I farewelled my fellow mat buddies at the port of Naxos Island. I had a three hour wait till my ferry to Santorini was due to depart so I wasted no time in getting my luggage stored in the town, visiting the unfinished ancient temple and heading up through the old town.
I found myself blocking the way of an older guy who was trying to navigate the narrow pedestrian laneways on a scooter. He signalled to me to jump on the back. I thought why not, it was all uphill so a ride seemed a sensible thing to do! I laughed my head off when he reached for his helmet on the back of his bike because as he did this I thought how considerate of him to offer it to me since he wasn’t using it but he then proceeded to put it on. Must of thought I could become a hazard to him – thankfully we both got to the destination unscathed. I bade him farewell and headed toward the castle fort wall, which unfortunately was closed so I settled for a casual walk back down to the port town. It was quite a labyrinth.
Before long I stumbled into a shop owned by a Melbourne couple who’d settled on the island three years ago. I felt it was my civil duty to buy a pair of shoes from them. Treacy and Bron who’d also gotten off at Naxos reported back that they had been made aware by the Naxion Australian of a shoe purchase by their fellow mat buddy!
After buying the biggest green olives I’ve ever seen I was back on a ferry and heading for Santorini.
The port arrival in Santorini (the island is also known as Thira) was just as disorderly as the Naxos departure. After a bit of mucking around I finally found the spot for the bus stop to Fira, which would be my bus changeover spot for Oia.
Bus stops on Santorini are something else. The driver and ticket conductors are very abrupt and you almost fear you’ll be kicked off for breathing! Needless to say it was a delight when Deb greeted me at the Oia bus stop with her beaming smile. Equally as lovely to see Marie and Al on arrival at the hotel. A terrible virus was making its way through their tour group and Jeff had recently succumbed so I didn’t see him for a couple of days.
After a brief sighting of the Caldera of Santorini Marie, Deb and I enjoyed a lovely evening out and I had a late night wander through the town. I couldn’t believe the throngs of people I’d seen earlier in the evening. It was the end of the season but the number of cruise ship passengers on Santorini was incredible – shoulder to shoulder was not at all what I had imagined of Santorini.
The next day we were out on an old timber sloop Pegasus, for a boat trip (sadly only motoring). First stop was an island with more than 10 volcanoes. The visible sulphur gases were a reminder of the near and present danger. There were measuring instruments visible all over the island; apparently the inhabitants of Santorini would have a six month warning for the next eruption. The last one pretty much devastated the place in the mid 1900s.
Next stop was a swim in the supposed ‘warm’ waters that were benefiting from the sulphur springs – we didn’t really think there was much temperature difference until we had to swim back through the cooler waters to reach the boat. Final stop was the island of Thirasia for a lovely seafood lunch perched on the water’s edge.
Some of Deb’s friends from the UK had arrived so we took full advantage of our private roof terrace to catch the sunset over drinks and meze. Some of us wandered out for some more drinks and were pleasantly surprised how peaceful it was once the cruise ships had their passengers back on board.
I’d decided to tackle the hike between Oia and Fira. I’d wanted to catch a bus to Fira and walk back to Oia (reportedly about 100m less elevation – believe me it counts!) but I’d left it too late for this option so headed off in the heat of the day. Unfortunately the Greeks don’t do walking trail signs very well so I had a little trouble finding the start of the track and then again in Imerovigli and Fira but with a bit of local help I made it in a cool 2hrs and 20mins. I was certainly motoring and the tears I’d witnessed of a couple of women and pained faces of others suggested they’d underestimated the walk. There was plenty of up and the sun was brutal when the breeze was blocked by the mountain.
That evening was very special but that’s a secret to be revealed later this month. All I can say is that I found love in Santorini and that that the UK contingency were up for the after-party in my courtyard.
It was time to go shopping….it’s what you do in Santorini when not chilling by your pool or taking in the views with a drink in hand. Needless to say my suitcase was getting a little more dense! The day was finished off with dinner and drinks by our pool with the tour group and of course a few more drinks out with my new UK friends Joy and John and Cheryl and Jonathon. Jonathan had been a little forward in offering sex on the beach, which I responsibly declined in favour of Amaretto on ice. Laughs, laughs and more laughs…
Deb and Jeff were now feeling really well so the next morning we ventured down to Ammoudi Bay in the hope of a swim. The breeze had whipped up choppy water so only Jeff was brave enough to venture in. The Bay still rewarded us with a great seafood lunch which included their famed grilled octopus…delicious!
The tour group had been invited by the Papadopolous Family to a Greek wedding in Fira that evening. With the promise of dancing, merriment and a taste of Greek wine and appetizers who could resist? It was a fun night that lived up to its promises – we were welcomed as part of the family and of course all named Helena or Costas. Couldn’t leave the Greek islands without a bit of plate smashing.
There is no doubt that Santorini is Instagram heaven for those wanting to strike the pose. On our way to Fira for the wedding I spotted a woman on a quadbike without a helmet zooming along while taking a selfie of herself. I kid you not!
I arrived back into Athens with the reality that my holiday was nearing its end. It had been a wonderful week of love and laughs with wonderful friends from my first ever job and the gaining of new friends from the UK. Memories that will last a lifetime.