Sunday, May 22

Greek Island of Santorini

We took the 8 hour ferry to the island of Santorini. You can also fly into Santorini’s tiny airport or take a faster 5 hour ferry. It left first thing in the morning and Ryan’s nose for navigation once again saved our bacon! We got right on the metro strait to the harbor no problem but then once at the harbor we weren’t sure which direction to go. There were a number of ferries and they weren’t well signed/marked. You essentially had to walk up the boat to read it’s electronic reader board or have a numbered harbor map. Not a good scenario in a time crunch.

We hiked up all the stairs in the ferry to get what we thought would be a nice scenic spot up top within the glass enclosure to enjoy the ride. Once the ferry got going, it sure was cold and windy up there! After an hour or two of reading and shivering, I decided to go indoors and see if I could find somewhere to thaw. Ryan joined me later. Even though the ferry was very big, everyone was still off-balance as they moved about the boat. It was real odd to be running into things with the boat shifting under my feet! Guess my sea legs aren’t up to par. Ryan got restless just sitting for 8 hours, that's not his cup of tea!

When we arrived at Santorini docks below central Fira, we snagged a bus up to the main bus stop. Then we discovered that the next bus south to Akrotiri where our B&B was located wasn’t for another hour and a half so Ryan astutely grabbed a cab. We heard from fellow travelers at breakfast the next morning that they had waited for the bus and it had dropped them a good mile down the winding hill of our B&B which they had no idea how to get to. I still haven’t figured out how they found the B&B!

Even though it was probably 60 degrees, Ryan had to try the pool. There was an Australian couple at the pool and he let Ryan know it was not for the faint of heart, but in Ryan went! Ryan didn’t last long and then we were off to find food. Wouldn’t you know we found a Mexican restaurant and that sounded good?! Senor Zorbas – had a beautiful view, a yummy chicken chimichunga with fresh sides and Ryan’s favorite dish ended up being the spicy chili and virgin pina coloda. We ate there another couple times before the end of our stay since we haven’t found a decent Mexican joint in Stuttgart yet.

Apanemo B&B, Akrotiri was a quiet, very friendly and helpful B&B with a fantastic view of the Caldera. Breakfast consisted of choices of fresh breads and spreads, deli meat and cheese, as well as fresh plain Greek yogurt that we drizzled with honey and sliced canned peaches. By now we were getting a real taste for that Greek yogurt although this stuff had a stronger flavor than the Athens hotel buffet. Our room was very spartan and comfortable, but not inspiring for a romantic getaway. The individual beds were about the size of a good-sized cot and we joked about me falling off when I did my prego midnight rollovers. Good thing they were low to the ground! We loved having our private terrace with a beautiful view of the Caldera. Here's the Caldera (crater), an active volcano.

I think the island of Santorini could be adequately enjoyed in 24 hours. Ryan liked that we spent 4 days there and what we did. [My internal travel clock still operates on a four-day getaway maximum. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a mom or if it’s just me.] Here’s my suggestion: Arrive by air or by sea and get to Oia {pronounced Ee-yah} to take your time meandering and taking pictures of the amazing views, enjoy the sunset with 1,000 strangers and grab a nice evening dessert or meal at some terrace restaurant with a great view. If you have a good chunk of another day to play, it’s fun to rent a car to drive around the island and see all the beaches and villages. Lots of tourists chose to rent 4-wheelers to see portions of the island. I know the beaches on the eastern coast of the island cater to the party and dancing scene which a friend said her and her husband really enjoyed, but that's not us so it wasn’t on our itinerary.

Santorini is on many cruise itineraries and there were usually 3 liners in the Caldera each day. It was interesting to see these fat sitting ducks trying to stay in one spot while their patrons enjoyed the sights.
Cruise ships use a separate dock than we came into. The cruise day trippers have three choices up the cliffside: pay to ride a funicular car up, pay to ride one of these donkeys up the switchback path, or hoof it behind the donkey train and enjoy their rear view and stench.

Southern coast of Santorini.
These tiny Greek Orthodox churches with manicured rock and shrub gardens dotted the island.

Pregnant profile 26 weeks.

A strong wind blew in with us for a few days and hampered our desire to sit and soak up the sun so we drove around the island and beach hopped. The Perissa and Kamari beach fronts were still grooming themselves for high season manicuring the sand, painting tables and chairs, and repairing thatched umbrellas. It was kind of nice to see them quiet and peaceful with less skin. The small pebbles of this beach were not my favorite for a leisure stroll! Ouch!

A mansion home with a lot of land. Check out the evergreen tree with the branches' needles pointing up like they defy gravity and soak up as much of that direct sunlight as possible.

Oia [pronounced Ee-ya]
I told Ryan I really hoped this trip would be an actual vacation and he delivered! We got some good sun without being in sweltering heat and crowds. I read two books on this trip alone! We got massages and pedicures – yup, Ryan too! It was his first pedicure. As the ladies set to work scrubbing and pruning our ragged feet, Ryan had serious misgivings. "This is considered relaxing?!" he kept saying. But then he got a darn good massage and was a whole new man. We've got a convert folks!

We spent a lot of time in Oia. It's so picturesque that you want to stop and take pictures every couple of steps. There's a main pedestrian lane lined with shops, galleries, and restaurants with fabulous views. Here's one of our favorites because of the beautiful terrace view, kind jovial proprietor, sweet young waiter and simple good food.

Ryan's kantaifi, a sweet nut and honey treat.

White-washers were very busy keeping the stark white of the village gleaming.

Northern tip of Oia with the classic windmill.

Dusk looking from Oia to Fira.

We really pampered ourselves the last day by staying in a cave apartment in Oia with our own terrace jacuzzi. It was a nice private alcove out of the wind so we actually sunbathed and just relaxed for an entire afternoon. It was lovely! I have to say, by the end, my fingernails and hands regained a youthful glow again. Who knew such a break from my daily routines of dish and diaper duty could work such miracles!

But all good things must come to an end. The man we rented a car from in Akrotiri gave us a ride back to the docks to catch the 5 hour ferry to Athens. In the 15 minute ride, he gave us an earful of his thoughts on Greece and the EU and specifically Greece's relationship with Germany. Essentially, he said the EU is great for the strong economies and devastating for the smaller economies where locally-owned shops die as the bigger consumer chains from stronger economies take root. For instance, all the grocers and so forth. No more occupying armies like times past, the EU meant economic imperialism to him. There were a lot of unfinished homes and buildings on Santorini due to the world economic crisis. This island's economy is based on tourism and a smidge of agricultural products - cherry tomatoes, honey, wine, olive oil. It was interesting hearing his perspective.

And then to Athens to catch the New Acropolis Museum before our flight home . . .