Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Greece

We decided to start our Greek adventure on the island of Santorini, but due to weather problems our flight out of Athens was missed and so we had to suffer 5 star accommodation near the airport for our first night complete with free dinner and huge buffet breakfast (it´s a tough life). We arrived at Santorini mid morning the next day and this place is definitely the quintessential embodiment of what you expect a Greek island to be.

Lots of beaches of a variety of colours, they have a red beach, a black beach and a beach with kilometres of restaurants, bars and cafes with associated sun lounges and umbrellas as far as you can see.

At sunset the place to be on the island was the most north west point which also happened to be one of the highest points. We got there and one of the best spots was teeming with people distributed among the buildings waiting for the sun to take its light and warmth to the other side of the planet. We were fortunate enough to catch people leaving a table at the only cafe in the area. We jumped in and took the table and ordered a delicious dinner while we waited overlooking the whole vista. This was truly magic and movie perfect of a Greek island paradise.

As the sun went down the most prolific sound was the clicking of many cameras from people in awe of the magnificent view as the sun did what it has been doing every day for billions of years. At a point spontaneously decided by a majority of people at the completion of the sunset applause and cheers broke out. It was a brilliant atmosphere and refreshing to see people take such joy and revel in the beauty of a common everyday occurrence. Well done sun, good job, see you again tomorrow.


Going
Going
Gone







During the next day we travelled back to this area of the island (we had hired a car) and by pure fluke found this marvellous little restaurant on a clifftop. The chef was an American who owned the restaurant with her Greek husband and fully understood gluten free, so I had a beautiful meal with a wide range of flavours that was one of the most yummy I had eaten for a while (chicken and vege kebab with a tropical salad but different to any other I have had).









Then we wandered through the myriad streets and alleyways in this picturesque location. I don't think I could give it justice in words so I will leave it to my pictures to paint a story. (I hope they do it some justice).



































Then it was off to Athens for a brief (less than 24 hours and only one night) whirlwind tour of the ancient ruins this city has to offer. Our hotel was hugely cheap (less than $80 per night), with big rooms and a good breakfast. We found out why in the morning when we left the hotel, the area was a little bit on the dodgy side. Some youths were being chased by a gang with baseball bats and took refuge in a shop by pulling the metal shutters down. When we returned in the afternoon there was a mellee of sorts in the street with police moving in. As we caught the taxi to the airport a police car pulled up and arrested a very surprised young gentleman who had from the looks of it been earmarked by a plain clothes policeman next to him who blocked his escape. Plenty of action.

On the plus side we had a brilliant day visiting a lot of ancient monuments all within walking distance of the hotel. This included the Acropolis with the Parthenon, Propylaia, Hadrian´s Gate (no Adrian, not your gate), seeing the restoration of the ruins underneath the Acropolis museum and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Finally, and as a complete surprise, we came across the Panethenaic Stadium, the home of the modern olympics. This really was the icing on the cake for a long day out and to wander around the stadium soaking in the history and atmosphere of the whole place was really amazing to all of us. We only just got back to the hotel in time to call a taxi to get to the airport. On to Italy.






Ruins at the Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis from The Temple of Zeus
The Panathenaic Stadium (birthplace of the olympics)
and the winner is...