Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sunset in Santorini (or My Greek Oddysey)

I think my fascination with this postcard LIFE LIST goal came from Darryl and Sara's trip there a few years ago.

Gemma my travel agent had me booked on Mykonos for three nights followed by three nights on Santorini. "Just grab a ferry from Mykonos to Santorini then another one back to Athena" she said. "Easy" she said. "no problem" she said.
"Sure" says I.
On my last day on Mykonos I enquire about the ferry. "Oh no not now, only in summer" they say. "No flights either" they say. Hmmmm.
So the options all seem to involve going back to Athena for the night and foregoing my first night on Santorini.

So I take the six hour ferry ride to Athena which is nice and purchase a ticket for the eight hour ferry ride to Santorini the next morning as well as book a cheap hotel near the port, all set!
It was a fleabag hotel but that's ok, it's only nine hours. The corner souvlaki shop was pretty bad too but that's ok, just something to eat (that gives me indigestion until 3am)
I rise at six to get to the port by seven and.....the ferry is cancelled due to bad weather! The bad weather means it won't be very nice on the island but I am stubbornly determined now, dam the gods!
Past experiences of this nature have taught me to smile, breathe and take a moment. So after getting a refund from the ferry company-

"No sir you have to go to the travel agent to get a refund"
"That was in Mykonos"
"Do you want to go to Mykonos sir?"
(Calm and unflinching) "no. You will give me a refund, now"
She stares at me to see how much further she can swindle me, no measure, sighs and gives me the refund.
"Thank you, have a nice day"

- I find a cafe and relax with a coffee and a cigarette. There is a travel agent next door. It's expensive but an hour bum numbing bus ride later I am at the airport. The check in machine says "invalid, cannot process your request"
"No Zeus I will not give in to thee!"
Eventually I am at the gate, boarding pass in hand.
"Flight 256 to Santorini has changed from gate 11 to gate 19. Passengers on flight 256 are advised to move to gate 19"
Come on Zeus is that the best you can do?
Three cheers for the captain for getting us down safely, it was rocky but he did a great job. Disembarking you can lean into the wind without falling, no easy flying condition.
Finally a bus and a taxi later I arrive at the "Suites of the Gods" Hotel and my upgraded room! (the "Hera" suite-goddess of women and marriage!?!?)

It is gale force winds and overcast, no sunset today so I head off to find a restaurant for some warm food and red wine, lots of red wine.
Worth mentioning, bless the old lady and her son at Athermi. It is almost 3pm on a public holiday (independence day), atrocious weather and they aren't really open but they take me in, cook me a pizza to have with a glass of red. They give me a bottle to take back and after I pay they insist on driving me the fifteen minute walk back, I'm glad I left a five Euro tip under my plate.

I have a cigarette on the balcony at seven the next morning, blue sky and sunshine, today is the day. By ten the black clouds start rolling in.
Out of spite for the hotel that is isolated and only offer a shuttle service to their partner restaurant or winery but no tourist destinations, I decide to walk the 15km to Oia for the sunset (and to walk off some of this fine food I've been indulging in) I leave at twelve thirty. After 12km along the cliff tops with a relentless wind and a bleak, cloudy sky I walk down to the road at 4:30 and hitch the last 3km with a couple of local lads giving me time to relax with some well earned beers and find the best vantage point for the sunset which is still not looking promising.

Then at the last minute the universe intervenes and the magic happens-sunset in Santorini! Tick!

I also ran into Jason and Mel, an Aussie couple from my hotel who save me 30euro in taxi fare by giving me a lift back-thank you universe!