Santorini, Greece

Posted By on Jul 19, 2014 | 0 comments

Ferry/Hotel We got off the ferry in Santorini, Greece to a mass of people, buses, shuttles, and shops. It was surprisingly busy for 1am. During our quest for a taxi (which apparently had all been reserved) we were found by a shuttle service that said they were going our way. Slightly skeptical,  we went over to his shuttle. It looked legit, so we got in. He said 10 euro each for the trip. Being new to bartering we both said ok. He walked away to find new people and another man came up to us holding a sign that said ‘Villa Aretousa Hotel’, the hotel we had booked. His shuttle was free and a service of the hotel. So we opted for that.

The community where our hotel was. Traditional white with blue trim, and our hotel pool.

Traditional Santorini Housing

The man was very nice and gave us a bit of a tour on the drive there,  even though it was very dark. We learned that the wine in Santorini is unique and famous because they do not water the grapes – They are only watered by rainfall, creating a unique flavour. We also learned that the bakery beside Villa Aretousa was 24 hours… yea… dangerous for our bellies. We pulled up in front of a traditional blue and white building and he helped us to our room. Because we were only there for one night and because it was so late he upgraded us to one of the suites, which was nice of him. We pretty much went right to sleep (after I posted the last blog) and enjoyed the air conditioning.   Parissa

Some of the many baked goods in the adorable 24 hour bakery in Parissa, Santorini, Greece.

Baked Goods in Parissa

The next morning we went for a stroll through the town and explored the tempting bakery. Inside we found the most

Heart shaped chocolate treats in the 24 hour bakery in Parissa, Santorini, Greece.

Heart shaped treats

beautiful pastries and breads we had ever seen. Alll shape and sizes and all looked like they were made just for us. After eyeing a brownie for too long we decided breakfast was probably our best option. Wandering up and down the streets a bit we found a small patio that had a small breakfast menu. It was the only thing open at that time (apparently I’m an early riser in Greece) so we went in. The man did not speak much english.

The small and cozy breakfast place in Parissa, Santorini, Greece that calls a hotdog a 'sausage'.

Breakfast place in Parissa

I ordered the English breakfast and Jess ordered the special omelette. Each came with coffee (the strongest coffee I had ever had, so I poured 3 sugars, 2 creams, and a packet of honey to sweeten it), a carbonated orange juice, and a water. Twenty minutes later our dishes came out. Mine came with a ‘sausage’ that Jess wanted but when it came… well… I guess ‘plane-old-hotdog’ is what passes as a sausage here. My eggs were also hardly cooked, and they cut the edges off of the cucumber slices. It was a very strange breakfast. The beans were good though! We finished up and headed over to the travel agency to see what we could do about tomorrows Ferry. They had already sent us away twice because their system was not up yet, so hopefully 10am was an appropriate time. There were a lot of people there this time around that seemed to be waiting for an excursion. We mananged to work our way up to the front desk where the woman reluctantly helped us. We told her we wanted to get to the Almalfi Coast. She asked why we would want to go there. When we told her “because it is beautiful” she laughed and said “no, no, no. Beauty is here”. Eventually we convinced her that we were going there and she gave us a ferry time of 9:30pm, arriving at 11:30pm. We were pleased. (That being said. We did some googling of our own and it doesn’t seem like there is actually a Ferry that goes there. Apparently the trek from the Greek islands to Italy is a long and painful one… so we are going to find another travel agent to double check later today). We headed back to our hotel, checked out, and went  to the bus stop to start our trek to Oia. Next bus in 5 minutes. Excellent. We waited in the shade until the bus was in sight. We grabbed our bags and the bus came to a stop asking if we were going to Fira. There was another group of girls there that were going to the port so, although I said “yes” he must have only heard their “no” and he drove off. {sigh}. Next bus, 25 minutes.   Fira

When we first got onto the path from Fira to Oia. Feeling excited.

