Contrary to what you might think, I don’t immediately head to the hotel after my donkey debacle. It would have been the best decision, given that I look like I ran into a dust storm and probably smell like a donkey. But I’m hungry.
To his credit, the waiter at the restaurant Fanari doesn’t bat an eye as I stumble in, out-of-breath.
“Oh, you are tired, yes? Come sit down. Please, come this way. Relax,” He tells me, guiding me to a table with a view of the caldera.
I skip the bread basket and olive oil, placing my order immediately. It arrives in a timely manner; I’d say that I didn’t wait any longer than 10 minutes or so.
While I’m eating, a couple and their two children enter the restaurant. The same waiter hurries to seat and serve them. He gasps quietly. And then:
“You two look like Jay Z and Beyonce,” He exclaims. “You are Jay Z, you are Beyonce. Sorry, that is the truth. I love Beyonce though. In all my years here, I have never seen a Beyonce.”
I nearly choke on my food. This guy deserves a tip for entertainment value alone.
Sunset is at 8:38pm. It’s 8:31pm and I’m hectically trying to find the sweet spot I had occupied a short while earlier, before my urge for ice cream steered me off on this ridiculous detour. I swear that I only went down a set of stairs and turned left once, but I’m running around up and down, left and right, stuck in this seemingly endless maze. At least I got the chance to taste baklava ice cream.
Rounding a corner, I note a steady stream of people heading up the stairs that I went down earlier. I chase after them, leaping the stairs by twos. Pushing through the throng, I finally emerge on a road that offers a view of the caldera, rather than shops. The sun is low in the sky. It’s 8:36pm, and my mad rush culminates in me being lucky enough to catch the very end of the sunset.
The rest of my time in Santorini passes by in a blur. I wake up in a leisurely manner on Sunday, sleeping in for the very first time on this trip (I had to get up at 7am on Saturday to meet my driver at the Hotel Castro). I check out of the Hotel Hellas and head into Fira, turning left instead of right at the first major intersection. After a rather American-style breakfast,
I find the hospital in Fira, which is my pick-up location, just to ensure that I don’t have more panic and another mad rush later on. There’s only one hospital in centre; any other medical buildings are private clinics.
I have until 3pm, so I spend the rest of my time in downtown Fira. I stop by one of the museums, aptly known as the Santozeum. It features the ancient wall paintings of Thera, before it was known as Fira.
There are no additional plaques of information to provide context hanging beside the wall paintings, nor are there any guided tours available, which I find disappointing. The museum admission is 5 euros, so I don’t recommend the Santozeum if you’re hoping to absorb a great deal of information. There is a balcony and chairs outside of the museum though, and there I spent a good deal of time before heading back to the hospital. Two hours, in fact, writing, listening to music, and watching boats sail to the volcano and around the caldera.
The last stop of the tour bus is Kamari beach, which is rendered unusual by the fact that its “sand” is actually black volcanic ash. The beach is rocky and the footing is anything but soft. The water is quite shockingly cold when I dip my feet into it at first; by the end of the hour, I don’t even notice anymore. There are rows upon rows of lounge chairs and umbrellas (renting those costs 10 euros for an hour. And 10 euros for the whole day as well), filled to the brim with beachgoers. I seek out a quiet spot at the side of the beach to spend the hour that we are given here.
I’m a little melancholy as the end of the hour approaches. Santorini has been an idyllic oasis, and I’ve yet to experience all that it offers, such as the sunset in Oia. I haven’t even explored the full expanse of the island yet, and it’s a relatively small one.
Oh well. All the more reason to return.