26 Mar 2013 Greece: Sunrise to Sunset in Santorini
I sat with Nathaniel on the rocky black volcanic beach spotted with thatched umbrellas, and peered towards the sun as it rose above some unknown Greek island just off shore. We leaned in close and watched the silhouette of a small fishing boat slowly chug around the jagged cliff boundary of the bay as the Mediterranean waves rhythmically slapped against our bare feet.
We decided to find some food, and subsequently hit the jackpot when we found this little no-name bakery on the street side. I grabbed a Bialy, cousin to the bagel minus the hole, that was stuffed with fresh cheese blends and delightfully salty Kalamata olives. Topped with a slice of tomato, sesame seeds, oregano, and various other herbs, it was the perfect fuel to start off our day.
We jumped on a bus from Perissa to the capital, Fira. On the east side, Fira consists of one little main road with shops that exude the most exquisite smells of fresh roasting meats and gyros. We sat for a moment, people-watching the tourists and locals as they buzzed by on scooters before we headed off to explore the other side of town.
Hiking up a crumbling set of stairs towards the west side of town we were surprise ambushed with the most magnificent view of the famous Santorini volcanic caldera. From our vantage point, huge ocean cruise ships looked like miniature toy boats in the vast bathtub below. Gazing north, gleaming white dwellings blanketed the cliff-side as they clung for dear life to the steep slopes. Also from our view point, we could see a smaller stark white town on the very northernmost point of the island. After little deliberation, we decided that this was our new mission: explore this mystery town.
Back on “main street”, we found a place that rented quads. The rental price was really quite reasonable, although the kid-sized vehicle was a bit small for the two of us. After paying the man, we jumped on and had a good laugh when we found out that the tires were bald, the brakes were less than reliable, and at around 20mph, the thing revved out like a redlining chainsaw.
I gripped tightly around my husband as we winded through tiered farmlands and gnarly vineyards, marked by hand stacked volcanic rock walls that spread as far as the eye could see. We nervously traversed across cliff-side road and waved on locals that fearlessly zoomed past us around hairpin turns.
Finally, we arrive in our mystery town, which we learned was Oia. Again, I fell in love. Oia is much like Fira, but really tickled my fancy with it’s numerous artsy shops filled with local crafts. I could simply feel the creative charisma bursting out of this area. People are kind and happy to see you. The view is spectacular. From Oia, we were able to see lush, private islands spotting the Mediterranean. We wandered around for a bit exploring churches and subterranean shops before noticing that the day had gotten away from us and that the sun was getting precariously close to the horizon.
We jumped back on our tiny adventure-mobile, and headed at top speed back to Fira.
Simply exhausted from our day, we decided to grab some food. Our eyes caught a vertical spit that was roasting lamb in the window of one of the shops, and our mouths began to water as we watched a very skilled employee sheer off a slab of the juicy meat. We each ordered Souvlaki, not really knowing what it was that we were in for. Luck was on our side as the man handed us an overloaded pita, stuffed with succulent lamb, fresh crispy lettuce, tomato, and all topped with a generous helping of tangy Tzatziki sauce and fried potatoes. They were so inexpensive and tasty, and we were so famished, that we each decided to indulge in another!
After refueling, we strolled back up tothe west side of Fira and found a quiet little bench to sit on theedge of the cliff and watch the sunset. We uncorked some red wine,drank straight from the bottle and leaned in close as the last bit oflight disappeared behind the caldera.
About the Author: Dana Gaworski: I am a 25 year old massage therapist and hookah lounge owner with a serious case of wanderlust. I am currently enrolled in the writing program at MatadorU, which is how I heard about this writing contest. My goal is to one day run a successful travel blog inspiring others to adventure around this endless world of ours. Find me at http://www.facebook.com/peacelovegirlie
Ready to visit? Get inspired by tempting tastes at Fira in Santorini.