From Athens we caught the Blue Star ferry, which cost €70 for two people, to Santorini Island. It took around 8 hours stopping at Mykonos and Paros before lucky last, and the most spectacular, Santorini. Lucky for me, I was exceptionally tired so I slept for about 5 of the 8 hours! So I found it reasonably pain free. I did wake up for the best parts, such as when we were sailing into each island. Mykonos and Paros were reasonably flat, with the traditional beautiful white buildings which you can spot a mile away. Coming into Santorini however, was completely different. The island is half moon shaped so the ship came in on the inside of the moon shaped island, the island jotting out of the sea forming a cliff edge which faced us. Along the top of the cliff top sat Santorini, in all it’s glory. We docked up at what looked like a tiny platform set at the bottom of a sheer cliff. Upon the platform sat 5 small shops, a bus stop and a small carpark. From the port we caught a bus to Karterados, winding up the sheer cliff edge, one hair pin turn after another, if you looked out the bus window it was a sheer drop to the sea. I was absolutely shitting myself! Anyway we made it to Karterados where Caveland is situated and found our home for the next 2 months. Caveland used to be a winery and the traditional caves used within the winery still stand as the site is protected. The couple who run it now, Veronika and Kostos, took it on in 2011. When we arrive we are shown our fabulous double bed cave which is literally a large cave with three rooms, a small kitchenette, a bathroom and the bedroom/ lounge. It isn’t as claustrophobic as I had imagined, with two small windows in the front, and a door which the top half unhinges to give ventilation. However, it is winter in Santorini and though it’s warmer than where we have been previously, with a lovely 18 degrees during the day, it drops down fairly low over night and the caves are rather chilly! They are painted light pastel colours which makes them more open and light too.
Our first night in Santorini is spent checking out the local veggie market and cooking up some veggie pasta and getting an early night.
Our second day is more ‘believable’. It’s the whole “oh I am actually here” scenario. Yup, we are on Santorini Island. Hurrah!!! We spend the morning learning the ropes of how the hostel works, what our jobs are and where everything is. The hostel has 47 beds, that’s 10 rooms with 3 double bedrooms, 1 ten bedroom dorm room, and a 6, two 4’s a 3 and a single. Each room is a different cave, with a ‘girls’ dorm which is a pink cave, a cute wee couch with a beautiful hanging lampshade arrangement made from old grape vines which Kostas made- he puts his own spin on each cave. Some of the caves are huge, having two stories, a kitchen and two bathrooms. All the caves held a purpose within the old winery, our room being the basket making cave and room 5 was where the donkeys would carry the grapes into, drop them off and their stables. The whole complex is over 300 years old and according to Kostas, one of the safest places to be should another earthquake hit, since it’s already survived the catastrophic earthquake which devastated the island in 1956, and remained intact. (This put my mind at ease.)
The afternoon was spent with Kostos, Veronika and their very cute 9 month old Sebastian as they wine and dined us- Greek style, at a cute little Fish cafe on the South side of the island right by the fishermans port- freshest fish we’ll ever eat!
Me & Dan then had a short walk up through Fira, the capital, in the late afternoon. I’m unsure whether it’s because it was a Sunday afternoon, it was after 4.30 or because that is simply what it’s like, but it was completely DEAD. Every single cafe, bar, shop, motel, hotel was gated, boarded and firmly closed. We will go back to check whether this amount of businesses are actually closed over winter, which may be the case considering in winter there is one ship a day from Athens and the population is 13,000. Compared to in summer when there are 6 ships a day and the population is 100,000. Kostas did say that winter is more relaxing, less people means it’s easier but can be rather lonely due to all their friends on the island leaving, and the lack of businesses open for any sort of socialising. For me & Dan it’s perfect, I can imagine in the Summer it’s more beautiful with the added hot weather, but the amount of people would be more claustrophobic than our cave!
The view from the cliff edge of Fira looking back at the town is pretty spectacular and the pictures don’t do it justice. Santorini is all one city but the small towns are spread over each cliff top with Oia (famous for its sunsets in the Summer) Fira, Katerados which is more in the middle and Thira and perhaps a few more we haven’t heard of yet. But looking from the top of the cliff back at the balancing white and blue domed town of Fira is insane. The sheer drop to the Aegean Sea is terrifying, and for an earthquake prone city it doesn’t seem the most sensible of ideas to balance entire towns on cliff edges which the majority is made of pumice. It is extremely beautiful though.
Tomorrow we are off for a tour of the north part of the island with Kostos, and the next day the South, and then a boat trip out to the Volcano.
Island life is serving us well. 🙂