The Cristal’s cruise director said that Santorini looks like a giant chocolate cake with white and blue sprinkles and really, it does!
One of the first things I noticed about the people of Santorini was their coloring. Many of them have light eyes, some brilliant blue, others Coke-bottle green and all of them shockingly lovely against the olive skin of the islanders. Even the old men with leather faces who were working the donkey-line had the most beautiful eyes.
When our ship arrived in the center of the volcanic crater it could not anchor, much less pull up to a pier. So to get off the ship we had to get on a tender boat which carried us to shore. The tender dropped us off at the bottom of the huge rock called Santorini. From the drop point to the top looked like an arduous climb and there were two other options: ride a donkey or ride a chair lift. There are no cars to drive you to the top. I wanted to try the donkey ride so we all lined up and paid our five Euro except Travis, who rode the chair lift with his cousin. The donkey man put Eli and Martina on the same one. It was a mule or a mammoth. But it looked like a mule.
Anyway, we rode up the long, winding, manure coated stairway to the top on the world’s most uncomfortable saddles. Not an experience to be missed but those guys are mean to the donkeys who are tools, not pets, don’t doubt it. On the way up I saw one man wait for us to pass by before knocking the hell out of a white one that appeared to just be standing there. I hope the little white feller won the fight.
Our time on Santorini was short. Mark, Martina, Eli and I did a little shopping, a wee bit of wandering and then stopped at a bar named Vertigo and ordered drinks—freeze squeezed OJ and a carafe of red wine—and some appetizers and just sat in the wind, watching the sun drop and enjoyed the few peaceful moments. The same sex songs kept playing over and over again. It was first offensive, then tiresome and then just funny.
The boys rented 4-wheelers and went off exploring. Travis rode with his cousin, Heath, who has a drivers license. The rental guy asked Heath if he had ever driven a 4-wheeler and Heath told him, “Not really,” or something like that. The man then asked Travis who said he has one at home. The two were promptly switched around and so Travis, who has no drivers license, got to drive around the island. He was deeee-lighted.
After drinks our time was growing short. We rode the tram down. It was both faster and more comfortable than the donkeys.
We did not have enough time to explore or to get a feel for the island. Not at all. Santorini is beautiful but from appearances the town is on top and it’s a long damn way to the water. Are there beaches? Are there places less forbidding where we could walk and relax? Surely. We just didn’t have time to find them.