of buildings doing flips and they jump from one cliff top building to the next doing somersaults as they go. I couldn't watch it - it was really scary, if they fell it would be nasty. There didn't seem to be any safety nets, helmets or protective gear being worn or first aid people nearby.
It was after 8pm by the time I got back to the bus stop - and I felt a bit freaked out about finding my way back to Fira and my hotel in the dark. When the bus came it was a mad rush to get on - there were too many of us to fit. I'm getting a bit over all the pushing in I have to say. Anyhow, I managed to get on and although the bus was way overcrowded, stuffy and I was tired, I made it home in one piece.
One day I caught the bus, I noticed the lady (a local) sitting beside me cross herself as we set off, and again when we arrived (in one piece) at her bus stop. That gave me something to think about!
I decided to spend my last day at Santorini at the Beach. I had three beaches to choose from, black beach, white beach or red beach (true!). I chose Red Beach even though it was a mission to get there, I thought it sounded the most interesting. After I got off the bus there was a rocky walk to navigate around the bay and then quite a steep rock climb down to the beach itself. (or you could catch a water taxi). The 'beach' was really unusual, it sits at the bottom of a cliff and the cliff is red rock - it gives a really interesting perspective. The absolute best part was the water. OMG the Mediterranean. It's so pretty, and it's the BEST to swim in. I was in and out of the water all day - I loved loved loved it! There were quite a few people snorkeling, and it wasn't too crowded on the day I was there - it was really lovely.
Santorini Airport was a dog of a place. A real nightmare to get through. Far far too small for the amount of travellers using it, There was no signage and the customer service was extremely poor. It was mandatory to have your boarding pass with you when you presented at the check in counter (they wouldn't give you one there). The only way you could get your boarding pass was to use the airports one and only machine (you can imagine the queues) and how frustrated everyone got being sent away from the check in counter to queue up for that one machine. I got it wrong, but heaps of other people did too, they didn't have signage to clearly instruct us on their system. After our bags got weighted we had to take them to the conveyerbelt at the other side of the room and load it onto the conveyetbelt ourselves. Then - we had to go back outside the terminal (in the heat) and queue up again to go through customs - it was pretty terrible I have to say. Oh - and the boarding waiting area was far too small for the amount of us waiting to board the plane, it was dirty - the doors to the toilets were open and there was a terrible stink coming out... it was yuk! Bad airport that one :-(
The final thing that comes to mind about Santorini (and it applies to Mykonos too) is that cats abound in the shops. I think they live in the shops they make themselves so at home - even sleeping on the merchandise. No-body shoos them away - and they all look pretty well fed and cared for. Luckily I'm a cat person and found it cute. It wouldn't be so great if you were allergic to cats though.