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Friday, November 19, 2010


Our boat pulled into Santorini around 9 in the morning. We got off and had to plan, no place to stay, only the plan to go to an internet café. There were a couple people who talked to us when we got off trying to get us to come stay at their places, but we had our minds set on checking things online and I’d previously seen a place that was really really really cheap. So we went to the café and each had the most expensive but worst Greek coffee we’ve ever had and got on the computer. An hour later we had no more of a plan and our internet we’d paid for was done. We left the café to see that the port was deserted. Apparently people come when the boat comes and leaves when the boat leaves. We wandered back to the gate and there were a couple men there we asked about a bus. They said the bus would come at 3pm when the next ferry arrived. Well if we’d have been thinking we would have taken the bus when our ferry arrived just to get us up to a town. He was nice enough though to call the place we’d decided to stay on his cell phone to come pick us up. The place we decided on was the woman who’d been there that morning and a place Ryan had thought looked good online, but the main thing was that they offered to pick us up for free at the port.
In 10 minutes they were there picking us up and in the same amount of time we were being showed to our room. The “Villa” as it was called was a nice place but you could feel the off season with how quiet everything was. Their pool was still full here so at least we didn’t have an empty pool as an eye sore. Our room accommodated four but we remained the only 2 in it the whole time we were there. We had a bathroom attached to the room, a fridge, and a balcony. It was a nice place with a partial view of the water and it was clean, so I’m not complaining.
After relaxing awhile in the room and using the wireless Internet we were thankful to have we started walking in the direction they told us was the town. We were probably about a 20 minute walk from the town of Fira the capital of the island. We walked around for a long time past many hotels that looked closed up for the winter months completely. The island really did feel deserted.
We’d been walking for awhile when we saw a moped and four-wheeler rental shop that was open. So we stopped to ask about prices. We told them we’d think about it but about 5 minutes further down the road we decided if we were going to rent on, and we wanted to, we might as well do it then because they said we could have the remainder of that day free. So we headed back and rented a moped to be our form of transportation. I’m so glad we did because we were able to see every part of the island and on our own time schedule. As soon as we signed the rental agreement we took a spin before it got dark. Then we stopped at the grocery on the road right above our Villa to get things for dinner. We have done a very good job of saving money where we can by not eating out every meal… or really hardly eating out at all. We purchased enough food to satisfy several dinners and breakfasts.
Back at the Villa we opened up our cans of food for dinner. We had fava beans in a red sauce and tuna. When I chose the tuna at the store I thought it was just a can of tuna with a serving suggestion picture on the table, but as it turned out the picture was actually what was in the can. It was some sort of sauce with tuna, green olives, mushrooms, and capers. Not bad, but very interesting and a surprise when I opened the can. And we had some bread we’d bought at the grocery the day before.
The rest of the night was just spent in the room each of us on our computers (I was posting lots of new things on my blog) and then we watched a movie before we tucked ourselves in for bed.
The next morning was more like afternoon by the time we left. I feel like we’d quickly adjusted to “island time” where everything is much more relaxed and you don’t really do much. We set off on our awesome red moped to see the island. Santorini is known for their wine and us being us we knew this meant we’d need to find some to try. Along the road we came to a winery that was under a bakery. As we parked an older woman came down to the door and ushered us in behind her. There were barrels all around us and we asked if they did wine tasting. She didn’t speak any English but she understood what we wanted enough to pour a taste of wine into a tiny little wine glass straight out of a barrel. This was a Vinsanto, a dessert wine that is the most famous in Santorini. Then she let us taste a white, also straight out of the barrel. We liked both, so we got a bottle of both. She filled them right in front of us and corked them herself. We were very excited with our purchase and off we went again on the moped.
We headed to the each side of the island where there is supposed to be the best beaches. We found the 7km long beach that has very dark almost black sand. We walked along it for a bit taking pictures and then drove on to find the red beach. We stopped at a bakery on the way to get some spanikopita and baklava to eat at the beach for lunch.
We arrived at the parking area for the red beach and had to walk on a rocky path not to far and we were able to see the red beach beneath us. The rock and the sand were very red. It was beautiful. I don’t know exactly why it is so red. The whole island was a result of a volcano and of course there is science and history to go along with all of it but I haven’t taken the time to read about it, so feel free to google away if you feel so inclined. We didn’t climb down to the beach we just sat up on the rocks we were at to enjoy our food and the view over the water.
