Okay, so my flights back began yesterday but I wanted to update you all on the comings and goings of Adam and I (Jana). I've been told that my postings on this trip have been shortend and lacking their usual detail (because let's face it- I am my father's daughter and love painting a picture with description). I thought I was yacking off little novellas bordering on novels and figured I'd give the audience a little less detail. I'm changing that now!!! Grab a snack or a drink or whatever because this is a long flight and I've got plenty of battery on this little iTouch.
So, I believe that the last thing that I may have posted about was our trip up the volcano. Santorini in it's entirety is a volcano but you can go to the "center" and this is where you can "climb" the colvano. What makes Santorini so amazing is that most of the villages or towns are built on the Calderra which is essentially the mouth of the volcano. It's last eruption was in 1954 and some of the earthquakes that were triggered, leveled some of the towns, including Oia (pronounced "ee-a"). Oia is about a 10 minute drive by ATV and is the best known for having the most beautiful and unobstructed view of the sunsets. Personally, I stayed in Firostefani and thought I had the better view because the sun dipped behind the Calderra and I've always been partial to a sunset with mountains of just slipping into the water.
Now that I've provided that mini history lesson, I'll move on...
Adam and I took a schooner ride that last three hours. This is the ride that took us to the host springs and the colvano. After that- there was a shower and a nap in my future. A lot of sun and swimming in the ocean was a good enough excuse for me!!!
Adam and I both crashed for a bit and as became custom, he woke up before I did and would leave to snap off photos looking out onto the Calderra and I would magically wake up just in time to witness the sunset.
The evening's events usually revolved around food. After the sunsets we could go to a bar or something but in reality, Santorini was such a nice place to the point that neither of us had any desire to be housed up in a bar or even indoors. The entire trip- we never ate inside. That night we tried out the little pizzeria/taverna down the walk from our hotel.
I have no idea what the name of this place is, but I could tell you exactly where it's located and take it a step further and tell you that it's one very distinctive characteristic that sets it apart is this: It has take-away. Take-away is incredibly uncommon in Europe fro what I have found and that night it sounded perfect. So Adam got some random appetizer and I got the most amazing pasta I have ever had (sorry Mom!).
I do not say this easily because anyone that has studied my eating habits can easily say that pasta is my comfort food. As such, I can be a bit of a snob about it if the noodles are too mushy or the sauces isn't to my liking. Penne Americado was perfect in every way.
It consists of penne pasta with mushrooms, onions, peppers, chili and bacon. I dare you to come up with a better combination than this! It had a little bite to it and the chili wasn't like american chili. It was just, simply put, amazing. Luckily for Adam, I never ate one full meal that was served the entire trip so he always got whatever I couldn't eat. Our last night in Santorini- we would go back for one last order.
So we sat out on our back deck area and had some wine and ate our pasta until we got tired and hit the hay. This should give you a little bit better of an idea of what occured in the last blog.
So, as I stated in my previous blog, we were going to the Black Beach the next day. After getting up and getting our complimentary breakfast of assorted delicious goods (my favorites were the chunks of tomatoes and the greek yogurt with honey... and the hard-boiled eggs), we decided to skip the beach for the day. Neither of us were feeling up to hauling all over the island and instead we decided to hang out around Firostefani and Fira and later go to Oia.
The weather was nice and warm and we just walked around town for a little while. We also started debating whether or not it was in the best interest of the free world that we go and get some of our laundry done. Obviously, we decided it was and dropped this off. We killed some time by bumming around town and found the last of our gifts for assorted family members and then headed back. I'm pretty sure there was a sizeable nap that day before we hopped on the ATV and headed back to Oia.
Every sunset, the visitors and citizens of Oia line up along the Calderra and look out onto the water to watch the sunset. Sadly, we went on a cloudy day... as was every day after that. However, it didn't truly detract from how beautiful the sunset was. Thousands of people stood and watched as the sun lazily lowered itself out of the sky and bid farewell to all of us while all sat mesmerized, like watching a Diva leave the stage for the final time. It's this reason, that Oia is known for being one of the most romantic locations in Greece.
