Bec wakes me up and I am a bit of a mess.
Even when we were living in New Zealand, mr cousin, Rikky didn’t like waking me up, because I do this little spasm-like jolt and stare you down like your unappreciative hangry little sister, ready to devour you if you make the wrong move. Dunno about you, but for the first 117.657 seconds that I’m awake after a sleep, I’m running purely on primal instincts. My eyes are wide, pupils dialated, frowning and trying to gather my thoughts as to why my half-day hibernation has been interrupted.
Bec has had the honour of having to wake me up for the last few months.
She has developed this method of waking me up, which includes this very gentle and kind-spirited stroke on either my arm or leg, depending on which limb is most accessible at the time.
I can’t work it out yet, but it doesn’t have the desired effect that she is after.
Its meant to be all kind and caring, but I would just prefer a nice big shove and a “Oi. Get up”. Too bad that my wife is not a bloke and kinda likes to be all caring, or something.
Anyways, Bec is on the receiving end of the crazy eyes on the bus as she tries to do the gentle “Hey. Just reminding you that I love you. Don’t eat me” caress.
We are in Athens. Not like I would have been able to distinguish it from any other city, since it is pitch black, and I can hardly say that we have actually visited Athens, since we arrived at around 5 am. This time of year, its is dark till around 6:30/7am.
We begin to get off and gather all our stuff at the depot in the middle of Athens. We have got a bit of an idea of where we need to go to be able to reach the port, but we are flying blind in a new city, and I’m still a little retarded. My motor skills have kicked in, but that is about all.
We are just about to get off, when the driver asks where we are headed. We tell him that we are going to the port, so the legend just decides to drive Bec, this one last lady and myself all the way to the actual port. At least, that is what we thing is happening. We’re not 100% sure, since the vast majority of the discussion was being held in Bulgarian, but we match the hand signs with our best guesses of Bulgarian words and opt to take the gamble.
It pays off.
They don’t call me “Big Bet Billy” for nothing **
We chill out at the port till it is time to board.
We, along with the hordes of other tourists jump on the ferry. We make our way to the front of the ship, and strategically position ourselves right next to a few power points and try to spread our belongings as best we can among the 4 chairs around our table, to ensure we protect the seats from the clutches of other passengers, and so retain what will soon become foot rests.
We have an 8 hour ferry ride ahead of us.
Its every man for himself here.
A take-no-prisoners kinda ferry.
I’m here to make my way to Santorini, not friends.
The ferry begins to pull away from the port, and I abandon my wife, in pursuit of the open air decks, camera in hand. I am not surprised at all to find that the entire population of the Zhang-Hou province has beat me to the perfect vantage point. What I am surprised about, is that the guy is using a tripod on a boat that is vibrating. If you’re using a real slow shutter speed (which you don’t need to with the sun rising), then the tripod vibrating on the deck is going to do less than a sparky’s drill on a Monday morning.
Whats more impressive is my fellow passengers, who decide that since their friends are already pre-occupied with taking photos for their other mates, have gone ahead and taken the initiative to buy selfie sticks, which evolved into a big rod with three feet at the bottom. This way, it doesn’t matter where they are, they’ll always be able to get that shot of them looking emotively into the distance.
I’m not even angry, I’m impressed.
These guys don’t waste their time with selfies with poor angles. It’s either going on the gram and being entered into the annual “Happy Tourist” online competition, or they aren’t going to waste their time with the photo.
I let them do their thing and snap a few shots as we pull away from the docks.
The soft pastel hues spread across the skies above and cast a perfect soft light down to the bay below. The sun is yet to peer over the buildings, but it’s influence on the skies over us are more than evident.
Bec and I take turns throughout the boat ride to visit the decks for the views as we pass islands. The rocking of the boat is really soothing too. Its not that much, it just enough to trick your mind into thinking that you are rocking more than you really are, but its just enough to help send you to sleep if you wanted to take a nap.
You kinda feel like you’re on a floating tank.
I think I wouldn’t mind giving a cruise a go.
The windows beside the seats give you a preview of what to expect on the open decks soon. Islands, and the mountains that inhabit them loom on the horizon constantly and just as one fades from your sight, another one creeps it’s way in to your field of view. Houses line the shores of the land masses that we pass close enough to see for ourselves. As long as there is a close enough view of the shore, there is a good enough place to build a house.