Fira to Oia Selfie

Eventually we were on our way around the tight turns and bumpy roads between Parissa and Fira. When we arrived we asked around for the start of the walking path to Oia. I had read online that it was one of the top 10 things to do in Santorini. No one knew what we were talking about. We asked a few people at the bus station and some other tourists but this path did not seem to exist. Finally we talked to one guy who pointed up a set of stairs. Now we were getting somewhere. After those stairs we asked another man and he pointed us down the road. We made it onto a narrow path through stores and asked one more time to make sure we were on the right street. This time the lady said that we should take a cab. We said we wanted to walk and she said that it was over 3 hours. We knew. She reluctantly pointed us in the right direction. At the next dead end we asked again. This lady said we were crazy and wished us luck. What was with all of these people? Many of the websites had said this was one of the best things to do in Santorini. We pushed on. One more stop for water and the lady gave us her card in case we needed anything, like a doctor. A doctor? What was she talking about? This should have been our sign.  By now we were really confused but decided that since so many people had done it before it would be fine. We were finally on our way. We passed a few people saying they had just walked from Oia and that it was beautiful. We started to feel a lot better about the whole thing. The path was pretty busy through the towns and we got to see some lovely cafes and terraces as well as a few pools we wouldn’t mind dipping into. So this is how the rich live huh? A nice step up from our smurfette-porn room in Athens. We weaved up cobblestone paths and down white cement, through small corridors, and along a cliffside looking over the entirety of Santorini. It was beautiful. Our bags (each about 30lbs) started to weigh on us about half way and it seemed like each person we talked to said it was another 3 hours… but that was after an hour and a half of walking. Maybe this trek was a little more than we expected. A few more weaves and I had to pee. In fact, I had to pee all the time. Maybe I was not retaining water? Maybe my body was not used to this heat and was doing strange things? Either way, I found many friendly pubs along the way that let me use their ‘Water Closets’.

Wearing my brainface hat half way to Oia. Helped with the sun but not with the heat. Stylish though!

Fira to Oia in Brainface.

Once we exited the last town it was all mountainside from there. We were starting to get pretty tired and the heat was really baring down on us. We asked a few more people along the way who much farther and they each said about an hour and a half. We had come this far, we would finish it. My shoes felt like they were half a size too small. I don’t remember this in Calgary but possibly my feet were swelling. It was starting to hurt. Half way up the last steep incline I started to think something was wrong. I was guzzling water, had to pee every 15 minutes, and I had cotton mouth. I could not keep up. My head started to feel hot and I got pretty dizzy. Near the top my body switched into survival mode. I had this horrible feeling that if I did not make it to the top soon I may faint. All of a sudden my legs strengthened and I started booking it up the hill, leaving Jess behind. There was nothing I could do but keep walking with my eyes on the prize. I powered up the hill and collapsed into the side of a random deserted church. I don’t know how I made it but I couldn’t be happier. Jess caught up a few minutes later and we sat in the shade of the church before starting the 30 minute downclimb.   Oia Going downhill was hard on my toes and my hands were also going numb at this point. There was a fork in the road and we headed to the left. Never go left (as I learned when rafting one time and getting flipped over by a tree and pinned under water until my dad pulled me out). This path wound down the side of the cliff beside a rock wall with locked doors. It was not looking good for me. Eventually we found an opening through a hotel and cut through the pool area to reception. The man told us that our hostel was another 1.5km away. I wouldn’t make it. But there was a bus stop outside. We dragged ourselves down to the road and plopped down. There was no sidewalk so all of the cars came pretty close. I couldn’t take it. I broke down. Uncontrollably sobbing and trying not to faint and throw up. I had reached my breaking point. A bus came a few minutes later and Jess nearly threw herself in front of it to stop it, since it was a charter and not a public bus. I don’t know if it was her arm waving or the sight of me that stopped him but the man jumped off the bus and put our bags in the side, helping us up the stairs. I was still crying and everyone was looking at me, but I didn’t care. it felt good to cry and I knew I would be ok. One of the girls on the bus was headed to our hostel and showed us the way. Jess carried my little bag and we checked in. The man at the hostel gave us a quick tour, as he could tell I needed to get inside, and lead us to our room. We walked into a large room with 10 bunk beds, not exactly my ideal situation, but I was too sick to care. I rushed to the shower and turned on the cold water. I sat there fully clothed for over an hour, nearing unconsciousness off and on. I tapped my foot and my hands on the ground to keep myself from fainting. Jess asked about a hospital but apparently they can’t do anything more for heat stroke. Eventually I made it a few minutes without the feeling of fainting and I hobbled over to the bed. In the bed next to me there was a lady who turned out to be a doctor. She was German but spoke decent English. She found some cold packs upstairs and wrapped my legs in cold/wet towels. I couldn’t lay down without a wave of nausea rushing over me so I sat up and listened to her and Jess talk until I eventually felt well enough to lay down. I must have fallen asleep because I woke up to the  lady changing my towels and ice packs a little while later, Jess still next to me. I can’t thank those two enough for what they did for me. The rest of the night was spent in bed passing waves of sickness. Eventually I felt well enough to go upstairs, just in time for sunset.

