Thursday, October 8, 2009

the longest day

The weather on my last day on Santorini was gorgeous again. Mid 80's, just enough puffy clouds to provide a brief break from the sun, and a nice breeze coming off the sea.... perfect for a 12km hike along the ridge of the caldera from Ia south to Fira. So that's just what Yannick and I did... and we were not disappointed. The walk took about 3 hours and the views were inspiring. I must have snapped about 100 photos.
Had lunch in Fira and looked around a bit. Fira is where all the cruise ship passengers arrive in Santorini so it's a pretty busy place with lots of boutique shops and fancy restaurants. Very pretty. There a 3 options for getting up and down from the waterfront and Fira, which is several hundred meters above perched on the rim of and overlooking the caldera. You can walk... takes about an hour, you can get a donkey ride (no kidding!), or you can take the cable car which wisks you down the side of the cliff face in about a minute. Most people opt for the third choice... hence the hour long waiting line. Glad I was headed back to Ia and not to a cruise ship!
Ia is the northernmost point of the island of Santorinio and it's famous for the sunset. Each evening thousands of people alight on every available westward facing space in Ia, myself included. It's a spectacle in itself. Anyway after the sunset they all have to get back to wherever they're staying... the majority on the overtaxed local bus system. I had to catch the 10:30 pm overnight ferry to Athens so I went to the station to catch the 8:20 to Fira. There had to be about 200 Japanese people waiting on line for the next bus. I'm as polite as the next guy and would normally never cut in line... but suffice it to say I was on that 8:20 bus! It left late(of course) but I made my connection in Fira without incident and made it to the port on time. The ferry ride was unremarkable. Nice boat ... more like a small cruise ship. I found my cabin, climbed in my bunk and went to sleep. Except the guy in the bunk below snored loudly all night so it wasn't a very restful night.
I woke at 7am as we were pulling into port. Caught the Metro to the train station and got a train to Corinth. From the train station I had to get a bus to the city center. Dropped my backpack at the Ephina Hotel (they were very nice and insisted I didn't have to pay for the service even though I may or may not stay there) and caught a bus for ancient Corinth. There are 2 parts to ancient Corith... the Greek ruins near the bus stop and the Byzantine fortress ruins occupying the top of the hill that was once the Corinthian Acropolis. Of course I immediately started hoofing it to the top. It was around noon, very hot, and the walk was about an hour up a long steep hill. Probably not the smartest decision I ever made... but the walk paid off. I had the place almost to myself. The ruins were awesome and the veiws of ancient Corinth and the Mediterranean and surrounding mountains were fantastic. I broke down and took a taxi back down. and then caught the bus back to Corinth.
You would think after a long night and day I would stay put in modern Corinth for the night, but no, I pushed on to Myceanna, Palace, fortress and capital of the mighty Mycenaean civilization.
A local bus (40 minutes late) dropped me at a bus station in the middle of nowhere on the side of the highway where I had to catch another bus to the modern city of Mikynes. The bus station was chaotic filled with hundreds of Greeks trying to get back to where they lived after coming "home" to vote in the national Greek elections. Pure mayhem. I was able to get my bus with the help of Alexandros who was heading south to report for duty in the army. The bus dropped my about 2km from the village, it was a pleasant 20 minute walk through some orange and olive groves. Found a decent hotel, took a shower and went in search of FOOD. Had some delicious home made mousaka prepared and served by a nice old woman who didn't speak a lick of english. Washed it down with a half liter of local read wine and headed for home. By this time it was about 9am and I was physically and mentally exhausted. I passed out immediately and slept for 12 hours straight.

1 comment:

  1. WOW... I'm tired out just reading about this day... Have to save your next post for reading later because it's time to finish getting ready to go to our every-other-Thursday Happy Hour at Rock Bottom in good old downtown Bethesda!