Travellers Scratch Map !!

Here is the ultimate gift for travellers, so ultimate that I ordered myself one! Unfortunately, the one I received was so tiny that it was impossible to scratch off some countries. Mine is a 12×14. So do not get a small size. Get the biggest size they have! It will make it way easier for scratching off and also it will look much better on your wall!

Click the picture for the different options. There are also different styles that you can get, depending on your personal taste. I personally love this one and cannot wait until my large one arrives!

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Ferry to Athens

The next morning was time to say goodbye to Santorini. I felt sad to leave, and sad to say goodbye to my new friend, but I was ready to see London again. Santorini will always be my special Island, I know that is cheesy but I do not care. I love this Island and I miss it every day.

I said my goodbyes to Irini, the hotel owner and to Tianna, who left a few hours earlier than I did. I went out for a walk, planning to spend some time at the beach but I was still feeling the effects of the heat the day before so I stayed at the hotel and waited for the van to the ferry.

I arrived at the port and walked around for a bit before checking in for my ticket and getting in line. The little enclosure that the passengers had to wait in had fans but was not air conditioned. So it was a sweaty hot wait.

When it was finally time, we boarded the ferry, I kept my luggage with me this time, and I found a nice comfy spot inside to put my feet up and relax for the next 8 hours. Next time I plan to only do the ferry one way even though the ferry is way cheaper than flying. I was so tired that I didn’t care about watching the sea or the other Islands as we passed them. I sat and napped, and enjoyed the air-conditioning. I was close to the bathroom so I wouldn’t need to get up and move around too much. I contemplated a shower but my exhaustion won.  Athens here I come.

 

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The End Of The Tour

After our group met at the square to say our goodbyes it was time to separate and find our busses back to our hotels.

What? we aren’t going all together? Thank goodness for Tianna, at that moment we were so happy we met each other because we did not know how to get back to the hotel! And did we have to now walk down all those steps again? What bus do we even get on??

Turned out that our tour guide led us down the other side of the promenade. To a parking lot! A parking lot? You mean the bus could have driven us to Oia, to begin with instead of climbing those 300 steps and almost getting killed by donkeys?! All we could do was laugh. At least we had a great adventure.

There was it seemed dozens of busses and Tanya had said goodbye and started walking away. Wait !! What bus is ours!? We ran to catch up to her and she helped us find out bus. Bus 11. That would have been good to know before.

We got on the bus and asked the bus driver where our stop was and explained that we didn’t know our way or where to get off the bus. And it was dark which was disorienting. It was so nice to finally sit down though! In the air conditioning!

The bus went through all the villages and ours was almost last since it was on the other side of the island. Thankfully the driver called out the villages and hotels as we passed through them. There were others getting off at our stop as well, so it ended up being ok and we found our way back.

Even though it was the middle of the night, to our delight, the grocery store was open and so was the bakery! The grocery store had all kinds of fruit and veggies that we had never seen before.

See this little thing? They call it a “little peach”. It is about the size of a small plum and tastes like the mix of an orange and an apple. It didn’t really taste like the peaches I am used to.

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I spent 3 Euros at the grocery store :

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I got a regular peach as well. I am not sure why I was only charged 3 Euros since everything was priced higher. The cashier was so lovely and she asked us about where we were from and was so friendly and welcoming.

Also, they sell booze on the grocery store shelves.

Then we walked down to the bakery and I spent about 8 more Euros. This bakery was one of the most unique and friendly places I have ever been to. We walked in and out from the back came a short round fluffy crazy white-haired old man in his underwear! He shook our hands, hugged us,  and welcomed us to the bakery. We made our selections and then he filled our bags with complimentary breadsticks and had the biggest smile on the entire time. And Yes, he did all this in his underwear!

The bakery was amazing. The doughnuts were bigger than my sprawled out hand and the pizzas were soft and tasty and the best pizzas I have ever tasted in my life! And the lemon square! Oh, my the lemon square was just as big as the doughnuts! I miss this bakery!

Between the grocery store and the bakery, I had enough food to eat that night plus some to last the next day for my ferry ride back to Athens. SO DELICIOUS.

Oia Square

We were told to meet at the square at sunset for the end of the tour. The square is the main meeting place on the Oia promenade. It has a stone dolphin design in the centre, and a beautiful blue rooftop church. We went and checked out the square before sunset to make sure we knew where we were going and it’s a good thing we did because sunset was crowded on the square.

That green flag you see is our tour guides flag. The tour guides carry flags so their groups can see where they are in case they get separated. The village is so crowded, and it is very easy to become separated from the group you are with.  So thankfully when we went back to the square at sunset we were able to see Tanya’s flag.

I will definitely return to Oia. It was the highlight of my trip to Santorini. There are just no appropriate words for the beauty and energy of Oia. It is definitely a dream come true if you like the warm beachy vacation spots.

And really the heat during the midday isn’t too bad. Just strip down to your bikini or speedo and you will fit right in.

Oia

First of all, the shopping promenade in Oia has sidewalks made of marble. It is unlike anything I have seen before. This place is amazing. It was insanely crowded and we saw all kinds of people. Backpackers, tour groups like ours, ( LOTS of tour groups actually), families, Santorini natives, and the obviously rich. Oia is where all the fancy hotels and restaurants are. The ones I cannot afford.

There are also tons of shops that I can afford. The shopping on Santorini and especially in Oia in my favorite.

I did a lot of shopping in Oia.

We were told we had free time for awhile then to meet in the square right after sunset. So we walked around and looked for a good spot. The pictures I got were taken on my phone so they aren’t the greatest and you can’t see the full effect of the sunset colors in my pictures. We walked through the winding tunnels and walkways and over houses and shops ( the way the villages are stacked, it’s easy to step out onto someone’s rooftop. )

So we found a rooftop that wasn’t crowded with tourists so we could get good pictures.

