Santorini feels worlds away from the "big city-ness" of Athens. Was it really just a 30 minute plane ride to get here?
Here's the good and bad of visiting Greece during their off season. Good: it feels like you have the whole place to yourself. We've seen the most tourist thus far in Oia (where we are staying in Santorini island) - nearly 20 other tourists were spotted today! It's been nice to see other people around, but I also have moments where I dislike that they dare interrupt the stunning silence and pristine emptiness of the island.
The bad: things close. Not just early. They close for months. Stores, restaurants, boat cruises - many have closed for the winter and won't be back until April.
We learned this the hard way tonight. Google said it was a short 12 minute walk to a well reviewed restaurant in the port of Ammoudi. First of all, Googles algorithm clearly has not accounted for the steep and treacherous walkways crudely carved into the cliffs of the island. 12 minutes was really 35 minutes of heavy breathing and cursing under our breath. Matt has the patience of a saint. I wasn't exactly happy with the many, many, many stairs that stood between me and dinner and this poor guy took the brunt of my displeasure. (Sorry!!) Suddenly bringing a scarf instead of a bottle of water felt like an incredibly poorly thought out decision. But at least we got to watch the famed Santorini sunset and feel the cool ocean breeze during our walk down.
I wish I could express to you the devastation we both felt when we walked up to our planned dinner restaurant to see boarded windows and "Closed" signs where there should have been tables and people and the smell of fresh seafood. We didn't say a word to each other. I sat on the dock and Matt pulled up an abandoned chair next to me and we stared at the ocean in silence, watching two seemingly forgotten boats sway with the sea. We had to catch our breath and psych ourselves up for the walk back up, there was no use wasting our energy being upset about it.
It was on the walk back up that we noticed the numbers on the stairs. "55", then "72", then "90". Someone had numbered the steps to either taunt or cheer on any foolish tourists like us making the steep walk up. The numbers stopped at 200, but we counted 50 more steps until the street we needed to be on. That's 500 steps and still no dinner. Our first night on the island wasn't going exactly as planned.
Matt ran in to a general store and grabbed us waters while we came up with a plan B. We stumped upon a restaurant that was, praise Zeus, open!! And not just open - delicious. Before we go any further, I should say that even in fancy restaurants in Greece, a liter (!!) of local red wine costs €5.50. Soooo yeah, that happened. :)
Our 2 hour dinner was, thankfully, perfect. Somewhere between the second and third glass of wine we were able to really laugh about the situation we got ourselves into earlier. For dinner, we made our way through Greek salad, eggplant baked in a clay pot with feta, grilled octopus in a sweet wine sauce and, of course, Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts. If it had been appropriate to lick my plate clean, I would have.
Tomorrow we are going on a 3 hour hike from Oia to the capital of Fira. But considering how much walking my we did today, it may take us 4+ hours. A cab ride home might also be on the table - who knows! But for now it's off to bed to rest our weary feets! I'm sure we'll have more adventures to share tomorrow.
ps. Santorini is the most beautiful place I have ever been to in the world. One too many pictures will taken here, I can already feel it.