Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Santorini, part two

Santorini only got better on Sunday, which was October 22.  Maybe you don’t know this, but that’s my half birthday.  :)  It began with sun shining in our windows.  The air was warm and sweet-smelling when we went onto the porch before breakfast.  Definitely beautiful.

Things got off to a slow start, because the others weren’t quite ready at 11, and so we didn’t really do much of anything until 12:30.  Christy and I went down to their apartment and saw where they were staying (not, in fact, at the Hotel Stavros where we had all thought they would be, but at another place owned by the same people).  We all wanted to rent mopeds, because it would only be 10 euros for 24 hours, and two people can ride on one moped, so it would only cost each person 5 euros.  It sounded perfect, but when we went to rent them we were turned down because we didn’t have motorcycle licenses.  So we settled on ATVs (4-wheelers/All-Terrain-Vehicles) instead.  The price was only 15 euros for an ATV for 24 hours, so it was still pretty cheap.  And gas was laughably cheap - we filled the entire tank for until 4 euros.  So, 45 euros and three ATVs later, we took off.  I rode with Sarah, Elisabeth rode with Cory, and Christy and Christina took turns driving the third ATV.  I really wanted to see the ruins at Ancient Thira, so we rode south for about half an hour.  The sun was warm, the wind was refreshing, and the road was lined with palm trees.  Simply gorgeous.

Note that we wore helmets - responsible freedom at it’s best.  Calvin College should be proud.
So we drove our ATVs to the trailhead for Ancient Thira, and asked some fellow tourists about the trail.  A 45 minute strenous hike they told us, but there were places to park further on, so we should just drive for a bit more.  They didn’t seem too enthused about the ruins, but hey, maybe they were just tired from the hike.  So we drove a ways further, and then parked when we thought we were probably half-way up so that we could do a little bit of hiking, too.  The steep trail just kept winding higher and higher, but the view was getting better and better and our spirits were high.

We were still a good twenty minutes from the top, and starting to become weary when a guy on a moped whizzed by us on his way down the mountain.  We kept climbing, but our jokes were slowing down.  A couple of minutes later we heard the sound of a moped, and stepped to the side of the road, but it was the same guy, coming to tell us “You know it’s closed, right?”  Disappointment!  We decided not to keep going, but to go back to our ATVs and head to a beach.  We were hungry too.  It was almost 2 and we hadn’t had any lunch yet.  We enjoyed our little trek up the mountain, and the view was nice even where we were, so it wasn’t a complete failure.  In fact, I wouldn’t call it a failure at all.  It was fun.  And hey, more time on the ATVs! 
We headed toward Red Beach from there, which meant an hour-long drive through the country.  It was so nice - lovely scenery, waves from others on ATVs, and general exhilaration. 
     
Upon arrival at the beachhead we had to climb around the side of a mountain to get to the beach itself, which afforded some nice views.
     
Another dip in the Aegean proved we were not mistaken about how chilly it was, nor how salty.  We floated even without treading water or anything.  Just by staying still we were completely bouyant.  We stayed in the water for about fifteen minutes, and then laid in the sun for awhile.

When it was getting close to dusk we left with the intention of finding somewhere to watch the sunset.  Some clouds had moved in, and were so low that they were sitting on the island.  We had to drive through the clouds.  We were actually IN a cloud.  It was dense enough to obscure the sun to such a point that we could look directly at it.  The sunset that night was fabulous beyond words.
         
We drove through the clouds some more to get back to our hotels, and then changed clothes because the ones we had been wearing were all wet from the clouds.  We probably could have just kept them on, though, because we headed out to go to supper and the clouds were just as thick as they had been, so we got all wet again.  We ate supper in Fira with wisps of clouds floating by our faces every so often.  In the street lights we could see the clouds moving by, and everything was muted and blurred.  It just may have been the coolest experience I’ve ever had.  We sat at that table for almost three hours eating good food, laughing and talking, and enjoying the fairy-tale setting.  At the end of the evening we decided to meet at 9 the next morning for the rest of our time with the ATVs.
The plan was realized the next morning, and we drove to Paradise Beach.  It was lovely, and we were the only ones there.  We read, skipped stones, waded in the water, sunbathed, did nothing.  It was fabulous.  And then we went back, and I drove for the first time.  I really enjoyed just riding, because then I could look at the scenery, but driving was really fun, too.
 
Since Christy and I had already checked out we spent an hour at Cory, Christina, Sarah, and Elisabeth’s hotel before taking the bus to the port and boarding the ferry to go back to Athens.  We found out we did sit in business class on the ferry to Santorini, because we weren’t allowed to sit there this time.  We had to sit at the cafeteria tables by the McDonalds-esque snack bar.  It was ok, though.  Lots of people to watch, and we both had to read “The Bridge over the Drina” for our Central and Eastern European literature class.  We got to Athens around 11:30 and by 12:30 we were in our hostel, ready for the next piece of our trip to begin, but sad that we were done with Santorini already.

Posted by Emily MacLeod on 10/31 at 08:16 AM
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