Today is our last Santorini day. Somewhere out there people are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I am not wearing green. Eli pinched me at breakfast when I announced that I was only wearing grey. We have been to the Blue Dolphin hotel three times today, twice by car. Blue Dolphins Hotel manages the Airbnb we are staying at in Imerovigli. For context, Imerovigli is up the way from Fira, the island’s capital. We love our rental and would stay here again. The apartment is a recently renovated 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, traditional cliff house on what we think is the highest Santorini cliff.
Kyle tells me,
“Mom, I am glad we stayed up so high.”
“I am too.” I respond.
We all love the caldera view. We love walking out our front door and seeing the island in its entirety. Our apartment is situated in the island’s middle. As a result we feel enveloped in the island’s c-shape, which is magically dotted in white buildings with bright blue tops, churches and steep, dramatic brownish-green cliffs.
Kyle is doing his homework (I think). Ok. Why I say, “I think,” is because Dave and I keep hearing the sound of Youtube videos. Dave finally exclaimed,
“Kyle, put your headphones on if there is any chance a sound will come out of your computer.”
Dave is also helping Eli do his homework. Eli is writing an essay on the poetry of Shakespeare, specifically, “Romeo and Juliet.” I hear Eli say something as he types,
“although this play is technically not poetry, it still…”
I am busy packing (I took a break to write). I ate too much breakfast (oatmeal and butter and jam covered rice cakes). Dave, Kyle and Eli have already had lunch (Santoroni — their homemade version of mac and cheese). It is 11:13 a.m. Santorini time. Ada, the kind hotel employee, whose hair is dyed a bright purple-y-red, speaks the best English offered to do our laundry at 15 euro a load. Yes, that is correct. That translates to $16.92 US. We took her up on her offer and decided to take it easy while we wait. There are no self-serve laundry facilities on the island, and we are in a pinch. The hotels has been generous and it is worth it. Of course I forgot some of our laundry the first time. And while I was standing at the hotel asking Ada if she would be willing to use my “free-and-clear- laundry detergent, Kyle texted me the following,
“Mom, did you mean to leave all the dirty blue clothes in my closet?”
I didn’t. And even though Dave asserted that he did not want “to be ferrying laundry back and forth on our last day,” I suggested that I did not want to do another load of laundry on our trip. I won. Our drives back and forth from the apartment to the hotel were fun (I hope Dave feels the same). The laundry will be done at 2PM. I hope I can be packed (mostly) by then.
Santorini has been an unexpected gem. Yes, it is clear that the island has been hit by an economic crisis. It’s dotted with ambitious building projects that were seemingly abandoned in 2008. What I am fascinated by is how the poverty of the island seems to disappear in the splendor. In truth, we feel like we have stepped into the best postcard or some sort of magical dream, a dream that is enabled by the stunning architecture and the dramatic setting.
My favorite part, and something I highly recommend is the walk from Fira to Oia. “Impossibly picturesque,” is the phrase that left my mouth over and over again. Over and over again we walked by tiny cliffside churches, saw signs for donkey rides, watched the occasional ferry below all while we walked along the island’s spine. I would wager a guess that Dave’s favorite was Ancient Thera, which is an ancient ruin on top of a mountain. We drove this crazy zig-zag road to get there. Then we walked up a long hill to see the ruins. We thought no one was there when all of a sudden a woman stepped out and asked us for 4 euro for the 4 of us. I think the boys were free. We have seen many a ruin on our adventures. What sets Ancient Thera a part is definitely its crazy mountain top setting. You can see all sides of the mountain from Thera. I kept asking Dave,
“Why would someone build their town up here?”
Kyle kept answering,
“To avoid the volcano.”
Ok, yes, there was an volcano that wiped away most of Santorini approximately 3,500 years ago. My guess, however, is that those people living in the mountaintop city would die from volcanic gases or be covered in ash (go downer, Beth). Anyway, for me what was so cool about Thera was the wind. I kept feeling like I was going to be blown off the mountain. It was compelling in its force. It made me think, “these people must have been committed to live here.” Yes, Thera is a substantial ruin on this tiny island. Crazy.
Our clothes are not done. I need to pack. I hope our flight to Athens, and drive to our new hotel, go smoothly.
In the meantime, let me leave you with some tips:
- If you come to Santorini (and you should), go to Oia. Stay on the cliffs. Drive to Ancient Thera.
- Watch out for donkeys. They are everywhere and poop everywhere. The donkeys are not only used to give tourists rides, they are an active part of the work force. Each day we have watched men lead groups of donkeys hauling all sorts of construction material up and down the steps of the steep hillside neighborhoods.
- As far as food and dining, know this. The Greeks are generous. Most meals come with a free dessert, free starters or both. Eat at Salt and Pepper in Fira, Melitini in Oia and Metaxi Mas Tavern in Pyrgos.
- Do not miss the walk from Fira to Oia, and if you do, make sure you find your way to Oia.
- Oh, oh and we loved the little town of Megalochori. Park your car on one of the paring lots located outside of town, and then go explore.Good luck!