Published: October 12th 2008October 12th 2008
Our room is ground floor center... Poolside!
Aegean Dreams in Greece
Catching up with our travelers as their plane descends into Athens, Greece shortly after midnight. Arriving in the middle of the night presents its own set of difficulties, such as, transportation and finding a reasonable place to stay. Thinking ahead, we had booked a room on-line before we departed to eliminate at least one of the issues. However, the transportation issue was looking like a daunting task. We had two choices, take a taxi from the airport which was going to cost more than a place to stay, or, try to navigate our way there on the unfamiliar public transportation system. Budget minded as we have to be doing this kind of long term travel we opted for the bus… Receiving directions from the night reception at the hotel, we quickly realized that this was to be a difficult task, we prayed that luck would be with us that night. There was an hour wait for the bus we wanted… The bus arrived and we boarded to find the driver spoke as little English as we spoke Greek… our worries began to set in. Then, luck stepped in. There was a wonderful older English couple
A view from the chapel. Our hotel is right at the bottom of the hill... the one with the big blue pool.
who were familiar with Athens that heard the non-conversation with the driver, the gentleman walked back to where we were seated to see if he could be of assistance. He was friendly as could be, we showed him the address and told him the directions we were given by the hotel. We figured out the general area of the hotel and were still speaking when the bus driver came back as well. The group of us, using English/Greek/sign language, explained to the driver generally where we needed to be. He seemed to have at least an idea, however he did not think the second bus we were told to take was running at that time of night. We thanked him as best we could and he headed back up front and piloted the bus away from the airport. The conversation with the English gentleman continued and he had a pretty good idea of where he thought we ought to disembark. We took his advice and kept our worries at bay, the best we could, as the bus drove on into the night. Suddenly the driver pulled the bus over and returned to us at the back. He asked to see
Another view from the hill near the chapel.
the address of the hotel, and we had another disjointed conversation, after which he returned to his seat and began to drive again. The English bloke looked back to us with a rather large smile, “you two should consider yourself very fortunate” he said. “I’ve ridden this bus many times and I’ve never seen a driver stop like that. I’m sure he’ll get you pretty close to where you need to be.” At which point his wife spoke up and said that a cab from where we are let off probably won’t cost much. We agreed that sounded like a good plan and sat back feeling indeed fortunate.
The couple arrived at their stop, bid us farewell and good luck, and got off the bus. Onward we rode for at least another fifteen minutes when the driver signaled that our stop was coming up. We were then signaled to sit back down as he continued to drive. A few minutes later he pulled off the road and came to a stop. He signaled again that this was our destination… So off the bus we went, noticing that the signage didn’t have the number of this route on it. We
wondered aloud if he had left his route to drop us off. Regardless, it was now time to find ourselves a cab to wherever our hotel actually was. Walking towards an intersection where we could hail a ride we stopped at a vending stand and asked if the man might have any idea where this hotel could possibly be. He looked at the address, smiled a wonderfully friendly smile, led us down the sidewalk a few paces and out into the street, pointed upwards and off to our right. Gazing upwards to where he was pointing, we saw to our delight, brilliant white lettering with the name of our hotel on a building a block and a half away. With an enthusiastic “ef-ha-ri-sto” (thank you), we hurried off to our awaiting room. It was 3:30 AM when we set our luggage down in our room. What and adventure that had been; fortune had truly smiled upon us that night.
A day later we found ourselves up before the dawn taking tram and train toward the port and our desired ferry to Santorini. We were island-bound, for a little relaxation and romance before our month and a half volunteer
project we had planned in Burundi, Africa.
We had attempted to make reservations on-line for the ferry the day before, but were unclear if it had been successful. Asking around, we had been told to get to the office very early and we should be able to purchase them on the spot as there looked to be space available on the boat. That is precisely what we did. Hurrying onward we boarded the ferry and found our way to some seats on deck. Justice went and bought us some coffee and we began an ‘Uno’ marathon as the ferry left port and sailed from the harbor in the golden light of dawn…
The hours slid by playing cards, reading and napping as the ship sailed on. After eight hours and three stops, we looked up at the beautiful cauldron rim town of Oia (pronounced Eia) that was gliding past the ship. This was the glorious island of Santorini!