Clouds hang, suspended just above the mountain tops.
Its not clear where the clouds finish, but the mountain ridge’s silhouette cuts across the faded cloud cover, just as the sea spray gives the illusion of the mountains fading into the ocean.
We are privileged in Australia to have stunning beaches and crystal clear waters, and I have always been pretty partial to an Australia beach, but it is true what they say about the Mediterranean. The water is a rich turquoise, and so clear that you can see for meters below, almost like you are just looking into glass. Its so clear, but it is almost like someone has just tipped some dye into the water, its so rich in colour.
Each of the islands has their own look and feel about it.
You can tell that there is a real variety on the islands. I didn’t realise that Santorini was so small, but a lot of the islands we stop at are considerably bigger than Santorini.
Finally, at 3:30, we reach the Santorini port.
We are all in the big cargo bay, the guys at the back of the ferry begin lowering the ramps. There are a good 150 people standing there, just waiting for the ramps to fall onto the ferry. I don’t know what it is about not being able to see what is coming, but it builds a real sense of expectation and almost nervousness.
It kinda felt like we were about to be unleashed into battle.
You could only imagine what it would have been like on D-day, on the ships, just waiting for the doors to drop on the beach. Its unreal what those boys would have gone through. Just a random side thought, there.
Back on topic… We walk off the ferry and begin to look for wifi.
We are on Santorini, it is 3:30 in the afternoon, and we don’t have accommodation yet. We are walking along, when one of the locals uses his primal senses to distinguish which of us needed accommodation or not. I don’t see him really look around at anyone else, but he comes over to us and asks “You have somewhere to stay?”, already beginning to usher us out from the crowd, over to his co-workers so they can rape and pillage our wallets.
“Nah mate. We need wifi though”
“I have wifi. Here you sit”
In one swift motion, we were in this guy’s shack, looking for accommodation somewhere else, on the wifi that he pays for.
Don’t even feel bad.
After about 10 minutes of stalling this bloke, and others arriving in perfect time to distract him further, we lock ourselves into an Airbnb place. All we need is a couple nights somewhere, and I can try sus out a Couchsurfing option or something else.
We tell the guy that our mate had got back to us, and that our accommodation is sorted. He then asks us where our accommodation is and how we are going to get to there. We ask him if there is a bus that takes us into Fira, where we are staying. To which is very promptly tells us that the last bus of the day has just left and that the only option left is his shuttle bus.
“Ok. How much?”
I think to myself “Oh come on mate, at least try to be subtle”. Instantly, any last hint of trustworthiness is gone. I doubt that there are no other busses for the rest of the whole day. Its only the arvo. We get a message from our Airbnb, who says that we are approved and that if we need a ride, she can send her father to come pick us up.
“Nah mate. Our friend is coming to pick us up”
The bloke didn’t look us in the eye again.
We chill out at a bar by the port while we wait for the dad to come collect us. We have ourselves a pasta to tie Bec over till we can get some shopping done. She’s letting her hangry side out. Its not long before he arrives and scoops us up. He doesn’t really say much, but we zig zag our way through the place until we arrive at the accommodation. Our room is in this group of apartments, and it is pretty small, but still enough to be able to chill out on. We have our own little table and chairs out the front for dinner and hanging out.
We decide to do some shopping, which will give us a chance to have a good look around the town. As per the postcards, the white, white houses stand contrasted against the volcanic hillsides. One in every 10 houses will have a blue domed roof, just to add to the post card quality of the scene before us.
Its really exactly like what yo would expect it to look like, but it really just feels like a european version of up-market Bali. It doesn’t matter where you go to visit an island, its all the same. Everybody rides scooters and bikes, and nobody does so with helmets. People park wherever they deem so fit, even if that is the bus stop.
The smallest cars always have the loudest music playing.
I cannot begin to tell you who many smart cars I saw with the windows down, absolutely blasting the top 40 at full volume. An unconscious, deaf rock could have heard them from over a block away. During my entire time in Santorini, not once was this proven wrong.
The smallest cars were the most unapologetic abusers of my ear holes.
We get our dinner and head back to our place to tuck in for the night.
Santorini already feels relaxing.
We’re looking forward to the rest of our time here.
Come back for the next story,
** They don’t actually call me “Big Bet Billy”. In fact, nobody has ever called me that.