Monday, September 27, 2010

Saltas In Greece: Hello & Goodbye From Santorini

Posted By on September 27, 2010, 1:30 PM

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The first time I visited Santorini I thought the two days here were plenty--once you've seen the sunset here, I thought, what's the point in coming back? ---After all, Santorini, is a small island with few good beaches and outside of the view from the cliff towns of OIa and Fira, there's not a lot to do except shop till the cows come home. But I was here last year and had a great time and my mind changed a bit. Then last night, watching the sun set into the Aegean Sea with our City Weekly group and pointing to Utah 7,000 miles away or so, I began to better understand the magnetism of Santorini.

Seeing folks I've gotten to know quite well over the past 10 days with their eyes agape and camera shutters clicking like a band of crickets, I knew how lucky I've been to see this not once, but three times. And I wondered why I never appreciated it as much in the past. I still don't know. As I type this from a hotel balcony I get the seriously strong whiff of donkey crap--those same donkeys that amaze and amuse visitors here are not very discriminatory where they drop and our restaurant is just feet away from their path. But it smells good, natural, and that, combined with the feral cats, the thousands of steps required for navigation, the winding alleys, the shopping from kitsch to world-class jewelry and the jaw dropping beauty of the sea far below our hotel perch, makes Santorini one of the most special places I've ever been. It didn't hurt at all that somewhere above us, and lasting all through the famous sunset, a restaurant or club was blaring an aria from an opera unknown--the more than perfect aural backdrop to one of our world's most wondrous sights.

I will return.

That's despite the windy ferry ride, the mayhem at the small and crowded harbor, the sometimes frightening ride up the switchbacks from the sea to the top of the island, the hot and rude awakening when your ride stops far short of your hotel and you realize you have to navigate a roller coaster of cobblestone and winding alleys, only to find your hotel desk sits another set of steep stairs below you, and your own room another 86 steps below that. But it was worth it. The views from the Loucas Hotel are simply stunning.

We had one in a series of great meals in Greece last night at the Parea Taverna near our hotel. The bars all along the streets were lively and today it's our last day in Greece. Folks have left for winery tours, to shop, to the beach or just to relax at the hotel balconies. Tomorrow morning we board our first plane back home at 6:30 a.m. from Santorini to Athens and we arrive in SLC sometime Tuesday night.

I'm pretty sure everyone had a great time on this trip. Foreign travel can be difficult with language barriers, alternate customs, and just plain confusion. That's what I hoped to helped all these first time visitors to Greece to overcome. Each will take memories that will last a lifetime--98 percent of them very good.

I've been asked already if we'll do this again next year. We'll see--I'd change a few things and keep others. Santorini is one I think I'll keep. If you have any interest in a tour next year, just drop me an email. Isos tha erthoume pali--maybe we'll come again. And if so, I hope you come along.

The pictures that follow are of the port of Naxos island harbor (a stop on the way to Santorini) with the giant yacht in the foreground, an unfinished Temple to Apollo at the entrance to Naxos harbor, arrival mayhem at the port in Santorini, our pool at the Loucas Hotel, the group at sunset, the sunset itself (BTW, my little Sony camera does no justice at all to the sunset), donkeys walking past breakfast diners at our hotel, and finally just a view of some of the hotels and churches overhanging the island edge. All those balconies were full of people last night.

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