When you arrive in Santorini (real name Thìra) you can't help but be astounded at the place's beauty. The cliffs overlooking the beautiful sea are actually breathtaking. I got off the boat, headed to the guy holding a sign for my hostel and immediately met two Canadian lawyers who were to be my buds for the rest of the trip. I knew I was going to like this place.
I dropped my stuff at the hostel and headed out for dinner. I ate dinner (alone! How mature, or lonely) at a beachfront restaurant. On my way back I ran into my Canadian friends another Canadian lawyer (who had just spent the year teaching in Vienna! She and I clearly had a lot to discuss) and two Swedish guys they had met at their hostel in Athens. While they had dinner I drank (with them) and by the time we hit the next bar we were all enjoying ourselves. Note: It didn't matter how many shots of ouzo I took it was always disgusting. We ran into some Spanish girls on the way and expanded our party. We stayed out way too late (a recurring theme in Mykonos and Santorini) but it was a great night.
Somehow over shots of ouzo and half liters of wine I found myself agreeing to rent scooters to drive all over the island the next day. The guys had cheered to forming a "scooter posse" (something my dad would have said no doubt) so I didn't want to back out. It wasn't the price or the touring the island that worried me, it was the actual driving of the scooters. Now I am a pretty decent driver (parking ticket and speeding ticket excluded) but if my mother recalls, teaching me to drive was a pretty torturous process. When my grandparents lived in Florida I drove their golf cart and that was a terrifying experience. I was worried that if this was anything like that, I would be screwed. Now I'm not one to back down from adventure (or doing something that I think will make a funny blog post later) and this was no exception. The man we rented them from was a little nervous to rent me one but the guys explained it was fine, that I had ridden a scooter before. Yeah, ridden on a scooter. My brother had one for about a year in college (still make fun of him for that) and we rode it to a parking lot where he tried to teach me to drive it. A harrowing experience to say the least.
I could see the man's nervousness escalate when I accidentally put the gas and the break on a the same time (only once did I do that in a car, and we were in a parking lot). He kept shouting to my friends that I need a "quad bike" (an ATV) but I was certain that I could scoot. We took some back roads so I could get a feel for scooting and then we hit the scary Santorini roads. Driving in Greece is scary when you're in a car while on a scooter it is terrifying. I'm a slow driver (aside from that one ticket!) so I was routinely passed by everyone and everything. I think a kid on a bike even passed me once. Thankfully the guys were really great and we continued scootering. We scootered up to Fira the main town for lunch and by the time we left I was pretty confident in my capabilities. Of course my scooter died after lunch (terrifying!) but one of the guys fixed it. After we hit the red beach and continued our reign of scooter terror. Throughout the day we thought of song lyrics that we could substitute the word "scooter" in which provided a nice break from the permeating thought of, "Holy ^$&# I'm going to DIE! On a scooter! In Greece!" We decided to hit Oia where the sunset is supposed to be one of the best in the world. We had a leisurely dinner there, saw an incredible sunset and then scootered back to the hostel. Now I'm not saying I was a pro by any means, but by the end of the night I was leading the pack home. Scootering was one of the best things I did the whole trip and I would definitely recommend it.
After another long night out (oops) I was determined to scoot a little before my tour the next day. Despite not feeling my best I woke up and scootered. I think scootering might be the best hangover cure. After I returned my hog (haha) I hopped a bus bound for the port. I had decided to take a tour of the volcano, swim in a hot spring and visit the old island of Thìra. At the port is where I met Alex, the girl who went to high school with my brother. As she was alone my friend Dave and I added her to our tour group and together we saw the volcano (not the type you're thinking of but really interesting because of our tour guide), swam in the orange-y hot springs (lukewarm at best) had lunch at the old town (yumm, taziki) and met the cutest Indian-American three year old. Best part? It was aboard a "pirate" ship. Very cool. After that they went to Oia to wath the sunset and I headed back to the hostel where I met some Dutch girls. They were gearing up for the World Cup final that night and I found myself liking Holland more and more. We watched the match and then decided to head out. After another late night and a one a.m. ferry to Crete I decided my best bet for the day was to hit the black beach. Dave and I lounged (on chairs because those black stones were scorching!) all day which was just what I needed. I got a couple messages from my friend Chris (who I had left in Mykonos because he had to go pickup his girlfriend in Athens) saying that they were there and wanted to meet up for dinner.
I caught up with them around seven where I met his friend and another awesome American, Neil. Neil, who was on Big Brother 9 I think, was awesome and loads of fun to be with. Because the regional wine is sold in 1.5 liter bottles we didn't realize how much we'd had. And then at dinner the owner kept giving us shots or raki (so much more potent that ouzo. I felt like I could have breathed fire after that bad boy) so by the time I took my 11:30 bus to the port I was a little more than tipsy. I was chatting with an Australian girl at the bar and I could hear myself speaking in an Australian accent but I was powerless to stop it. Very ridiculous. I found a guy from my hostel and some of his friends who were taking the same ferry to Rhodes (16 hours, thankfully my leg was only five) so we all boarded, put of stuff on the ground and promptly fell asleep. I did, however, manage to tell one of the guys I was moving to Istanbul so now I think I'll have some visitors there in November!
I exited the ferry in the Iraklion, Crete port feeling a little worse for the wear but having thoroughly enjoyed my time on Santorini.
Some pictures of Santorini:
The black beach--told you I'd be there!
Dave, Alex (Jack's classmate!) and I on top of the volcano
Looking cool I know