Santorini part I: The journey
Athens. Wake up call at 4:00. A cold shower and a glass of water later we’re standing on the street waiting for our Uber. It’s right on time. It’s pitch dark outside and silent on the streets. We arrive to the airport 30 minutes later. I haven’t flown Ryanair in over a decade. The interior made me feel like being in a Lidl. Nothing’s changed since that apparently. A tad warmer fluorescent lights would make magic, Ryanair! Oh well, 35€ for a ticket to Santorini is worth it. We get seated next to a parkour group and I dive back to endeavour through the 889-page book I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.
As we fly to Santorini in a plane full of Americans and Asians we witness the sunrise from above. It’s breathtaking. So is the deep blue sea. Beautiful. Then all of a sudden we’re landing and I get a glimpse of the island from the window and I stow the book away. You’ve probably all seen pictures of white houses and blue domes, doors and windows when hearing about Santorini, right? The island itself is the remnant of a volcanic caldera, so it’s basically just rocks and a thick layer of old ash. 50 shades of brown. Cool. The parkour gang seems excited.
Getting to Santorini and Fira
A thumping landing later when the seatbelt sign turns off, the hassle begins. With tired eyes and minds we observe as the competition of Get-First-In-Line-In-The-Aisle-Because-It-Might-Be-That-I-Won’t-Get-Out-Of-Here-If-I’m-Not-First-Out-Of-This-Plane is once more in full steam. Unfortunately there’s no popcorn at hand when people hit each other with luggage falling from the overhead locker. Although sad, this climax of every flight is still quite entertaining. We collect our carry-ons after the first batch of people have yet again confirmed to themselves that they once more entered the same reality as they stepped away from in Athens. The winners didn’t get a trophy.
Exhausted on the island, we quickly notice that Santorini is windy and the wind is cold the first of October. “Was it a mistake to get on a summer vacation in Fall?”. Thankfully Santorini airport is tiny and efficient. We’re out in no time. Apparently dressed a bit too light we make our way towards the exit. Bus or Taxi? 1,80€ or 15€? Bus it is. Fira here we coo… the bus stops. “Something wrong?” – “This is Fira.” Tiny island.
Fira being the capital of Santorini is also the epicentre of nightlife on the island. Not for us though, we’re old, grumpy and tired in excess. However, the town was the best option for staying for a few nights, conveniently about in the middle of the island, with easy access everywhere. Turns out that Americans pilgrimage to Santorini in packs. Honeymooners they say. According to our Airbnb host in Athens, Santorini is the nest of Asian weddings too. Just on a level of observation without proper fact finding, he seemed to be right.
Accomodation, browsing and breakfast
Trashing into our hotel like zombies we try to check in early. Fat chance. Apparently we’re getting a room from the nicer hotel down the hill so we get walking. They even have a pool. Oh yeah, the 33€ per night deal seems to outdo itself.
The receptionist tells us to leave our luggage at the hotel and come back at 11 to check in. By now the sun has started to shine stronger and the thoughts of a summer vacation in October has returned into the “approved” section. Despite Bruce Oreck being able to sleep for 3,5 hours and being perfectly capable of life, we aren’t. Walking uphill pale and exhausted hoping for casting agents to scout us to The Walking Dead we make our way into the first place serving breakfast. Corner Cafe. “Kalimera!” says the waiter. “Mmmmhorning..”
A large cup of coffee, a fantastic crepe and waffle later we start browsing Fira. Small alleys take us uphill towards the western edge of town and those famous round shaped white houses. We made it. The breeze from the sea takes over. The view is truly epic over the caldera. Two cruise liners anchored in the bay of unrealistic blue water look like toys. We’re here. So are many others. The amount of people is significant and I can only imagine how it looks and feels like in July. Crammed.
The clock ticks towards 10:30 and we navigate towards the hotel in hopes for a little nap by the pool. “Hello and welcome back! Your room is ready. It’s at the hotel uphill.” The nicer hotel with a pool is better than us. 33€ was not good enough for us to have anything extra but a nice morning hike down and up a hill with a big suitcase.
Finally, sweaty and dizzy we get into our room, practice the art of a falling tree on the bed and nap away dreaming about greek gyros, grilled octopus and crystal clear waters.