After this, Adam and I, satisfied that we could say that we had caught an Oia sunset, and Adam with an additional 300 photos taken with the sunset, took off and headed back to our area to once again determine the most important question of the day... what to eat.
At the end of the day, we decided to not eat too much. While in Oia, we decided to grab some food. As it turned out, we had an amazing view around 4:00pm and managed to skate in with the lunch prices. In Oia, prices shoot up anywhere from 10 euro to 50 euro per dish, just because of the sunset view. We opted to raid the little store up the road (across from my favorite little pizzeria) and once again got some wine, greek olives, chips, hazlenut cookies and pita chips.
The following day, we did go to the Black Beach. Adam is awesome in that he took over the task of driving us everywhere and he never got mixed up even once. He managed to get us there and we made it to the beach in record time. The black beach was amazing. I've never seen one before so I was highly impressed :) This was the third that Adam had been to but even he said this was the blackest sand that he'd seen.
While there, we looked over to the cliffside (this beach is located on the back side of the island so it is away from the Calderra) and saw a hole in the rocks and an old building so we decided to walk over. It appears to have been some sort of church of some sort that was abandoned a long time ago and a few tourists would trickle in and take shots with the dramatic sand as a background. After this, we walked back and decided we would tri and visit Ancient Fira. We thought it was before going up this massive mountain but quickly found that it was at the top. We zigzagged up the mountain on a tiny road that we'd earlier pointed at and had said that it was insane to go up. What was truly insane was the couples that we saw trekking up slowly by foot.
We reached the top and parked our ATV and climbed the last bit of the mountain to get to the ruins, only to find they were closing in 20 minutes and didn't feel like selling any more tickets. That, of course, was a dagger because we were returning the ATV in the morning and wouldn't get to make it back up there. The landscape was amazing, however, so Adam clicked away while I watched the wild dogs and cats run around.
After we managed to make it safely back down the mountain, we decided that we didn't want to go back immediately. This was our last chance to explore the island and it was only 2:30 in the afternoon! So we went exploring.
Eventually we ended up in Pyrgos. I'm so happy that we went there. We found the local square and parked our ATV and walked around the monasteries and local shops for an hour or so and then finally acknowledged that our stomaches were growling and demanding sustenance. So we went back to our ride and decided to head a little out of town, which had steadily grown heavier with foot traffic. Pedestrians walk out in front of ATVs and cars constantly so we were constantly on our guard. Leaving the town a little would alleviate that and I was all for it.
So when it came time to turn to head back towards our neck of the woods or to explore a little more, Adam made the executive decision to go straight and explore a little. I will say this, the man has an eye for a good restaurant. When we'd been back in town, there was a map that was painted on to the side of a building that showed a couple of tavernas and restaurants outside of town. He'd noticed the Pyrgos Taverna & Restaurant as well as another. When we came upon it on the ATV, he pulled over so that we could check out the prices. Everything was pretty comparable to what we'd been paying in town and we decided to give it a shot. It was up on a hill and we could easily tell that it had an amazing view. It also had a terrace (the taverna) and an indoor seating area (the restaurant). The restaurant looked like it was set up for a wedding and regardless, we always opt for a terrace. As it turns out, that's just how they decorate their restaurant portion.
There was one waiter and there were three tables that were occupied once we sat down. There was the American couple in the corner and then a large table of 12-15 that lined the wall that were having an amazing time.
Adam and I found our spot along the windowside and got a fantastic view of the landscape. We both ordered appetizers along with our meals and then leaned back and talked about the trip so far, looked at some of the pictures on his camera and sat waiting patiently for our meal.
So, I ordered grilled mushrooms for an appetizer. Now, I'm surprisingly particular about my mushrooms. I pretty much stick to only a small handful of types and while many think I'm a mushroom lover of all... I'm actually not. The second the plate was sat next to me, I realized that this was the mystery vegetable that had been in a different dish of mine recently that I hadn't particularly cared for due to its mushy consistency. I figured, what the hey, and went ahead and took a bite... and angels started to sing. These were the most amazing mushrooms I've had in quite some time. I ordered them grilled but I think they were actually smoked. They were a bit dryer and had the smokiest flavor and there was some sort of other seasoning that just created the most beautiful blend of flavors.
