Getting to Santorini was a bit of a challenge. It all went smoothly but it required a 10 hour layover in Geneva. I debated alot about whether it was worth it to get a room for some sleep or just tough it out in the airport. Considering baggage and immigration/ passport control and getting to and from the airport and being there 2 hours ahead it wouldn’t be MUCH sleep…but some. And spending the night in the airport cannot be fun. Plus in my research I learned that the airport does close and I wasn’t sure if that meant we had to get out. So I booked us a simple room on Airbnb for a cheap price. This way we could Change our minds and hang at the airport if our flight was late or if we just changed our minds.
The room we booked was in the house of a family who lives near the Geneva airport but is actually in France. Ha. So we would be adding a another country to the mix.
BTW – they had this sign in their bathroom. I think it’s hilarious. I’m going to put one like it in my house!! LOL
Our host offered to pick us up at the airport which is always a nice luxury. As promised, Gesparis (he told us it was pronounced Jasper. I think he dumbed it down for us Americans, HA!) – was there waiting for us with a sign with my name. Yay!!
It was a beautiful drive to our mini apartment. The air is super dry. The landscape mostly like a desert. Santorini is a volcanic island after all. There were beautiful white Houses and churches everywhere.
We arrived at our beautiful little place. And you know what happens next. I assess the supplies. Go to the store. Come back, drop the stuff. Then instead of a walk I head right to the beach. It’s SUPER quiet. There are hundreds of empty lounge chairs at the beach. Each group of chairs, it seems, is affiliated to a restaurant on the row along the beach. I don’t waste time being fussy. I pretty quickly pick a spot and settle into a chair. With a towel my music on the speaker. It was a hot day. Probably the hottest we had there. I swam in the water a few times to cool off. I ordered a drink when the nice waiter came by.
After a while I went home to get Laney and we went to dinner. We chose a place called Forty One. The menu here is almost 100% seafood – not good for Laney but good for me. Ha. The restaurant is mostly empty at 8 pm but fills up before we leave at 10. I had a wonderful filet of grilled sea bass. Laney had a steak. As usual it’s not the best. But it’s enough. The host and waiters and waitresses are very helpful and friendly and English isn’t an issue at all. At the end of he night the host relays a message from what appears to be the owner that we are welcome to use their lounge chairs tomorrow at no charge. The host says he doesn’t do that often. I’m not sure if this is genuine or not. I’m sure the offer is good but is it unusual? I had used chairs for free other places. I bought drinks or food. Because I wanted to more than felt I needed to.
The next day is a chill day. We intend to get to the beach but most of the day is spent in the apartment. Research on South America. Blogging. Catching up with my travel plans. We finally get to the beach around 3 or so. It was a bit chilly and cloudy anyway. We have to walk a bit so I can get some cash from the ATM down the road. As we walk there we come across an idyllic looking spot it’s like resort pool with lounge chairs, sun beds (like a king bed by the pool) lots of tables and chairs and, of course, a bar. The place is empty as are most places. The host tells us to come in and use the pool for free. We are tempted but Laney hasn’t been in the Mediterranean yet so I say we will come back. A little time at the beach and it gets chilly so we head up to the pool. We take over the only spot in the sun. A big sun bed. The host comes to ask us of we want something to drink. Like most of Europe he’s not pushy or rushed about it. We have plenty of time to settle in first. We get mojitos (Laneys is a virgin). The host tells me he loves me. Ha. For ordering something I guess. They are so desperate for business. We hang a while and enjoy our drinks. We consider eating there but decide it’s too chilly and we don’t have warm clothes so we go home to get changed.
Then we head out to have dinner. We pick a place called Vega and sit at the biggest table in the place. Just the two of us – the table just called to us!
We ordered a cheese plate and enjoyed that while we decided on dinner. We had a friendly cat visitor. Cats are all over the place. Some friendlier than others. A fair amount of young cats at least where we were. We share some of our cheese with this cat we named Hollister.
At the end of our dinner, the host came over with complimentary shots of some kind of liquor. It was very good. He drank one with us. Perhaps this has a specific meaning or maybe he was just being nice. I had a similar experience years ago in Paris with Jeannine and Bob.
The next day I’ve asked Gesparis to help us rent a car. I have heard it is easy to drive around the island. Especially in this season when the roads are relatively quiet. Seems lots of people have scooters or rent quads here (4 wheel off road vehicles) but I think we will be more comfortable in a car. Especially with the changing weather. It’s hot in the sun but cold when the sun goes behind clouds. And it’s windy. And I notice as we drive around its dusty. Makes sense. Volcanic island and all.
I get an automatic transmission just so I have one less thing to think about. It has a huge fabric sunroof. WIN! It’s an adorable little car. We drive around the island seeing great views and the high spots like Red beach, Fira and Oia. We don’t even get out of the car in Fira. It looks like a hectic strip of stores and food places. I’m sure there are quiet spots but we just didn’t feel it
At Oia we parked the car at a random place and wandered up the hill on a sparsely travelled road. We found a great little bar with a pool and a great view on the edge of the island. We enjoy some drinks and soak up some sun.
Then we are off to our wine tasting reservation at 645. We have some time to waste and I see a sign for a traditional villiage. So I head off to see what it’s about. Every thing I looked at I wanted to take a picture. It was just so quaint and beautiful. Towers with Bells and adorable restaurants. Cool architecture and quiet cobblestone paths. And there was hardly anyone there. I definitely need to come back here someday.
