Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Santorini, Greece – November 3, 2015

that winding road is what we climbed up

I wake very early and quietly wander around the cabin picking out enough clothes to make myself presentable and the laptop and head to deck 7 outside the Bayou Café for a quiet place to write and post my blog.  Tip:  Wifi is very strong very early in the morning.

I watch the sunrise come up as I glance out the window.  

We are slowly entering the caldera of the volcano that erupted in 1650 BC.  I can just make up the tops of the peaks and see white.  For me I think it looks like snow on the tops of these mountains, but no they are buildings.  And as the sun rises the area comes to life and I see boats heading out to do some fishing.

We are tendering here.  For Santorini we tender in using the cities tender boats.

We are not in any rush to get off and enjoy a leisurely breakfast in Horizon Court and then come back to the cabin to get ready and we head down around 10 am.  At this time there are no queues or tender tickets required to go ashore we just head down to the pontoon. 

Tender operation seems to move very swiftly too and takes about 10 minutes.  The tender boat drops you off right at the base of the cliff of the town of Fira which is 721 feet up! 

this is what is there when you get dropped off

There are a few options for getting to the top.  There is a cable car that operates – but has limited cars and be aware there could be lines.  The cost of the cable car is 5E each person each way – but they got you, and there are not many other feasible options.  You can also take one of the famous donkeys up the steep walkway for 5E too – gee seems for me a ride on the cable car would win out for the same price. 

The other option is climbing the walkway up the 721 feet. 
Since this port replace Istanbul we really didn’t have any plans and all we had to go by was the Rick Steve’s guide and for today we talked about heading over to Oia which we heard was very picturesque.

Once ashore we see there is a boat tour that will take you to Oia via boat then you take a private bus back for 15E each but if you have a group of 4 you get one free.  This looked like a good option and there was another couple behind us from the US who were also interested so we though okay lets try it.  The guy said the boat was leaving soon so we paid 22.50E each couple and boarded the boat – note the time was around 10:20 and he said the boat would leave at 10:30.

this is the guy everyone was arguing with
Okay 10:30 passes we are okay with that, the sun is shining and we are enjoying the hot weather.  We hear rumblings from the passengers down below who say they have been there since 10!  Around 10:45 we are starting to wonder now too when they will leave.  We have to catch the last tender at 3 and they said the 1 pm bus is the option for us so if we don’t leave soon it will be useless to head to Oia if we have to turn around and come back.

The guys downstairs in the boat are upset and arguing with the guy who originally talked everyone into the ride.  They have been waiting almost an hour and were promised it would leave at 10:30 and now the guy is saying 11 is the leave time.  They want their money back and they do give it to them. 

We chat with the other couple and they agree that waiting till 11 (and there is no guarantee it will leave then) is getting too late so we agree to get off and get our money back.  No problem with getting the money back.

Note we have friends who did this trip but they caught an earlier boat and didn’t have to wait very long so I guess make sure it is leaving soon and the boat is full. 
We go with the flow, it won’t ruin our trip but we giggle and it makes memories. 

Now how to get to the top of the cliff – Bernie wants to climb so he can say he did it!  Okay I agree and we start climbing.  It is hot!  In fact we both got a sunburn.  The donkeys share the path and there are times they are coming down and they come right to you.  Now they are friendly but it is a bit intimidating. 

Oh and not only do you share the road with the donkeys but you share it with their waste!  Oh the smells, and watch where you step.  Again this probably is not for everyone and certainly if you have issues walking or climbing don’t even think about it.  But we love it!  It creates a great memory of the place.  It took about 20-25 minutes and we did have to stop a few times but those stops meant great photo opportunities.  Now would I do it again, maybe, maybe not – but I can say I did do it.

Once at the top we walk around a bit and buy a Greek Coffee for Bernie and I get the cold drink they call a Frappe that I see so many of the Greeks drinking.  Both are very good – things are definitely more expensive here (understandably). 

We walk along the narrow roads and glance into the shops.  It is pretty, but Mykonos’ streets were much more picturesque (but more shops are open here).  Many restaurants are either closed here for the season or don’t open till later for lunch.  I would guess about 60% of the restaurants are closed here with many of the restaurants overlooking the cliff being open. 

Walking further away from all the tourist shops we enjoy seeing the local people going about their day to day.  We chat with a few and even come across a school.  I see a grocery store and Bernie wants to buy some pistachios for which we hear Santorini is known for.  We pick up a few items, the pistachios and a peanut snack that has the peanut coated with honey and sesame seeds – very yummy. 

I also buy some other nut snack, but can not comment on it as I haven’t eaten it yet. 

Lunch time and we see a nice restaurant in town and take a seat on the outside terrace.  A glass of wine for me a beer for Bernie and we start with a lovely Greek Salad.

Our entrée is a grilled platter for two, but really it could of easily fed four!  We can’t finish it – but it was very good.  In total the bill came to 46E – note that they did have a service fee added to the price as well so we took that into consideration when tipping.

Back wandering we love strolling along the streets and chatting with the shopkeepers.

it is hard to see but this is the cable car route

For our trip down we are going to take the cable car.  Even walking to the cable car could be difficult for some so be prepared.  I am not sure how someone in a wheelchair would get around, hopefully someone can comment on how it was handled here. 

The line up is not bad for the cable car and there is a washroom here. 

