A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Santorini, Day 30

Vegging, reading, swimming… too bad if it’s boring

sunny 30 °C
View Europe on judesbucketlist's travel map.

At the start of the day I wasn’t sure what the weather was going to bring – the sky wasn’t blue, with a layer of high cloud, and it was fairly breezy but still warm. Around midday the wind disappeared & the sun came out so it got pretty hot fairly quickly.

I spent a few hours on a lounger reading, with a couple of swimming interludes. Then went to my studio to make something for a late lunch & ate it on my terrace, where I stayed for an hour or so.

Wanted to check out the far (southern) end of the beach, where the cliffs come down to the sea. The layer of high cloud was back, but there was still no wind. By the time I got down there I was pretty hot, even after 5pm, and there were a lot of people still swimming. It looked so calm and inviting, so I took the plunge, as it were (had kept my togs on just in case). It gets deep really quickly down there, over my head only about 3 or 4 metres from shore. Perhaps the Aegean Sea is saltier than the Pacific, because it’s so easy to float – even standing up. I’m pretty sure it’s nothing to do with my natural “floatation devices” because it hasn’t happened before. You just bob there, only needing to occasionally wiggle your arms or legs to stay upright. And the water is so clear, I could see the stones on the bottom (without my glasses) even when I was well away from the shore. The end of the beach where I’m staying isn’t as calm as that end, so you can’t see the bottom so well.

DSC01523_end_of_beach.jpgDSC01527_end_of_beach.jpgDSC01531_c..f_beach.jpg

The weather forecast for tomorrow is fine, so I’m hoping to take a bus trip up to Oia, at the top end of the caldera for the sunset. The bus goes at 5pm, so that gives me the day to do whatever I want.

Met a lovely group of Greeks tonight - one of them was trying to marry me off to another one who looked about 65. Apparently Mr Nikos was rich but I think I missed my opportunity. The plumber amongst them says he has "the power" and read my palm and apparently I, like him, am one of life's losers! Yay for us. Just have to find that one chance to win. You heard it here first - Lotto here I come!

Short & sweet today – sorry if it’s boring for you, but I like it just fine! In fact, there’s a little house right next door I might buy when I win Lotto.

The_house_next_door.jpg

Posted by judesbucketlist 15:44 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Santorini, Day 31

Nothin' much

semi-overcast 30 °C
View Europe on judesbucketlist's travel map.

Today started out grey but it did fine up, though was really windy. It made it unpleasant to sit on the beach or do pretty much anything else. The wind was also hot, so it didn't even help to cool things down. The couple in the next studio went up to Ancient Thera, and said it was even worse there, so just as well I didn't have firm plans for anything.

So essentially I just stayed close to home & read my book etc. No photos either, sorry. Hopefully the wind will drop tomorrow, but either way I'll go to Fira and/or Oia.

Posted by judesbucketlist 11:58 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Santorini, Day 32

Icing sugar houses and flourescent salmon sunset

sunny 27 °C
View Europe on judesbucketlist's travel map.

Today came bright and clear, so much better than yesterday, even though it was still pretty windy. I had a swim at the calmest end of the beach again, because we had breakers coming in at our end, which made it even more difficult to get into (and out of) the water without doing yourself an injury!

On my way down there, I picked up a bus ticket to go up to Oia (pronounced ee-ya). The village is right at the top of the island, on the caldera side, and famous for its sunsets and typical Santorini white houses, and churches with blue dome roofs. The Greek woman who sold me the ticket is totally in awe of the place, and sees it as the jewel in the island’s crown.

Which indeed it is! We loaded onto the minibus at 5pm, and headed up the middle, then the eastern side of the island, which gave us some great views as we got higher. I took a few pics, but they’re not the best since the bus was moving the whole time.

