Greece Retrospective, 26Mar2014

Hello World!  I’ve been too busy climbing volcanoes and drinking milkshakes to write to you recently, so here’s a combined update post.

Athens Day 1 and 2:  Arrived in Athens totally exhausted, but forced myself to go to the Acropolis anyway.  Met a lovely Polish woman on the way up and spent the day with her.  Not many people up there, so it was pretty amazing to be able to get tourist-free pictures of the Parthenon.  Eventually went back to the hostel, collapsed in bed and slept for almost fifteen hours.

Woke up early and had breakfast at the hostel.  Met Zaji, an American traveling for fun, just like me.  The two of us wandered around Athens and Piraeus together, since it was a National Holiday and all of the historic sites were closed.  I got on my ferry at seven, and he headed back to Athens, presumably to drink gallons of coffee, which seems to be his main occupation.  I’ve never met someone (who wasn’t a barista) who knows so much about coffee.

Santorini Day 1:  Arrived via overnight ferry from Athens at 6:15am.  Nothing was open.  Grabbed a bus from the port to Fira, the main town, and wandered around looking for a hostel for a while.  Around eight, things started to open, so I found an internet cafe and started looking online.  Decided eventually to stay in Perissa, a smaller town on the beach on the other side of the island, just a short hop by bus.

Perissa turned out to be beautiful and almost deserted, and it took me quite some time to actually find the hostel I had booked from the cafe.  Being there in the off-season definitely has it’s benefits, but there are drawbacks too.  Almost everything is closed, or closes early, and it’s hard to find places to ask directions.  

I eventually made it to the hostel, dropped my stuff, and headed to the beach, where I spent several hours sunbathing, reading The Man in the Iron Mask, and napping.  I also got a scoop of strawberry ice cream, which arrived in a beautiful sundae glass and made me feel pampered and decadent.  I’m traveling on a serious budget, and for the most part I allow myself no luxuries.  I decided to waive that rule a bit on Santorini, and it was great.

Here’s the beach by my hostel.  Note the black lava sand.

Went back to the hostel to relax and met Brooke and Jorge from Australia.  We made plans to meet the next morning and go to the volcano together.

Day 2:  Waited for the bus for quite some time with Brooke and Jorge, but eventually made it to Fira.  The volcano tour starts from the Old Port, which is located down a massive flight of steps from Fira.  We decided to walk down.  This was a good decision for our waistlines and pocketbooks, but our poor, abused leg muscles felt otherwise.  We were also overtaken by donkeys while walking.  I nearly got rammed by a donkey in a pretty blue bridle.

The boat to the volcano was fun.  It was small, and though we motored the whole way I suspect that in the summer they sail.  It was called Iason, so naturally I made lots of jokes about the Argonauts.  Once at the volcano we hiked around, saw some smoking vents and a fabulous view, and then headed back to the boat.  We then stopped in at the hot springs, which were NOT HOT.  They were barely lukewarm, and we had to swim from the boat through the very cold Mediterranean to get there.  It was totally worth it though!

Back at the Port we made the questionable decision to climb UP the massive flight of steps.  By the time we made it to the top every muscle in my legs was screaming bloody murder.  Once again though, it was totally worth it.  We collapsed at a little cafe and drank frappes, and it was great.  A note of Greek frappes: though it is spelled the same as a Massachusetts frappe, it is completely different.  It’s basically a large iced coffee with milk and sugar optional.  I’m in love with them.  Sometimes they come with ice cream in them and then I’m even more in love.

Here’s a picture of my frappe with ice cream

Eventually we got some wine and snacks and went back to Perissa.  We had a relaxing evening and made plans to meet for breakfast the next day.

Day 3:  Breakfast on the beach!  Then Brooke and Jorge rented a car, I threw all my stuff in it, and we started exploring.  We went Geocaching in Akrotiri, found some beautiful views, chapels, and beaches, then went on to Pyrgos.  Again, beautiful views, Geocache, and a small monastery.  Having a car makes everything so much easier!  We headed back to Fira, where I bought a ferry ticket, and we got some wine and cheese for a sunset feast in Oia.  We also had a late lunch at the Pelican Restaurant.  I had an eggplant dish that was completely delicious.  

Driving around was beautiful, and we found some lovely places.  A little lighthouse near Akrotiri, fields of wildflowers in the center of the island, grapes that were shaped into little wreaths on the ground (Jorge was very bothered by this), and old terraces down the mountains that probably once were used for vegetable or grapes.  Though it took a while, we eventually found a nice place to watch the sunset in Oia.  It was VERY windy.

We went back to Perissa with the intention of changing to go out, but we all ended up too sleepy, so we just napped for a bit.  Then Brooke and Jorge, because they are gems among humans, drove me to the port at 2:30am to catch my ferry.

Crete Day 1:  Arrived in Crete having slept more than I expected.  Found an internet cafe and located a hostel.  Found the hostel.  Upon arrival, met a very nice German woman named Marie.  We decided to explore the city together, since it turned out she had also just arrived on the same ferry!  We spent a thoroughly enjoyable day walking through Heraklion (Iraklio), sitting in cafes, and exploring the Venetian Port.  We also found possibly the best bakery in the world.  Definitely one to go back to.  Went to bed early after a full day, and slept for eleven hours.

Crete Day 2 (Today):  Look, I’ve made it to the present!  Today Marie and I decided to go to Knossos and the Archaeological Museum.  We ended up splitting up though, because we wanted to do slightly different things.  I went to Knossos, and she went to the Museum.  I planned to join her there later, but Sunday is not the best day for visiting public monuments!  Everything closed at 3pm.  Oh well.  I came back to the Hostel to write this, and I expect she’ll meet me here shortly.  Pictures from Knossos and Crete will follow in another post.

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