Time with the Beautiful People

Trip Start Jul 14, 2010
Trip End Nov 13, 2010

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Flag of Greece  , Cyclades,
Friday, September 10, 2010

Santorini was one of the anchor points of our mostly free-form trip. When bookig flights for our round-the-world ticket, we realized we were planning to be in approximately the same part of the world at approximately the same time as our friends Frank & Eli, formerly of New Zealand. Having not seen them in more than a year, and with them currently living a bit off the beaten path, we ensured that we landed in the same vicinity in spacetime.
We're party crashers, really: they were aleady going to Santorini to meet up with other friends of theirs. Happily, the group was quite welcoming and we all had a grand time.
Santorini has a global reputation, and promised to be a very different island from Milos. I was unsure what to expect from it, but I'm happy to report that its fame is well-deserved, and it's a wholly likeable place.
At least in early September. I've not experienced the July-August high season, but it sounds...painful. Misanthrope that I am, I doubt I'd feel so positive about the place if I were fighting crowds everywhere I went. September is perfect, with plenty of people still about but little traffic and plenty of parking and room in the restaurants and on the beaches.
Santorini forms about half of the rim of a volcano around a gigantic caldera that is now below sea level and thus filled with water. The eruption that blew the entire middle out of the formerly large, circular island occurred since the island has been inhabited, something like 1600 BC. An eruption like that could really ruin your day.
What we're left with, though, is a stunning sight. High, sheer cliffs form the western edge of Santorini, along the caldera. The views over the other islands surrounding the caldera and of the remants of the volcano in the middle are astounding, especially at sunset, and a number of towns cling to the edge of the cliffs to take advantage of them.
We stayed in Perissa, a slightly-scruffy beach town on the eastern side of the island. We stayed there because are friends were staying there, taking advantage of all of their research. And they did a good job with that--it was probably the town I'd most want to stay in on the island. There are certainly fancier digs, but it was relaxed and inexpensive with a nice beach and enough restaurants and stuff to keep us happy. I like that it's not as tarted-up as larger Kamari, just around the sea cliffs to the north.
I'll put a plug in for our lodgings in Perissa: Villa Spyros. The standard room was comfortable and very reasonable at 30 Euro per night (rather more in high season, of course). The proprietress, Sofia, was extremely friendly and helpful, beyond all expectation. We enjoyed the pool, and the beach and everything else were a short walk away.
Sheila, unfortunately, suffered a relapse of her sickness from Cambodia. I thought she was about over it, but her last, sleepless night in Milos was spent feverishly coughing. This made for an unpleasant morning in transit to Santorni, and when we met up with friends for dinner on Santorini they opined that a visit to the doctor would be advisable post haste. So we made an excursion to the walk-in clinic in Fira, along with Eli who was also under the weather. A quick 5 Euro consult and 89 Euro of drugs later, Sheila was better-equipped to fight the thing off. She's rather improved now, but for a big chunk of time she wasn't up to much.
I joined the non-sick members of the group for a hike from Fira, the island's capital near the middle of the caldera rim, to Ia, at the northern tip of the rim. This 12 kilometer walk took us past endless hotels and restaurants before getting out of the buildup around Fira and finding the trail proper. Once we reached the trail, it was up, down, and around as we wound our way to Ia. It was hot, shadeless work, at least accompanied by a good breeze much of the way. The views were great the whole way, with ever-changing perspectives of Santorini and the other islands. When arriving in Ia, the trail goes by the island's desalinization plant, which isn't quite as picturesque as the rest of the town. A woman, presumably an employee of the plant or another nearby concern, was standing outside as we walked by and said in perfect deadpan, "Welcome to Ia."
I thought the hike would be a doddle based on what I'd read; while it wasn't a trek up Kilamanjaro, it was a bit more than I expected. I'd do it again, but I might just start in Imerovigli to avoid the endless trecking around city streets from Fira to there, as charming as those can be.
The rest of the time on the island was spent driving about and eating and sitting on the beach and eating and tasting wine and eating. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones and, well, eat together. The days flew by faster than seems possible, and now we're off to Crete!
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Eli on

You guy were part of the deal, not crashing!! Glad to hear the Sheila is doing better. I'm still at 80%. The walk to Oia sounds lovely, but I'm glad that I had the "sick" excuse to flop on the beach and indulge in drinks with umbrellas in. Was great to see you guys! Have fun continuing your circumnavigation!

Sharon on

Need some pictures!!

Charlanne Tippett on

AHHHHH... the Cyclades!!! Paradise indeed! Thanks for the trip down memory lane, and y'all keep having fun and keep writing so we can all be jealous! ;-)

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