-Roughest of mornings
-Perissa (beach day)
At 4am, we got off the ferry.
Thus begins the longest (and most eventful) day of our lives.
Sometimes I (Angie) have ideas that are really great and turn out really well. And sometimes I have ideas that are terrible and I can't imagine what I ever could have been thinking. Unfortunately, this was one of the latter.
When you show up in a completely new town at 4am, with nowhere to go, and you're so cheap that you refuse to spend money to find a place to sleep for just a few hours, you might just find yourself laying on a PARK BENCH (like a HOMELESS PERSON) for three hours, so tired from not sleeping a wink on that darn ferry, but too freezing to fall asleep here because the wind is blowing so hard and there is nowhere you can go to escape it. You might swallow your pride and pathetically knock on the door of a cafe next to your park bench where the cleaning lady has shown up and motion to her that you need shelter. She will shake her head, shrug her shoulders, and try not to make eye contact with you ever again. You might even put two park benches together to try to make a "crib" so you can snuggle with your honey, trying to keep each other warm. But you'll both be so uncomfortable that that plan will soon fail. Instead, you will both sit up, freezing, hungry, and SO tired, and say, "WHY did we think this was a good plan!?"
Welcome to the most hilariously miserable three hours of our existence. The one thing that did give us comfort was that we were not completely alone on those streets. No, no, we were surrounded by the drunk partiers who were still clubbin until literally about 6am.
Here is the upside, we got to watch our first sunrise together. And it was a beaut.
As the sun was coming up, we watched the partiers all file into a bakery to get breakfast pastries before going home. We guessed that bakery must have some kind of secret hang-over remedy ingredient. So naturally, we went there too. Maybe it cures no-sleep-hangovers?
Once the sun came up, it was a little warmer, so around 7:00 we walked around and tried to find Internet (since we still had no idea where we were going to sleep that night and were waiting to hear back from a possible solution to that problem). We found a little cafe (Corner Crepes and Waffles) that didn't open til 8, but the openers (a young woman and boy) said we could hang out there and use their Internet. This is literally what happened within 10 minutes (not posed):
Once Robbie's catnap was done, we started chatting a little more with the girl that worked there and thus became friends with one of our favorite people so far on this trip (maybe most favorite). Her name is Maria, she's 26, and she is ROMANIAN! We chatted with her in Romanian for quite awhile and she was just so thrilled we could speak it and WE were so thrilled that she was so thrilled. She was the sweetest thing and told us we could even leave our bags there with her for the day and come back to get them later. We seriously loved her (later on, she invited us to come back to Greece and stay with her and we invited her to come to Utah and stay with us and it was just the start of a beautiful friendship).
So this is where the day starts looking up. Our plan for Santorini was as follows. Arrive in Fira (middle of the island), travel to Perissa (beach area on the south end of the island), then come back to Fira, get our bags from Maria and go up north to Oia (white houses with blue domes town on north end of the island) where we were planning to sleep (if we could find a place). FYI Oia apparently has this legendary sunset that we wanted to see too. Its not that far to each one (the whole island is about an hour top to bottom), so you can take buses to any of those areas for pretty cheap. But when we realized we wouldn't have our huge packs with us, we decided on more grown-up mode of transportation.
As you already know, I REALLY wanted to rent a scooter back in Italy and it just never worked out. But we checked it out here and they were half the price, less strict with documents, AND the area was not as congested with cars. Perfecto! So we jumped on our scooter and headed down south, trying to navigate our way around this foreign land. On our way to Perissa, we decided to stop at this legendary red beach called Akrotiri (because you have the freedom to do that when you're in control of your own destiny on a scooter). It's cool, because the entire beach is made of red lava rocks from a volcano eruption that happened like 1700 years ago. The SAME volcano buried a nearby city that was said to be so beautiful that some scholars think it inspired the legend of the ancient city of Atlantis! What?! We found Atlantis!!! On a scooter!!!
So then we headed to Perissa. Now, this was my first time on a black sand beach and let me tell you, it is Crazy Beautiful!
The sand. It's black! We had so much fun there. We played in the ocean, jumping into ENORMOUS waves. We fell asleep on lounge beds under leafy canopies. We built a sandcastle. But not just any sandcastle. We needed to build something worthy of BLACK sand. I present to you, Mordor.
What you can't see is the detail. There is lava coming out of Mt. Doom at the top AND middle. There are trolls (big stones) guarding the entrance to the black gate. There are Gollum and Frodo and Sam (baby stones) approaching the entrance to the inside of the volcano. And there is the all-seeing eye (red stone) sitting atop the tower. We are obsessed.
So we finally left beautiful Perissa and jumped back on our scooter to head back to Fira and return it.
On our way, we stopped at the port to buy our ferry tickets back to the mainland. However, the road down to the port is a long, steep downhill, switch-backy road and halfway down this road, our scooter broke down.
We coasted to the bottom, found a Good Samaritan who let us use a phone (episode #7394 when having a phone would have been helpful) and called the scooter place, who sent a teenage boy (on a scooter) to come help us. Luckily, by the time he showed up, the scooter had finally started again so he switched with us, gave us the "better" one and told us to follow him back to the shop. Well guess what happened 10 minutes down the road.....yep. We broke another one. It shut down and wouldn't start again. A DIFFERENT SCOOTER. Are we just fat? Do we weigh too much for these scooters to handle? What is going on?!
The boy had to come back and get us again (and seemed pretty peeved by this point, but hey, don't rent out broken scooters). We made it to the shop, gave them the scooter and left as quickly as we could, before they could blame it on us and make us pay for anything. And we made it!
So by then, it was a lot later than we had planned and we still didn't have a place to sleep in Oia (the one we were hoping for didn't work out, nor did the other 3 or 4 we tried. Word to the wise, if you want to stay in Oia in August, reserve ahead of time). Since Oia is so popular, we just decided to bus the 20 minutes to Oia to see the sunset and walk around, and then bus back to Fira to sleep in a hotel there. So we quickly checked in to our hotel before leaving and showered. For the first time in THREE DAYS. In sticky, sweaty conditions. We are disgusting.
We booked it to Oia and made it just in time for the golden hour (my favorite time of day, just before the sunset). We ate dinner at a restaurant that overlooked the city too!
Holy cow, this place is GORGEOUS. If you don't believe me, ask one of the other 600,000,000 people that were there (in a town that fits 3,000). Second word to the wise, if possible try to visit Oia in the off-season to avoid the insane crowds. But as crowded as it was, it was seriously beautiful and SO worth it. I would love to go back and spend more time there.
And it has earned the right of declaring that is has a legendary sunset from this viewpoint. I wish these photos could do it justice, but it really was incredible. So incredible that the entire city broke out in a round of applause just as the sun disappeared beyond the horizon. That is not a joke. It really happened. And happens every single night.
After the sun went down, we found a little patisserie that sold some desserts, got a couple to go, and found a romantic perch on someone's roof above the city. There we sat, ate some pie, and watched the town transform from a golden fairytale into a bright constellation of city lights.
What a crazy, long day. But with all of its ups and downs, it was one of the best and most memorable of our trip. And it had a perfect ending.