Day 37: Santorini

Ok today was a long day, and in a good way. I slept in till 9am because there was no rush today to see stuff. I then sent some emails, chatted on instant messenger and stuff for a bit, then left around 10:30 for the Kamari beach on the east coast of the island. The beach is renowned for its black pebble beach and warm water. Today the air temp was 35C, and I heard the water was at 25C but I’m not sure I believe that or not. It felt cold when I first got in, but it was so very refreshing. I need to describe the beach though in detail to give an idea. Its about a mile long with black sand far from the water, and pebbles when you get close to the water’s edge. The beach quickly slopes down to the water. There are hundreds of umbrellas and beach chairs on the beach in rows and they go for 5 euros. I brought my towel and put it out. I have sun screen I bought in Italy, but I got only SPF 10 because I was trying to get a better tan, which I guess wasn’t so good in retrospect for spending a lot of time on the beach. The water is crystal clear, with no trash or anything floating in it, its just perfectly clean. There is a slight swell and a good breeze blowing, again I feel like its a perfect day for sailing. The water seems saltier than the Pacific, I float higher in the water, and the taste seems more so.

At first I got in the water with my glasses on so I could see everything going on at the beach and underwater, but after maybe 15 minutes I feel like floating around so I put my glasses on my towel and I dive back in. Like in Italy there are a number of women sun bathing topless, but it seems to also be more of the younger crowd than in Portugal haha. For a while I just floated around with my eyes closed, before deciding to go onto the sand and sun bathe a little. It felt so good with the hot towel, the hot sun, and the cool water. I made sure to reapply my sun block after a little bit. I didn’t feel like I was cooking.

After a good half hour I got hungry and decided to go look around for a good cheap place to eat. I really have been enjoying Greek food, especially the gyros and souvlaki. The thing though is that those are expensive at most restaurants, even though they are really working class cuisine(thanks to tourists). It took me a while but I found a cheap place thats more how the Greeks would eat it, the places like this are one step above street meat. I love it this way though. I got myself a gyro, 2 souvlaki sticks, and a big 1.5L bottle of water for 5 euros. When I get home I’m determined to try to cook souvlaki. They seem simple enough, cubes of pork on a wood skewer grilled with oregano, salt, and lemon juice. I also must have a very different impression of pizza in Italy from the usual tourist. I saw a lot of restaurants advertising prices like you see in America with these perfectly round pizza cut on a plate. But the memories I have of it are of very roughly pulled dough sorta in a circle but always lopsided, not much tomato sauce or sometimes olive oil instead with a bit of cheese for 3 to 4 euros.

Full up on food, I went back to the beach, but chose a different part, but really its all the same, I just was hoping to get a less dense strip of sand. Though really considering the number of people that come to Santorini, the beaches didn’t feel over crowded. After a bit of a swim again, I sat on the part of the beach where the water met the sand, and I could have my feet in the water while my back was on the super hot black pebbles. It felt soo good but I could feel myself cooking a bit, I just didn’t care at the time. I sure would later..

Eventually I found the energy to get up and go to the bus station to go to my hotel and start the second half of the day. I showered off the salt, got dressed in my nicer clothes I have with me and headed off first to Fira(or Thira). I should say first that Santorini is one big resort island, but it takes people’s money effortlessly without hardly ever seeming pushy like Capri. Its a very nice place to be. Fira is built on the cliff of the caldera, and is a maze of steps and paths winding between houses that seem like they could fall into the water hundreds of feet below at any moment. Everyone’s house is painted white and blue, the island’s colors. Its a strange feeling looking out through a gate and seeing just sky and water with steps seeming to disappear over the cliff’s edge. After exploring the town a bit I dropped in at the ticket office to pick up my tickets, but the guy told me I needed a print out of the reservation confirmation. I told him I would bring it tomorrow, and he said I needed to pick up my tickets a day before my ferry! What luck to find this out when I did. I found an internet cafe a block away and printed my confirmations and picked up my ferry tickets. I decided to move on to Oia, a town on the far north west end of the island where supposedly the sunset is incredible. A lot of other people hear the same thing, and show up in numbers.

On the ride over to Oia I was stuck in a bus with a bunch of the type of tourists I hate. They were from the cruise liner in the harbor and all they did was bitch about the bus, say they were going to throw up looking over the side of the cliff, and blaming each other for saying they should go, all very loudly. These are the type of people who give us Americans a bad name abroad. I mean I’ve had people tell me they didn’t know there were Americans as kind as me. I’ve had to apologize many times for how other American’s behave and swear up and down that the people they’ve met aren’t the norm, but the exception. It took all of my willpower to not turn around and yell at them to shut up and stop expecting countries to be like what you’re used to or want them to be, you’re a guest in the country, they aren’t there to serve you, you’re there to experience their country by their good grace!

Arriving at Oia I walked around the town from end to end, partly soaking up the atmosphere, partly looking for someone to strike up a conversation with, and partly to find a good place to see the sunset. I was immediately struck by how everyone there was with their spouse or lover. I felt so out of place just by myself. The town is even more tourist centric than Fira, but its still pleasant. The sunset itself was nice but disappointing at the same time because the sun set behind Paros and there was a heavy mist. A week or two different and it might not have set behind Paros which would have been nice, none the less the huge crowd there(see pictures) burst into applause once it went out of sight. YAY WE MADE IT ANOTHER DAY!!! GO US!

On my way back to my hotel I had to take another two buses, and I finally found someone to chat with, a German girl who was out there to see the sunset, and as it would turn out, will be going to Naxos tomorrow on the same ferry as me, so we will meet up again tomorrow. It would be nice to have someone to travel with again.

Once back at the little town where my hotel is, I grabbed a couple gyros before heading to my room.

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