Gary & Mandy Senn in Greece

Fira, Santorini - 5/18/07

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After an exhausting travel schedule, we slept late on our first, full day in Santorini. I awoke at 11:30 a.m. and Mandy awoke at 2:14 p.m. By the time we finished our preparations to leave the hotel, it was 3:06 p.m. local time. We decided that we would seek an adventure in Emberio. Mandy found a description of a walk embarking from Emberio that followed an old path to another town and offered some wonderful views of the island. The entire walking excursion would take about 2.5 hours. Emberio was about 30 minutes away so we decided to take the bus. There was a bus stop 50 meters from our hotel, Manos Villas, at the top of the hill. After the five-minute walk to the bus stop, we waited, and waited, and waited some more. We saw a number of buses drive by. Most of them had large signs indicating that they were special tour buses and not the public bus for which we were waiting. There were a few unmarked busses that I tried to flag down but instead of stopping I received a variety of looks from the drivers, ranging from confused to condescending.

After waiting for 30 minutes, we decided that we would wait just 30 minutes more until 4:10 p.m. After that time, we concluded that it would be too late to begin our Emberio adventure. When that time came, we set off on foot toward Fira as we had done the day before. This time, however, we took the route that I had discovered the night before when I went on my “seek the sunset” adventure.

Our first turn off of the crowded highway brought us through an adorable, isolated alley. The night before, I happened upon some cats so I prepared Mandy for the possibility as we approached the same location. We saw one cat on the side of the alley, and as we approach a large garbage can along the alley, four cats exploded from top and scattered toward areas of protection. Undeterred by the apparent interest of the cats to flee from us, Mandy approached the nearest, cowering critter. Within a few minutes, Mandy coaxed a few from hiding but we did not linger long enough to render any cats comfortable enough to be petted.

After exiting the alley, we arrived at the busy road. We had to walk a distance along that road and faced a few narrow areas that made me uncomfortable when traffic approached. Mandy and I walked under the agreement that she would always walk in front of me or beside me, away from traffic, so that she would not wander too close to the road. Subsequently, we reached the next detour, which brought us up a hill to the caldera adjacent to the town. It was a road less traveled, and we took it because that is sometimes just the thing one must do. Of course, the fact that it was safer than the busy road made it very appealing. Finally, we reached our destination of Fira, put on our tourist hats and prepared to pay exorbitant prices for unhealthy food and gratuitous souvenirs.

One goal for Fira was to go down the long, stone stairway that led to the sea below the caldera. Mandy had interest in riding a donkey down the walkway but she was concerned about what impact that would have on her back. Throughout the trip, we had many conversations about a donkey ride but in the end, Mandy decided not to risk it. Eventually, we undertook the thrilling trek to the sea. The port at the base of the stairs was quite uninteresting. We walked along the cement dock toward the cable car a short distance away. For four Euros each, we had a nice ride up the mountainside with a very nice view of the surrounding area.

When we returned to the top of the caldera we continued our exploration of Fira. Amazingly, during our exploration, I saw a couple that I recognized. It was the couple next to whom I had sat during our plane trip from Athens to Santorini. They were the people who slept during the trip and had the window shade closed so that I could not see the island as we approached. Eventually, we stopped for dinner at a small restaurant where the maître d' had greeted us a few hours earlier and nearly pulled us into his establishment. We were impressed with his enthusiasm and energy and thought that the food looked very tasty. So, we rewarded his efforts and sat down to a nice dinner. For me, that included grilled octopus.

The night before, I found a nice place to observe the sunset, and I wanted Mandy to enjoy a sunset with me. We walked back along the same, safe roadway that we used to go to Fira. When we arrived at the spot I selected the night before, we found a very gusty wind and cold temperatures. It was too cold for Mandy, so we headed back to Manos Villas for the evening.

At check in, we learned of a number of opportunities for tours on the island. We scoured the brochures provided to us and selected the tour in which we were interested. I then I headed for the main office of Villas Manos to book the tour for the next day. When I presented our desired tour package to Poppy, our hotel manager, she informed me that our selection was unavailable. After she circled the tour options again (they were circled on check-in day but Mandy and I thought that those were the recommended choices), I returned to the room to discuss the options with Mandy. We selected one of the circled, tour plans, after which, I returned to the main office. Poppy reserved the tour for us and said that I could pay her in the morning so that I would not have to make another trip to the office. She said that we would need to be at the bus stop by 9:40 a.m. This caused some concern for me for two reasons. Firstly, I had a difficult time getting out of bed this morning and Mandy didn’t make it until the afternoon. Secondly, we did not have any success at coercing a bus to stop at that station earlier in the day. This prompted me to ask Poppy about the bus stop and share our experience from earlier in the day. She directed my attention to a sheet of paper on the counter that had a bus schedule. The pickup times near the time we waited were 3:00 and 4:15, just 10 minutes before we arrived and 5 minutes after we left the bus stop. My guess was that the bus drove past our stop as Mandy was trying to tame a wild cat in the alley.

With the next day planned, Mandy and I decided to watch the movie, The Terminal, that we had taken along on our voyage to Santorini. Whilst I was gathering various items from my computer case, I found an audio splitter that I had stowed away for use on trips, which caused in me a burst of frustration. I wished I had located the splitter during my cursory search before I paid an exorbitant amount of money for one that included a superfluous airline converter, of which I already had an ample supply. We sat down to watch the movie and enjoyed some cookies that we discovered on our first day in Santorini. Before the end of our trip, we purchased five packages of these cookies and enjoyed them each night after we returned from our day’s excursion.

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