At last, the beach

So, today we continued our vacation within a vacation.
I’ve really really enjoyed our brief time on Santorini, though as Angie says, once you’ve seen Oia and Fira (and hiked between the two), been to at least one beach, and checked out the archeological site at Akrotiri, you’ve probably hit the high points. Yesterday we hiked to Oia (pronounced ee-ya), today we hit the beach and tomorrow we hope to see Akrotiri before we head to the ferry and Naxos.
There are several beaches on Santorini on the non-caldera side. They are all black, red or white sand, but I would guess one uses the term “sand” loosely. Since they are all volcanic, they are probably mainly rock, pebble and grit. The beach we picked, Kamari, certainly was. Our hope was to take a nice walk on the beach, then sit a while with our real books, get in the water a bit, maybe have some lunch. The walking bit was kind of hard. You really need to have either very tough feet, tennis shoes, or flip-flops to walk on a beach like this. We were wearing sandals and had pebbles inside our shoes in no time, which made the prospect of walking to the end of the beach and back much less appealing. Once we’d walked some distance we decided to cut our losses and just find a place to lounge for a few hours.
When we got onto the beach from the bus stop there was a group of chairs and umbrellas with a sign that said “2 chairs & umbrella €5 (free wifi),” but as you got further away from the bus stop the story changed. At the point we had reached when we stopped walking there were no signs. We just asked if we could sit and if we needed to pay or buy anything. The reply we received was to the effect that we could sit, and access the wifi and anything we spent would be a bonus. We’ve seen a bit of this on the island. It’s shoulder season and things are closing down gradually, but any more income is welcomed. Of course, this doesn’t include one of those things you encounter in any major tourist city (we’ve seen it so far in at least Brussels, Prague, Athens and all over Santorini): the gantlet you have to run going through restaurant rows, being importuned every 10 steps to pick their taverna. Side note, we really hate it.
But I digress. The place we picked was the latter extreme of the fee for lounger concept, while in the middle we found, at the place we lunched, was the approach that if someone sat, they would be pressured to buy food and/or drink. We bought iced coffees anyway at the place we stopped, because we wanted them!
I forgot to copy a picture of the rows of loungers etc., but here is a sample set of chairs with a great view in the background.

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We settled ourselves in and enjoyed a very mellow couple of hours with our coffee and books. We each went into the water briefly, but again, the stony, rocky, uneven surface under the water, and even getting to the shore made this a bit challenging so we didn’t go into the water very far, although it was decidedly pleasant. We hope we get to do more of this on Naxos, but we are thrilled that we finally got to use our swimsuits after bringing them all this way!
We had a lunch that like so many meals lately have had some good stuff and some so-so stuff. Sometimes, it’s just about refueling, though we are trying to eat less than we were when we were riding daily. The eating out two or three meals a day thing gets really old, but once we get to Stoupa most of the rest of the trip in Europe will be at my sister’s house there, or in an Airbnb, so we can self cater a lot more.
I digress again. So anyway…after lunch we asked if we could sit in the loungers there for a while and we sat and read/watched the world go by for a bit longer (and listened to the staff um, persuading, other people who wanted to sit there that they needed to buy something) before catching the bus back to Fira.
Final beach picture of the day below.

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After a cup of tea and some kick-back time in our room, we cleaned ourselves up and headed out to dinner. We didn’t feel any urgency about where we went or the view because we’ve seen the sunset the last two nights, so we were very focused on finding a decent place to eat. Unlike many places on our trip early on, it seems like it’s gotten much harder to figure out where to eat some nights, despite input from our old friend Rick Steves, my sister Pam (great one in Prague sis, we really enjoyed Clear Head), various notable ex-pat bloggers, and so on. One of the history teachers at my old high school is noted for saying, “If I have to see another Acropolis I shall spit.” We kind of feel the same about many of the menus we are seeing, in the case of Greece, this means moussaka, souvlaki. No, not again. We laughed our heads off when we saw turkey schnitzel on the menu board at one of the beach cafés in Kamari after having had that in so many places in Austria and the Czech Republic. Tonight we had a place in mind but looked at the menus at two nearby places before concluding it might be the best option. Best dining experience since we got to Santorini I would say. The name was Naoussa.
The atmosphere was casual and welcoming but clearly a place that prided itself on good food as well as hospitality, and no hard sells. It took a bit of finagling to get us seated. We didn’t care about the prime sunset spot. The best of the sunset was actually done before we entered the restaurant and our seats gave a lovely view of the caldera as it got dark. All the staff with whom we interacted were most gracious and seemed genuinely friendly. We were blown away at the end of the meal when the waitress brought us a fresh half-liter of wine, on the house, for no reason we could surmise. We didn’t really want more wine but we drank some of it anyway (just to be polite you know). It really was a lovely experience and I was very proud of myself for trying a new dish and pushing my food envelope a little further (grilled sardines, a local specialty and quite tasty).
As ever, the best part of the meal was the company (my lovely wife, who can now even be called that in Colorado by the way) and conversation with said company.
It was like many of the talks we’ve had while riding on this trip, but focused more on some of the conclusions we are reaching.
It may come off as trite, but here are some of those.
Life will continue to throw you curve balls. In my case, since I was about 16, they continue to reinforce that I’m trying to move my life in the direction of my values, though I feel like Sisyphus most of the time (except for the deceitfulness bit).
We still don’t know what we want to do when we grow up but we have plenty of ideas about what we don’t want to be.
People are the same everywhere.
This is all there is.
History definitely repeats itself.
Home can be your hotel room if you make it feel that way.
Connect with people where you have a chance and if someone has done anything meaningful for you, let them know. You may never have another chance and even if it’s technically a business relationship, it may make them happy to hear it.
Final picture of the day. Me with my red face (sun? Wine?) but Angie looking lovely as we memorialize a great evening.

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