Greek Odyssey Part Four: Santorini

13-14 June

Wednesday evening/Thursday morning

After taking the ferry to Santorini from Sifnos at 20:20, we arrived at our destination around 01:00 — it was a slow ferry that made stops along the way, in Poliegos and Folegrandes. After Santorini, it had one other stop, on the island of Ios. We had been to all of these during our cruise last year: a swim stop in Poliegos, dinner on Folegrandos (a totally traditional and utterly charming island with goat paths and tavernas lining the hilly streets), and an overnight in Ios (which we were told was a party island, but we had opted to walk along the sea then settle into a quiet evening on Galileo, the vessel we were on last year).

Happily, our transfer was waiting for us at the port, to transport us up the winding road that led to the top of the cliff — some 1,500 feet or so. By the time we got to Firostefani where Kafieris Apartments On The Cliff is located, it was around 2:am. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to get to our room and into bed–it had been a long, hot day.

Our driver escorted us into the lobby and up two flights of steep, marble stairs. He opened the door to our room, and I was shocked. It was very tiny, with none of the amenities we had booked for — no kitchenette (there was a mini-fridge), no coffee maker (there was an electric hot water kettle but no cups), no balcony (though there was a tiny door that led to the rooftop deck, which was amazing even in the dark). The bed was fairly comfortable (mattresses and pillows in Greece all seem to be hard) and we fell asleep even before our heads hit the pillows.

Santorini Day One

In the morning, we spoke with the lady who serves breakfast, telling her about our concern and dismay with the room. She called the manager, then assured us that we could move to another room that should be vacated and cleaned by 11:am. We enjoyed our breakfast on the beautiful teak table outside the office, where it was already very hot in the sun and quite so also in the shade. Then we went back and prepared our luggage for the move. Moments after 11:00, she told us Room 3A was ready for us. This turned out to be a small but very nice room–full kitchenette and balcony overlooking the Caldera.

After settling in, we walked down the hill to find some lunch. Although the road wasn’t as steep, it was as long and windy as the hill in Sifnos. This time, though, we knew that taxis would be readily available to bring us back when we ventured into Fira, the main town that was a 15 minute walk DOWNhill.

We found a really nice estiatorio on the path overlooking the Caldera and had a(nother) great meal: fava bean dip (fava beans are a specialty of Santorini and used a lot of ways), a Santorini Salad (with cherry tomatoes, another specialty), and a 1/2 liter of rose — life was good again!

After returning to our room and unpacking, we walked down to Fira. It was a rather precarious walk as there were no sidewalks a lot of the way, and lots of vehicular traffic. We had two priorities: get some euros and enjoy some ice cream. There was a cafe right next to the ATM; we graced them with both our presence and our euros.

Then we walked to some travel agencies to check out tour options for the next couple of days. We decided on a Saturday bus tour of the southern end of the island, and a Sunday sea excursion to the volcano and other ports.

After booking these and browsing a bit, we decided to have dinner in Fira at an upscale estiatorio overlooking the Caldera so that we could enjoy the sunset in comfort. It was less than spectacular, but the food was superb–like that was a surprise. We enjoyed: a beetroot salad with walnut and apples, codfish donuts (cod fried in a thick batter that actually looked like donuts), and eggplant millefeuille (fried layers of eggplant stacked with tomatoes and cheese). We almost always share either two starters and one entree, like today, or three starters (each usually a generous serving each), so our meals are generally moderately priced.

After browsing a bit more and stopping at a supermrket for staples (ouzo, wine, some snacking food, and ice), we took a taxi back to our apartment. We enjoyed some ouzo with lots of ice and played yahtzee for a bit then retired, looking forward to the next day.

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