Santorini was the ideal place to end our month-long adventure. We were losing steam once we hit Venice, but regained some eventually (with the help of some amazing Italian food). However, after tackling Rome and Athens with full force, we were exhausted and ready to just relax. On the island, we soaked up the sun, the sea air, and the beautiful views spending two nights in Oia, and one night in Perissa.
Thus far, we had been fairly fortunate with our hostel situations. Most of the places we stayed in were much better than anticipated. When we got to our place in Oia, the two owners told us to choose a room. We thought this was a little strange, but Ted went upstairs to choose between two rooms and opted for the one that didn't have a weird smell in its bathroom. The room we settled into was small and had a domed roof, kind of like a hobbit hole. Although it was very modest, it felt very Greek and we were fine with it. Until we flushed the toilet.
Let me tell you, traveling opens your eyes to the diversity of toilets and bathroom layout possibilities. At this point we were used to minuscule bathrooms with inconveniently-placed showers. Most of the time you have a shower buddy--the toilet. Nothing beats soggy toilet paper! The layout of our Oia bathroom was a small rectangle with the toilet on the right, facing a shower on the left, which was the kind that you had to pick up the shower head and spray yourself with water. The sink was in the middle, with the drain for the toilet and shower beneath it. When I flushed the toilet that fateful afternoon, the bathroom and room filled with the smell of sewage. It was so unbearable that after a night of toughing it out, we left the door shut for the rest of our stay and used the bathroom of a nearby room that they left the key in for us if we wanted to change rooms. We were hoping Santorini would be a relaxing, romantic place to stay, but our hostel had other ideas. Obviously we laughed about it a lot, but it was pretty obnoxious. For our third night on the island, we took a couple of buses to Perissa and stayed the night at a lovely place there. Although the bathroom situation was somewhat similar, the smell was much, much more manageable and there was a fan. We even had our own little porch where we had breakfast. It turned out quite fantastic.
THE BEACH, THE BOOKS
We made it to the beach both of the two full days we were in Santorini. The beaches have black sand and were pleasantly uncrowded since high season has barely just started (a lot of places haven't even opened up yet on the island because of this).
The first day we spent some time with our friends from LC, one of which who was on our London program (who we had also met up with in Salzburg). We didn't have our suits on, so we lounged around and talked, and Ted took epic pictures of our friends jumping into the ocean off a cliff. Yep, I will never be THAT adventurous. I should also mention that Ted, Kushi, and Nate had tiny fish eat the dead skin off their feet a few hours before this while I watched rather amused (and unwilling to spend the money to do something so unnecessary and slightly disturbing...).
Our first stop when we started exploring Oia, was Atlantis Books. I've got to tell you, just stepping into this bookstore made me feel instantly cooler. When I have my own craft store someday, I want people to feel the way Ted and I felt when we started browsing around this tiny bookshop run by a man from Tennessee, with shop employees from London. It was small, but chock full of a deep passion for literature. I stopped in the next evening when the four of us were looking for a place to get cocktails and Ted and I both ended up spending our cocktail budget on new books. And I am 100% okay with this.
Gyros, gyros, and more gyros. Enough said.
We went to Lucky's Souvlaki (near the Thira bus stop) twice, which was definitely the most incredible gyros of our lives. I think we may have ruined our chance of ever finding true gyro love in the states. Oh well--it was definitely worth a lifetime of disappointment.
Also, more delicious frozen Greek yogurt. All froyo should taste that good...
We also tried some really nice local specialties, like fava, fried tomato balls, and these doughy little cheesecake pastries. Our favorite starters we tried were served to us the first night we arrived in Oia. The warm dolmas and red pepper feta dip with bread were so lovely. I would have had three more servings of the starters, but the meatballs and red wine-marinated octopus (Ted likes to try the weird specials) were okay too.
Fruity cocktails were a must. We had a lovely strawberry daiquiri at a bar in Thira while overlooking the sea and idyllic white-washed buildings studded with blue. The most perfect 90's alternative playlist played in the background. Blissful. We also went to an outside bar our last night in Perissa and discretely started watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding on Ted's iPhone. Another highlight of the night--the group of girls our age who told Ted they had a bet about how old he was. The lowest guess was 24, the highest, 28! Too funny. They thought I was 20-22. The same girl won both.
Speaking of making friends, we ran into a guy we met while on our adventure on the shuttle/bus/train to Athens. We had already ran into a guy we talked to briefly on the ferry (who was kind of a bro... We heard him making fun of Doctor Who--not cool, man) at the Archeological museum in Athens and another fellow ferry/shuttle rider in a Blue Star Ferries-affiliated travel agency in the Athens main square. We were so happy to have Gerardo, our travel buddy to Athens, run over to us as we walked to our hostel in Perissa. We were just waiting to run into him at some point! Funny how small the world gets when you're traveling.