We put in a lot of days waiting to get to Santorini. Not that the rest of our visit to Greece wasn’t amazing, but the island of Santorini was the place in this beautiful country that my brother wanted to return to and sadly never got the chance. We were visiting the island as much for him as for ourselves. This was a way for us to see it through his eyes and to remember so many things about him, and to miss him of course, but in a good way. It was an emotional time for all of us, the final goodbye, but with a promise to never forget.
My nephew Andy (my brothers oldest son) for the entire trip had boundless enthusiasm and such an adventurous spirit. His passion for good food, his energy and interest and joy in just being there, his obvious love and concern for his mom – it’s so easy to imagine the smile he would have put on his dads face. Countless times I was reminded of my brother in the things Andy said, his gestures, his expressions; and amongst all of us, the recounting of our many shared memories.
The trip from Paros to Santorini took three hours. The ferry was huge, with escalators and gift shops and hundreds of passengers. Our first views of the island were breathtaking.
You may notice there are no pictures of those breathtaking first views of the cliffs of Santorini on my camera. The bus ride up the cliff on a winding hair-pin turn road was seriously the scariest ride of my life. This is an excellent place to find out once and for all if you have some latent fear of heights. What a relief it was to finally get to the top, and then all I could think about was that we would have to make the trip back down again in a couple of days.
We checked into the Kalisti Thera Hotel with a big group of German tourists and a lot of confusion. After our Transat orientation we spent a quiet evening enjoying the poolside bar and figuring out our Santorini itinerary. The next day we were off to Oia on the northern tip of the island. For some reason or other I decided to take pictures with my phone that day. A combination of incredibly bright sunshine, polarized sunglasses and this brain resulted in me pushing the wrong button and taking at least a dozen pictures of myself. They were quite funny. If you would like to know how squinty-eyed and frown-y you look taking a photo, this is a great way to find out.
Quite by accident we stumbled upon the Paradox Thai Food restaurant (looking for a restroom actually) and ended up chatting with the waiter and ordering drinks and MORE FOOD. Shrimp, skewers, pot stickers, spring rolls, an appetizer mix, all of it delicious. We were urged to go to the trip advisor website and post a review. So I did. I now have one review there. In which I said pretty much just what I said here.
We drove all over the place, trying to read a map and asking for directions, looking for the cable cars and the place where the donkeys take you up the hill to Fira. It turned out to be about four blocks from our hotel. We parked the car in a gravel/garbage bin lot squeezed into an impossible space and set off walking up to a cobblestone walkway on the cliff edge beside the sea. There were the usual gift and souvenir shops and some cliff hanging bars. At the Palia Kameni the waiter informed us that Mythos is not authentic Greek beer and urged us to try Yellow Donkey instead. We met a couple from New York, a lady from London, people from Ontario, Athens, Italy. Many people spend six months of the year working here. One man told us he would love to visit Canada in the dead of winter when it’s thirty below. Obviously it’s possible to be out in the sun too long.
It was late in the afternoon and the donkeys were heading home for the night, so we had to take the gondola down to the sea and back up again. Thank God the donkeys don’t work around the clock. The gondola ride was enough stress for me. Our Transat rep had told us that the donkeys smell bad and poop and stuff. Just in case we weren’t aware of them being real live animals I guess.
We had three full days on this delightful island, spent by the pool, on our balconies, going back up the hill to the shops and the fish spa. We watched the sunset from the Zafora Café. Lots of fresh air, sunshine, great food, long walks on cobblestone streets and up and down stone and marble steps, good wine, great company – I don’t know about everyone else, but I was happy for a soft bed and sweet dreams.
Now I know why my brother wanted to come back to Santorini. It was sad to leave. Off to Crete tomorrow and our last two days in Greece.