From_the_bus.jpgFrom_the_bus2.jpg

We arrived around the back of Oia, which you have to as there are no vehicular streets in the village. It’s on a cliffside, and a lot of the houses are cave dwellings, with fancy fronts. It’s very expensive to buy a house there – recently an 80 sqm cave house went for 800,000 euros (about NZ$1.5 million). There are a few places for sale if anyone’s interested!

DSC01575_Oia_church.jpgDSC01577_oia_church.jpg

The postcards you see of this place are absolutely spot on with the colours. The white houses look like they’re made from pure white icing sugar. There are a few pastel-coloured houses too – blue, yellow, pink and peach, and the odd bright orange thrown in. And many have those startling blue doors, that match the church roofs.

DSC01589_oia.jpgDSC01593_Oia.jpgDSC01607_oia.jpgDSC01614_i..ndmills.jpg

The views of the caldera of the volcano that blew a hole in the island thousands of years ago are stunning (some believe that Santorini was the original Atlantis before the eruption). You can see the different colours of the volcanic rocks, and along the top of the cliffs, the houses on the other side look like dusting of snow.

DSC01646_church_steps.jpgDSC01656_oia_ruins.jpg

There are a lot of shops selling interesting souvenirs, paintings, clothing and jewellery, but it's pretty expensive there in comparison to Kamari. We had to wait till 8 pm before the sunset started to make itself known, and there are very few bars or restaurants with a view of the sunset, so I just sat on a wall with the best view and waited.

DSC01673_me.jpg

DSC01680_d..ometime.jpg
Hometime for the hard working donkeys, after slogging up & down the cliff all day

There’s a humid haze that hangs above the water, so you can’t see the horizon, and presumably that’s what makes the sunsets so incredibly stunning. There were no clouds in the sky to get in the way, but I couldn’t help thinking that a few would have made the sunset even more striking. The sun starts out white, moving through the yellows to a rich gold (which makes everyone look even more tanned!), and finally into the oranges to a fluorescent salmon, before it starts to dip behind the layer of haze which cuts it in two.

DSC01704_oia_sunset.jpgDSC01722_oia_sunset.jpg
DSC01736_o..___flag.jpg

It was all over by 8:30pm, and we had to find the right bus by 9pm to come back. It was a tour bus, so we got the 2nd half of the commentary, which I thought was nice. It got pretty funny, because the woman who did it started talking about eucalyptus trees, which were brought here from Australia. She sounded a lot like Sophia Loren (for those of you who are old enough to remember her voice), and she told us that the tree roots grow 500km! Presumably, she meant that if you laid the roots of one big tree end to end, then it would be that long. By this time, half the bus was in hysterics. From there she got onto camels (as in the camels in Australia), and told us all about why they brought camels to Aussie, and how they now export them to Saudi Arabia. What that had to do with Santorini, I don't know! All through the story there were fits of giggles coming from all around the bus. I think she ran out of material because not long after that she put on some Greek music and only occasionally broke in with some tidbit about the local landscape. Everyone was disappointed because she'd been so entertaining.

Got back to Kamari a little before 10pm, and I grabbed a burger on the way back to my studio. I took nearly 200 photos today - a lot of duplicates, and I’ve picked out the best of the bunch for you guys which will make up for you having nothing to look at yesterday.

Tomorrow I’m getting an early start and taking the first bus up to Ancient Thera, the only ruins that are open on Santorini at the moment. I found out today that Akrotiri is closed because in 2005, one of the roofs fell in, killing some tourists. It’s unlikely that it’ll be open again until some time next year apparently. Maybe in time for my next trip here!

Posted by judesbucketlist 13:31 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Santorini, Day 33

Ruins again, plus hot, hot sun & cool clear water and a perfect last dinner

sunny 32 °C
View Europe on judesbucketlist's travel map.

Another clear, sunny day – even hotter than yesterday and without much wind.

