Greece: Day 4, Hike Across the Island

I woke up early with the roosters today. The room was pitch black still, with the outside shutters pulled closed. I peeked out and noticed the Sun was on its way up, so I pulled on some clothes, grabbed some money and my camera, and set out.

The walk was so peaceful, serene even. It was right around 8 and there were precisely two people visible on my way to Oia town. This time the dogs didn’t startle me, but truth be told I crossed the street each time I knew one was coming.

I arrived at the bakery just as the morning started getting going and the frequency of local patrons started getting going. The bakery I’m talking about is the one right by the supermarket behind the bus station. The owner and I exchanged pleasantries and I went on to order an Americano for Luke and a traditional frappe (an iced latte using sweetened condensed milk!) for me. I grabbed the most incredible pastry, a custard wrapped in phyllo dough, and went on my way home. The sun was getting hot by this time. Good I thought, as we had plans for the beach and a hike.

Since we had a little kitchen, a double hotplate and sink with all the fixings, we were able to make quite the spread for breakfast. It was perfect, and if we had stayed longer, I’d have loved to try to make other meals there or on the wood-burning stove outside. We shared breakfast then gathered our things for a part lazy part ambitious day.

We turned left out of the studio complex and headed toward the sea, namely Baxedes beach area. We walked along the road for a bit, savoring the views and bright sunshine. We found a staircase and descended to the beach, which was empty until we came upon a small port with about five men up to something semi-official I’m just not quite sure what. We kept walking until we couldn’t go any further, past the more “developed” area consisting of a couple hotels and beach bars with chairs for rent.

We knew we were in the right place when we were stopped by a huge rock wall in front of us. The beach had precisely four other people on it.  The waves crashed against the rocks making the sea a bit rough, but we jumped in anyway. This was one of those moments, you know, the I can’t believe I’m here and living this kind .

After relaxing a bit we gathered our things and got a bit lost before finding the road. Things got a little jumbled here as we had planned on a hour or so walk across the island without paying a bit of attention to the altitude markings on the map. So, as we walked towards the long road that traversed the island we looked ahead of us and saw a towering…well I’ll call it a mountain, a towering mountain waiting for us to climb it in 85 degree heat. We considered hitchhiking, but the only passersby were tourists stuffed in tiny cars or quads…we were safer walking. We had to laugh.

We fueled up at a tiny roadside bar with a cola light and giant water and set out, passing farms, picturesque white churches and a variety of animals, and to our right  that the beautiful Aegean. The road zigzagged up the mountain and we followed along, hoping a car didn’t come… It didn’t-not one car in the hour plus we spent walking to the caldera (volcano) side of the island.

Once we reached the top, we looked down upon our hike…satisfied and proud, to say the least, as I snapped photos that don’t begin to do the scene justice.

Our first glimpse of the caldera view on the hiking path from Fira to Oia (we entered at a bit less than the half-way mark) was awe-inspiring. We stared and laughed at how unbelievable it really was. Everyone needs to see this at least once I thought… because words, pictures and even film don’t begin to allow the viewer to experience it like it really is…a beautiful natural occurrence that resulted in one of the most beautiful places in existence.

We continued on our hike, determined now to find a place to eat. We were hot and exhausted, staring at the cool blue sea hundreds of feet below made me frustrated.

It should be noted, the hiking trail is pretty well maintained but would be quite the undertaking in anything but proper athletic shoes. It is most definitely the best bargain (free) on Santorini and a must in my tourist book of recommendations.

At last we arrive in Oia, and I spot the  Anemomilos Hotel which has a restaurant I thought I remembered reading about. It doesn’t matter, we’re beyond hungry, and we sit down under the beautiful canopy of pink flowers.

What comes next is a wonderfully homestyle meal, the one you remember for a time due to the satisfaction of food and service. We both had lamb, wine, a perfect fava spread and baked feta dish. It was heaven.

Our last sunset here had the possibility of being tainted by the surge of cruise ship passengers that invaded the tiny town. I suggested we just grab a bottle of wine and watch from the apartment. Instead, we found a sort of secluded space and gawked at this natural wonder for a while, snapping multiple photos by the minute, determined not to let one detail of this experience go undocumented. Then, we grabbed a bottle of wine and went home.

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