If you ever have the chance, the sunset in Oia is a must! ( the reds and purples and pinks of the sunset are MUCH better in person ! )

Donkeys in Oia Santorini

Our last stop of the day was Oia. The most famous of the Santorini villages and now I know why. There are no words for this village. All the Instagram and Pinterest pictures do not compare to seeing it in Person. It is beautiful and white yet so colorful, it draws one in to the point of wanting to stay forever. I would live here forever if I had the chance. I would move my kids and my family here and stay forever.

This is where I had my TRUE encounter with the donkeys. I had seen them in other villages but this was the true experience and I will never forget it. It pulled at my heartstrings for more than one reason and my perspective is forever changed.

There are about 300 gigantic steps from the bottom of the Caldera to the village. It is a massive and tiring hike and the hot sun doesn’t help matters.

At first, we were amused at the number of donkeys waiting to be at our service, to carry humans up the 300 steps. Some of us said oh, it’s only 300, we can pace it and it won’t be that bad.

It was that bad.

Part of me wishes I had hopped onto a donkey, and the other part of me is proud that I made it up on my own and spared a donkey the exhaustion and labor of carrying my fat self up the volcano. The donkeys were tired. They kept wanting to stop, and then their handlers would whip them with their big sticks to keep them going. I wanted to cry. I understand that this is their livelihood, their means of providing for their families. Tourism is what supports them. They are utilizing resources. However, those poor donkeys just don’t need to be hit. And give the poor babies some water. I imagine they were laboring twice as hard as I was, having to carry themselves and a person, sometimes two people, as there were children on the tour. It felt inhumane to me, although I do understand that the donkeys are their tools. I get it. I just have a hard time with it.

The steps were hard. There wasn’t really any shade, but if you lean against the rock wall it’s quite cool and it helped me to keep from passing out.

I went slow. I am asthmatic so between my lungs and the heat I was having a rough time. The rest of the group had long passed me, except for one elderly lady and her daughter, who were a bit behind me. Tianna had gone ahead, I wasn’t about to make her wait for me since I knew I would take a long time. I took it 3 steps at a time and then a break. I was about 45 minutes behind.

They donkeys that were carrying people had gone all the way up already and were starting to now come down. I remembered what the tour guide said and stayed on the side of the steps next to the walls. They say to do this because the donkeys will sometimes squish people against the walls, which is better than being pushed over the ledges and falling. A few donkeys had come down and paid me no mind, so I kept going. Then a few more, and a few more, then suddenly there was a stampede of about 20 donkeys RUNNING down the steps. Several almost crushed me against the wall. These donkeys are huge, and once they are pressed up against you there’s no place to breathe. One stopped and kept pushing me against the wall until I almost couldn’t breathe, then luckily the handler came down and used his stick to get the donkey off of me. I was completely terrified at this point. I cried a little. I finally pulled it together and started up the steps again. I was so rattled, and between my tears and my sweat and my lungs, I forgot to stay close to the wall. Then I saw 3 more donkeys coming down around the corner. I had no time to move next to the wall and next thing I knew there were 3 donkeys between me and the wall. I inched over to the ledge and prayed that they wouldn’t push me over. It wasn’t a straight drop so I wouldn’t have fallen to my death, but still. Then all of a sudden one of the donkeys started nudging at me and getting closer and closer. Another handler came around the corner in the nick of time. I was sitting on the ledge at this point almost ready to just climb over. He used the stick to get the donkeys going again.

And yelled at me to stay by the wall.

More tears. I wanted this to be over. I wanted to get to the village and see the sunset and shop, and eat, and find Tianna.

The steps felt never-ending. My legs were like jello, and throbbing, and sunburned. My face was burning and my hair was just doing its own thing at this point. My sweat on my back was leaking into my backpack, and I needed to pee. And I was almost out of water.

Then I started to pass a restaurant here, and home there, a hotel or 2, then I could see the village. I was almost there.

When I finally go to the top, I saw what all the blogs and vlogs rave about. Oia…

…And Tianna was waiting for me. I have never been so glad to see someone I barely know!

Speedo Man On The Island

I have no pictures for this post. Your welcome for that.

Souvlaki stand on Thirasia Island.  It was delicious and of course very popular, which is probably why the line felt like a hot sweaty sardine can. We were starving and hot and it was so crowded, we were all pressed up against each other. There was no moving until it was your turn in line. Tianna and I were talking about how people are much pushier in Europe than North America. Don’t get offended, we mean no insult. We were just remarking on how different it was. No in a bad way, just not something we were used to.

Now, since it was so hot everyone was basically naked. Bikini and speedo type almost naked. Tianna and I were probably the ones with the most clothes on, and even then we had tank tops and short shorts. That’s just how it is on the Islands. In order to stay cool, you have to be almost naked.

So as we were having this conversation, the Very tall man who was pressed up on the other side of me overheard us and apologized, said he was from Italy and didn’t want to give us a bad impression and was sorry if he was pushing.We apologized in return and said we were just observing and were not referring to him. he was a nice man so we chatted and he asked where we were from ( me from Alberta, Canada,  and Tianna from Colorado in the USA).

That’s when I realized this man was only wearing a barely-there green speedo. Like as in a thong speedo that basically only had a string with a sock for his thing… And his junk was all pressed up against my ribs. I almost gagged. This mans sweaty weiner was touching me and I wanted to die.

Alas, I lived, and he was a very nice man and was a very friendly European, and after it was all over we laughed.

If you visit the Greek Islands don’t be alarmed when almost naked men press up against you. It’s normal.

Maybe next time I will be brave enough to get a picture.