As if that wasn't enough, my actual plate came out just as I finished.
Now, I have come to love shrimp in the last few years and on several occasions, I ordered the grilled shrimp while on my trip.
But these were SHRIMP. Four to be exact... and they were each larger than my hand. I mean, these were mutant shrimp. And of course, as is standard for European countries to prove freshness, they were complete with tail, skin, head and eyes. And they were delicious ;) I believe there is a picture that was taken of me as it was placed in front of me and my eyes were huge and surprised and just trying to absorb the undertaking I had unknowingly gotten myself in to.
By this time we were the only patrons left in the taverna so our waiter came over and started chit-chatting with us. He also decided he liked us and went and got us free dessert.
As I've said, the hospitality in this country is stellar :)
So, bellies satisfied, we took off and got back to our little hotel with a little time to spare before the Sunset.
After this took place, we decided to change it up a little and grab a cup of coffee at a local cafe and played around on the internet for just a little while. Then we experienced a power outage and assisted the girl running the shop with getting candles lit. Actually, Adam assisted with the handly little flashlight feature on his new iPhone and I sat and watched while all of this occured.
Once the power came back on, we continued hanging out for a little while longer before finally heading back and hanging out on the back deck for our last evening in Santorini.
And so began our flights back...
Our flights to Athens were pretty uneventful, but when we stepped out onto the tarmac, we were pretty much hit by a monsoon. Sadly, this was the final factor that deterred us from going to Athens, which was a 40 minute bus ride to the city. With that in mind, we found a place to hang out for a little bit and charged up our electronics before finally heading over to our gate to crash for a little bit on the floor.
Our gates were moved three different times but finally we were able to make it on to our flight and headed over to Belgium. When we landed, we checked our bags into a locker and then got ready to head out and hang out in Grand Plac for our final night... only to find out that we couldn't do this because the airport closes down and there's no place to crash...
We found and paid for some very expensive internet usage and with some mad skills, I found us a place very, very, VERY last minute (we're talking 9:30 at night) and got us a wicked deal on an APARTMENT in a random part of town that we found out later was the "upper-class" neighborhood. We hopped on to the train and then caught the metro and with Adam's wicked navigational skills and his handy-dandy iPhone, we located our hotel with no issue.
We checked in and then got ready to head around the corner to the local pub for some celebratory drinks as a final closing to our trip and then discovered something amazing...
We had cable.
Not only this, there were several American movies on. Adam caught the end of "Jumper" while we heated up food that we bought in the hotel lobby and then we sat down and watched "The Specialist"... cause who doesn't love themselves a little Stallone??? Even better, we both realized that NEITHER of us had seen it! I've seen most of the cheesy, over-pumped, over-actionized movies of the mid to late 90s, as has Adam, and yet we found ourselves having missed out on this little nugget of awesomely bad, steroid-packed, cinematography. So we watched that and then headed for our last sleep in Europe.
So brings a close to our travels. We had a sobering hour when we waited in line at the Brussels airport to go through security screening and saw a man collapse from what we think was a heart attack. They were doing chest compressions on him for over 20 minutes before they got a screen up. We saw them use paddles on him and he'd take one or two breaths before he'd stop again. We don't know the final outcome but I know that they were still working on him 30 minutes after that when we finally made it through security (yeah, it took almost an hour to get through).
Our flights were long and anyone that's ever flown with me knows I have a terrible time sleeping on the plane. I was okay though because I knew there were two in-flight movies... only to find that there was static on our system so no one could actually LISTEN to the movies in our row...
One day, I will see Iron Man 2.
We landed in Philly and there ensued the 1 1/2 hour tour through the many levels of customs. Of note, I don't know if I will EVER purchase duty-free again. It was too much of a pain to be worth it.
That being said, we still made it in time to find the little Asian Bistro and convince the Eagles fans that they had 10 screens and could spare ONE for the Rerdskins game... :)
Sadly, they lost but they only lost AFTER we stopped watching. Flying always gets in the way of these things...
And so we end here. I hope that you've enjoyed reading and I'm sorry i didn't provide more details early off. Stay tuned as Jocelyn and I will once again be heading off in to the fray next year on Trip 2011: UK!!!