Then back to the bike. We were off to find Lover’s Beach which was on the map next to red beach. But the roads here are not simple. And the terrain is no simple either, so to get to a beach right next to the one you are at it means you have to get back to the main road and then take one turn and then another. To get to this beach we ended up on a pretty long dirty road. When a truck drove by us on the moped the driver was laughing. But it was worth it when we got there. The beach was all by itself. There wasn’t anyone else there. The only building was a very closed up restaurant and bar. It was perfect to just walk along the sand and splash in the water washing onto shore and look back at the only two sets of footprints being out own. We even decided to get in the water since we wore our bathing suits just in case. I could have endured it longer, but Ryan had “certain areas” telling him the water was too cold. So we got out pretty fast.
After we dried off and walked back to the moped we zipped back up the dirt road and headed off to try and find white beach. The island has black, white, and red beaches… not bad for such a small island. We did not find white beach though. We ended up on the southern most tip of the island where there is a lighthouse. We got off the bike and walked out on the rocks there a bit, but then decided to head back for the night before it was too dark and because we were both dressed for summer even though it is still winter in Greece and the nights get pretty chilly.
This night was just like the night before. We had the same dinner of canned goods except we added a can of green beans in a sauce. :) We really kicked it up a notch. We watched another movie and spent yet more hours on the Internet until eventually we were again ready to get some rest for another day.
This trip I think has been the most low key we’ve ever had, at least for this amount of time. I think it is good for me to have so much down town every once in awhile, but it has been sort of hard to get used to. I keep feeling like we should be doing more or seeing more, but if I didn’t have some time to rest I might eventually combust. I’ve been feeling pretty tired lately with our travels and I think I’ve also been on a bit of a short string sometimes, so I hope when we do go home to Germany that I feel somewhat recovered from the constant go-go-go. Although, I’ll probably be back to that mentality in no time.
The next morning we had another delicious “homemade” breakfast of baby pears, plums, bread with nutella, orange juice, and green tea. I think we were doing a good job with our meals even though we didn’t have a kitchen only a fridge, sink, and an electric kettle.
When we set out for the day we wanted to find a few more wineries today. We’d found another the day before but they charged A LOT to taste their wines, so we opted away from that. Today the first spot we came to was a winery with wine museum. We paid the small entrance fee and walked through the museum with our audio guides. It was sort of interesting although not the best exhibit I’ve ever been too. The most unique thing about wines here is the way the vines are grown. Instead of standing up and having the vines wrapped around wires and string the trunk of the vine as it grows out of the ground is wrapped and woven into a basket. It is a circle on the ground and actually looks like a nest at this time of year when there are no leaves. They do this because of the strong winds so that the fruit stays protected. They make sure the grapes grow to the inside of the nest so that the wind can’t harm them. It definitely changed the appearance of the vineyard, which are also much smaller than you ever seen at home.
At the end of the exhibit we got to try three wines. We liked them but they were pretty expensive and so we didn’t buy any.
Not too far down the road we came to another winery. This one had a tasting fee so we shared a tasting of 4 wines. Our favorite was definitely their Vinsanto dessert wine which was served to us with a plate spread with thick Greek yogurt (the consistency of marscapone) with sweet grapes (grapes in some sauce). That treat was so good I could have eaten it all day. And it went so perfectly with the wine. I loved it! But we really got a deal the day before on our vinsanto straight out of the barrel because we paid half the price for a normal sized wine bottle and all these other wineries we stopped at were selling theirs in the normal for dessert wine, but smaller bottle. We left this winery empty handed as well.
We stopped at one more winery. We walked in to more of an office looking room than a tasting room, but when we asked if they did wine tasting she said to make ourselves comfortable. They obviously don’t have many people stopping by because she was opening new bottles to pour for us. I’d say that she was the most knowledgable and informative person who had poured for us so far. I really enjoyed their white wines. They only had one red and it was weak, but Santorini is not known for their red wines which she even awknowledged. And they had two Vinsantos. The way Vinsanto is made is by sun drying the grapes usually for about 2 weeks after they are harvested. And then from those they makes this delicious wine, which is usually in the barrel for at least 10 years. This winery had a lighter and darker version. The lighter one the grapes were only dried for about a week opposed to the darker for 2 weeks. The lighter was also not barreled for 10 years, but only 5 I think the vintage was 2003. The darker is in the barrel for 17 years and then in the bottle for 3 years before it is ready. The vintage we drank of that was 1989. So that was crazy to think the grapes that were grown to make this wine grown when I was 2 years old and now at 23 I was drinking it. And I think that is the oldest wine I have ever tasted. Unfortunately for us the skinny bottle of this nectar of the gods was 45 euro so we didn’t take one home with us. We did however select two of our favorite white wines we tried here and will take those back to Germany with us along with the bottle of Vinsanto we’d purchased straight from the barrel. The white wine straight from the barrel however we drank over the course of our time on the Island with our delicious canned food meals.
