Note to self: Wear appropriate footwear when heading to Oia to watch the sunset.
I woke up at 8am after a very crappy 5 hour sleep, dazed and hungry I walked to the 24hr bakery up the road and got a spanakopita for breakfast. I’d been hanging for one of these for weeeeeks. It was pretty good, but nowhere near as good as my Aunty’s. Though I wonder, when you’ve grown up eating a particular food made by one person your whole life, will anything else ever compare?
Afterwards I went on a walk from Fira to Imerovigli. It was a beautiful walk (hike, so many steps, so sweaty!), dotted with some really gorgeous churches along the way, as well as some amazing doorways. For all of the grandiose churches I’ve seen throughout Europe on this trip, something can be said for the little blue and white domed churches of Santorini. (Don’t worry Γιαγια, I did my Σταύρο every time I walked past a church)
I was hot and sweaty by the time I got back to the hotel so I dove straight into the pool and stayed there for several hours. After a lovely surprise video chat with Katina I went into town for lunch. Another pork γύρος, this one much nicer than the last! The old man at the counter picked my Australian Greek accent right away but commended me on my Greek nonetheless.
After, I went back to the froyo place for a granita and to see Manios again. He is such a lovely guy and it really breaks my heart to hear how hard people my age have it here in Greece. He works 77 hours a week with no breaks during the summer and makes €3.50/hour, ειναι κρίμα (it’s criminal, a new saying I’ve used a lot in the past few days). Come winter there’s no work because Greece basically shuts down so they collect government allowances and spend the winter not doing much at all. I’m starting to understand why Greece is in such a state….
Another dip in the afternoon and then it was on a bus to Oia to watch the sunset. Oia is a beautiful town to walk through, the villas along the cliff face make for very picturesque photos, especially bathed in the light of the setting sun. There’s also something about a Greek flag flowing in the wind that makes my heart swell. Though I wore my sandals and I almost slipped and fell so many times because tje cobblestone streets are basically polished smooth from all the people walking on them.
After travelling for nearly 6 weeks now, seeing all that I have, and reading some articles on the impact that tourism has on the places we visit, I honestly don’t know how I feel about travelling anymore. Yes, it was beautiful to go to Oia to see the sunset, but the amount of people that high tailed it out of there after the sun was gone, ridiculous. I feel as though so many people travel these days just to get that photo for Instagram. I stayed an extra 10 minutes and watched the sun completely go away, without my camera or my phone in my hand, I just sat and watched. With very few people around it was absolutely breathtaking.
I’m not going to remember Santorini for its sunset, I’m going to remember it for its people. I’m going to remember all the time I spent sitting in a cafe talking to the locals about their lives, what it was like to grow up in Greece, what it’s like to live there now, and to hear their worries and fears about what their future holds. I’m also going to remember the immense gratitude I felt towards home and the opportunities I’ve been afforded solely because of the country I was born in, something I’ll never take for granted again.
Some intense thinking on that cliff face watching the sun fade away….
The entire bus ride back all I could think about was a bottle of water, I was so thirsty. I got to “Mama’s House”, and ordered a salad, tomato keftethes and giant bottle of water. I had a 10 minute conversation completely in Greek with the waiter about my holiday and my family. It’s seriously getting easier, I’m so happy!!
2 steps from the entry to my hotel a drunk 28 year old Kiwi guy asked me if I spoke English, without thinking I said yes. His friends had gone to Ios without him, they didn’t want to deal with him anymore (I wonder why), the only hostel in Fira wouldn’t take him because he was too drunk, he had nowhere else to go. As much as I thought, leave him here to learn a lesson, there was no way I was going to leave him alone. I went into the hotel, asked if they had any free rooms, they didn’t, but they rung around and a hotel up the road had one free. I walked his drunk ass up the hill, and when we got to the hotel he didn’t have any cash to check in (he obviously hasn’t been paying attention to the lessons I’ve learnt on this trip). So what do I do? I take his card, walk the 10 minutes up and back the hill to the main strip to withdraw money from his bank account (receipt provided to prove I didn’t steal anything) and took it back down to the hotel so he could check in. The hotel owner couldn’t believe that I didn’t know him. He shouted me a glass of wine and tried to call his grandson to come and meet me, not kidding, he wanted to marry me off, too bad he was busy, I could have moved to Santorini permanently. I’ll take my good samaritan award now thanks.