Im not gonna lie, mom and I were not terribly heartbroken to be leaving Greece. After one too many run-ins with rude Greeks, an inconvenient and incomprehensible ferry schedule and a non functioning bank card, we were ready for a change in scenery and language. Italy has everything I need to survive-cheap coffee, cheap gelato and delicious pizza. Unfortunately, I only have twenty-four hours to bask in its goodness, then I'm Croatia bound and mom is Rome bound.
Our final days in Santorini were wonderful. We rented scooters again and zipped around the island and spent a final night with our new American friends enjoying live music at our favorite Spanish-themed cafe before our one A.M. ferry departure.
This is where the journey starts to get really interesting, and we start wishing Greece was never even placed on the map. We decided to book a hotel 3 Km outside of the main city on Kos Island. It looked really nice online, and we thought something out of the busy city would be refreshing. Our ferry got in to Kos at 7 A.M. and we thought, "what better way to enjoy a new morning on a new island, than walk to our hotel?"
Needless to say, 3 Km+not speaking Greek+20 lbs backpacks+hot sun=no bueno. It took us a total of two hours wantering around the boonies and asking every passerby (there weren't many, only cats and chickens as far as the eye could see) where Oasis Hotel was.
We finally arrived, and it was MUCH different than we had imagined, or the pictures had depicted. I'll just leave it at that.
On Saturday we had a flight to Bari, Italy. Finally, we were escaping the island (or so we thought...I'm pretty sure it tried to hold us hostage). We were told in broken engligh where to catch the bus to the airport and at what time it would come. We arrived at the bus stop and started flagging down each passing bus--tour coach or city bus--to ask if they went to the airport. After about 30 minutes and 13 busses, things were looking down. I started rummaging through my bag for a piece of paper and pen right as mom suggested we try to hitchhike to the airport. Great minds think alike!
I scribbled, "AIRPORT" in bold letters and held the sign as mom put up her hitchhiking thumb. Cars passed and waved, but no luck. Finally, right as we were ready to flag a cab, a bus pulled over to pick us up. I asked three times, "airport, you go to airport?" just to make sure we were not being deported to some remote location.
Kos International Airport is truly an experience that I suggest you avoid at all costs if you ever get the chance to set foot inside. Another institution I suggest you avoid is Ryan Air. They do everything they can to make air fares low by finding every possible chance to charge customers fees for not complying with their ridiculous rules or failing to take part in pre flight requirements.
You need to check in online and print your boarding pass at home or you will be charged 40 Euro (60 USD). In addition, all your luggage must fit into one small carry-on, no luxurious carry-on plus personal item like in the United States, or you will be fined. We had to get our ticket stamped by someone before going through security (or we would be fined) then, thinking we were home-free, we grabbed two seats by the gate in an airport so full that there was only standing room, and one could barely walk through the crowds.
Our flight was delayed. We waited and waited, and finally heard our names called loudly over the intercom to report to the gate. We pushed through the crowd and met an attendant who manually checked our luggage to ensure that it complied with size regulations and checked our boarding passes once again. Then we waited some more.
I have always considered airports to feel somewhat homely since I do so much flying. I like seeing new airports, sitting by the windows and watching the planes come in and out--it's a pasttime. This airport felt like a prision. We sat sharing one seat surrounded by people standing and pushing through the crowd, and all I wanted was to get out.
Another announcement, "this is the last call for flight 7777 on Ryan Air to Bari, the gate will be closing in one minute." Shoot! We almost missed our flight, and if I had not heard the announcement, we would have. Mom and I ran to the gate where a bus took the two of us to the tarmack to board the plane.
We were shocked that we didn't hear any of the pre-boarding announcements and more so that we didnt even notice that enough people to fill an airplane had left the terminal. Fail on Ryan Air's part.
We got on the plane and waited another hour to take off because there were so many planes coming in and out of the airport.