Headed up to take the bus to Ancient Thira (or Thera depending on your preference – I’ve seen it spelled both ways) for their first trip at 8:30am. There was just me and an Australian couple, who also thought the early one was the best, before it got too hot. It takes about 15 mins to drive up the road, which is the zigzag-windy one I uploaded on my 2nd day here. Glad I wasn’t driving – those corners are very sharp and the road’s really narrow in places, and paved with sharp stones which made the minibus judder the whole way up. The local tyre business must love them!

DSC01524_R..n_cliff.jpg
The road wending up the hill to Ancient Thira

The ancient city of Thira was built about 2800 years ago by a king (Thiras) who was exiled from Sparta (of the 300 fame, as in “We are Sparta!”). It sits right on top of Mesa Vouno Mountain, nearly 360m up, at the end of Kamari Beach. It's the ideal vantage point to see your enemies coming over the sea or land from any direction – which I guess was the point.

DSC01744_W..t_Thira.jpgDSC01751_E..ari_Bch.jpg
Views from Ancient Thira

A couple of hundred years later, another guy called Artemidoros of Perge built a sanctuary (what from, I can’t say), and on the face of the rocks you can see engravings of a lion (for Apollo), an eagle (Zeus) and a dolphin (no points for guessing Poseidon). On the way out, I was naughty and stepped over the rope so I could get a snap of me right next to Zeus. Live dangerously, that's my motto!

DSC01753_Z..graving.jpg
Zeus
DSC01755_A..graving.jpg
Apollo
DSC01756_P..graving.jpg
Poseidon
DSC01757_S..midoros.jpg
Sanctuary of Artemidoros

Other people came and went over the centuries, all adding their own bits – temples, sanctuaries, churches, markets and houses – to make the city a bit of a historic hodgepodge.

DSC01769_H..of_town.jpg
Remains of Houses
DSC01780_A..Theatre.jpg
Ancient Thira's ancient theatre

The town is about 800x150m, which doesn’t sound very big, but it takes 15 mins walking up steps to get to the main site, and in the heat with little or no breeze it’s a long way. The tour company only provides the bus ride, and you have to take the next bus back, which means you only get 1 ¼ hours to look around and get back down to the bus. That’s OK for people who aren’t that interested, but for us ruin junkies, it’s way too short. With no choice but to whizz around, it made the heat even worse – felt like I was in a desert and I was very pleased I had a bottle of water with me.

It’s roped off so they guide you down certain paths, and make sure the damage from tourists’ feet is limited. The paths and steps within the city are pretty rough and rocky, and not for the fainthearted or infirm – glad I had on my trusty jandals! Got a few shots that may or may not interest you, but there you have it.

DSC01783_R..wn_hill.jpgDSC01796_C.._blocks.jpg

DSC01810_M..__Eagle.jpg
Me & Zeus' eagle

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon swimming & sunbathing / shadebathing & doing some window shopping. The sun was pretty vicious today so I had to slather the sunblock on after each swim. Walking on the hot stones is similar to Muriwai or Piha (NZ) on a really hot day, but the stones stick to your feet so I felt like I was firewalking between the edge of the water & where I left my jandals – and of course the little stones get caught between your feet & jandals and you can almost hear the sizzle! A lot of people here wear those beach socks, which works in two ways – protects them from the hot stones, and makes it easier on the feet when you go into the water. I was too embarrassed to buy them at first, then it just wasn’t worth it for a couple of days.

If I was staying here for a long time I’d buy a snorkel & fins (plus beach socks), or learn to Scuba dive. It must be fantastic down there with the water so clear, and a lot of the restaurants here have fresh fish & lobster (that one’s out of my price range unfortunately!).

I’ll be really sad to leave this place – it’s heaven on a stick! Sure, it’s not perfect, but every paradise has to have its snake. Here, it’s the planes coming in to land, and there really are only a few – and I’m told in winter it’s so windy the waves come right up to where the restaurants have their tables on the edge of the beach. The atmosphere is really easygoing – even the locals have this great laid back attitude, and they live here all the time. I saw a young Greek waiter at one of the restaurants standing outside with his face turned up to the sun, with his eyes closed, clearly enjoying the sensation. He’s worked hard at his uncle’s restaurant every day since I’ve been here, so perhaps he doesn’t get many days off to enjoy the weather.