After that winery we decided we were done with wine tasting and we motored back to the Villa to put on some warmer clothes since the day was a bit chilly and we were planning to be out till sunset. After a little time in our room we jumped back on the moped and headed to the northern most town on the island, Oia. This is the town where Sisterhood of the traveling pants was filmed and also the town known for the best sunset vantage point on the island. When we reached the end of the road and parked we were amazed at how different this town felt from everywhere else. It was definitely more of what we had expected to find with many small “roads” that were more just alleyways for pedestrians only. All the buildings were white and many of them had fantastic views over the water. We meandered to the end of the town until we were facing the sun head on. There were other tourists there too waiting for God to paint his nightly masterpiece, but I can’t even imagine how crazy it must be during the high season with swarms of tourists about. And whe the cruise ships drop off the tiny streets must be pure chaos. I don’t think I could enjoy myself amongst too many people. It would take away from the natural splendor I think. We didn’t wait for the sun to completely pass over the horizon because the clouds were low and we figured we wouldn’t see it anyway. But we took lots of pictures as it was sinking.
We had to get the moped back that night so we headed south again toward Fira. We stopped at a tourist information place in Fira to find out what the ferry schedule was since we still had not decided when we were going back to Athens. We discovered our only option was the 15:30 ferry every afternoon. And then we decided we would head back the following day.
Since it wasn’t time yet for the moped to be dropped off we wandered down the street a bit and found a gyro place. Since we are in Greece and hadn’t yet had one of these tasty pita wrapped deliciousnesses we decided to treat ourselves to one for dinner. Ryan had the meat one, but I had the falafel. They put fries in them here. We have heard that it is cheaper to take it to go so that is what we did. It was only 5 euro for both, so I’d say that was cheap for our dinner. We drove them back to the Villa to enjoy with more of our freshly bottled wine. And then Ryan took the moped back while I stayed at the Villa to blog.
When Ryan came back he had picked up a few more groceries including some flan because he knows I love flan. So we ended our day eating flan and watching a movie.
The next morning we had to be out of our room by noon and then they would drive us to the Port about 3. We got up, got ready, and packed our bags to bring down to a room we could store them in. Then we headed to the pool for the first time. The sun was out and we were happy. I even felt warm enough to get in the chilly pool water and I dragged Ryan with me. Not long after we got out of the water though they sun went behind a cloud and I started getting really cold. So I convinced Ryan our time would be better spent walking into Fira.
The night before I had realized there was more to Fira then I initially thought. So we walked the 20 minutes or so into the town. It might not be quite as perfect a perch as Oia has on the island, but I think Fira is still a nice little town. They also have small little pedestrian streets and because Fira is the capital it seemed like more of the little shops were still open. We shared a Baklava flavored gelato and then decided to try another gyro shop for lunch. I thought my falafel pita was much better from this place, but I have decided I like döner kebabs better than gyros because whether it is the sauce or the veggies they put in them I find them more flavorful. And on the way back to the Villa we stopped at a bakery and got a couple mini sweets and a cup of rice pudding. I have decided that in Greece food is either swimming in olive oil or it is swimming in sugary honey syrup. I like the food and sweets but I think it would taste better if they toned down these liquids a bit. But who am I to judge this cooking style that I’m sure has been used for thousands of years. But it’s never too late to change… right?
Back at the Villa we shared the rice pudding and then just waited for the Villa lady to say it was time to load up the van. When she did there was a full load heading to the port. I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled to have so much business leaving at once, but on the other hand she can count her blessings to have so much business period during these winter months. It was a nice place though and the price was fair.
At the port we bought our tickets, watched the boat come in, and then walked on board when they gave us the go ahead. For the first hour or two we sat on the back deck taking lots of pictures of Santorini as we pulled away and then the sun as it started to sink. But once her majesty disappeared over the horizon we decided it was time to go inside and find out seats.
I was afraid this ride would feel like an eternity since the last ferry we took we slept the majority of the ride. We managed to fill our time though. We watched a movie, read, and I worked on blog post.
Toward the end of the voyage a girl we’d met and talked to in the van ride to the port came and found us. She and her friend were wondering if we knew where we were staying and how we planned to get there when we arrived. We told her we were staying the same place we had previously in Athens and thought we’d take the metro. She had asked on the boat and they informed her the metro would not be running after midnight. She then asked us if we wanted to share a cab and if we didn’t mind them tagging along to where we were staying. Of course we didn’t mind and actually preferred to split the cab fare if we couldn’t take the metro.

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