Sunday, August 30, 2009

Santorini - Part II

OK, the last post on Greece. Here goes...

On our second day in Santorini, we did a bit of driving around the island.

We started by making our way to Ancient Thera, only there is no real road map available for Santorini - only hand drawn sketches of what the roads generally look like. And they are SO not helpful. If I can provide one bit of advice - if you travel to Santorini and intend to drive at all, print maps from Google Maps, because no one on the island has a real map.

So we very quickly ended up on the wrong road, headed to what might have been the highest point on the island. Oops. Dead end.

Looking South... ...and North.

But eventually, we found our way, driving on roads so tiny they looked like sidewalks (more than once asking each other - are you sure this is a road??), to Ancient Thera.

3 of the 20 or so switchbacks on the way up.
It looks bigger here, but I swear at the bottom, it's cobblestone and looks like a sidewalk.

From the parking lot at the top, there is a small hike up to the ruins. Boy did we feel bad for the people who parked at the bottom because they thought the road was a sidewalk! (And there were plenty who did and who were mega-jealous when we drove by!)

But, it really wasn't all that interesting. Maybe I was just ruin-ed out. So we took pictures.

From Ancient Thera, we wanted to go to modern Thira. Only we couldn't find ANYWHERE to park.

So we gave up, and went back to Oia (where we watched the sun set the previous night), which seemed like a prettier town anyway. Oh, and it was was beautiful in the daytime too!

Oia is on the caldera and the entire town is built into the sides of the cliff. The walkways that wind down are so beautiful, and so I took a few pictures of those.

The views everywhere were stunning. This was the view from our table at lunch.

The churches in Santorini all have the same look, but I loved the bell tower on this one. (Oh, and the blues! Unbelievable!)

From Oia, we did a bit more exploring and headed to some of the wineries on the island. Everywhere we turned, there were beautiful views.

One of the wineries had a terrace with an amazing vista.

Oh, and we got plenty of chances to work on our self portraits.

I can't even tell you how nervous I was to leave my camera up on a step, but this one was pretty good. :)

We even got one more picture in at our hotel. If you ignore the weird look I'm giving the camera because I was trying not to squint, it may just be our best remote control self-portrait yet!

We had two very full days in Santorini, so we spent our last couple hours relaxing at our absolutely amazing hotel. I don't think I've ever stayed anywhere with a nicer, more considerate staff. Before we headed out, I took a few pictures.

Our room was in this building (the one on the top floor).

And then we got to spend 10 hours in the Munich airport (4 hour layover + 6 hours of delays). If you cannot tell from the picture, we really enjoyed that.

Possibly one of the most unflattering pictures of me, ever.
I have no idea why my need to prove that I was upset overwhelms my pride
in this case, but it does.

But really, we had a great trip. And United gave us each a $300 gift certificate for our pain and suffering, so we can take another trip. :)
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Santorini, Part I

I've been absent here for a while, and for that I apologize, loyal readers. (Um, do I even have loyal readers at this point?!)

Anyway, there are loads of excuses - just closed a HUGE deal at work, have been taking piano lessons, was in China last week, etc. But the real one is this: I really wanted to write one post about Santorini - this vacation story telling has gone on long enough for goodness sake! But I cannot. There is just too much. Alex and I packed entirely too much into our two days and one night on the island. So I've resigned myself to two posts. And here we are.

So, Santorini. Where to begin? It's an island, or it was an island, until a volcano blew its center out, leaving it in pieces. As a result the landscape is amazing. What was the center is now cliffs falling into the sea below, a caldera. And Alex and I started out by exploring the caldera by boat.

Alex looking like a polo model. Oh, and I was there too.

Our boat (or a boat that looks just like ours) and our sail.

The varied palette of the rock formations and beaches was striking.

The seas were open, and other than our sailing buddies, we didn't encounter many other boats. Other than the pirate ship, which, of course, was not a real pirate ship.

I mean, duh.

And we saw these really cool ruins on a cliff.

Except, they weren't ruins. Just buildings under construction. Duh. (Yeah, I didn't figure that out until I looked at this picture on my computer screen.)

And remember what I said here? About the blues of Greece being incomparable? I find it worth pointing out that the only editing I did to these pictures was to add yellow (because the pictures were too blue) and straighten (because, yikes, that boat was R O C K - Y).

Seasick yet?

After the boat trip, we made our way back to our ultra-cool, super wonderful hotel.

Where they gave us a room with a phenomenal view (and a bottle of local white wine).

And from there, we drove to Oia to watch the famous Santorini sunset. Oia is on the northern tip of the island along the caldera and is the place to watch the sunset. But the cliffside town is lovely on its own. I mean, look at it!

The view

Me and the view

The town bathed in the light of the setting sun was a lovely backdrop for the flag and the local canine.

And here it is. The Santorini sunset.

While I took pictures of the sunset, Alex took pictures like these. (Ah the joys of bringing two cameras on vacation!)

When Alex wasn't taking pictures of my sweet photography-face, he was rocking some mad jealousy induced by this guy's sartorial amazingness.

But we got some nice pictures as well:

Strong execution by Alex on the self-portrait

Strong execution (on the rebound) by one of the many people who asked me to take their picture

We capped off our evening in Oia with an amazing dinner here. And I embarrassed Alex by trying to get pictures of the sweet light. Because that's what I do. :)

Part 2 someday soon!
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