Was going to go to Fira this afternoon, but it was just too hot – if I hadn’t gone to Oia yesterday I would have made the effort, but I’m told that Oia is the premium place to see. By the way, if you were considering spending up large and buying at Oia – remember, this is earthquake country so you could end up sliding down the cliff and end in a pile of rocks and rubble in the middle of the Aegean Sea.

Had what was quite possibly the best dinner yet – a whole calamari (minus eyes, ink & spine thankfully), grilled, with a Greek salad. Calamari in NZ always seems to be slimy and/or tough. This one was perfect – I even uploaded a pic because it was a work of art.

DSC01828_last_dinner.jpg

Need to start to pack tonight for my flight back to Athens late in the morning. Not sure how exciting things will get tomorrow blog-wise. The hotel I’m staying at is actually within the airport, just across from the terminal entrance & I don’t envisage going anywhere from there – it would cost 8 euros each way to go into Athens, so not really worth it.

DSC01818_Sunset_beach.jpg
Final night in paradise!

Posted by judesbucketlist 11:19 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Santorini-Athens, Day 34

The last hurrah in Europe…

rain 24 °C
View Europe on judesbucketlist's travel map.

Santorini was again bright and sunny, and very hot, but I've shown the temp & weather as Athens since I was there longer today.

Was picked up at 10:30 for the airport transfer. The driver seemed a little annoyed that it was just me, since he gets paid per person but he didn’t try to charge me extra. Said a sad goodbye to my hostess, the mother of the guy who owns the hotel (his name’s Vangelis, no less – cue music & guys running in slow motion along a beach!). I’d also said a quick goodbye last night to Mr Nicos, who you may remember has a friend who tried to turn me into the next Mrs Nicos. He doesn’t speak much English, but I’m sure he said I should come back next year and marry him. Might have to think about it – it may be the best offer I get!

There was a long queue out the door at the little airport, with everyone checking in for one flight. It took about 25 mins to get to the counter, but seemed like longer since we were close to boarding time by the time we all got through. There were buses to the plane again – it’s kind of weird climbing the stairs into the plane. Felt a bit like the President walking up there – I almost turned around to wave & smile at the crowd!

The flight was smooth, and I spent the time reading to keep my mind off the fact I was leaving Santorini. So I was surprised when we landed in Athens and it was raining, with black clouds in the sky, and thunder. In a strange way, I was pleased that the weather was crappy on my last day in Europe. It has fined up but the clouds are still there. Hopefully tomorrow’s takeoff won’t be too rough.

Waited ages for my suitcase to show up at baggage claim, then walked across the road to the hotel. My room’s on the 4th floor; apparently I’ve been upgraded from a “superior” room on the lower floors to a “deluxe” room.

DSC01833.jpg
View out the window

Getting the “upgrade” means I can’t ask for some money back for the twin beds instead of the queen size I expected. It’s nice enough, but for a 5-star hotel it’s really nothing special. The shower’s pretty nice, with room for more than one – but even with the door closed tightly, the water still floods the bathroom floor. I’ve taken a couple of pics of the room FYI.

DSC01829.jpgDSC01831.jpg

Will eat dinner at the airport – it’s cheaper than the hotel restaurants – and avail myself of the free one hour wifi access over there (the hotel charges 5 euros per hour) to upload this blog. My flight’s at 1:15pm tomorrow so will stay at the hotel as late as possible. The airport’s not that big so it will be pretty boring after about half an hour – I’ve already been through their small museum, which displays some of the things that were excavated when the airport was built (no pics allowed).

Posted by judesbucketlist 11:12 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

(Entries 31 - 35 of 36) « Page .. 2 3 4 5 6 [7] 8 »