Before arriving we had decided to rent a car for the duration of our stay. The moment we stepped off the boat we used our now well established bartering skills to find the best deal at the dock. We
haggled one company down five dollars more than the others and off we went to pick up the car and sign the contract. Once the contract was signed we went out to leave and to our dismay the only car there was literally a lemon… there could not have been more damage possible on the startling yellow car plastered with advertisements. We were disappointed to say the least and let the Bulgarian salesman know of our displeasure to which we got a defensive reply that this vehicle was an upgrade from the one we were supposed to have, it was the last one there. After twenty minutes going over the previous damage, he told us we could come back the next day to change the car if we wanted. Reluctantly we climbed into the piece of and headed off to find our reserved hotel room, which we hoped was nicer than the car!
We drove aimlessly for a while, and then finally got good directions from a different car rental man in Perissa where our hotel was located, it was just up the road from where we were. Once we arrived at the Mariana, we went in to
confirm our previously made reservations, unfortunately they had no record of them. We asked if they had a room for seven nights and luckily they had one small one. The woman was nice and juggled a few things around so that she could offer us a larger room with a patio out to the pool. Things were starting to look relaxing… The pool was clean, cold and refreshing, equipped with a poolside bar and menu that could be delivered from a restaurant nearby. We sat down for a frosty brew and a meal and begun to unwind.
The gal tending the bar was originally from Nottingham England; she was friendly and of course spoke great English. She informed us that the small church high up on the cliffside above the hotel was open only one day a year and that day happened to be the following day. Suddenly, we had a plan for the next day that included hiking and picture taking. The quaint chapel was devoted to the Virgin Mary and apparently it was to be her birthday. The hiking trail was steep and full of locals. At one point we got directed to go the wrong way
by an old man whom seemed purposeful in his misdirection. Realizing rather quickly we were off route we turned around to head back towards the old man where we had been standing in front of the white cross on a rock marking the correct trail... hmmm The chapel was small and thus crowded, adorned with decorations and camping gear combined. We took a few pictures, absorbed the atmosphere then headed back to the pool to cool off. That evening the cliffside was lit up with revealing lighting and the valley echoed with the report of fireworks.
Our time at the Mariana was utterly relaxing; we gorged ourselves on Greek salad and delicious Greek cuisine, made side trips to surrounding beaches and far away towns, sipped sweet wine and dined at local wineries and restaurants whilst taking in the caldera view and sunsets that make Santorini famous. Our favorite place was Oia, such unique architecture and atmosphere, full of cobbled footpaths widening throughout the cliff top village blessed with world renowned sunsets that melt into the distant sea. Dinning amongst this view was like waking into an Aegean dream.
After a week in Santorini, we returned our sad car
at the ferry dock and boarded the awaiting ferry bound for Athens. Upon arrival, we took the now familiar transportation back to the same hotel (with a confirmed reservation) and nestled into an air-conditioned room by one in the morning.
With a full day before our departure we took the bus to the Acropolis for a day of site seeing. Wandering the ancient site we imagined what it looked like in all its glory, without scaffolding. We took many pictures, including an amazing photo of the duck in front of the Acropolis, which was removed from the cameras hard drive by a security guard when John got spotted taking one last picture with the duck. Apparently it’s illegal to take photos of National treasures with toys….. Who knew? After a hot day of taking in the sites we enjoyed a traditional Greek meal in the old town below the Acropolis, and then headed back on the metro to our neighborhood for a marathon blog writing session after stocking up on supplies for our next journey to Africa.
The next morning we woke with anticipation for our long awaited flight to Burundi. We spent the morning doing last minute
shopping for toiletries and medical supplies, before catching the bus to the airport, this time without any uncertainty or detours Stay tuned faithful readers as the Dynamic Duo fly south to Africa. Will they get trapped in Cairo? Will they actually get to see the Pyramids? Will their baggage make all the transfers? Find out all the answers and more in the next installment of “Where Are They Now”… Same travel time, same travel blog…
There are more photos below