While waiting a couple in front of us from the US notices our Remembrance Day Poppies and the husband says “is that a Maple Leaf?” we say no it is a poppy for Remembrance Day.  Guy “oh, what does that represent?” we inform him that it is for November 11 – Remembrance day, your Memorial Day.  It is to signify the end of the first World War on the 11th hour, of the 11th day on the 11th month.  We wear a poppy to remember those who fought and also those who gave their life in all battles.  This quieted him for a bit.  But his wife then says “oh the 11th is very significant to us too” I say “oh” thinking maybe she had a death in her family on Nov 11, and she says – September 11 was very tragic to us Americans we acknowledge the 11th. 

I just nod – and make sure to get in a different cable car than her.  I am surprised cause the US is very conscious of those who fought to defend their freedoms as we are, it always impresses me.  So I know she does not represent most Americans.  But I think she just wanted the last word and didn’t want to look stupid (too late, when you called a poppy the maple leaf it gave you away). 

We are back on the ship and I am very impressed how the security has two lines for screening bags and people, it moves very efficiently and prevents back ups on the pontoon. 

A quick stop in the coffee bar (I want to call it international café, but it is not) and Bernie gets his tea and I get a cranberry pomegranate infused tea.  I am loving these in the afternoon.  I take it back to the cabin and add Ouzo to it (we are in Greece after all) and it tastes great.

I want to head up and take pictures, Bernie reads.  The day is stunning, the light bouncing off the buildings makes for great shots.  A lot of people are out relaxing in the sun, swimming, and enjoying the day.  Needless to say that laying on those loungers will create a mystical environment causing you to close your eyes and suddenly you are in a deep sleep.  75% of the people on loungers are asleep, may be the long port days too.

Bonnie and Jim invite us to their cabin for sail away.  We enjoy some prosecco and toast to a great cruise and new friends.  What a lovely couple and we are so glad we got to meet and know them.  They will be joining us for dinner tonight.

The town of Oia - where Bonnie and Jim went and we tried to go

I need a quick nap (one hour) and then we get ready for dinner.  Tonight we are dining at our table (note we now have a standing reservation at 8 pm for four at table 80).

Tonight’s meal is the Chef’s Menu.  I start with the goat cheese soufflé and then the butter lettuce salad with a hamburger for my entrée – yes hamburger, but not just any hamburger an Oscar Burger.  The burger is topped with crab meat, asparagus and hollandaise sauce.  All was very very good. 

Caesar from the Phillipines and Katryna from the Ukraine take very good care of us.  They are quick, attentive and helpful.

The headwaiter came over and we chatted.  Sorry didn’t get his name but I will.  He is from Venice and he tells us he is heading to Mom’s home for lunch and then she is getting on for the crossing!  How nice.  He recommends a restaurant to us for Venice – Madonna it is called and it is near the Rialto Bridge.  I tease him and say “Madonna has a restaurant now too, she sings and has a restaurant” he shrugs and says different Madonna.  We will seek it out.

After a great day, stunning sail away, dinner with great friends we head back to the cabin.  Tonight we get the hour back that we lost earlier.  We need it! 

Both of us are complaining our knees are sore.  We climbed 90 flights of stairs today when you add the cliff walk!  So we drop an Advil and crawl into bed.  Tomorrow we get a sleep in and it is formal night.

Thanks for following along.


  1. Hi Vickie,
    I am loving following along with you and Bernie - looks and sound like you are having a fabulous adventure.

    Allow me to apologize for the ignorant, ugly American couple you met in Santorini. I know you are too smart and well traveled to think that they represent a nation.

    Please rest assured that we do not celebrate September 11th - we solemnly mark the day...never forget...but it is not a "holiday". We, too, have a Remembrance Day, which marks the end of the First World War on the 11th month, of the 11th day at the 11th hour - we call it Veteran's Day and it is celebrated on November 11th. Over the years it has grown to honor and celebrate any and all American's who served in the military in any and all wars. It is a federal holiday and important enough that it is one of the few holidays that it is marked on the actual day and not thrown in as a Monday holiday just so everyone can go off for a nice long weekend. Our Memorial Day is in late May and it celebrates and honors those who gave their "full measure" in service to our country.

    Having traveled and made friends all over the world, I am sad and embarrassed that this couple is out there mis-representing my country. As a daughter, sister, niece and cousin of US veterans, November 11th is a day that I celebrate.

    I can't wait to read more of your travels.
    Best, Sharon

  2. Thanks Sharon. Thankfully she does not represent the majority. Many US are wearing the poppy on board. It does link us. Sadly I think the woman was more worried or concerned about being wrong.... your memorial day in may seems bigger than Nov 11 but it is me looking at it from Canada.

  3. Hi Vickie, Thanks for promoting Remembrance day. I have added a poppy to my Facebook profile in recognition as well as wearing the poppy with pride. Sharon, Do not feel embarrassed. I have met many Americans on our cruises and the vast majority appear to be very supportive and respectful of their veterans. More so than some of us Brits.

  4. Hi Vickie, Thanks for promoting Remembrance day. I have added a poppy to my Facebook profile in recognition as well as wearing the poppy with pride. Sharon, Do not feel embarrassed. I have met many Americans on our cruises and the vast majority appear to be very supportive and respectful of their veterans. More so than some of us Brits.