I’ll get to that bike ride part…
Tuesday was a transition day. I often told my students that transitions were the most challenging part of classroom management. I think they may also be the most challenging part of traveling. As in the classroom, many people and things are moving, and there are ample opportunities for something to go “not according to plan.” We didn’t have any of those plan failures, but the possibility seems to always be lurking on transition days. Plus, you have to pack. Instead of our six panniers and two handlebar bags (now safely back in Lakewood, whew), we now have one very large suitcase. It didn’t seem so large when we bought it and wheeled in around Vienna empty. Full, it seems huge. And has a mind of its own. Some people we met were impressed that we had everything for both of us in one suitcase. Having tried several luggage methods, though, I’d go with one carry-on (or very slightly larger) size, wheeled suitcase and one comfortable daypack for each person in your party (unless you are on bikes).
Fortunately, we were able to leave the monster suitcase and other bags with our very kind hostesses at the Costa Marina Villas while we enjoyed our last half day on Santorini. Our priorities on Santorini were the hike from Fira to Oia, the beach, and the archaeological site, in that order. We’d checked off the first two, so we decided to head to the dig site at Akrotiri. The ruins visible there date from 1650-1500 BC and evidence of earlier (back to ~4500 BC) civilizations has also been found in lower levels. The area was a wealthy trade center, which was under reconstruction after an earthquake when the devastating eruption that preserved these ruins took place. The dig itself began in 1967 and has been active since (though no one seemed to be working in the part that we visited). It has a recently built, state-of-the-art “bioclimatic” enclosure, which I found one of the most interesting parts of the visit. The visitor interface needs significant enhancement, IMHO. Most of the time we were unable to determine what we were looking at from the plaques provided and their super-tiny diagrams. If you visit, I would recommend going on a guided tour. As we were leaving, a group was starting the tour (in English) and their guide conveyed more in the 5 minutes we “listened in” than the reading material had done in the hour or so we spent walking around.
Storage room ruins
We waited a bit for one of the very reliable Santorini buses back to town, then wandered a bit before a nice lunch at Mama’s House in Fira. It still wasn’t quite time to catch the bus to the port, so we went back to our hotel to sit for a bit and collect our bags. Once again, they welcomed us warmly and offered us something to drink–even though we’d already checked out.
Next we headed for the bus “terminal.” In Santorini, that’s a parking lot in which the buses back up with amazing ease into slots next to one another. We were early, so we waited (with many others) until someone shouted “port” and pointed to a bus. We survived the resulting melee and got seats on the first port bus. As with our bus back from Oia, they fill one, then start another until they get everyone down the hill. Yes, the hill. If you don’t like heights, think long and hard before you go to Santorini. If you go by ferry, you have no choice but to ride up the hill (and eventually back down) in a bus or private car. It is steep and on the side of a cliff overlooking the caldera. Beautiful and awful. If you come by cruise ship, you can choose cable car or donkey trail. I guess you could fly–the airport did seem to support full size aircraft and was on the flat portion of the island…
Note how tiny buses and trucks look on the “hill” to the port
The ferry ride was uneventful, but much more crowded than our trip TO Santorini. We were met at the port by our host, who gave us a quick orientation to Naxos Town (also called Chora) on the way to our accommodation. I will simply say that the level of comfort matches the very affordable price we paid.
Wednesday was pretty much the opposite of a transition day. We had no real agenda and no need to be anywhere at a certain time. We had noticed a bike rental shop (something that was not to be found on Santorini–probably for good reason!) on the way to dinner the night before and decided that renting bikes would allow us to get some exercise and get to the beaches outside of the main city. So after a (basic) breakfast, we walked over and picked up some bikes. If you’ve ever rented bikes in a resort area, you can imagine what they were like. But, they only cost 5€/bike for the whole day!
We pedaled out of town and followed the signs (fortunately in English as well as Greek) to the beach. We walked, ate, read, waded, and generally had an awesome beach day. On the way back, we stopped at a real supermarket. You may not think this is a big deal, but when you’ve been “making do” with the express markets found in big cities, it is. We bought supplies for our long travel/transition day tomorrow and headed back to the room. After returning the bikes and cleaning ourselves up, we headed to the other attraction in town, the Temple of Apollo. It turns out the real attraction, as on Santorini, was the sunset.