I joined Laney back in the car and we drove up to Santo Winery just as the sun was starting to go down. I splurged a bit on the 12 wine sampler. It’s not 12 full glasses, but still, it’s a lot of wine. The waitress said less than a bottle but I don’tbeliever her. HA I definitely didn’t finish it. Ha. Unfortunately, I had to drive home but I really enjoyed the variety!!
The sunsets from the winery were amazing. This is the main reason we’re here (OK the wine too). Our friend Amy that we met in Porto recommended this place. WOW what a view.
The next morning we returned the car and hopped on a tourist bus for a boat tour. This was recommended by our host. It would take us to a few of the islands near santorini and drop us back at Oia for a sunset. I had very little information on this trip, but it wasn’t too much expensive and our host recommended it so we did it. It wasn’t our cup of tea, exactly. A little to touristy and somewhat contrived – and too many people – oh well. It was a beautiful boat and we saw some of the cliffs up close and there were some amazing views. We made 4 stops in all.
We got to jump into the water from the side of the boat. I had an amazing grilled fish for lunch and we met some nice people – so I guess it wasn’t all bad. Oh and we went back to that pool bar in Oia. Ha they remembered us and were happy to see us again. It was much more entertaining getting there this time, though. The boat dropped us at the bottom of the cliffs (on the water, obviously) at Oia. And, I had no idea before we took the boat tour – getting to the top of the cliff, where the town of Oia ‘IS’ involved either a very long vertical hike (OK it was a windy road, but it was steep!) OR a Donkey ride. I gave Laney the choice. Initially, she said walk. But by the time we walked the short distance to where the donkey’s were ‘for hire’, she changed her mind. SO YUP. We rode the donkeys. Laney’s was rather well behaved and cooperative. MINE? NOT SO MUCH! He (or she?) refused to move most of the time and stopped to eat weeds on the side (even though there was a guard over it’s mouth) and then would get some gumption and GO, but would head toward the tourists who had chosen to walk. YIKES! I kept telling people I had absolutely no control over this thing. It’s not like a horse. You don’t even have any reins!! Ha!!
After our evening by the pool in Oia, getting back home was via bus – somewhat disappointing for a boat trip- and that was an experience too. We headed toward the ‘touristic bus stop’ (where we were told to get the bus home, and we got general – very general – directions from the waiter at the pool bar) – early because we had no idea what to expect. The boat staff had said the name of the bus was on our ticket/receipt but there was no bus we could see that matched anything on our ticket. And there were like 35 buses in this crazy parking lot that didn’t seem to have any method to its madness. We were early so we walked around and looked at all the buses. Nothing was right. So we waited a while and did it again. We only saw one bus with “boat tour” on it. It wasn’t the company name we had booked with, but we approached the driver anyway. With our ticket. We were told to follow him as he walked us across the crazy parking lot where buses were pulling in and out. It was a little scary. Ha. He walked us to this other guy and showed him our ticket. He asked where we were going and I completely forgot the name of our beach. Ha. Fortunately when we had left on the tour I had asked the people at the ticket office about getting home. Because we were picked up from the car rental place. They wrote down the name of a resort near our apartment. This is one thing about staying at Airbnb that’s a little different and more challenging than the usual hotels. When you stay at a resort or hotel people in the tourist industry tend to be familiar with it. You just need the name of the place. This is true of tours, and taxi’s, etc. In an apartment you need the full address or some other landmark – because to them, it’s just another house and they’ve never heard of it. Anyway, when I told them the name of the resort the two men seemed to make an agreement. The bus driver who had walked us over said he would take us. “You come with me I will take you” but the other guy collected our slip. I asked for it back but he said he needed it. This had happened before. We originally had the ticket in 3 colors. The bus driver took one for the ride there. The boat guy took another and now apparently we needed to give up this last one. I turned to the guy who would be driving us and asked “you will drive us? Now? To this place (pointing to my slip of paper with a resort name on it)? In the bus?” “Yes!” he said, with a smile. OK! He did seem like a very nice friendly Greek man. Ha. On the bus we went. And when we sat down – the guy next to me was the same one as was next to me on the way to the boat that morning!. Ha. Ok then!
I had to pay attention to where we were so I knew when to get off the bus. Thank god for google maps once again. Because it was dark and I couldn’t see much of anything (not a lot of street lights in Santorini). I tracked our location and when it got close to the star on the map marked Home Santorini we got off. Another successful day!
As I walked into our house that night it occurred to me that traveling is a lot like a night of binge drinking. When you get home, you’re just happy if you have your wallet, passport, phone, and keys. As long as you have those it’s All Good. HA!
Seriously. Most days involve a lot of moving parts, people, and places. Lots of room for error.
Well – we weren’t overly thrilled with the day but it wasn’t awful either. We made the most of it. And the next day? Sleep in and hit the beach – nothing to do!
And that is just what we did. It was a wonderful day on the beach. We got some sun. We swam in the crystal clear water. We made a kitty cat friend. (Doc we named him) We ate, we drank and, come evening, we played 4 games of pool at Kellys. Laney won 3 of the games 🙂 I had stuffed grape leaves. For dinner. Two orders. Ha! Laney declared it the perfect day.