Lisa and I had been in Bulgaria for a week and a half, or so, before we took a short vacation from our vacation. We headed down to Greece to spend two and a half days in Santorini. We had planned this before going to Europe. Our trip to Santorini was really just a by-product of being near it. On our budget, it was much more feasible to spend some time there if we were already nearby.
Our Trip to Santorini, Getting There
Our plane was leaving at 6:45 am. We were only traveling about 700 kilometers from Sofia to Santorini. I don’t know how many miles that is. But, it’s not many. Still, we didn’t know if this qualified as international travel. We certainly didn’t know what to expect from security. We left the bulk of our bags at the hotel in Sofia and headed to the airport a few hours early with just carry-on luggage.
Turns out, it was no problem. Yay! We hung out in Athens for a couple hours to make a connecting flight and arrived on the island at about noon.
Earlier, when we booked the Airbnb for our stay, they said they would send a driver for us. We thought that was a cool benefit of staying at this place. We soon found out that it was not as cool as we thought. It was not free. We brought 200 Euros with us for our two day stay. We spent 50 of it 15 minutes after we landed.
Our Trip to Santorini, Accommodations
Our accommodations for the next two days were wonderful! Irene, the owner, greeted us when we got there. Glaros Beach was the name of what she called an Airbnb. Really, it was more of a tiny motel. We unpacked and took a nap.
Our Trip to Santorini, Day ½
After resting for a bit, we took a stroll around our new neighborhood. The place we were staying was very charming. White stucco with Santorini’s signature blue trim, with plants and flowers everywhere! As I mentioned earlier, we were on a pretty tight budget. So, this place we rented was not on the more popular, caldera side of the island. We were all the way over on the eastern shore, about 300 feet from a beautiful, and uncrowded, black sand beach. We walked all afternoon visiting a bunch of tiny little beach-front shops. We didn’t understand how good we had it on this side of the island!
Our Trip to Santorini, Day One
Lisa booked us on an 8-hour Notos bus tour of the island on our first full day. We had a limited budget, and a short time to visit. We thought this would be a good way to see most of the attractions that we wanted to. The plan was to rent an ATV, but it seemed unnecessary when we got there. We walked a few blocks and met the Notos travel bus at a nearby Euromarket.
The tour was awesome! We saw the Akrotiri Excavations first. This is an archaeological site that is open to the public. It has excavations of ruins that date back to 4000 BC!
The rest of the tour was simply amazing! At the end of the tour was a special treat. They would leave us and the bus in the Village of Oia to watch the famed Santorini Sunset. First, though, Lisa and I had to go up to see the famous blue-domed white church that appears in every picture of Santorini, ever.
The crowds were unbearable! Thousands of people were jammed into this little tiny town. I was quickly losing interest in staying in Oia much longer. We fought through crowds up and down tiny alley ways. Finally, Lisa noted, “The crowd is bad. What’s worse is that when the sun does go down, all of these people are going to be in a mad rush to get out of here.” Neither one of us liked the thought of trying to find our bus through this mass of humanity.
As we walked around trying to decide about how to get out of here, a man with a taxi stopped us. He said we looked like we needed a ride. (-: We agreed.
We did the right thing and went back to the bus driver to let him know that we were going to take a taxi back to our hotel.
Our new driver seemed like a good guy. I’m sure he is. We asked him if he would be available after tomorrow for a very early morning ride to the airport. “No problem,” he said. More about him later…..
Sunset…. I mean, moonrise
We were sad to leave before the sunset. We got back to Irene’s place just as dusk set in and decided to go down to our little, and completely EMPTY beach. It was wonderful to be out of the crowds.
A small light shined way off in the distance over the water. Two minutes later we realized that it was the full moon starting to rise.
On a cloudless night, on an empty beach, somewhere in paradise, we got to see a full moon rising above the Aegean Sea! We sat there for hours talking about how lucky we were and loving that we had left the crowds behind.
Our Trip to Santorini, Day Two
After staying up way past our bedtime, we were tired the next day. No time for that though. We were booked to go on a catamaran tour of the caldera with Spiridakos Travel. We got on board the boat and sat in the prime spot next to the Captain. He seemed young but said he already had been a captain for over 10 years.
The tour was a blast! We sailed through the caldera of Santorini, stopping at several cool places. I got to jump off the boat and swim to an underwater thermal vent with several of the other passengers.
We stopped at one point to do a little snorkeling with the fish that the crew was feeding.
For lunch, our cook made delicious grilled chicken. After which, we spent another half-hour swimming with more fish!
When our boat trip was over, we went back to our hotel and napped again. A little bit of shopping, dinner, and a walk on the beach later, we retired to the patio to talk and laugh about our time in Santorini for the rest of the evening.
The Taxi Driver… Almost Day Three
A day earlier, our new friend, the taxi driver, had said, “No problem,” when we asked him to pick us up at 4:30 this morning. At 4:25 we grabbed our stuff and walked out to the road to wait for him.
Remember the taxi driver?
At 4:45 he still hadn’t arrived. I started making phone calls. There was no answer and no voice mail at the number he had given us.
I started calling as many taxi services as Google would tell me about. Not one answered the phone. I left a few messages in hopes of someone waking up and learning of our distress. Our plane is leaving at 6:25 am. It’s now 5 am. We are, as they say in Greece, and elsewhere I’m sure, fucked.
Lisa and I walked to the Euromarket which was on what seemed like a busy street. We were hoping that anybody was awake and out and about yet, who could help us. It was completely deserted.
Disheartened, we went back to the hotel and sat down outside. We had already left our room key behind the now locked door. Irene wouldn’t be awake for at least a few more hours. We had 50 Euros left. We needed a plan. A very cheap plan. It would be next to impossible to catch our flight now.
At 5:35 my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the tired voice on the other end. It was a taxi service. I went into a tirade about how the lousy prick who said he’d pick us up didn’t show.
The voice said, “That’s me.” “I slept too late.”
No shit, dude.
He said he would be there in twenty minutes.
Good enough. We figured, at least we’ll be at the airport and can figure out how to get back to Bulgaria from there.
At 5:55 the driver comes racing up the street and slammed on the brakes. “Get in! Let’s go!” We did.
The speed limit on most roads in Santorini is something like 40 kmh. My hands still hurt from gripping the underside of my seat that morning. Our driver friend wasn’t much for being on time, but he was determined to try to make up for it with his driving speed! Santorini is a really small island with really skinny roads when you’re cruising along at 120 kilometer per hour!
Nobody talked the for the entire 17 minutes.
We skidded into the airport lot at 6:12. I threw him our last 50 Euros and didn’t wait for change. The ticket agent said, “That flight is boarding!” and rushed us through security.
We were the last passengers on the plane. We made it. Our taxi driver kept his word. “No problem.”
Back to peaceful Bulgaria
Bulgaria, for the first two weeks, was chaotic and eventful all the time. Bulgaria, after two days on Santorini, seemed like a peaceful, quiet, sublime place to relax for the rest of the week.
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