Santorini, not what we expected.
Trip Start May 14, 2011
16Trip End Jul 12, 2011
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Santorini, after years of hype from friends and Hollywood, we have finally made to your shores……and you have let us down. Big time. Sure the parts of the towns that face into the caldera are amazing to see, but the place is far too tacky tourist Ville for us. First impressions are everything to a weary traveller, and the minute you get off the first transfer bus, you can't help but think you are in a third world country. You need to make sure you reserve your room in one of the hotels on the caldera side and just spend your trip to the hotel in a blindfold.
Stay away from Musses studios….We were bitterly disappointed before we even laid eyes on the place. Let me explain…. We found the place online, and it looked good. We booked it. On the website it said that you could pay by credit card and collect your key from the bus station and information centre. Once we arrived and claimed our luggage, we made our way to the desk in the little info centre. We were met by some cranky old French woman who went straight into her well learned speech about the studios and how you do all the paper work with her and then pay cash. Not only that, the old wench demanded she keep one of our passports (is that even legal?). We tried to explain that the website said we could pay by credit card, and she got even shorter fused and snapped "NO, IT IS THIS WAY" and suggested that we come back and pay later. Some smelly guy (lets just call him Lurch) came in behind us and picked up Al’s bag, and directed us to follow.
It was a 10 or 12 minute walk from the bus and info centre, not the 5 minutes that the website suggested, and when we arrived our jaws hit the ground. Well…they would have if we weren’t scared of catching some disease. The place is over populated by stray cats, the surroundings once again make you feel like you are in a third world country, and on top of that, the neighbouring residents are revving car engines and yelling at each other for most of the waking hours. Then we went inside. The place is dark, and smells like raw sewage. The stench is emanating from the bathroom. The kitchen is filthy and you have the bare essentials, but even these look like they are 5th generation hand me downs. We found we had internet available only to discover that the grumpy snappy French wench from the info centre had not given us the passkey. The guys in the studio next door, fellow weary travellers, were told that the internet was not even working.
The food here is as good as Naxos and Athens, but twice as expensive and the servings are smaller. But be sure to try to book in advance, otherwise it will be difficult to find a table that is not reserved. Al’ finally found her traditional Greek stuffed vine leaves, and for the duration of the meal she was in heaven. I love the expression on her face when she is truly happy. “Strogili” on the roof top would be our pick. And if you have not ordered the bread or the water, tell the wait staff to take it away when they plonk it on your table, otherwise you will be charged for it. And when you are eating, keep an eye on the stray cats. They are not shy, and will soon jump onto your table and try to join you for dinner, and they are persistent like Aussie blow flies. And the wine, well, let us talk about the wine. Still made traditionally, tastes like the home made gear from Naxos and is even the same colour, but will cost you not Euro2.00 but more like Euro27.00. Even the beer is more expensive, but this will come in a smaller bottle than the rest of Greece. We felt pressured as well, by the table staff, to eat and move on as quickly as possible, so they could squeeze more money out of more tourists. All we wanted to do was relax and view the world renowned Santorini sunset, while our meal settled before our trek back to our studio apartment. We ate our meal as slowly as humanly possible, trying to hang on to our table. Said to be the most stunning and the most romantic sun set in the world, we did not want to miss it. Epic Fail…Total dud….We were disappointed again. The west coast of Vanuatu wins out, hands down for the best ever sunset.
So, all in all, we feel that Santorini can be done in a couple of hours, well Oia anyway. Maybe a day if you want to go into the caldera or to the hot springs by boat. And you should go straight to the caldera side of the town called Oia. Take in the caldera side of the village, eat one meal, have a beer and get back on the bus to the ferry. Because unless you are an ignorant to reality, totally loaded thick walleted true tourist who likes nothing more than splurging on overpriced, poor quality trinkets, the only thing you will take from here is maybe 20 good photographs.