I have often heard how beautiful Santorini is. The things that I heard, just like the pictures that I took and the words that I write here do not do it justice. The beaches are beautiful, even if rocky. The sunsets are beautiful, the cliffs, the water, you get the idea, even the atmosphere itself, everything is beautiful.
Piraeus is technically a different city than Athens, but it is the port (I think there is another, but I forget the name) of Athens. Katrina was still in charge of transportation so she booked the tickets and asked for the directions to the gate once we got off the metro. We sat at a coffee shop while we waited. We were among the first on the ship. We had the cheapest seats, where you just get to the lounge and try to mark your territory. We were lucky and managed to claim a section of the long couch thing that stretched around the lounge. This was an overnight ferry so we were traveling and saving money on a room at the same time. I wouldn’t say that I slept well, but I slept well enough, surprisingly better than I expected. Katrina also called to see if the hotel could pick us up, which they did. The hotel was in Thira (or Fira). The town is near the port, but the hotel was away from the main section. This wasn’t too much of an inconvenience, but we did hear some of the other guests complain about its location. We were a bit too early to check in so we passed time by the pool. I took another nap (and probably snored). The pool was salt water which took me by surprise when I got in. Like the Dead Sea, I could not help but float. I was a little too impressed and could not shut up about how easily I was floating. We also walked down to a nearby, small, quiet beach which had a restaurant/café that provided chairs and umbrellas. There was a fishing dock near there too. It was windy and the water was especially rough. I decided a couple of years ago that I could watch waves crash into rocks for hours. I don’t know how long we were there, but shortly after we got back to the pool our room was ready. Katrina thought the receptionist was rude, but she was nice to me and looked like Wonder Woman so I didn’t mind being put in charge of communicating with the front desk.
A shuttle ran every hour into the main part of town. We caught a late afternoon one and explored the main part of the city. We stopped at one café and took in some of the beautiful scenery, then walked some more. We made a reservation at one place so to catch the sunset and returned about an hour later. As we walked, Katrina and I agreed that there was a “Dubai”-like vibe amongst most of the people (tourists not locals, of course, the locals’ income depends on tourists so the attitude is catered to. A self-destructive cycle.) The people that we saw lounging about in both cafes (and later the bar) that we visited had the air about them of wanting to move from one party to the next. Like the way people in hostels drone on about all the places they have been and plan to go, these people drone on about how awesome the last party was and where they intend to party next. Dubai is likewise filled with these people. I briefly felt out of place and kept expecting one of the Kardashians or (had she not just given birth) Beyoncé and Jay-Z to stroll up at any moment. They never did.
Now, the one thing that I have heard you absolutely must do in Santorini is watch the sunset. I’ve seen many sunsets (way more of those than sunrises) and almost all of them are beautiful. Granted, some more beautiful than others, but all were beautiful. So, having our spot at the café, I had a slight worry just a few minutes before the sunset began: What if it was overrated? What if the legendary sunsets of Santorini were just the result of the party people telling each other, “You simply must see the sunset over Santorini.” And I fell for it. To make matters worse, sitting behind us, was an annoying couple and their son who were absolute experts in everything. And I do mean everything such as: sunsets, photography, how proper espresso is made, how good beer is made, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Trump, political affairs in Egypt, elbow space on airplanes, their best vacation, where they were going next, and on and on and on. I was close to giving into the temptation to turn around and smack all three of them, when the sun reached the horizon. I was completely wrong it was not overrated at all. I will not even attempt to explain it. A better writer than me, maybe could, but I do not have the words to describe the shades of orange and red and purple and the way they reflected off the water as the sun sank into the sea. Just believe me when I say that it was amazing. So, if you ever have the opportunity to do so, I highly recommend that you see it for yourself.
We googled shisha as is our habit. There was only one place that we found. It was an American themed bar, that thought way too highly of itself. More on that in the proper section. We ended the night with a drink at the café near the hotel and did a little stargazing.
