We got to the ferry and navigated another big boat, but much more easily this time around. On our two hour boat ride, we passed a couple of other islands, including Naxos, a GORGEOUS and dramatic island with an outcropping that had yet another temple. Those Greeks sure did like their temples!
When we arrived in Santorini, it was another cattle call moving off the boat, but when we did… wow! There was a huge rock wall right across from the ferry entrance that extended so far skyward, we were craning our necks to see the top. It really was unbelievable. While the other islands have had steep hillside living, Santorini takes it to the next level. The sheer cliffs of the island are breathtaking.
Our ride from the port to Oia (eeh-ya) on the northern shore of the island took a bit of time, so we got to chat with our driver a bit and gain a little more insight into the Greek financial situation. For the most part, we have noticed very little that might indicate greater problems below the surface. Our chat with the driver was pretty eye-opening, particularly about the impact of the crisis on people around our age. After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree, he told us that he was unable to find a job in Athens. He came to visit his girlfriend who worked on Santorini in a hotel and ended up getting a job here ferrying tourists from one destination to another. It was pretty clear that he is bitter about his circumstances, particularly because he feels he is paid pretty low wage for a job that was supposed to be 12 hours a day (!), but often ends up being 15 with no more pay. He is thinking about moving to Sweden this winter, but hasn’t decided for sure. Tim and I both felt sorry for him, as we have both been in similar (but not as dire) circumstances. It’s hard to feel like you have worked so hard, and you’re not seeing the fruits of your labors. This guy is not alone, though, as we heard someone saying that the rate of unemployment for the youth is at least 60%.
Once we arrived at the drop off location, we understood why the hotel was advertised as not being for those without stronger constitutions… the bellman who came to help us with our bags threw our suitcases on his shoulders (!), and swiftly and nimbly descended dozens upon dozens of stairs in a labyrinth of corridors to reach our hotel, and eventually our room. Tim said he deserved every bit of a tip, and the water they offered us when we arrived. The hotel where we are staying is organized similarly to traditional Greek cave homes; the rooms are actually carved into the cliff facing. It’s pretty neat. But the best part of the whole thing is the view. We can see over the caldera and the famous sunset in Oia from the comfort of our balcony, or as we did today, from a lounge by the pool.
Oia is definitely not as busy with as much happening as Mykonos town, but it’s not the capital of Santorini either. However, when it comes to the photograph capital, Oia is definitely it. Most of the pictures anyone associates with the Greek islands was probably taken in Oia. Everywhere you turn is another beautiful scene just waiting to be photographed.
It felt like 1,000 degrees as we walked to and through the central village of Oia this afternoon. So, in addition to an ice cream treat (no day is complete without one!), Tim finally got to experience what some of the Smiths enjoyed in Bali: a fishy pedicure. Kissy Fish provides tanks full of tropical fish that enjoy feasting on dead and dry skin on your feet. They picnic away while you feel like you’re being constantly tickled in some manner or another. I wasn’t going to participate at first having already done it, but the thought of putting my feet in cool water in such heat was too tempting. Tim thoroughly enjoyed his experience, and it definitely did a good job cooling us off.
We came back to the hotel with enough time to watch the sunset and get ready for dinner. We ate at the hotel restaurant, and then walked back into town for a bit. It’s so beautiful here, day or night, though night was nice because it was cool and many of the crowds were gone.
Tomorrow is a long tour day, as we will visit an archaeological site, a beach, and do some wine tasting before the day is out. 🙂 It’s going to be another hot one tomorrow, but we’ll be able to really get a terrific taste of Santorini!