The view of the Oia sunset, or should i say 'ball of fire' from just outside our youth hostel.

Oia Sunset

Jess and I wandered down to the road to watch the sunset where a large group had gathered. It was the most beautiful Sun I had ever seen. I have to say that Arizona has an overall nicer sunset with orange and pink staining the entire sky, but the one in Oia boasted a large ball of fire. That is all I can explain it as. A red  rippling ball of fire. Once set,  we headed out for dinner. My dinner consisted of water, and half a piece of Jess’s pizza crust. I had to ask her to pack half to go because I started to get woozy again. We headed back to the hotel and I fell asleep. I was up most of the night drinking water and peeing (for the 1000th time) and re-wetting my towel to wrap around my head and shoulders. And now here I am, 630 in the morning after a cold shower writing this blog. I feel more like a hang over now with a pounding headache and an overall sick feeling, but I will be ok. Jess and I are just about to head up to see what is for breakfast, but I think an orange juice is all that is in store for me. We then have the daunting task of finding a travel agent and starting our long trek to the Almalfi Coast. I will update on that later. Thats it! Stay out of the sun folks.   Conclusion When you are testing death on the side of a mountain you go through 10 stages:

  1. Excitement for the adventure – Let’s do this!
  2. Nervousness – maybe those people were right
  3. COMPLAINING – every step
  4. Regret – shouldn’t have gone
  5. Questioning – why did we go
  6. Depression – fear and sadness
  7. Zoning out – quiet daze
  8. Hysteria – laughing at everything
  9. Survival mode – Fight or flight
  10. Tears. So many tears.

I wish I had a more insightful blog as to what to look forward to and do in Santorini but it is hard to tell given I spent the whole time in bed. Apparently there are lovely red, white, and black beachs in Oia but we heard that Parissa has the best beaches on the island.   Checklist: Santorini (2 days)

  • Spend the day in Fira
  • Hike from Fira to Oia (DO NOT DO THIS WITH BAGS)
  • Spend the day in Oia (Didn’t mean for this to be in bed)
  • Sunset at Byzantine Castle in Oia
  • Visit Akrotiri (pre-historic city)
  • La Ponta – Venetian Tower (1km from Akrotiri)

Fail.   Update: Before I had a chance to post this Jess and I finished our day. Not a lot. We walked around a bit, hopped on the bus to Fira, hopped on a bus to the port, got a ticket to the faster ferry (since it was a 4 hour ride and left in half an hour and the regular was an 8 hour ride and left in 3 hours). Pretty motion sick the whole time and the toilets on the ferry didn’t flush. So that was pleasant. Made it to port in Athens and asked a travel agent for our options. Turns out the ferry to Italy only leaves at 6 pm. It is a 3 hour train ride to that terminal. and it was already 5pm. So we would have had to wait until the next day. That ferry ride was 13 hours. So…. We failed our backpacking/roughing it roots and booked a flight to Rome instead. Just at the airport now. Air conditioning. Flush toilets. Wifi. Life is good again. (This may be the first time we have ever been excited to be IN the airport).

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