We flew from Kathmandu to Athens via New Delhi and Abu Dhabi on day 158. The New Delhi airport stole the show, showing again its dominance in the “worst travel experience” category. Touching down in Athens we were met with the classic Greek institution of the strike. No trains, buses, taxis, or boats for 2 days. So much for the ferry to Santorini. We quick-booked some tickets to fly the next day and rented a car to get to a hotel. We saw a tiny bit of Athens, but this day was all about recovering from New Delhi’s customer service. Somehow, even being told that our ferry was cancelled was better than the purgatory of the New Delhi waiting area. At least we knew where we stood. 18-hours later we were in Santorini where the strike (at least the original one) would not affect us.
Santorini is a tiny island that was once much larger. One of the problems with settling on a volcanic island is, well, the volcano. There were ruins on the island of a very advanced culture back in the 17th century B.C. A couple of earthquakes followed by an island-sinking eruption basically broke the resolve of the settlers. Fast forward a bit and the current island is post-card-pretty from every angle, now sporting an ocean-filled volcanic sinkhole called “the Caldera” that covers more than half of the original island’s area, 1000-foot cliffs, white-washed homes and blue-dome-topped churches, and the aforementioned ruins – nicely preserved thanks to all of the volcanic ash.
After Nepal, we were in great shape for walking the steep narrow alleys of Fira and Oia, and we were way past overdue for a few (essential) things. We spent two weeks walking the beaches, checking out the ruins, exploring the cities, and surfeiting on hot showers and bakery goods. It was a wonderful recovery time for us following our Himalayan trek, although somehow the inability to drink the tap water or flush the toilet paper followed us over 5600 miles. Also, if you don’t mind not swimming in the sea, I highly recommend February to visit Greece. Overall the weather was windy (island), but warm, and there were absolutely NO other tourists. We had entire beaches, historic sites, and sometimes even city streets entirely to ourselves. Plan a little around the siestas and the strikes, and get to this little strip of paradise in the off-season. So worth it. –ALaff