Our last full day on Santorini ended up being much more eventful than expected. We had been booked to do a tour on a boat owned by a friend of Axileas, husband of John’s cousin Elena. The tour would take us over to the volcano, around it, pull into a nice little bay (no sand, only cold lava), a swim and then back to Santorini.
We were both somewhat nervous about the trip as we had a picture in mind of the boat we would be traveling in. C in particular was worried. In her words ‘I like big boats, not little boats!’ and was convinced we would be traveling in a small, open, old, wooden runabout with an old Greek guy holding the tiller at the rear.
So C did not sleep well the night before. However, below is a photo of the boat we were on, moored in the little bay where I had another swim! The small boat is what C had pictured, however we were actually on the larger one with the 2 life rings tied on the rails:
As soon as C saw the boat, she relaxed (as did I) and we had a great time. The swim (1 of 3 that day – gloating? Possibly) was magnificent.
When dropped back at the port we had 3 choices as to the means by which we could regain the heights of Santorini. Elena, Axilaeus & I had come down via the cable car – brilliant. C, John & Dennyse had descended via a VERY steep walkway with numerous switchbacks.
As we had reached the bottom long before them, I started to walk up the track to meet them. However, this is also the donkey path. Actually, they are mules, but why fight with popular opinion? I started walking up, past about 20 mules, turned the 1st corner and there it was – a mule traffic jam! I reckon there were about 50 mules in front of me totally blocking the path.
Now, those who know me well, know I am scared stiff of horse type animals. They are large, they kick, they bite, they look at you with an evil eye, pound for pound they are the most powerful animal on earth and they take a great delight in scaring the you know what out of you.
So, I quickly turned around to walk back down and what did I find, a whole heap of donkeys with foolish people on them coming up behind me, heading straight for me with an obvious determination to trample me into the cobblestones!
See! Just look at them, you can see the glint in their eye! So I did the only thing possible and jumped a nearby fence, hugged the wall in terror and tried to hide my distress from the calm young ladies riding past.
Meanwhile the crazy trio who had walked down had had to negotiate about 3,742 mules on the way down. C who is really confident around these beasts says I am exaggerating. However as she knows a lot about them, the thought of having to squeeze past their rear ends where flinty hooves fly out, or their mouths where crocodile like teeth flash at you had made even her nervous.
As it turned out the worst that happened was the difficulty in dodging the stuff that I have complained about in earlier blogs. At least this time it wasn’t dogs!
So, in what part of the universe was my brain holidaying when I agreed to ride a mule up the hill with C and John????
I hoped for a small, kind mule who would take me very gently up the hill, very slowly. Instead they gave me something that could be mistaken for a Melbourne Cup steed, slapped him on the rump and said something in Greek. I was last out of the stalls, but my warhorse decided he should be first, so off he went.
I now know that the translation from the mule owners went something like this: ‘Hey Black Lightning, you’ve got a scared Gringo on board. Show him what you’re made of. Scare the x@@&xx out of him!’
I kept trying to get him to slow down and yelling ‘Whoa’ along with another word that starts with sh.. Later on I found out that the way to make them go faster is to call out something that sounds like ‘Whoosh’ – you can now see the error of my ways.
Here’s C and John, unaware that I’m about to streak past them like a flash of lightning:
The rest of the day was spent recovering by the pool with several restorative ales plus a few gin and tonics.
Here’s a photo from the day, with Axileas dancing to Zorba the Greek on the boat with Elena and John in the background:
Then Athens. We are so over travel, we left our hotel, looked briefly at some ruins (they have plenty) then went shopping and eating! Then up to the rooftop terrace. Now that was good. Looked straight up at the Pantheon and the Acropolis.
What those Greeks could do with steel framing is staggering and I’m sure I also caught a glimpse of a 2nd Century BC crane hiding up there as well.
I tell you, the Greeks are after the Brits to return the Elgin Marbles plus other antiquities. If I was the Brits I’d be saying ‘Hang on. Let’s see how well you’ve cared for other antiquities over there, eh?’ Game, set and match.
We sat on the roof, sipped cold white wine and looked at the view. Not bad. Then the sun set and we headed off to our room. Packed a bit to be ready to leave the next mng, cup of tea and got ready for bed. Suddenly C says, ‘Hang on a minute.’ and goes to the window.
You’ve heard of houses for sale that have a ‘water glimpse’? Well our room had a Parthenon glimpse. You had to open the window, stick your head out as far as you could and there you had a glimpse of the Acropolis.
So, C did, and said, ‘Look at this.’ I did and realised the whole hill was lit up- and we nearly missed it. Changed out of pajamas and headed back up again to see this:
I bet that keeps a lot of electricians employed.
Oh, by the way, I met some relatives of those nice men from the Congo in Athens as well. And they too were selling genuine Prada bags. I thought to myself that this was a sign and rushed up to finally grab a man bag. Guess what? They’d just sold the last one! They offered me some cheap takeoff of another brand I’d never heard of, but I only wanted the genuine stuff. So missed out.
I’m actually starting to think they’ve got some sort of a franchise thing going here. In Venice they were standing outside the Prada shop offering their bags at much better prices. Overheads sure add a lot to a product.
A final appropriate photo from our last day on Santorini:
I have reached the end of my travel stories. All that is left is a final blog on Jim’s top travel tips.