Refreshing the soul in Santorini
06.05.2012 - 10.05.2012
I love days like this. Soaring high above the world. Dancing the dance of the wind. She and I, wings outstretched, twirl and loop around each other, in an invisible embrace. Her warm air gently lifts me, propelling me closer to the overhead sun that shines gloriously from above. I let go and allow her hands to tickle my belly until their release, when once again the cool caresses my feathers and I start to descend, reaching a point of equilibrium, when lined up even with the horizon we just glide. We are like one in this moment, the wind and I. And all I have to do is relax, and go wherever she takes me.
And so there I sat alone on my white deckchair, overlooking the Cardela, feeling a connection with the birds gracefully gliding overhead. We shared a freedom together, a state of being. The same sun kissed my face as it did theirs, the same cool sea breeze brushed over our feet. Their black tipped wings mirrored my mind, open and without direction, just floating through the sky.
And this was Santorini for us. It was a holiday away from our holiday. Travelling non-stop for over two months gets pretty exhausting, not that I'm complaining, but the brain is in overdrive constantly, particularly the way we were getting about, so we planned five nights to ourselves in the Greek islands. It was intended as a perfect break, but it ended up being so much more.
Originally it was a bit of a task getting there. Although we were next door in Turkey, the trip involved an overnight bus to Istanbul, to catch a plane to Athens, followed by another plane to Santorini. We wanted a break from CouchSurfing so had booked the hotel a week earlier, just picking one online. On the net it had looked like most other hotels there, typical white house on the cliffs with blue furniture overlooking a sun sparkled sea. We went with this one because through email communication they were really helpful. Well once we actually arrived we were blown away by the place.
The hotel was called Atlantida Villas, and it was awesome.
We were greeted by a really cool Greek man named Georgos, who had upgraded our room for us, as there was pretty much no one else in the resort. Well the room was awesome! It was an apartment with a kitchen, couch and upper level bedroom, but by far the best bit was opening the back door and walking onto the balcony. Talk about amazing views. The little blue chairs, the fence, the water, the sun, it was just all perfect.
The sun was starting to go down as we arrived, so we walked down to the shops and grabbed a bottle of wine and cooked some pasta, and enjoyed the moonlight over the water. To be honest, I think we were both in shock with just how beautiful it was, luckily we had a few days to get used to it.
The next day we planned as just a sit by the pool day. It started with an amazing breakfast that Georgos made for us, amazing. Fruits and bread and eggs and the most amazing Greek yoghurt, along with coffee and juice and cake. And somehow I think the view made it taste even better.
Fat, satisfied, and not needing to be anywhere or talk to anyone, we hit the pool area. And that was the day. Swimming, relaxing, reading, and just staring out into space. Looking at the pictures now doesn't do it justice, I was totally floored with how gorgeous it was.
Refreshed and relaxed, we decided to check out the famous Santorini sunset from the most popular place. We were staying in the area of Oia, so it was a short walk to the point of the island furthest west. In fact the walk was amazing, scattered everywhere was that picturesque scenery of white houses hugging the cliffs, looming over the crystal clear water below.
At the end of the town was a ruin of a castle that everyone congregated on to watch the sunset. On there and the surrounding roads of the cliff side village was this great party atmosphere, with people bringing food and wine and chatting and laughing. We stopped in front of two guys playing some awesome traditional Greek songs which really set the mood. And once the sun started setting, everyone went quiet except for some scattered oohs and aahs, and the barely audible clicking of a thousand camera shutters. Mel took a million shots herself, it was hard not to.
Afterwards we made the beautiful walk home and decided to stay in for the night, eating a home cooked meal on our incredible balcony.
The next day, inspired by the incredible coastline we decided to take the three hour trek to Fira. The walk started right from our back door and took us along the clifftops, over the hills, and through the winding streets of towns in between. Again it was as if we were dreaming, white houses on one side, sparkling crystal waters on the other. The sun blazed down and caused sweat to flow down our smiling faces, and we laughed in disbelief of it all.
We did a few things in Fira, and had some delicious ice cream, but unlike Oia it seemed over populated and a bit dirty. Preferring the isolation of our quiet little village, we caught the bus back, pulled out a book by our pool, went for a swim, and disregarded the existence of time or worry.
Later in the night we visited a traditional little taverna called Santorini Mau. Run by a friendly family of staff, the food was amazing, and the view of the sunset was once again breathtaking.
On our return home, Georgos even prepared us some coffee and cake. That dude rocked.
The next day we went in search for a quiet little spot to swim for the day. We decided to stick around Oia, planning to go to the Ammoundi and Armani bays, which were small alcoves I had learned that the locals go to when swimming. Well, due to falling rocks the cliff side pathways had closed, so the gruelling descend in the heat was in vain, and getting so close to the most magical water I have ever laid my eyes on was just a tease. After such torture, we took a rest and had a coffee in one of the seaside ports.
Rejuvenated by the amazing Greek coffee, we continued around the point to Kathos beach. It was a secluded little area, featuring black sand walled in by white cliffs and caressed gently by the smooth ocean waters. And that was us. Again we swam, and slept, and hoped that we would not awake from the glorious dream.
Arriving back at our hotel on a wave of euphoria and relaxation, Georgos offered us a bottle of the regions own white wine. In a unmarked bottle he explained that we would never find it in the shops, that it was grown almost across the road, and that it was very special and we should enjoy it together. The gift was very appreciated, and very much enjoyed.
From the pool to the open road, the next day we hired a quad bike with the intention of exploring some of the famous beaches of the other side of the island. With Mel clinging to me tightly, occasionally offering encouragements of sensibility, we spluttered our little beast through the towns and over the hills on the way to our first stop.
The Red Beach of Santorini was spectacular. Named for the towering red cliffs and the red sand it produced, this beach was incredible. A small climb over some rocks and we were in this amazing little alcove of picturesque beauty. And the water was amazing. Floating there in the crisp clean water I stopped and looked around me. Behind was the imposing red cliffs, underneath were the multicoloured rocks of the sea floor seen with perfect clarity, to the right was the deserted banks of the White beach, and stretched out far ahead was the shimmering blue of endless possibility.
After dragging ourselves away, there were a few more beaches we heard were worth seeing before we left, so we jumped back on the little white beast and headed around the coast. Well, I knew we had put of a little bit of weight, and I was thrashing the throttle on the poor thing, but either way our little quad warrior died on us. But, with a phone call, and a 30 minute wait by the beach, the hire company arrived to help out. The simplest solution it seemed, was just to swap it with the quad bike they themselves rode in on. Well, now we were talking. Our new wheels made the little engine that could look like a wind up toy, so we mounted all 450cc of it (not bad for a quad), and took off.
We visited a few more beaches, and then got lost in the abandoned and somewhat desolate estates of the other side of the island. It was really quiet strange actually, as one side of the island seemed to thrive on tourism, maintaining the white houses and blue fences look of the postcards, while the other side appeared almost totally inhabited. Driving through we passed almost no one, and saw several empty houses and farms. The remnants and ruins did look cool against the mountain backdrops, but the atmosphere was a little sad and desolate.
We made it back in time to purchase three different types of cake, yes we have a problem, and then back to Kathos beach to watch the sunset alone on what seemed like our private little island. It was a perfect way to spend our last night there.
The next morning we had time for a last dip in the pool and a relax, before officially saying goodbye. I cannot emphasise just how special and amazing this place was for us. Everything just seemed to work out for us. It succeeded in relaxing our weary bodies, refreshing our travel alert minds and really just cleansing our souls. Once again we were ready to stretch out our wings, and let the wind lift us out into our next adventure.