From Santorini to the Sky
Our last day on Santorini left us with many hours before our flight. So I stayed back to pack, while my traveling companions decided to try the famed trail to Oia (not a boot-friendly experience). They knew they didn’t have time for the whole thing, but it was good for them to get out for a bit.
Afterwards, it was time for a last Santorini stroll — and a little souvenir shopping. Built on a hillside, the town is a warren of tiny, twisty, stair-ridden streets. Both of my travel companions were looking for some clothing — especially the flowy white cotton garments seen everywhere. While we meandered, we plotted — at least, the girl and I did. We plied HWSNBN with another donkey beer (the only way we would support the donkey trade here. Was not about to make one of those poor creatures carry me up the hillside). Then, through much pleading, teasing and cajoling, we got him where we never thought he’d go: to a fish pedicure.
I have always wanted to try one, and Singer Girl was all in. You may remember us discussing it in Dubrovnik, where HWSNBN declared the whole thing was a figment of our imagination. Nope! He cringed and giggled through the whole thing, but he did it. In the picture below, you will notice all the fishies on the left side of my left foot: that’s where the break was. It was like they KNEW!
We had a last lunch at Argo, our fave restaurant in town (http://www.argo-restaurant-santorini.com/menu), then it was time to jet. I had previously remarked how seamless the trip had been so far. Everything I had arranged had not only lived up to expectations, but surpassed them. Stupid woman. Should’ve known that I would curse things by saying that.
A shuttle van was supposed to pick us up — and it was late. We were a little panicky, and when we got to the airport the lines were forever long, and we couldn’t figure out where to go. After consulting with many different people, we finally were told to get our butts to the front of the line (as at this point we were pushing it timewise). We rushed frantically — only to realize: no planes were leaving. Don’t know why. But no planes were going anywhere. We stood in the increasingly crowded, unairconditioned airport. It was awful: I actually started worrying about some of the elderly people as the breathing room lessened.
Suddenly they announced our flight — so joined a long line, up and down a staircase, to get there. Then it was another line to get onto the little shuttle buses, all the while not sure if we were on the right one going to the correct plane. Finally boarded for the short, 40 minute flight to Athens. All this delay was worrying me especially, as we had surprise dinner reservations late that evening for which we could not be late!
Safely in Athens, we found our prearranged taxi and headed to our cool but crazy rental. This was our first stop in a true city, so the high rises, graffiti and traffic were not a pleasant shock. I think when you travel to large cities you instinctively are a bit more wary than when in smaller towns. There is a faster pace, and more issues with getting places and concerns of rough neighborhoods. The first time I visited Europe, it was to Rome. It took awhile getting used to the trash and graffiti, but I have since realized that neither are necessarily an indication of a crime-ridden ghetto; it’s just different than what I am used to.
So while in the back of my mind I was nervous pulling into our rather industrial looking neighborhood, I was keeping an open mind. I am relentless in my research, and the reviews for our apartment were beyond reproach, but you never really know until you turn that doorknob. We were not disappointed. I had informed Singer Girl of the special highlight of our place, but not HWSNBN, so he was a bit amazed when we entered.
The apartment had a retractable roof.
There were trees in the living room, and so much room we could’ve slept a dozen or more people in the two bedroom, 2 bath place. But it was just us three, and we had places to go. Check out the listing at https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16935208
Our dinner was walking distance away. We were staying in a newly hip neighborhood known as Ghazi, were an old gas works had been turned into an entertainment complex. Dinner was there — above it. 165 feet above it.
We were dining at Dinner in the Sky, Athens. We had time for a pre-dinner ouzo, a first for me and Singer Girl.
Both agreed we liked it very much! Then it was a mandatory potty break before getting strapped into our seats.
Yes, strapped in — like going on a roller coaster. Then a crane hoisted us up up up — the view of Athens and the Acropolis and the biggest moon ever was amazing. We had a prearranged dinner menu, and the many courses were prepared in the middle of our “table.” We had two servers supplying us with cocktails the whole time, with rock music blaring and so many different languages laughing around us.
Learn more at https://dinnerinthesky.gr/en/. I will totally be looking for more locations on future travels!
The next morning we were getting ready to go explore when the travel curse reared its ugly head again. Singer Girl realized she had lost her passport. While my travel companions searched frantically, I called our taxi. No dice. Then I called the airport. Somehow, amazingly, I reached the right person, and he told me they had found it in the airplane seat pocket (always check that before deplaning, folks). So we all ventured to the train station (which was conveniently just a couple of blocks away). But there we split up. They went to the airport while I went and did something I alone wanted to do: watch the changing of the guard at the Presidential mansion.
Unfortunately, I got there too late for the official big ceremony, but just getting to see them in their traditional garb, stylistically marching back and forth in a manner reminiscent of giant horses, was cool enough.
I wandered around a bit more while waiting for them to return.
We reconnected and headed to our original detaination, the Monastiraki flea market. Yes, there were plenty of touristy trinkets, but if we had lived there I would have bought so much. So many quirky, funky things, from cannons to charm bracelets.
HWSNBN wanted to cook dinner in the apartment, so we looked for food stores. Unfortunately, food markets are not open on Sundays, so we really struggled to find what we wanted. But a little pasta, some cheese, olive and wine, and we were just fine. We chilled on the couch watching a World Cup match before heading out for the main event(in our eyes): Croatia v Denmark. Next it was off to the apartment to shower and change for our last World Cup game. I had found a sports bar (aptly named the Athens Sports Bar, http://www.athenssportsbar.com/) and we headed towards the train in our Croatia garb!
I love these bars where there are so many different cultures and languages. The Denmark fans sat on one side, we sat on the other, and a gaggle of Canadians (it was Canada day sat in the middle. Singer Girl is fascinated with the idea of Canada, so she loved chatting with them. We had a great conversation with a couple Englishmen who now live in Athens about soccer in Europe vs the US. And, of course: Croatia won! One last nightcap, and we headed back home to get rest up for a day of sight seeing — and our last full day in Europe.