Hiking around is best done on a tummy filled with breakfast. Today should have been no exception, but, where in the world is the villas‘ restaurant? At check in, it’s location was vaguely described as “just over there.”
While shooting a few morning photos of the sunrise, I noticed a fellow in a nearby villa also enjoying the beautiful view of the caldera as the sun rose. When we headed out to break, so did he and his wife. We asked them if they knew where it was. After starting to answer, Angie said we should just follow them.
Some 200 steps later (literally, she had counted them*), we arrived. The location was beautiful, near the pool, a wedding platform with a to-die-for view, and the jacuzzi. Angie, from Canada, has been coming to Santorini for the past 8 years, staying 3 weeks at a time working as a yoga instructor during the peek visitors’ season. This year she brought her husband (Paul), son, and mother-in-law. They were delightful, outgoing, and very helpful.
After breakfast we rented a car and drove to Oia (pronounced EEE – uh). We got there before the crowds from the tour buses/cruise ships and began working our way through this beautiful village. I explored areas of the village that I had never seen before this trip. While there were definitely several changes to the village, much of it remains the same as when I visited 10 years ago.
I noticed one can rent a Santorini cat for 5 Euro. No need, a cat has adopted us at the villa. Our villa even provides a feeding bowl for him, which he is still waiting for us to fill. Cats seem to abound on the island, and they are very friendly.
Ormost Ammoudiou (Port)
After spending a few hours in Oia, we got back into the car and drove down to the small boat area at the base of the corner of this northern most point in the island (caldera side). The water here is shockingly beautiful and clear—a fresh combination of green and deep blue. We walked down to the seaside restaurants for a light lunch.
This area is simultaneously dramatic and quaint. The tables at the restaurants are literally at water’s edge, on a cement slab about 2 feet above the Aegean Sea—I wonder how many guests have moved their chair an inch too far and ended up in the water! Not kidding. There’s nothing there to prevent it. The waves would occasionally splash up onto the “floor.” Beautiful and relaxing with the sounds of the splashing sea. About a dozen small, unique, colorful, floating ditties were anchored in the port.
An odd bridal photo shoot was taking place on one of the docks. The bride’s dress had to have gotten wet, and those ridiculous poses! The photographers didn’t seem to much know what they were doing. But who cared?! The bride seemed to be having a marvelous time trying to keep the bottom of her dress out of the sea while writhing around on the wet dock like some awkward, adolescent, fashion-minded contortionist doing her first photo shoot.
Our waiter, the typically chiseled, bronzed, Greek male, took our order and then dove into the water for a quick swim. After we ate we took a short hike to the beacon at the point of the island before heading back to the car. The views from the point, looking directly up the jagged seaside cliff looming above you at the commonly photographed Santorini windmill high above, were pretty dramatic. Everyone photographs the windmill from above, and not many people come down here.
Evening in Thira
We were scheduled to take an evening cruise in the caldera for sunset, but that was rescheduled for Wednesday. Instead, we walked around Thira’s town center, a major tourist trap. In addition to the lift that brings people from the docks along the seaside in the caldera, the old port, up to the volcano’s ridge, where all of the shops, hotels, and cafés are, you can ride donkeys up the billions of stairs (or walk them if you’re young and crazy—remember the hundreds of donkeys walk up those same stairs, pooping as they go. It’s not as romantic as one might think. I could smell the donkeys at a distance of at least a mile!) this area feels more like a North African medina to me.
Still adjusting from the time change and a bit done in because of the heat, we then headed back to the man cave for some rest and relaxation.
Sunset and Dinner
Tonight’s sunset was very different from last night’s as there were low-lying clouds to the west—beautiful even though it seemed to get darker faster as a result. We enjoyed the sunset from Vanilia’s rooftop deck, which was so high you could actually see the sea on both sides of the island—inside and outside the caldera, to the east. The breeze was refreshing after a rather warm and very sticky day. By the way, I highly recommend Vanilia’s bitter chocolate mousse for dessert.
After dinner we briefly walked along the ridge in the night lights, saw a flare in the sky (or did the aliens decide to land first in Santorini?), and then heading back to the man cave. Over the past 24 hours I walked over 16,000 steps and ascended/descended a whopping 61 flights of stairs! No wonder my legs are so cranky. My camera equipment is much too heavy and my joints too old!
Photos to follow after I download my camera card.
* I counted 153 steps from our villa to breakfast and 113 steps from the main pedestrian walk along the caldera down to our hotel room. And how many times did I walk these every day???