Trip Start Feb 11, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Greece  , Cyclades,
Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yiasou everyone,

It's hard to believe we've already been away five months, having conquered four continents and now, our 15th country - Greece.

After the last lengthy update, we'll try and keep this one short, we promise.

We arrived in Santorini in the Greek Islands on July 10, after an overnight train journey from Rome to Milan and then a plane from Milan to Santorini.

We had just four days on the island, en route to Turkey, and after the hectic week in Rome it was good to just chill out for a while. Our hotel in the main town of Fira had a pool, so we spent much of our time there escaping the heat. Chris also began teaching Caroline how to dive properly (she was always too frightening to learn after hearing horror stories as a child about some kid who jumped off the 10m board at the pool in Hobart and split his stomach open and his guts were floating about in the water).

Our first full day there was Friday, July 11, the day Caroline's AFL team, Carlton, were due to play St Kilda with a win possibly thrusting them into the top eight, a place they haven't been in quite sometime. With the game starting at 7.40pm Sydney time, 11.40am Greek time, we went hunting for a pub that might be showing the game.

Our search led us to Murphy's Bar, known for it's international sports coverage. With baited breaths, we waited as the buxom Greek bartender scanned the channels but alas, the game was not being shown. Dejected, we headed next door for beer and a gyro (the Greek equivalent of a kebab).

Afterwards, we must have still been feeling a bit dejected because we had only walked about 20m before we stopped for another beer and another gyro. It really helped to take away the pain.

The next day we hired a quad bike so we could explore the rest of the island.

That night we drove north about 30 minutes to watch the sunset at Oia, famous for it's spectacular caldera views across the ocean. Seems everyone else had the same idea, with hundreds of people descending on the little town to perch on walls and roofs and sip beer in clifftop restaurants as the sun began to dip.

We bought a couple of cold Mythos beers and found ourselves a great little spot with an awesome view. It was the most amazing sunset we had ever seen, the glowing sun turning the sky and the white houses all along the cliff a brilliant shade of orange as it sunk below the horizon. In the final instant, just as the last spot of light disappeared, people all along the coastline clapped and cheered, applauding Nature for her magnificent show. It was a magic moment.

On a natural high, we hopped aboard the quad bike and tore back to Fira as the sky began to darken.

The next day, our final full day in Santorini, we took the bike for a drive south, first heading to Perissa where we stopped for a lunch of gyros and beer at a little beach café.

Afterwards we stopped to check out Black Beach (so named because of it's black sand). The sand itself was hardly tempting, feeling more like gravel, and hot as hell.

Then we were back on the bike, hugging the coastline as we headed west in search of Red Beach (so named because of it's red sand). Parking in the bike, we made the short trek up a hill and around the headland, to a lookout point where you could see the entire Red Beach. It was an incredible sight - unlike anything either of us had seen before. Red sand, not like the orange-red you see in Australia, more like a deep rust-coloured, almost brown red, alongside aqua-blue water against the backdrop of fantastic red cliffs.

Tempting as the water looked, we set off again in search of White Beach (so named...well, you know the rest), but after various wrong turns and dead ends, we gave up, deciding instead to head towards the southernmost tip of Santorini. We stopped along the way to take in an amazing view of the entire island, as well the smaller islands that were formed after a volcano exploded. You can still see the volcano island in the middle of all the islands and apparently you can take boat trips out the to swim in the thermal waters. Paddling above a volcano? No thanks.

Heading back to the hotel, we opted for one last swim, where Caroline finally perfected the dive, before dropping the quad bike back and heading out for a last dinner in Fira town.

With the sun hanging low in the sky, we secured a table at a great little restaurant perched on the cliff overlooking the ocean. Throwing out budget out the window for a night, we ordered champagne and toasted to us as we watched yet another incredible sunset. As we sat there, sipping champagne and gorging on dolmades, tzatziki, stuffed capsicum and tomatoes and grilled squid and octopus among white and blue houses on that cliff overlooking the orange tinged water, we felt extremely lucky. Life can't get any better than that.

And then before we knew it, our time in Santorini was over and we had to pack for Turkey.

Our original plan was to catch a quick ferry to the nearby island of Rhodes and then another ferry to Fethiye in Turkey but after consulting a few travel agents, we discovered that ferries from Santorini run less regularly than we anticipated and that our quick trip to Turkey was going to take more like two days, with 16-hour ferry journeys and overnight stays on surrounding islands.

Instead we bit the bullet and spent slightly more money on a plane ticket from Santorini to Rhodes and then took a connecting hydrofoil to Fethiye. All up, our travel time was around three hours - a much better option.

Only problem was that the plane was a tiny 19-seater with a luggage limit of 12.5kg each. At last weigh in, our packs were 25kg each.

For the full story of how we halved out luggage to get off the island as well as how we almost died in* an earthquake in Turkey, tune in next time.

Chris and Caroline

*Note: use of the words "almost died in" may be slightly exaggerated and could possibly be replaced with the words "slept through". Reader discretion advised.

Our wonderful sunset dinner.

Tearing around the island on the quad bike.

Our Gyro Crawl of Santorini (all for research purposes of course).

How do dive.

How to get off the island.

That peppermint spray can be effective at covering up the stench of donkey.

Finally seeing Dark Knight, hopefully in Istanbul, after waiting anxiously for the past year.

Watching Death Defying Acts, the film Chris worked on, when it's released in London in August.

Seeing Laura and hopefully Dave Turner next month for the Beatles Festival in Liverpool.

Catching up with Em, Penny, Eleanor, Jess, Dave and Jo (and maybe even Debs) in London.

Partying with Stefan at the Chemical Brothers concert in London on the 30th.

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