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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Santorini Greece. 
Home of the blue domes...and donkeys.


Yeah, I know, it'll be another tourist trap, but we have to go. Our Greek friends have told us there are much nicer islands to visit, like Chios for instance. OK, bragging time. Our wonderful, Greek, motorcycle riding friends, Angel and Christos have offered us the use of their holiday house on Chios if we would like to use it. Could be a good spot to spend Christmas methinks. Anyway, on with the story.

The ship was moored off the coast of the island Satorini this morning and the six of us caught little tender boats into the shore to visit Thira. There are three ways to make the long climb up the cliff to Thira: cable car, walk, or ride a donkey. All the advice we got was to avoid the donkeys. It's dangerous, it smells, you'll get hurt, and so on. I was pretty keen to ride the donkeys (shouldn't that be donkies?) but didn't mind if no one else wanted to. To my surprise, my sister Lily wanted to ride a donkey. I was happy to keep her company so the two of us were ready to take the plunge. Suzanne decided she'd come with us, then the next thing all six of us were saddling up for an interesting ride.

These donkeys know their way up the mountain path and for some reason a lot of them seem to be in a hurry. That's OK, but when the edge of the path has a bloody huge drop it's no fun being pushed toward it by a grumpy donkey trying to push his way through. It was a tad scary.

 Our amazing steeds await.

 Bob and Nina mounted up and ready to go.

 Suzanne is underway.

This shot was taken over my shoulder from a fast moving donkey. Suzanne is trying to catch me, Bob and Nina are in the background.

I told you it was a long way down didn't I? Suzanne with my sister Lily over her left shoulder and Bob over her right shoulder.

I was last off the line but my donkey (I christened him Phar Lap) was away. I soon passed Bob and Nina, then Lily, then Suzanne, and Phar Lap soon made short work of Ron after that. OK, we were in the top ten now, let's go. We worked our way up sticking to the inside line, but drifting wide on the corners to take advantage of the wider steps. It was working a treat. We were now in fourth place. Then the mongrel donkey in front tried to bite Phar Lap every time we tried to make a pass. Poor old Phar lap tried both sides but we just couldn't stick that pass. We ended up in sixth but I submitted a protest to the race committee. I'm still waiting to hear back.

Four fifths of the West Australian donkey racing team.
We did well, but I think more practise is required.

Once were at the top of the mountain we made our way through all the overpriced tourist trap shops selling a whole range of fantastic products toward the main drag of town. All the local traders are a little pushy but once you say no thanks they are happy to leave you alone and most will say "Enjoy your stay" or "Thanks for coming to Santorini." It was a very pleasant place to visit

The girls. "There must be a bargain here somewhere."

Our plan was to get a cab between the six of us and go to Oia (pronounced ear). We couldn't get a six seat taxi so it was going to cost forty euro for two taxis. The public bus was 1.6 Euro each. The bus ride was fine and what Suzanne and I saved paid for our lunch.

 Oia is a beautiful place.

 The usual Santorini shot.

Our lunch time view.

We found a very pleasant restaurant for lunch, and it had a million dollar view. The standard line here is that the better the view, the more expensive the food. We checked the menu and the food was pretty reasonable. So we settled in to our table looking out over the beautiful blue Mediterranean. We enjoyed the best Souvlaki ever with a couple of drinks. 

From there it was a bus ride back to Thira, a quick cable car ride to the bottom of the cliff, and tender ride back to the boat, and a cool drink in the Crow's Nest. Well, that was the plan. Suzanne and I split from the others to do a little shopping and we all agreed to meet back on the boat. When we got to the cable car there was a huge lineup. It only carries twenty people at a time, and takes about ten minutes. I did a few quick calculations and I reckoned we would be down by about half past Tuesday, next week. We decided to walk back down the donkey path. It was a long path with around 600 steps and I had to help a few "little old ladies" in some spots, and a few youngsters slipped and landed on their bums. It started to become a familiar sound: the sliding of sneakers on shiny pebble steps followed by the thud of a soft bottom hitting the ground. We had a few rests along the way and it wasn't that bad.

I did have a bit of fun on the way down. There was a Japanese girl riding a donkey up the path and she looked very uncomfortable. I walked over to her and raised my hand near the back of her donkey and asked her if she wanted to go faster. She screamed "No, no, no, no" I was in a good mood so I left her to her slow ride.  : )

 Rest break. There's still a long way to go.

 Steep? Yup!

 Hey mister, you wanna lift? Five Euros.

Sailing away it looked like snow on  mountains, or icing on a cake.

Santorini was a very pretty place and I'm glad we went there. Would I go back? Probably not. I'd rather visit an island that wasn't set up as a tourist trap, sit in a bar and have a drink with the locals. The donkey ride was fun though.

Back on board it was time for a refreshing beer and to sail past Santorini toward our next destination, Kusadasi Turkey. I'd better practice, "No, I don't want a rug thank you".

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