Soaking in Santorini

A 13 hour sleep seems to take care of jet lag just fine.

Friday was my first full day in Santorini, and island of Greece where clouds, sadness, and the word “ugly” are banned. My hostel was in Perissa, a town known for it’s 9 km black sand beach and assortment of traditional Greek restaurants lining the coast.

Before I ouzo’d and beach-bummed on the scorching black sand beaches, I decided to work up a sweat and hike to the top of the smaller of the two mountains (more like gigantic hills) on Santorini to see the remains of Ancient Thira, the ancient city dating back to centuries BC, and that which the current capitol is named after.

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I spent an hour oogling at the ancient remains, reading the descriptions, and pausing every few minutes to look at the panorama of Santorini around me. That is, until I saw the next mountain that stood slightly higher than the one I was standing on. I had plenty of snacks and water, so I hiked down from the ruins and up to Profitis Ilias Monastery, a monastery built in 1711 that also shares its site with a radar tower installed by the Greek military. The top of the mountain was gorgeous, with another panoramic view of the island.

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The opposite side of the mountain looked a lot less appealing after two strenuous hikes, so I snagged a ride with two friendly Australians who dropped me off in the next town down the mountain. But not before an ATV ran into us. Don’t worry, insurance took care of it all. I apologized for being a bad luck charm, and jumped out to explore the town of Pyrgos.

I knew as much about Pyrgos as my guidebook did – two sentences. I saw a neat-looking, cobblestone, curvy road, bought a bottle of water, and went wandering. Upon wandering, I discovered a quaint, beautiful hidden gem-of-a-town. Every roadway was narrow and for foot-traffic only. I was encased by high white walls, shops with hand-made art and cafes with blue roofs. I found a cafe near the top of the town’s main hill, and stopped to enjoy a Greek salad and the view.

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I wandered the town for a bit longer, got lost, and finally found a bus to take me back to Perissa where I soaked my tired legs in the warm black sand and cool blue waves of the Mediterranean. I dined on the beach and ended the night with conversation over some ouzo with a group of English, Canadian and Australian bunkmates from the hostel.

Saturday I rented a cheap moped and hit the dangerous, rustic roads of the island to explore the nooks and crannies that I knew existed if I only just looked. I started by bumming on the beach of Vlychada where the white pumice cliffs meet the beach and make it feel like you’re in outer space… kinda… except there’s beautiful water and half naked people running around.

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When I had my fair-share of the beach from outer space, I tried scoot-scoot on over to the ancient ruins of Akrotiri, but was blessed with the experience of getting lost and having one of the best afternoons in my 22 years of existence. I cruised on old winding roads down the southwest coast of the island, with the two major towns of Thira and Oia in visibility a few kilometers across the glimmering blue sea. As soon I saw the sign in the middle of no man’s land that said “Restaurant.. fish caught by family boats,” I knew it was time to hit the pause button. I took the waitress’ (the fisherman’s daughter) recommendation and for an hour enjoyed my Greek salad with a slab of feta weighing roughly 9 kilos, fried fish, and some type of cinnamon Greek dessert. My server taught me how to eat the fish correctly after I told her that I simply had never eaten entire fish that had literally been taken out of the net, battered and deep fried.

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After a hand shake a “efharisto,” I scoot-scooted a few hundred meters to the southern most point of the island that houses a lighthouse and a beautiful rustic cliffside. Receiving a few odd looks, I climbed out onto the furthest cliff I could, and sat alone while listening to the battle between the waves and the bottom of the cliff I was sitting on. Pure, exhilarating peace.

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The sun floated on the water for just long enough for me to reach the Red Beach in time to bum for half an hour before heading back to Perissa.

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I headed back to the hostel, showered, and got some Banana and Nutella waffles on the beach with some more Canadian backpackers.

This morning I said my goodbyes to Santorini and boarded a ferry to Naxos.

I don’t know much about Naxos, but that’s nothing Let’s Go: Greece and an ATV rental can’t handle.

Peace, Love, Feta, Ouzo, Sunlight and Happiness,

Carlyle

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