Red Beach
The next day we rented a quad bike and set out to explore the island. We went into town for gas, then set out to find the place that I had been told to find, Red Beach. Google first took us back to the port, for some reason, but then we were on our way to the right spot. Another beautiful area. This place is known as Red Beach because of the red cliffs that surround it and the red rocks that make up portions of the beach itself. It was a bit of a hike down a cliff to the beach. One path veered off to a smaller place with less people so we planted ourselves there. Then made our way into the water. I was a bit paranoid, there were a few sea urchins around the rocks. There were also these red plants that looked like sea urchins, but turns out they were not. We swam out to some big rocks that were a bit out in the water. At some point, I noticed that the pockets of my trunks had turned inside out, then it dawned on me that I could not remember taking the key to the quad bike out of my pocket. Horrified, we swam to the larger more crowded beach (with less urchins and urchin-like imposters) and walked as quickly as our bare feet could carry us on the hot, rocky path back to where we left our stuff. I searched in vain hoping that I had forgotten that I put the key in the bag. We made a quick search of the shallow water nearby, but slowly admitted to ourselves that the key was gone. I kept my eyes open on the walk back, just in case it was on the ground and hoped against hope that it was still in the ignition, but no such luck. Katrina called the company, because it involved transportation. Turns out whoever had the bike before me also lost the key so they sent a guy out to change the ignition switches and give us another key. I forget how much, but I tipped the guy generously (it was hot) and learned the next day that it cost me 50 extra euro. I did not have a leg to stand on so I complied without argument.
We walked back down to the main part of the beach and hung out there for a bit, then we were off to explore more of the island. We found another small beach with a family owned café. We stopped there for fried mussels with cheese. This may be the first time I have ever eaten mussels, I really don’t remember, and they were delicious, but they would haunt me later. I’ll spare you most of the details when I get to that part. We swam again and relaxed on the rocky beach for a bit, then set off to find a spot to watch another sunset. I was looking for some pull-off spot to stop, we stumbled on a small winery with some tables and chairs set out with a great view. We watched the sun sink into the sea for a second time. This one was even better than the night before. I am not exaggerating when I say that this sunset is possibly the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.
Exhausted from our day in the sun, we returned to the hotel. Our room had a very nice patio area with a cool view of a church at the top of a nearby hill. Even though it was late, I cranked up the ipod and we had a few drinks while listening to music. My dad would also do this from time to time when I was growing up and I experienced a quick flash of homesickness (next summer, hopefully). I was extremely relaxed, staring at the stars, and thinking that this may be one of the best days of my life (despite the lost key), when suddenly my stomach informed me that the day, no matter how wonderful, was not going to end well. I blame the mussels, but I also was probably a bit dehydrated. I also may not have eaten enough to keep up with the drinks that we had. Or maybe it was all of it together. Anyway, I said I will spare you the details of what came next and I will.
One More Day
We were supposed to check out that morning, but we hadn’t even booked ferry tickets anywhere and I was not feeling my best so we slept in and I ran down to ask Wonder Woman if we could extend. I settled up with the quad bike guy and got some coffee. We hung out by the pool for a while, then went to the nearby beach and ate at the restaurant. Most days we had been on the go. This was our first really relaxing day of doing nothing. It was a much-needed change of pace.
The next day, we packed up and lounged around the pool until it was time for the shuttle to take us to the port. We said goodbye to Wonder Woman and the rest of the staff and were on our way to the port and on anther ferry to Crete.
Got Shisha?
Like I said earlier, there was one bar with shisha that we could find. It was an “American” bar that took itself way too seriously and thought it was much cooler than it actually was, like most of the people that we encountered. The pipes were all converted Grey Goose bottles (which I guess was supposed to make them even cooler). We foolishly ordered the “big one” and the waitress brought out a giant Grey Goose, shisha set-up. Now, the worst shisha I have ever had was in Jerusalem, but this was easily the second worst that I have ever experienced. I really wish I could remember the name so that I could tell you not to go there. Not only was the shisha terrible, but it was small and very crowded. Way too cramped and just an overall bad atmosphere.
I don’t really know what else to say. It was fantastic. If I can ever afford to retire or just stop working, I would love to move here. Rent out a room in Wonder Woman’s hotel or that area and ride my quad bike around the island watching sunsets to my heart’s content.


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