Santorini Travel Blog

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Ferrying from mainland Greece into the mysterious island regions, where the tourists will always be drawn as the progression from the traditional into what is seen in Traveler magazine is magnified and escalated. The ferry itself was massive, a towering monstrosity masquerading as a catamaran; a jarring foreshadowing of what we were to find on Santorini.


            Nearing the island of Santorini, a place forever captured in photographs spread over calendars of the Mediterranean and other far-away places, the crescent-shaped oasis barred to us her rocky cliffs with marble-white houses cresting the ridges like the powdery mold on the crust of week-old bread. Looking down, we were several hundred feet from the glowing Aegean Sea, fluorescently blinking in colors I have never before seen.


            Departing from the mammoth ferry, we were greeted by a smiling representative of the place in which we were staying. Asterix, meaning star, showed us to his van, the outside of which was plastered with advertising for the vista at which he worked. We made friendly conversation with Asterix, who mentioned that he was Albanian, the weight of this fact I would only find out later through conversation with men on the island of Mykonos. Asterix drove quite fast through streets which only barely fit the van in which we were rigid with fear of a collision. Many of the streets were two-way streets, but only large enough to fit one car. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the roads were straight and one could see for a while whether or not someone else was coming, but in the towns of Santorini, these roads were twisted ad unpredictable, making our conception of our own safety unpredictable.


            Finally, we arrived and checked in. In some room fairly close to the registration office was a parrot who would whistle small tunes, or the familiar cat-call with which any New York female is familiar while traversing past any construction site. Whistling quietly to invite him to mimic, Asterix saw my game and smiled quietly.


            As is in accordance with the tradition of my family, my parents and sister decided to siesta that afternoon. However, as usual, I was too stimulated and curious to sleep, so I set off by myself to discover exactly what this place in which we ended up was. Stepping out of my shoes and onto the, what would become familiar, stone sideway with painted mortar, I let the warmth of the stones seep all the way up into my calves unto I continued on.


            On the drive over, we noticed many plants by the side of the road, fenced off as if in a garden. Seeing more of these plants just off the property, I decided to investigate. Turning over the leaves, I found large bunches of white grapes. Later, from a taxi driver who would take an extremely ill me away from Ios, I would learn that these grapes were to be left out in the sunlight for fifteen days, until they dried and turned a dark color. Then, they were squeezed and made into the sweet desert wine Vinsanto, or “wine of Sanotorini.” Many of the people who worked on the island also owned these wineries.


            Continuing onwards, I stumbled upon two men sitting outside a jewelry store, talking in Greek as if they were old friends. Seeing me curiously looking at them, they invited me to sit beside them and pass the time. Cristos and Aristhedes had worked together for many years, both originally from Athens, where we had just stayed for two days and would later stay for three more. We talked about the intolerable pollution there, and then about the intolerable pollution of the rest of the world. All agreed that America, being the heaviest consuming nation in the world, must set the example for the world by reducing carbon emissions, mainly by limiting the purchasing power of the populace in the automobile market. With each family owning one, if not more, car, the amount of pollution coming from such a small percentage of the world’s populace was staggering and infuriating.


            I would return every now and then during our stay in Santorini to speak with Cristos and Aristhedes, and continue our invaluable conversation. Upon chance encounters, such as when I was eating with my family, Aristhedes would wink at me as he was passing, offering along with it a large smile and a shrug.


            One evening, as we were dining, we heard the strumming of a guitar and faint singing drifting upon the soft breeze which would blow the napkins off our laps. Looking at my father, he responded with an admissive nod, and after we were finished, we went searching for the source of the music. We followed it into a large courtyard in the neighboring town, where in the center of the yard were a few musicians and many people dancing. All around the band were white plastic chairs and sitting in them were people of all ages. All ages, I should say, except for the children who ran around the ankles of the grown-ups or danced with enviable energy at the feet of the musicians. Smiling, a man offered us all Styrofoam plates of food and little plastic cups with a taste of ouzo in the bottom. On the plates were pieces of lamb, potatoes, moussaka, and a large roll of bread. Sitting with the rest of the people, we listened to the music and watched the people dance and socialize. What a beautiful way to spend a night.

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234 km (145 miles) traveled
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photo by: wanderingluster