Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Greece Part 6: Crete and Santorini

This is not Crete
Photo by Eliza Eaton

      Our first half of our last full day of the cruise was nothing insanely special. Crete, despite it being the largest of the islands that we visited, was probably the most lackluster of all our experiences.  Cindy really wanted us to at least get off the ship to at least see it. So early in the morning, Luke and I rolled out of bed to go pay a short visited to the tiny city we were stopped in.

     Both Luke and I were both feeling the affects of all the past late nights, and we probably showed it as well. While most days I woke up feeling somewhat drained and lethargic, today I had hit full on zombie mode. We got off the ship to see quite the opposite of what we had been used to relishing: instead of beautiful, cliff-side homes in quaint little villages, we saw what looked like a miniature Athens. There was a distinguished port that took us forever to find our way off of (mostly because we were walking at a sluggish pace). Eventually, we found ourselves roaming around on the outskirts of a tiny but busy city that was just now waking up to start yet another day. We observed others from our cruise ship, walking up and down the streets of the city, looking just as languid as we were. Well that was most people, until we saw Tim. 

     Remember Tim? Yeah that guy. The guy that had been on vacation five times as long as we had, therefore he’d been drinking at least ten times as much as we had AND had incorporated hardly any sleep into his life. That guy.

This is Tim.
Photo by Luke Chamberlain
     Well as I mentioned before, we saw Tim swaggering along the street like some god, looking as energetic as ever. We stopped and talked to him for a moment. Sadly, because of the tiredness I felt at that point, I recall nothing from the conversation.  This is the second time I have told that story, I realize. But my being redundant is based on that fact that our encounter with Tim was the epitome of the excitement we experienced on the island of Crete.

    After walking around in circles for a while, and getting some appallingly bad ice-coffee (or frappe’ as the Greeks call it), we decided to make our way back onto the ship. I went to the top deck immediately, where I fell asleep for a little bit on a lounge chair. That was until I was scared shitless by the horn that went off when we were departing from the port. However I’m glad it did because I enjoyed being able to see us leave and make our way back out to sea. As I do recall, it was a beautiful morning.

    We had about four to five hours of sailing before we got to Santorini. So after relaxing on the deck for a while, I decided to go get my daily workout over with. After running for what seemed like forever, I emerged from the catacombs of the fitness center to find a now busy and active upper deck. I then declared to myself that I was hungry and must eat something.  

     Clad in an ugly sports bra, running shorts and rugged shoes, I sat down to eat some fruit and pasta quickly before going to take a shower. As luck would have it, an acquaintance from a couple nights before joined me and we engaged in conversation for a couple hours. Eventually we were also distracted by some of the games and demonstrations taking place on the top deck. Before I knew it, we only had 45 minutes until we were ready to get off the boat at Santorini, and I still had yet to shower. I had to rush, for I had heard that there were some absolutely dashing photo opportunities to take advantage of as we sailed into the island cove.
Photo by Marc Eaton

    God knows how I did it, but I was able to pull it off, and made it just in time to the top deck to get some good shots of the volcanic island. The story behind Santorini is that after a huge eruption occurred, however many years ago, half of the island disappeared under water, thus creating the myth/ legend of the underwater city of Atlantis. So yeah, I’ve sort of been to Atlantis. Jump back.

    After lots and lots and LOTS of waiting, we sailed in little boats to the cliffs of the island. Since half of the island blew off in the epic explosion, there are huge cliffs with the tiny white cities spread on the tops like blankets instead of beachside villages. So in order to get to the place where actual humans roamed, you had three options: ride the ski-lift looking contraption up the side of the mountain, walk up the winding road that was cut into the sides of the cliffs, or ride donkeys up the winding roads on the sides of the cliffs. We chose donkeys.

    In short, there is a rotation of donkeys and handlers at the bottom of the cliffs who are all business and no play (or sense of humor). We waited in line, but as soon as we were in the front, we were thrown on a donkey and sent up the road. Sometimes the donkeys would stop to take a crap, and sometimes they just stopped. The handlers were loud and callous-sounding as they yelled at the poor animals. Regardless of how dreadful the experience was for the donkeys working against their will, (who were adorned in colorful trinkets and blankets… such a juxtaposition to how they most likely felt) the experience was fun and I enjoyed every second. Even the terrible odor.
Photo by Alexa Linker

    When we reached the top, Alexandra, Alexa and I had one goal: to get a second piercing in our ears. Alexandra had been to Santorini before and had gotten a piercing at a clean and safe little shop that was within walking distance, but was definitely a little bit of a hike to get to.  We rushed swiftly to the shop and quickly got our piercings so that we would be able to saunter our way back through the city and observe all that we had missed while walking rapidly.

    Santorini definitely had the same fancy and pristine “wow” factor that Mykonos had. And that view! Oh what a view! Luke and I found a couple Greek Orthodox churches to walk into and savor for a moment. I wish I could have taken pictures, but I couldn’t bring myself to be so disrespectful. Also those nuns were eyeing me down.

   So we ambled some more, I got my Greek Yogurt fix for the day, then Mom, Alexa, David, Luke and I opted to ride the ski lift lookin’ contraption down instead of ride the donkeys. We then boarded a boat that took us to the ship. I took my last photos while on that boat.  It was interesting how the sunset, with the silhouette of a small sail boat in front of it, sort of symbolized the not only the end of the best part of the trip, but also one of the best days we’d experienced on our vacation.

Photo by Eliza Eaton
Photo by Eliza Eaton
That night we celebrated once more and took in as much as we could before we had to leave early the next morning. Remember how I told you we felt on Crete, well that was the next day except for far more extreme. More on that later. For now…. αντίο!

Photo by Eliza Eaton

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