Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Santorini & Crete

From Naxos we took another ferry (this time the open-decked, slower kind that are much more fun to ride) and were met at the harbor by a driver from our hotel. It was nice not to have to squeeze into a crowded bus with the other touists to go up the cliff to town, but instead be driven right to the hotel. The Agnadema Hotel turned out to be even better than it looked on the internet: We got a free upgrade to a spacious studio with our own little balcony and a breathtaking view overlooking the caldera and other islands of the Santorini group. The photos don't do it justice.
That evening we ate at an open-air restaurant and nearly froze as the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. It was worth it to watch the sunset (and the dog on the wall) but just barely. Tne next day we rented a car and drove from one end of the island to the other. We peeked at the black beach (lava rock sand) and the red beach (a rare reddish sand) but we just aren't the types to lay around on a beach, so we pushed on. We checked out a village where I saw a mule tied out in the hot sun with no water, and got yelled at by the drunk owner for photographing it. The bar owners came out and apologized for him, but it left a bad taste for a while.
I soon felt better when we stopped by a couple of wineries and did some tasting of Santorini wines. My favorite was a semi-sweet red, and Jen liked the vey sweet dessert wine "Vinsanto". She also tried the ouzo, but alone it tastes like cough syrup (we thought), so most of it was left for the maid. By the afternoon we were at the western end of the island where we watched a great sunset from "Dimitri's", a little seaside restaurant down the cliff right next to the water. We had a nice talk with the American owner who had married a Greek man and now ran the place. Talk about fresh: they cooked the just-caught fish right out back of the place. And we shared our chairs with the ownder's cat who slept through the whole evening until the sun set.
The ride back to our hotel along the cliffs in the dark wasn't so fun, so the next day we decided not to drive anywhere else but stay with our pattern of relaxing on the second day. We did little more than stroll the winding alleys and browse in the unique little shops selling local artisans' crafts, and (of course) enjoy great Greek food at some of the seemingly endless number of tavernas. Santorini is so beautiful that you really don't have to do much more than that, and gaze out at the views, to enjoy a vacation there. The next morning we caught a high-speed hydrofoil to Crete for one final island stop. For some reason the boat sat in the harbor for almost an hour while we waited, which delayed our arrival in the huge, unnatractive capital city of Iraklion just enough to cause us to miss the bus to the much prettier (and smaller) Chania harbor town, where we had a hotel reserved. We thought about renting a car to get there, but it was a 2-hour drive at night, and I had no idea how to get there anyway, so we nixed that idea. Schlepping our luggage, we walked to several nearby hotels until we found one with a room at a reasonable price. Tired, hungry and both a bit nauseous after the long boat ride we gladly took it and collapsed.
The next day we caught the bus to Chania (pronounced without the "C"), and found that once again our little 500-year old hotel.was even cuter than the pictures had portrayed. The old man running the place forgave us for our late arrival and gave us the best room-- the top floor complete with loft, cat, and sweet dog out the back door. Thanks to our late arrival we only had one night there, but it turned out to be all we needed to explore the maze of shops in the old section of town, and walk out on the harbor wall to the lighthouse to watch the sunset, then dinner in the harbor.
The next morning we had to pack yet again for the morning flight to Athens, coming up next. Stay tuned!


dageekster29 said...

Wow this looked liked it was your best leg yet. How romantic to walk the beaches, and being in a nice secluded area. I love seeing all that fresh food. The only thing better is cooking it. I hope you get some good recipes to try out.

MozzarElla said...

Love, love, love it! Reading about your journey to Santorini made me so envious! We've got to go visit there-- Crete, too.
The photos are lovely and so vibrant with the warmth and passion of Greece!