Wednesday, July 30, 2008


My good friend and repeated traveling companion, Stef, wrote a more than adequate description of our first day in Santorini. So for those wonderful and all too brief 24 hours I will pass the torch to her...except to post a picture of our sunset lit rooftop dinner.The second day was, unfortunately, not as grand. We were conned into a boat tour of the rest of the islands around the caldera and, leaving later than we should have, we got off to a rough start. We were forced to run down the near 600 stairs made slick by constant wear and donkey droppings to the old port, most of us in flip flops. Some of our group made it down quickly and hopped on the boat to stall it for the rest of us...only to find out that our boat wasn't there yet. A little irked, we waited for our heart rate to slow down and ultimately were off for Nea Kameni--an island formed in the 16th century by volcanic eruptions. We failed to listen to any sort of explanation on the way there so we arrived ignorant of both purpose and direction. As a result, we did what anyone should do in that situation--mindlessly followed everyone around us. What we discovered was a small pit that turned out to be the active crater of the volcano and if you looked closely and used all of your imaginative muscles you could see it emit gases. The best part was sticking our hand in a hole to feel the ground, the temperature of which was hot enough to cook an egg...or maybe just smell like an egg.

Next stop: Palea Kameni, the site of the volcano's hot springs. This turned out to be an inlet off the ocean where we jumped off the boat and swam into water that turned gradually warmer and more and more coppery in color. There was also a sign that said, "Call me to my cell phone to save you." We seriously considered it.

Instead, we sailed for Thirassia, the only town unharmed during the last volcanic eruption. Determined to ride donkeys somewhere on our trip we forfeited our lives to a Greek man who sounded like a woman and went to discover what Greek life looked like 50 years ago. We were completely unprepared for what ended up being a crazy, jostling ride where legs met donkey in discomforting places, we ran down helpless tourists on their way down the stairs, and we were in constant jeopardy of being tossed over the wall ourselves. Good thing it was worth seeing a completely desolate town with no good views and one overpriced restaurant where McCall ate octopus for the first time. Opa!

Our final destination was Oia located on the northern tip of Santorini. Exhausted by disappointment and heat stroke we casually shopped and walked around. There was only one thoroughfare so there was no chance of losing each other. Eventually we made our way to the old castle which was purportedly the best place to watch the famous Oia famous it was difficult to find a place to sit among the hordes and hordes of people. We alternated between watching the actual sunset and watching the angry Asian couple in front of us take picture after picture of each other. When it was over and the Asian couple was gone we took our time getting to the bus stop...where all the buses were done for the night...and people fought tooth and nail for taxis. After getting ousted a couple times by tourists with no sense of a queue--Europeans--and waiting for the pay phone behind a girl talking with her 20 member family we took matters into our own hands...and razed the place to the ground (which meant we called a taxi company on someone else's cell phone and made sure everyone knew we were next.) Thus ended the day after the best day of our trip.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Once upon an ancient time there was an island in the center of the Cyclades where Greek gods were born and huge amounts of slaves were sold in their name, where mere mortals were neither allowed to give birth nor to die, and where a rich merchant couple had nothing better to do with their money than erect statues of themselves in their own courtyard. Now it's a place where hairpieces are found lying on columns, where little girls still peek over the walls of the boy's dormitory, where nine stone lions built to protect the city from ruin lie in ruin themselves, and people can't help but ask themselves, "Were the Greek gods real?"

This place is Delos.Going to Delos was the first planned activity of our trip and of course we were excited. So we set our alarms, woke up bright and early, and hurried to the front of our hotel to catch the find out it wouldn't come for another hour or so. So we hitched up our shorts, tied back our hair, and walked--on a perilously windy street with no shoulder. We arrived in Mykonos Town in one piece--which was weird because we started out as 6 separate entities--just in time to catch the ferry and land on the island already populated by hundreds of other tourists crowding around the front gate in order to buy a relatively overpriced ticket to a barren city overgrown with weeds and a sparse museum. I was overjoyed.Compared to other archaeological sites, Delos is left fairly open to the generally unguided and unrestrained tourists. Of course some people took it upon themselves to see more than was obviously open to them and naturally, being an archaeologist...I was the exact same way. We had just barely made it past the most famous part of Delos, the Naxian lions guarding the Sacred Way (built around 600 B.C.), and were admiring curiously intact pottery jars when the horn from our boat sounded signaling its preparation for the return trip. Seeing as it was only 1:20 and seeing as I didn't hear Becky instruct us on the departure times I thought we had until 2:00 and was, as a result, unhurried. My friends however began to walk quickly...and the horn sounded again. So we ran and we ran and Becky tripped and the dry vegetation took 2,500 years of pent up vengeance out on her leg and still we ran and continued running into the sun with the repeated strains of Becky yelling, "12:00, 1:30, 3:00!!" behind us. We hopped onboard the ferry and snagged the last few spots in the shade completely unaware that our near miss was portentous of things to come. When we arrived back in town we ate at a little shop painted entirely in pink where McCall and I choreographed a dance using only our heads and the very long but very scanty sandwiches we got for lunch.

Up until this ill-fated afternoon we had done a very good job of sticking together despite our varied interests and personal agendas. We wandered for awhile between a jewelry store and a store with natural sponges and then moved on to other stores and other suckers until it became impossible to reunite because a third of our group had magically disappeared. Just prior to this, of course, some of us had determined to return to our hotel and our personal/public beach. Instead we were forced to meet at our predetermined and apparently predestined location--the bus stop--from which there was evidently only one viable option. This was to continue on to Paradise Beach--a beach infamously attractive to tourists from all over the world, a beach wholly European in its personal publicity, a beach where I spent the rest of the afternoon apologizing to God for the very fact that I was there--so I'm sorry I don't have any pictures.