We arrived in Bari three hours behind schedule and immedieatly found the first restaurant and enjoyed a delicious Italian pizza feast. Somehow that made everything better. We were relieved to be out of Greece and in a country where you actually get soap at the hotel and can drink the tap water. The Italians can even understand when I speak to them in Spanish which is a huge plus!
The moral of the story? Greece is like Hotel California, "come any day you like, but you can never leave." Ciao for now!
You know the classic question, "if you were stranded on a desert island what would you bring?" let me give you some insider tips; air conditioning, a book in English and some snorkel gear!
We got to the island at two in the morning and spent our first half hour in paradise siting in a small car waiting and wondering where our driver taking us to the hotel had vanished to. Luckily, we were accompanied by a nice Australian couple headed to the same hotel. Together we watched all the cars and people disappear. The ferry departed on it's journey to Athens, and we were left alone, in Santorini at two in the morning.
Finally, mom found our driver at his second job...a car rental shop, and we were soon on our way.
The next morning, we saw the view out our hotel room and realized that Santorini is merely a giant sparsely populated volcanic rock in the middle of the Aegean. We began to wonder if the beautiful Santorini seen in the postcards was a big scam.
The town we are staying in is quiet and has a black sand beach lined with sunbeds and swanky lounges as far as the eye can see. Not too bad for relaxing, but still not the sea cliffs and white houses we had imagined.
We spent the first day swimming and exploring our town. The majority of people are tourists (which is funny, because there aren't that many people here!)
Day two we rented motor scooters and rode all over the island! Finally, all of our hopes and dreams of Santorini had come true.
We rode along the beach, up hills, around cliffs and were stunned at the breathtaking views of the sea and the Greek style houses. We ended our day in Oia, a small city built on cliffs (that looks just like the postcards and what you see in movies) and watched an amazing sunset with about 300 other tourists lining the streets, restaurants and ledges to get a glimpse. Once the sun went down, everyone clapped and it was a mad rush to get out of town.
Mom and I have become quite the socialites on the island. We spent part of the morning sharing stories and talking about traveling with a Swedish couple we met. They invited us to dinner that night, but we already had plans to meet the Aussies for drinks.
At lunch, we met two Americans working in a restaurant for the summer. It turns out they were studying abroad in Athens and just graduated, then decided to spend the summer working on Santorini before traveling for a few months. We shared travel plans and it turns out they will be in Asia the same time as me. They said they were looking for a fourth person to join them and asked if I was interested. Mom said that I could travel with them under one condition, as long as I didn't go to any topless beaches. It took me about two seconds to accept the deal. Hellooo Asia!
Finally, they invited us to a concert with them that night, but we were committed to the Aussies. So many people, so little time!
Our night with the Aussies, Belle and Rich was great! They have been traveling since April all over Western Europe and are headed to Africa from here for another two months. Apparently, in Australia it is really common for young adults to take off an travel for several months. A lot of companies actually give travelers the time off (as is Belle and Rich's case). Wow I really think America needs to take a page from their book!
Our evening was great and we are excited about our new travel friends and everyone else we will meet along the way!
The sunset in Oia
On my scooter, ready to go!
Friday evening we boarded a huge ferry to Santorini arriving at 1am sat. Ferry was larger than our San Juan Island ferries, 9 stories high, 2 decks full of 18 wheelers & cars, the rest was like a cruise ship. We snuck into the movie theater room, laid out on 3 comfortable seats & slept. Kris woke at midnight to the unmistakeable sounds of Grey's Anatomy & watched her favorite show in the middle of the Aegean Sea!! Upon picking us up, our host drove very fast up a series of narrow switchbacks to the top of the island with Kris telling him that "it was ok if he wanted to slow down!" Sunday found us renting motor scooters, driving around the whole island, swimming at the Red Beach, saw an awesome sunset at Oia - traditional Greek cliffside town, square white houses nestled into the hillside, narrow winding road transporting people up on donkeys! Oh yeah, we're livin' the dream :)